Being your own boss isn’t always a picnic— whether you’re a home stager or any other type of entrepreneur.
I’d never trade working for myself to go back to any of the unhealthy situations I had working for others.
The uncaring and sometimes abusive employers. Working overtime and not getting paid for it. Having to ask permission to take time off. Not being able to work on creative projects that excited me.
In 2002, I decided to become a home stager. It was a super hot real estate market where most people said, “Everything sells no matter what it looks like. All you need to do is put a For Sale sign out!”
There are plenty of reasons why home staging works in both hot and cold real estate markets. That’s one of the many benefits of this career. It works in any market and any economy!
13 Reasons I Became a Home Stager:
- Loved decorating from the time I was a kid and always wondered if I should have gone to interior design school (instead of business school).
- Excited by the buzz of real estate, yet I didn’t want to be a real estate agent, on-call 24/7.
- Needed to have control over my time because I was a single mom with a 7-year old.
- Discovered from buying houses in 4 different cities that most people are clueless about how to show their homes to sell for top dollar.
- Experienced real estate buyers bidding against each other, and over-paying for properties they’ve fallen in love with.
- Earned solid money flipping homes after making cosmetic changes proved I had staging talent.
- Noticed that even in a hot real estate market, not everything sells as fast or for as much money as it should.
- Realized the real estate market would eventually slow down and people would need even more help decorating their homes to sell.
- Needed a low-cost business to start because I couldn’t take on any financial risk.
- Believed that home staging was a marriage of two “sexy” topics that people were interested in, “decorating,” and “making money in real estate.” That’s even more true today and makes it easier to have clients coming to you for help. In other words, you don’t have to chase jobs!
- Craved creative projects and wanted to show my daughter you can make a living following your dreams.
- Needed to earn a lot of money because I was the solo provider for my family, with a mortgage to cover.
- Knew my staging talent would help home sellers and real estate agents make money. Which meant it made sense for them to invest in my services. That’s way easier than offering a service people don’t need.
Figuring Out The Right Way to Do It Was a Process
My first year as a home stager was especially tough. I wanted to give up many times, especially when I wasn’t getting enough projects.
I hadn’t figured out the right pricing and marketing strategies to grow as fast as I needed to.
It’s a good thing I didn’t give up!
Once I figured out my formula (the one I teach in the Staging Diva Program), I was making up to $10,000 a month staging homes.
With the right marketing approach, I was quickly featured on HGTV, CNN, The Wall Street Journal and many decorating magazines.
This was something I never would have predicted.
Years ago when Steve Jobs died, his sister delivered a poignant eulogy. One line that especially jumped out at me was this:
“We all die in the middle of our stories.”
What story are you in the middle of? Is it the right one? Do you feel that you’re living some else’s story/life or your own?
What should you change right now, since you don’t know how long you have to finish this story or start the next?
Please share your thoughts below. I know it’s hard to always find our courage. I battle with many fears myself.
We need to keep each other motivated to do our best work and live our best life.
Wondering How You Can Become a Home Stager?
Staging Diva students don’t have to waste time and energy figuring everything out the hard way like I did. I put together everything I wish I knew from day one of my home staging career.
Donna Dazzo says
I became a home stager because I wanted to do something different, something that I was passionate about, for the rest of my working life. I’ve always loved reading about residential real estate, going to museums and seeing exhibits on architectural and industrial design, and loved decorating since I was in high school.
I had a 9 months heads up that I was being laid off from a financial services firm plus I was getting a 9 month severance package upon termination. I have always said I didn’t want my obituary to read “Donna Dazzo spent 35 years in the financial services industry but didn’t really love what she did.” So I decided to make a change.
I am in my fourth year and it’s really taking off – via word of mouth, reputation, my presence on the first page of google. Unfortunately, the recession hit in 2009 and 2010 and set my business back less than my first year in business which was 2008, and I didn’t have the momentum and contacts to keep it moving. But you have to really want to be successful at being a home stager and making a living from home staging. – AND lots of hard work and marketing effort, professionalism and organization – and it will all pay off. I want to rise above the other stagers in my area, not be just like them, so it’s a continuous process of improving myself and my business in all areas.
Debra Gould says
Thanks Donna for sharing your experiences. I know it will help inspire others! It’s been great watching you step into your power as a home stager and see your business and reputation grow over the past 3+ years that I’ve known you. I very much remember our first one-on-one coaching call when you were just getting started after finishing the Staging Diva courses.
For anyone reading this, there’s a ton of information about Donna on this blog. Just put her name in the search box in the left column (near the top of this page) to find it 🙂
Imogen Brown says
I’ve always loved real estate and home interiors and staging is a perfect mix of the two. I’ve also got an advertising and business coaching background and owned my own business before, so when I look back I can see (as Steve Jobs has also spoken about) how I have joined the dots to where I am now. I even remembered the other day that I wanted to study interior design in college but never followed through with it – following my Dad into Advertising instead. I started the Staging Diva program last year, 6 weeks after my Mum died suddenly. It was just the kick I needed. I was in a stop gap and tedious admin role at the time and it really made me evaluate what I was doing. I haven’t been busy enough in my first year and I have thought ‘what am I doing?’ a couple of times but not enough to give up. Next year will be better and I’ll just keep plugging away!
Debra Gould says
Imogen, I’m very sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. I lost my father when he was only 39. I know turning the age he was when he died is partly what motivated me to drop out of my own marketing/advertising career and do something more creative.
It’s normal to second guess your decision, especially in your first year of business. Keep plugging away and I know you’ll be a success because of what I’ve seen you doing to promote yourself so far.
Thanks for sharing your experiences with the group!
Janine Baird says
I actually started 4 years ago as a hobby after getting my interior design diploma. Which was when I decided to host an amateur website marketing interior design. I grew worried about interior design, as it would have meant I would have to go to college for another 3 years, with no guaranteed income at grad day.
I looked at my wants and I love decorating (even did a course on health and safety to get a cscs card for the industry). Then one fine day I looked into the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program. The free Staging Diva content and resources helped my decision to become a graduate.
The Staging Diva Program teaches you all about what you need to become a home stager, marketing strategies, consultations…Of which interior design school definately would not touch as much of this important subject.
Since graduating, I changed my business name and my logo and today I received my business cards. Im all set and soon i will be going out to home owners to pitch them. I would never have the confidence to present the idea! Her course will help you if thats what you really want to do. You can get an idea of my staging portfolio at www. jigsawdecor.co.uk
Debra Gould says
Janine, Thanks for sharing your story and I appreciate the feedback to the Staging Diva Training Program and how it’s helped you. Congrats on your new business name and website.
Adam Luttrell says
There’s something that just clicks when you make the decision to take the leap of faith. For me it was gradual, sick of the everyday-everyday working for the man in marketing advertising too! Since making the leap there have been good times and bad, not making money, making money and then business growth (not making money!). But it has been offset watching my daughter grow up and spending more time with her than I could have in a corporate role and it’s given me the opportunity to pave my own path with my partner.
We now do what we love and we love doing what we do.
Debra Gould says
Adam, I agree with you that it’s not only about using our talents and knowing that we work for ourselves but also the lifestyle we can create that gives us more time for the people we love.
I really appreciate you sharing your story. It’s been awesome watching your home staging business grow over the years since we first met before you took the Staging Diva Program.