How are you marketing your home staging portfolio?

How are you marketing your home staging portfolio? Recently, after playing around with some new photos from a recent St Augustine home staging project, I asked a similar question online.

 

While I loved the answers that I received, what I was really asking was, “What other ways are you marketing your home staging ONLINE outside of Facebook?” I suppose the question needs to be asked properly, and my original question may have been too vague. (Don’t get me wrong, the answers were still great, just not what I was looking for.) So let me ask again….

How are you marketing your home staging portfolio ONLINE?

I ask this because lately I’ve gotten an awful lot of business from customers who have found me online. They either did a search for St Augustine home staging or they found me on social media. Inevitably, the first place they went was to look at my photos. Photography is the life blood of a home stager. We are in a visual industry. Agents and home sellers understand (or at least should by now) that potential buyers begin their search online. Photos are what initially sells a home.

As a professional home stager, the way you present your portfolio, can make all of the difference in the world. It’s important to consider the impact your work can have, and the different ways that you may want to share it.

Most every stager needs to have full room shots. They look something like this:

selling your home staging portfolio

You may even have some “mood” shots:

home staging portfolios

While they are great shots for your portfolio, if you stop here, you may be missing some possible marketing options. Consider the Pinterest Board or Instagram feed. What kinds of images will gain you followers there?

What I typically see is something that looks like this:

showcasing your home staging portfolio

Ok. I’ll even admit that photo is my work. I was offering a sneak peek of the property we were staging. This isn’t what most of my shared photos look like. Here’s what the real shot ended up looking like.

home staging portfolio st augustine

Now let’s look at the first two photos and how I used them on both Instagram and Pinterest.

st augustine home staging

You’ll notice I removed most of the space of the room that showcased architecture and layout – important for selling the home, but not for selling my staging style.

building a home staging portfolio

What I love about this photo is that it really showcases the pillows and dining area more than the bright yellow bar stools. Don’t get me wrong, I love the yellow bar stools, and the full “mood” shot is my Facebook header image. It’s great to be able to get a different perspective with the same images though.

Cross pollinate your social media for maximum exposure.

When you are posting to your various social media sites, consider including your other social media profiles so that you’ll maximize your following and exposure. For instance, I used the URL for my Instagram photos, and some of my Google Plus photos, as the source for my Pinterest images.

This will likely get me more followers on those sites when someone wants to click through to the original image. If they like what I do and have pinned multiple images of my work, there is a good chance they will follow me in other locations.

This is how I’ve built my Google plus following to over 15,000 people.

If you are interested in seeing more of my work, follow me on google plus, facebook, or instagram.

Watch for our new Home Staging Business Continuing Education Course Coming Soon! We’ll discuss this topic and many others in depth, in person. Coming to Jacksonville, Dallas, Atlanta, and Indianapolis later this year! 

 

Hiring Staging Help? Are they an employee or Independent Contractor?

Are you ready to expand your staging business and add on more help? Do you need an Independent Contractor or an employee? You better know, or the tax man may hit you with HUGE fines.

Today I was on the phone with someone about our Market Read Real Estate online home staging consultation program. They are expanding their staging business (in the US) and asked if there was a portal that they could use for their Independent Contractors, so that they didn’t know that it was our program. You see, they were concerned that the contractors would eventually get good at what they are doing and consider leaving, taking the technology that they taught them to use with them.

Immediately I saw red flags jumping up in front of my face. Since I’m an educator at heart, and don’t want to see this very nice entrepreneur fined out of business I thought I would give a little education. As soon as I hung up I knew that it might be time for a blog about this.

Watch for our new Home Staging Business Continuing Education Course Coming Soon! We’ll discuss this topic and many others in depth, in person. Coming to Jacksonville, Dallas, Atlanta, and Indianapolis later this year! 

home staging jacksonville

Are your home stagers independent contractors or employees?

The first part of understanding this is to know what the law says about it. According to the IRS, you need to address these three questions.

Behavioral: Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job?

Financial: Are the business aspects of the worker’s job controlled by the payer? (these include things like how worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.)

Type of Relationship: Are there written contracts or employee type benefits (i.e. pension plan, insurance, vacation pay, etc.)? Will the relationship continue and is the work performed a key aspect of the business?

You see, the giant red flag for me was that she mentioned in her explanation that she had a no-compete agreement and that may be enough to protect her if they decided to go on their own.

Can an independent contractor have a no compete agreement?

Can you and should you are probably two different questions. You can ask anyone to sign a no compete agreement. If they are really independent contractors though, they are completely unenforceable.

Let’s look back at the IRS guidelines. Do you see any problems?

The entire point of an independent contractor is that they are independent. They don’t rely on you to control their employment. This means that they not only can, but should, get other work on their own. Sure, you can have independent contractors that work only for you, but that’s their decision, not yours.

The moment you sign paperwork that say that you work for me and only me, guess what you’ve done? That’s right, you now control their income. You control their work arrangements, and you have a written contract. Boom. You may have just created an employee, according to IRS guidelines. If you aren’t paying taxes and insurance (like workers comp) on your employees and they find out, you may be heavily fined and forced to pay back taxes on all of your independent contractors since your company started.

So how do you keep independent contractors from leaving you and stealing your business?

Again, these are probably two different questions in reality.

The first part, you can’t control, except to create a culture of greatness that your contractors don’t want to leave. If they know they have it good, there is less of a chance they’ll leave. Pay them well. Treat them well. Surprise them with bonuses and team spirit. Give them what they need to be happy working with you (not for you).

Then have a contract in place that protects your intellectual property, and your database. 

Any business relationships that have been forged by your company can be yours by contract. This is legally enforceable, but not practically enforceable. Let’s face it, if your contractor leaves you and your best customer likes them better than you, it doesn’t really matter what the contractor signed, you’ve already lost that customer.

Again, the best way to protect your business is to have a great business. Be the face of your business, or make an EMPLOYEE the face of your business. Make sure that you are selling your BRAND and not any particular person. Pay attention to the relationships and business partnerships. Be the company that no one wants to leave. Leverage your business. Leverage your USP (unique selling proposition).

One last piece of advice, don’t give any one person, unless they are a part owner of your company (and even then I would think twice) the ability to run your company without you. If you do, chances are they will at least try.

Watch for our new Home Staging Business Continuing Education Course Coming Soon! We’ll discuss this topic and many others in depth, in person. Coming to Jacksonville, Dallas, Atlanta, and Indianapolis later this year! 

Why Google Plus is better than Facebook for a Home Stager

Let’s face it, home staging is a visual industry. While we do more than make homes look pretty, that’s what shows on the outside. Portfolio shots are the things that will likely get us the most jobs too. We know that we need to spend time on social media sites to spread the word and get our customers to engage, but sometimes it feels like it’s all a waste of time, especially if you are going about it all on your Facebook fanpage. You’ve heard me talk about the merits of Google Plus before on this blog. The fact that it contains the word “Google” in it should be enough to catch your attention, but in case it’s not, let me make a case in a very visual way.

Why home stagers should be using Google Plus.

Since the RESA convention in Las Vegas earlier this year, I’ve been dedicated to getting more active on my business pages. While I’m always good at social media, for me it’s a hobby that I love to engage in, I haven’t been really pushing my business pages. Instead I’ve been doing most of it under my own name. That needs to change because I understand that I need the SEO and building a company again I want it to be my company that is branded, not just me. It’s the only way that customers will be willing to work with other members of the team and not expect me there all the time. I have too many irons in the fire to be the only one working on jobs.

To give my business a push I’ve committed to putting ideas out there every day. Sometimes it is using my own work, other times it is using the work of others, from sources like Pinterest. I always credit the souce when I post. Here’s how the same posts are stacking up on both Google Plus and Facebook.


That’s great. I’ve not only had people +1 it (the same thing as like on FB) but also I’ve had a couple of reshares and comments.

 

As you can see, the FB post didn’t get as much traction.

For both posts I shared it on my biz page and then reshared on my personal page. So, how did the personal pages do, any better?

google plus home stagers

Hey, that still did pretty well…..

 

So it looks like on my personal page they faired about the same… Well, except for a couple little things.

On Google Plus the status was actually indexed in Google Searches. That’s right, Google adds the write up that you include in indexable search results.  I’ll let that sink in for a few minutes. Facebook… nope. They index your biz page, but they don’t index your posts. They are just gone after a time. Oh sure they are still there, but they are virtually impossible to find, even when you know what you are looking for.

Ready to use Google Plus but don’t know how… read the blog and page information below. It’s a good source.


 

Oh yeah, and one more thing. A few months ago I wrote about how you can share more of your social media posts so that they can have an extended lifespan and get you more followers, well it turns out when you do this (embed) with your Google + posts, you get even more SEO juice!!


 

Finally one last reason home stagers should be using Google +

I’ve had my business pages about the same amount of time.  Check out the difference in followers on both accounts. Please also remember that in order to get my Facebook numbers up this high I’ve had to actively invite people to follow me. On Google Plus I haven’t sent out any invite invitations (because you actually can’t). G+ is simply the natural result of posting content that people like. Wow! What an enlightening experience.

rave reviews home staging

home staging jacksonville

 

Of course I’ll continue to update and do work with both of my business pages because I want to be seen everywhere, but seriously which do you think is better for my business? Can you see why other home stagers need to spend some time on Google Plus too?

 

New ways to share your home staging work and gain more followers.

Have you ever had a really great discussion on Facebook, Pinterest, or Google Plus that you wish you could bring into your blog? Are you looking for more followers on your social media stream because maybe you have a lot of followers in one place, but not another? It seems that social media sites are feeling your pain and are recognizing the growing importance of blogging and finding ways to help you cross pollinate.

Embed your social conversations into your blogs.

Facebook, Pinterest, and Google Plus now have “embed” features in posts.

Embed posts from Facebook into your home staging blogs.

how to share your home staging work

So far Facebook posts seem to be the easiest ones to embed. Simply look for the drop down arrow in the upper right corner of the post you want to use and scroll down.

Using Facebook posts can be a great way to share popular posts with your blog readers. It could also be a great way to get new followers from loyal readers who perhaps get your information from other sources.

This post was one that I did a few weeks ago about my biggest regret as a home stager. It was actually very popular with 50 Facebook likes/shares and 33 Google Plus ones (according the counter on my website).

 

Embed Pinterest Boards in your home staging blogs

I have to give credit here to Tom Scanlon with Houston Home Staging for the idea of embedding pinterest boards into home staging blogs.

how to embed pinterest boards in home staging blogs

Simply change out the URL for your board’s URL. Using the Pinterest Widget Builder this is seriously easy.

While embedding a pinterest board may be a little more difficult, it seems like a great way to make a statement on your blogs.

You can also embed individual pins in the same way that you can Facebook posts. Click the box with the arrow (upper right corner of pin), scroll down to embed, and copy the code. This to me, is now the best way to do blogs that feature products or room designs. Copying the photo directly and putting it in your blogs posts can be considered copyright infringement whereas embedding the post is permitted as it shows all of the originating source of the photo.

Embedding Google Plus posts into your home staging blogs

Google Plus posts will probably be for posts more related to the market and general business, but imagine being able to show great conversations with your readers, like the one that inspired this post. (Note: only Public posts can be used as embedded posts at this time. Community posts can not be embedded, even if the community allows public viewing.)

 

 

Help your target readers, whether homeowners or agents get additional information about their market or the real estate industry as a whole by showing what others are talking about, or bringing a great conversation from your page to your blog and newsletter readers.

Embedding is easy, done the same way as Facebook and individual Pinterest posts, simply use the drop down arrow, highlight embed, and then copy and paste the embed code.

What are ways that you’ll use the embed feature to cross pollinate your business?

It’s funny because Tom Scanlon had only a few days ago posted in the Google Plus Home Staging Community about how he was using his Pinterest Boards in his blogs. I had been trying to figure out how to use this when Bill Gassett piped up about the new G+ feature. I had noticed the embed feature in Facebook about a week earlier, but hadn’t given it much thought.

Today my head is swimming with ideas on how I’ll be using this in the future. How do you think you’ll use the new embed features from social media to improve your blogs or cross pollinate your readership? 

It’s my decision because I’m the home staging expert.

Today I met with a new potential client. In the beginning there were red flags that were jumping around waving in my head. I was reminded of a couple of jobs that have gone poorly in the past years of my home staging career. This one has all the right ear marks. Fortunately I think that I was pretty clear at the appointment and if I still get the job, the duties will all be understood.

No you can’t pick the pieces I’m using in this home staging job.

home staging certification class expert

When customers initially have their own ideas of what the room should look like, including what color the sofa should be, what kind of dining table and chairs there should be, and the size of your silk trees, you know there is a problem brewing. The first time the agents mentioned a suggestion – that she wanted contemporary – I countered back with a question on buyer demographic.

Me: “Who is the buyer?”

Agent: “We don’t have a buyer. That’s why we are hiring you.”

Me: “Tell me about who you think the buyer will be. Will they be retired, young professionals, a family?”

Agent: “Young. Old. You know, it could be anyone.

Ok. I can work in those parameters. It means that I’m going to have to (1) try to do a little research on my own, but this is a new construction community and this is a resale in it. That’s tough. (2) Make sure my plan appeals to most demographics.

So I started talking about some potential furniture choices, then there were more questions. Questions about colors, placement, and art. Should the table be round or rectangular?

At some point I simply had to take off my glasses and have a serious conversation. Where I think I may have been a bit docile before, I was taking over this appointment.

“I know that you haven’t ever worked with me before, and I’m not sure if you’ve worked with another stager. (She hasn’t, but she has seen work I’ve done for her company.) I have 10 years of experience. I’ve staged hundreds of homes. My contract clearly says that when you hire me, you understand that I’m the expert and that I have final say on all design choices, placement, and selections. I will ask questions to try to find out who you think the buyer is, but ultimately it’s my job to make the decisions. The things I hear you asking me about are all designer choices that begin to personalize a space to your taste. Are you buying it? (She smiled and answered no.) I only care about the potential buyer. That’s my job. It means that both you and the seller may not love it. My job is to make the buyer love it.”

I’m the home staging expert, so trust my judgement 

home staging certified stager

I'm the home staging expert!

As a Realtor I regularly experience other agents complaining about how customers don’t listen to their opinion on things like pricing their home. They even use the line, “Like they know better than we do. We only do this for a living.” Right. So why do this with me? I’m the expert. I know how to do this. I teach others how to do this.

Now I wonder if the down right earnestness is going to win over this agent, or turn her off. We’ll see when she comes back with a deal or no deal.  For me, I’m over trying to please everyone. It’s the part that I loved about my job. It’s the part I hate as a Realtor.

Teaching 50+ yr old potential sellers Home Staging

Today I taught my first home staging class at the University of North Florida (UNF) I’m teaching for an organization called OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute). OLLI is specifically designed for students over 50 years old who want to continue learning. This class wasn’t my typical home staging class where I’m teaching them to become home stagers, but rather I’m teaching potential sellers who want to know how to maximize their equity.

Home staging class teaches students how to prepare their homes for sale

I think my personal favorite part of the class was watching the light bulbs go on in their heads as we discussed the importance of home staging when selling. Many of the students have not sold in 10 years or more. Most of them admitted to already looking at homes for sale on Realtor.com or other online home sites. When we discussed the importance of the photos, they often added in discussions on some of the homes that they had seen.

Selling faster is nearly always better

One of the lessons that I was able to make pretty clear, and seemed to really sink in with the students is that selling your home faster is almost always better. Sure, some sellers are not in a hurry and find that selling for a higher price is really what is important to them. What I try to teach is that selling faster usually equates to higher offers. The offer on day 3 is usually much better than the one on day 30.

home staging classes for 50 and older students

Staging is not decorating, it is marketing

This is an important distinction in my book. While we make homes look pretty, that’s not our main goal. Our goal is to maximize the return on investment of our home sellers and to make the home inviting to home buyers so they will connect with it. While we typically recommend that the home be neutral and free of clutter or distractions, it can’t be sterile. Warmth is an important part of the selling equation.

Professional photos are an important ingredient in selling the home

One of the students asked about this. Their agent told them that they take good photos and don’t need professional ones. I mentioned that some agents do take great photos, but most do not take professional quality photos. Having never seen their agent’s photos I asked what they looked like. They had never actually seen the photos.

This leads me to the last big lesson of today’s 1.5 hour class…..

It’s important to interview your agents carefully

Too often home sellers leave the sale of their biggest investment to a family member, friend, or someone down the street. The average buyer decides within one minute of entering the home to either stack up the reasons on why they like a home or don’t like a home. You either have them at hello, or they will give reasons to say goodbye. The average buyer spends less than 12 minutes in a home. They base the biggest purchase of their financial portfolio in less time than they spent watching a sitcom or thumbing through a magazine.

When deciding which agent to hire, they need to consider the marketing skill of their agent. What advice can they give you on preparing your home for sale (or better yet, do they recommend a professional stager)? What do their listing photos look like? What do their marketing pieces look like (flyers, online media like social media, blogs, etc)?

Today a listing agent needs to do more than simply put the listing in MLS and letting it feed into the plethora of IDX sites. They need to MARKET their listings. Staging is one of the many marketing tools that they have at their disposal. Actually staging is probably the biggest best marketing tool they have. Staging also probably has the biggest return on investment.

So what did I learn in my home staging class?

I remember how much I love teaching. I remember the excitement of talking to sellers and seeing the light bulb turn on. I also learned that no matter the age of the seller that they are willing to learn and implement the strategies if they truly understand why we want them to. So, I look forward to my 2nd OLLI class next week. I can’t wait to find out what new questions they have for me.

How a word cloud can help you with keyword usage in blog writing

I don’t know if you’ve ever been guilty of sitting down to write a blog with a set of keywords in mind only to find that at the end, you’ve written about something completely different than you had planned. Maybe you are new to writing, or your keystrokes just sent your mind off in a different direction. When you sit down to write a blog, especially if you are doing it for marketing purposes, you should at least know what message you are conveying.

Using a word cloud to confirm keyword usage in blog writing

A word cloud is a fun little tool that is often used as a visual image on blogs. Sometimes writers will use this handy tool to help readers get a clear understanding about the topic of the blog they are about to read. Have you ever thought about using a word cloud to see if you are actually using your keywords in your blog writing though?

Word clouds analyze the content in a visual display.  They increase or decrease the size of a word in a cloud based on it’s usage.

using a word cloud to see keywords in blog writing

In this word cloud example, I’ve examined my blog on the 5 most common blogging mistakes costing you SEO. What words jump out at you in the cloud? Do you think they accurately represent the likely keywords I was trying to use in this blog?

I think they do.

Using a word cloud before you post your blog

Next time you write a blog and you are wondering if you have used your keywords enough for your message to stand out consider using a word cloud. Worditout.com is the site that I used to create this word cloud. It is great because you don’t have to use a URL. You can actually just paste the text content of your blogs into their site and it will generate your cloud. You also have the options to change the number of words displayed, colors, font, and more, which are all great if you want to use your cloud as an image in your blog.

Can home staging classes teach you to run a successful business

One of the most common questions for existing home stagers is whether or not a home staging class really helps you to become a successful stager. It is difficult to answer because no home staging class can do the work, but the right one can teach you where to begin and what to put your time, energy, and resources into to make the most of what you have.

Will home staging classes teach you about business or decorating

home staging class certificationStaging and Redesign’s home staging classes teach both business and decorating. I don’t think you can run a successful home staging business without understanding both. I will say that we focus more attention on business because we tend to feel that most people who decide to break into the business feel that they are already good decorators. Now they want to figure out how to put that skill to work to earn an income.

If a course is focused solely or even primarily on decorating, then it might be a really fun class, but it’s unlikely to translate into a viable business. Part of any good home staging class should provide information on billing, contracts, how to determine your rates, what to charge for inventory rental (or whether having inventory is even a good idea for you). You should also fully understand how to talk to agents, how to talk to customers, how to brand and market your business, and how to use past business to create future business.

Our home staging classes combine business and decor

Here is what Staging and Redesign’s 13 module online home staging class will cover:

  • MODULE 1: STAGING FACTS, FICTION & FUNDAMENTALS
  • MODULE 2: TYPES OF CONSULTATIONS, JOBS & REVENUE STREAMS
  • MODULE 3: DESIGN PRINCIPLE & PRACTICE
  • MODULE 4: SETTING UP YOUR BUSINESS & GETTING STARTED
  • MODULE 5: UNDERSTANDING DEMOGRAPHICS
  • MODULE 6: TALKING THE TALK- UNDERSTANDING REAL ESTATE
  • MODULE 7: CLIENTS, BIDS, SALES & MARKETING
  • MODULE 8: OVERCOMING OBJECTIONS
  • MODULE 9: PRICING STRATEGIES
  • MODULE 10: ACCESSORIES, INVENTORY & MANAGEMENT
  • MODULE 11: TEAM BUILDING
  • MODULE 12: PHOTOGRAPHY & PORTFOLIO
  • MODULE 13: TOOLS & SAFETY

Once you’ve taken all 13 of our online class modules, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running. We’ll still be there for you though. With our private Facebook group, students can talk to instructors and past graduates to help them field questions about working in today’s industry and real estate market. If you run into a challenging situation, you’ll have a community of problem solvers who have already been there.

Hands on learning and mentoring

Of course if you are one of those people who feels that they need hands on learning and mentoring, we have options for you as well. After taking your 13 module online course, we can connect you with one of our home staging professionals in your area where you can work with them on the job, or enroll in regular mentoring sessions by phone. Our plan allows you the flexibility you need, with industry names you can trust.

Call or email us for more information 904-466-2093.  Register for your online home staging classes here.

Beginner and advanced online home staging classes

Whether you are ready to become a home stager, or take your staging company to the next level, our online home staging classes can help you succeed. All of our classes are taught by experienced professionals who actively run their own staging company.

Beginner online home staging classes

If you are ready to become a home stager, our Certification Course is where you’ll want to begin. This 13 module class will take you from design ideas to branding, to business.

home staging class certificationOur 13 module online home staging class includes:

  • MODULE 1: STAGING FACTS, FICTION & FUNDAMENTALS
  • MODULE 2: TYPES OF CONSULTATIONS, JOBS & REVENUE STREAMS
  • MODULE 3: DESIGN PRINCIPLE & PRACTICE
  • MODULE 4: SETTING UP YOUR BUSINESS & GETTING STARTED
  • MODULE 5: UNDERSTANDING DEMOGRAPHIC
  • MODULE 6: TALKING THE TALK- UNDERSTANDING REAL ESTATE
  • MODULE 7: CLIENTS, BIDS, SALES & MARKETING
  • MODULE 8: OVERCOMING OBJECTIONS
  • MODULE 9: PRICING STRATEGIES
  • MODULE 10: ACCESSORIES, INVENTORY & MANAGEMENT
  • MODULE 11: TEAM BUILDING
  • MODULE 12: PHOTOGRAPHY & PORTFOLIO
  • MODULE 13: TOOLS & SAFETY
View the detailed course outline for our 13 module online home staging class.

Best of all our online home staging class is only $695

Advanced online home staging classes

Vacant Property Specialist- Our online vacant home staging class is the only one in the industry. Here you’ll learn everything you need to know to focus your business on the lucrative area of vacant homes. Taught by Annie Pinkser Brown, this four part course will help you decide whether owning or renting furniture is right for you and how each of these options work. You will learn how to properly bid and bill vacant home staging jobs and what forms to use.  Only $595

Create a business plan workshop- This online workbook will help you understand the process of creating a business plan and take you step by step to create your own.  Only $149

Curb Appeal Confidence- The only home staging class of its kind. Taught by curb appeal specialist Michelle Molinari, this class will help you understand the language of home and garden exterior. Find out which changes are most economical, how to help find suppliers and work with contractors. Only $149

Team Building for Growth & Success- If you are considering adding team members to your staging company this is the course for you. Taught by Linda Barnett, you will understand whether an independent contractor or employee is right for you, as well as rules and procedures you may want to consider. Only $149

Presentation Poise- Learn how to speak to groups with confidence. If you are ready to speak to real estate offices or host lunch and learns, this is the course that will help you succeed. Learn which body language habits you may need to avoid and which ones to adopt. Only $59

Real Estate Photography- If you re ready to improve your home staging portfolio, then consider this online home staging class. Broken into four modules, you can take the entire course or just the modules that you need. From $79 – $199

Home staging classes for where you are in business

Staging and Redesign is the only online staging training company that addresses classes for both beginning and experienced stagers. Because we are actively working in the industry, not just in training, we understand where you business has been and where it can go. Our instructors run some of the top producing and profitable businesses in the industry. Isn’t that who you want to learn from?

Homes Staging Training: How do I do a home staging consultation?

A home staging consultation can be one of the most lucrative parts of a home staging business. For customers it is also usually one of the best and most affordable services offered by professional stagers. When you are deciding on a training or certification course, it is important that they cover this topic at length and with detail, not only on what you need to look for, but how you will present this to the customer.

What goes into a home staging consultation?

Our home staging certification program teaches three different home staging consultation types. The first is the Walk & Talk. With this type of consultation, the home stager will deliver all of the information to the home owner at the time of the walk through. The written consultation requires the stager to walk through the home, then deliver a written report to the agent and seller usually within 24-48 hours. The final is a combination of consultation and hands-on staging service.

Walk and Talk Consultations

If you only want to offer a Walk and Talk, then you will need to know what to look for in the home and how to discuss this the right way with both the agent and the homeowner. Tact and diplomacy are needed. You’ll probably also need to understand the “why” well enough to explain and gain motivation to help the seller move forward with the recommendations.

Written Home Staging Consultations

how to write home staging consultationsIf you decide that you want to provide a written report (which is my personal choice for all consultations) then you’ll need to know how to write a comprehensive report with enough detailed information that your customer can do the recommended work. Our course teaches this by having you actually do a mock consultation as our first test. (There are only two tests, this one and a final overall open book, multiple choice exam.) Using the Market Ready Real Estate online  program, we show you how simple it is to create detailed, personalized reports in a very short period of time. Market Ready’s reporting system allows you to add photos to each room and select recommendations through a drop down and check box system.

Providing an editable checklist, the program also helps remind new home stagers what they should be looking for, helping to ease their mind and create a consistent overall look.

Combination staging and hands-on

Our final choice of home staging approaches is one that combines suggestions to the seller with a quick one hour hands-on stage. By showing what can be done with some small adjustments, the information conveyed in the consultation often has more impact. This also allows the stager to maximize each appointment.

Home Staging Consultations are great business

Developing a relationship with Realtors allows for more business for home stagers. Home staging consultations are the entry way to that relationship. Since consults are relatively low price points for both agents and sellers, when  you can provide comprehensive information and a way to help them stand out from their competition, Realtors will do more to recommend you.

Keeping your prices competitive, but high enough that they are profitable is a balancing act. Our home staging certification course provides multiple ways to calculate the right price for your services and helps you understand the variables so you can control and adjust as your expenses or the market shifts.

Honey, if you were searching for xyz, what would you Google?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes the hardest thing for me to come up with are the keywords that I want to use for a blog or page that I’m writing. Sure I know there are keyword checkers out there, but I feel that when you are trying to write long-tails, that they are less relevant. Maybe I’m just naive.

Ask someone else what they would search in Google

My first option when I’m really feeling mind blocked is to ask my husband or best friend. “If you were looking for homes in a neighborhood like xyz neighborhood, what would you Google?” Sometimes his answers are great, and sometimes they are way off base. A conversation last week went something like this.

(First off, I should say we just moved here about 1.5 years ago, so this should be easier than it is. Next I’ll say that my husband was in the Navy for 15 years, until he was medically discharged in 2000. With about 8 PCS moves under our belts we should have this down, but no.)

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Me: “Honey, I’m trying to write content for MovingtoMayport.com the website I’m building for the 3 Naval vessels moving to Jacksonville at the end of the year. If you were moving here, what would be Googling?”

Him: “Strip bars?”

Me: “Really? I don’t think the families will be Googling strip bars. Remember, I’m trying to help them find homes.”

Him: “Hmm. What about information on the barracks.”

Me: “Seriously?”

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This post really isn’t about mocking my husband, though sometimes I admit that I do love to do that. It is about the idea that coming up with keywords and phrases isn’t always easy. I’m still working on that list. I have a lot of writing to do to accomplish what I want to accomplish. What I am fairly certain of though is that writing about strip bars or the barracks won’t help me sell a house to the families moving here. Later he came up with the idea of restaurant reviews. That’s probably a good idea for once they are here, but I still need to get to them before they get here and find a place to live.

How do you Google?

So, what techniques do you use when considering how to write your SEO driven blogs? Do you rely strictly on the Google Keywords tool, or do you have another system that works for you?

Why online home staging training may be right for you.

Wondering if online home staging training is right for you? One of the most common questions that I get is if classroom style training or online home staging training is better. The truth is that one isn’t necessarily better than another. Online courses do have their benefits, however.

Online home staging training is less expensive than classroom courses

Because we have less overhead, online home staging training is usually less expensive than traditional classroom style courses. Most GOOD classroom courses range from $1800 – $3000 for three days to five days of training. A typical three day class includes 2 days in a classroom, and one day in the field. A typical five day course includes mornings in the classroom, then field work in the afternoon. All in all, most classroom courses have no more than about 16 hours of actual classroom training.

The high costs of classroom home staging training doesn’t stop at the training itself. It continues with:

  • Travel costs – often including gas, hotels, and parking fees
  • Meals – breakfast, lunch, and dinner are not usually included in the class fees. Plan on 3-5 days of take out or restaurant meals.
  • High pressure sales – one of the ways that many of these courses make money is with add-on impulse buys. Instructors are trained on how to sell you things like branded clipboards, portfolio binders, tool bags, and more. All of these are heavily marked up and most are not necessary for your business.

Of course you’ll also have to wait for a good class to come to your area. If your solution is just to take the one that is closest to you, or the next one coming up rather than the one with the best curriculum can be very costly. Not all classes are created equal.

Online home staging training at your own pace

become a home stager onlineBecoming a great home stager isn’t really something you can do in a weekend. It takes time and understanding your market. By the end of a class style course, you are usually exhausted and full of information that you won’t put to use for weeks or months. By the time you do need it, you’ll have a fragment of remembering that it was discussed, but the content will be lost. Sure, you can try to break out that 3″ binder collecting dust on the shelf, but reading probably won’t jog your memory the same way.

Our 13 module online training system is designed to stay with you over the course of your career. In the beginning, you’ll probably take the course on nights or weekends, fitting the course in where you have time to dedicate yourself. While you can crank it out on the same grueling schedule that the 3 day classroom courses use, very few of our students opt to do that. Instead, they take their time, watch and rewatch modules, absorbing information in the pace they can learn it.

The real benefit, however, is that you’ll always have access to the course material. If your first appointment isn’t for weeks after you watched Module 2 on the home staging consultation, then you can always go back before your appointment and re-watch this module. Refresh your memory before you interact with the customer so that you feel fully prepared.

If your first vacant home staging job isn’t for months after you have taken the course, and you don’t remember how to price the job, it’s OK. You can just login and refresh  your memory.

The most comprehensive information on TODAY’S industry

Because our online home staging training course is updated with any major industry changes, you’ll always have access to the most current information. When we record new modules, cite or link new statistics, or find interesting information that we think you should know, it will all be housed within the appropriate module for that topic. Whether you took the course yesterday or two years ago, you still have access to the most current information.

A private Facebook group let’s you collaborate

SAR’s online home staging training course makes sure that you are never alone. Taking our class means that you will also be given access to a private Facebook group where you can interact with other home stagers who took the course as well as all of the SAR staging instructors. When an issue arises that you aren’t sure how to handle it, or you have had a large or small achievement that you want to crow about, we are here for you. Simply post in the group and instantly you’ll have access to a group of like minded people to discuss with.

Instructors who are actively working as home staging professionals

creating a beautiful home staging portfolio onlineDid you know that most of the instructors in home staging classes don’t actual stage homes? Most of them haven’t in years. Some haven’t staged a home in decades. The information that they have about our industry is out of date and most of it theoretical. One way to weed through these instructors is to ask to view their RECENT home staging jobs. Be sure to stress that you don’t want to see class photos, but rather you want to see their local home staging jobs.

If they are one of the few that actually does still stage, examine the work. Does it represent the kind of work that you want to do in your business? Remember, this is how they will teach you to work.

Still thinking that you want hands-on training for your new home staging career?

Don’t worry. Our online home staging class isn’t all we have to offer. You always have the option of training with one of our instructors. After you have completed your online course, you can choose either our mentoring/coaching sessions or hands-on staging package.

The hands-on staging package allows you to work specifically with one of our instructors on a live job site. After registering, we’ll connect you with the instructor of your choice and you’ll set up your training directly with them. One of the benefits here is that you won’t be working with dozens of other new trainees, rather you’ll spend the day in a much more private session. This won’t be whatever job the training company could throw together for the class dates, rather it will be a real job, with a real client, with real contracts and customer expectations. $495 for 1 day of training.

Mentoring and coaching sessions can be purchased one at a time, or as a bundle at a discount. These give you one to one conversation on the topic of your choice with the instructor of your choice, up to an hour at a time. Learn from some of the best home stagers in the industry and grow your business on your terms. $125/hr or $495 for 4 sessions.

Bundle your home staging training for the best value

Still thinking about that classroom training? Consider this. If you bundled your online home staging training with hands-on training, and four sessions of mentoring, you’ll only spend $1685. That is still much less than nearly every other classroom style course. Yet instead of being one of many during the hands-on portion, you’ll be working along side your instructor in an assistant style role, learning from them closely. You’ll have unlimited access to all of the training forever, you’ll have four one-on-one, one hour mentoring sessions to grow your business and work out hurdles, and you’ll have access to a private community of students and instructors to share your difficulties and successes.

Start your home staging business today.

New photos COMING SOON! How this is killing your sales.

Today as I sat in my real estate sales meeting, watching a virtual caravan of the most recent listings in our office, I heard two different agents advise as the admin flipped through the photos, “New photos are coming soon.” Right now these listings are live on MLS, potential buyers are viewing them, but they are not the best they can be. The professional photos should be up in a week.

Show the best photos from day 1 of a new listing

This situation reminds me of the old, “I’ll see how the showings go this weekend before I decide if I’m going to stage.” homeowner mentality. How is it that so few “experienced” agents seem to understand that the best activity is always going to be at the beginning of the listing period? Let’s look at this chart by Redfin on the first week of listing activity.

activity during first week of listing

The red line indicates when the home is first listed. The green line indicated activity after it has been updated.

New listings have four times the activity of updated listing

The strategy of updating photos, prices, or staging the home at any time other than BEFORE the listing goes live simply puts the listing at a disadvantage. Holding off means that home sellers have one quarter the chance of success as if they had done the required activity at the time of listing.

One of the things that really makes me crazy in my market is getting listing alerts for a particular neighborhood where I have interested buyers, only to realize that there are no photos. While the agent may have the best professional images imaginable, and the home may be perfect for my home buyers, chances are they will never know. By the time the photos are updated, the listing won’t be fresh. New photos isn’t one of the activities that puts the listing back on our hot sheet. I’m not likely to go back and look in a few days to see if the listing now has photos, neither are most other agents, or potential home buyers. The opportunity is simply gone.

Don’t wait to update your listing, make it fabulous right out of the gate.

Professionally staging each listing PRIOR to listing, getting professional photos PRIOR to listing, and pricing the home properly AT THE TIME of listing is the key to maximizing the final sale price and profitability of any sale.

How to start a home successful staging company with online training.

Are you wondering how you can start a successful home staging company with online training? If you’ve been researching home staging training courses you are probably trying to decide if an online course, or a classroom style course is better. The truth is that they are both very different and the right course will depend on your dedication, time, and personality.

online home staging training certification

Advantages of an online home staging training course

The first thing you need to decide is if an online home staging training course is right for you. Below is a list of some of the advantages that our course offers.

  • Take the course at your own pace. No more trying to find the right location, or a weekend that works for your schedule. Now you can take the course soon as you are ready, watch our online modules in the evenings after the kids go to bed, complete the course in a weekend, or spread it out over several months.
  • No travel expenses. Our online home staging course is taken in the comfort of your own home or office. There is no need to pay for travel, hotel rooms, lunches and dinners out.
  • Unlimited access to training materials. Because our course is kept online and updates are done digitally, you’ll always have access to the latest and greatest. Once you have registered, your access will never terminate.
  • Lessons are ready for you when you need to learn them. One of the most difficult parts of attending a classroom style course is the mind numbing amount of information you’ll receive in only two or three days. Keeping track of it all can be overwhelming. By the time you are ready for your first home staging consultation or quote, you probably won’t remember half of what you were taught. With our online modules and unlimited access, you can always replay the lesson so you have it fresh in your mind.
  • Constant access to our instructors. Part of your online course includes access to our private Facebook community. This is where you can ask questions about what’s going on in your business, voice any problems or concerns you are having with your business, or simply converse behind closed doors with the instructors and other students. By the way this is also a great place to share your blog posts so we can help share them, gaining you additional exposure.

How to start a home staging business with your staging training

Not all home staging training companies are created equal. One of the most important variables that you may need to consider is the level of experience and expertise of the instructor as well as when the course material was last updated. The truth is that many home staging instructors have never owned or operated a home staging business, or even if they did, it was 5 years or more ago.

Because the market is constantly changing, having a home staging instructor that is active in today’s real estate market is vital. While many trainers have made a career of teaching new home stagers and are skilled educators, they don’t know today’s trends or difficulties. How will they help you overcome objections by homeowners and Realtors if they haven’t had to do it in years?

Good stagers fail where good marketers succeed

why should you have your home professionally stagedOne of the biggest factors of the success of a new home staging business is actually not how good the home stager is, it’s how good of a marketer they are. Over the past many years, I’ve seen some great home stagers close their doors because they simply didn’t know how to market their business. A home staging course that is heavy on design concept as opposed to a heavy focus on pricing, marketing, statistics, branding, and profitability may create great home stagers, but unsuccessful businesses.

This isn’t to say that design and decor lessons aren’t important, but the truth is that you are taking a course to learn how to have a successful home staging business, probably because you already have some decor talents.

When you consider which home staging training course is right for you, ask the training provider to have the instructor provide a sample of some of their company’s home staging literature, professional portfolio, or other marketing materials. (Be sure it is for the home staging company of the instructor, not that of the training company.)

Our online home staging training can help you start a new business

If you are serious about starting a new home staging business, then consider SAR’s online class. Our class is regularly updated, taught by some of the most successful stagers in the industry today, and is heavily focused on business.

Register for our online class today, only $695 for all 13 modules.

become a home stager with out online course

Should you build a home staging team, or refer excess work?

When your home staging business starts feeling growing pains should you build a home staging team, or refer excess work to other local home stagers? This isn’t a one size fits all business, and the right answer may be different for everyone reading this blog. In either case, it is important to understand what you want from your business model, both long and short term as well as your daily routine.

The pros and cons of building a home staging team

As most people know, this was an area that really propelled my home staging business. Enjoying the marketing part of my business, the cat and mouse game of getting and staying in front of customers, more than the actual hands-on staging process made building a home staging team a no brainer for me. The trick was finding people who I could trust with my business. Sure, they didn’t have to handle the marketing or finances, but they represented my company and as an extension were representing ME.

Who do you trust with your home staging company’s image?

SAR home staging trainer team at RESA

SAR Instructors, RESA 2011

Not only do you have to worry about general professional appearance and friendly relationships, but what if your new team member gives poor recommendations? This has happened to more than one big time home stager that I know. When they find out from a customer that the advice or behavior has been less than fabulous, heads are likely to roll. We take our reputations seriously and one bad encounter can have tremendous consequences.

In another situation, probably less unique than I would like to think, I had one team member who started taking her own customers and having the customer pay her personally for consultations. Apparently this had been going on for months. We only found out about it because a customer couldn’t reach this consultant one day and was in a hurry to lock down services for a new listing. When we arrived and asked for a check, he wanted to know the stager’s name so he could make it out to her….. not the company. BUSTED.

Unfortunately it can be really easy to not know what’s really going wrong out there. Hopefully you maintain a good enough relationship with your customers that they’ll tell you when something sees fishy, but often they don’t know. This is another great reason to educate your agents on how your business is run. This way they’ll keep you informed when you aren’t there. 

Legal and tax liability for home staging team members

Are your team members independent contractors or are they employees? Do you know the legal and tax related liabilities, differences and consequences of each option? You may think that you can simply claim a stager as an independent contractor but by the law, if you control their schedule or the way they work, they may legally be considered an employee. These things get tricky and if you aren’t careful, they will bite you in the end. That is not to say that an independent contractor isn’t a valid option. You just need to understand the laws and liabilities.

What happens when a team member leaves your company

Another consideration, whether hiring an employee or using an independent contractor is the idea of what happens when they leave your company? If you want to have an enforceable no-compete clause, then really you need to have had an employer-employee relationship.

How will you handle customers that your home staging team member serviced when they were working for you? Will you notify the customers, and if so, what will you say to them? What if you find out that your customers are now working with them and their new company?

How will you handle proprietary information, like flyers, pricing, systems, etc? Have you just given your competition your best kept secrets?

Do you want to stage, or do you want to manage a team?

This may be one of the most important questions to ask yourself when deciding whether it is better to refer your excess business to another home staging company, or build a home staging team. Where are your passions? Do you really want the excess paperwork, regular communication, liability, and potential lack of control of adding someone to your company or would it be easier, and better to simply give up the business temporarily? Again, understanding the way you work and how you want your company to run down the road is an important part of the puzzle.

Want to know more? Take Linda Barnett’s Team Building for Growth and Success online course

Referring excess business to another home staging company

This leads us back to the idea of simply referring work to another home stager when you find your schedule too full. This is also where strong communication and knowledge of your local competition plays a big factor. Local RESA chapters can help create a stager alliance and referral base. Busy stagers can refer work to other competent professionals who haven’t quite hit their stride yet. Since both members belong to the local chapter, and both members have signed a code of ethics agreement, the relationship (hopefully) should be built on professionalism and trust.

Getting paid a referral fee by other home stagers

There are a lot of differing opinions on when a referral fee is appropriate. In my opinion, I treat this as any other real estate transaction. If you were a Realtor,  you would typically pay a 25% referral fee, of the commission paid, to the referring Realtor. For a $200 consultation, that means a $50 referral fee. While no one really wants to make less for their work, the truth is that this is business you would not have otherwise had. If you don’t like the referral fee rate, then negotiate (before you take the referral) or decide not to take it.

If you have another system worked out with a local home stager. That’s fine. Again, this is not a one size fits all business. Just be sure that all of the negotiations have happened before you take the referral to avoid any hard feelings.

Whose customer is it?

Now this is where things can get a bit sticky. If the customer is a new one, and they’ve never had any loyalty to you, chances are that they will probably become the customer of the referred home stager. If they are a good customer that needs service now, but you can’t help them, then they will probably return to you for future business. In either case, whatever they decide, they are the customer and they’ll decide who they want to work with. If you decide to refer business out to another home stager then this is a risk you’ll need to be willing to take.

Just like commissions, future marketing and whether the referred stager is going to solicit to this customer should all be determined before the referral is given. A clear understanding of what’s going to happen, before it does will save a lot of strife and bad feelings.

Which is right for you? Will you build a home staging team, or refer the work?

So, have you decided what the right course of business is for you? It’s not an easy choice. The variables are wide and deep. Ultimately we need to support the decisions of our fellow home staging industry professionals. The reasons you made your choices on building a team, or referring work to another local stager may not apply to them.

If you want to learn more about building a home staging team, take Linda Barnett‘s Team Building for Growth and Success course. This online module is only $149 and will provide in depth information on the following subjects:

Home Staging Team Building for Growth and Success

  • Identify the skills and functions needed to create your dream team
  • Determine a staffing structure that maximizes productivity and profit
  • Maximize the effectiveness of your Independent Contractor Agreement
  • Recognize the optimal time to hire members.
  • Recognize the advantage of working with newly-certified and experienced stagers
  • Enhance how you recruit, train, compensate, and retain team members
  • Enhance your company by working with external groups and resources
  • Recognize the importance of maintaining your team’s tools for success
  • Follow the best practices of team building

Buy this course now, only $149.

*After purchase is complete, you will be asked to “return to Staging & Redesign”.  Clicking this option will provide you with immediate access to your course materials.  You will also receive an email from SAR within 2 business days of class purchase with all necessary links.
This course is RESA Pro Approved. To receive RESA Pro Continuing education credits, please order the course at Educating Home Stagers.