The Big Staging Disconnect With Lifestyle Marketing!

Lifestyle MarketingMost home stagers, certainly those who Staging and Redesign (SAR) certified, will approach each staging project with the following steps:

  1. Preview the property
  2. Decide on the most appropriate target market
  3. stage for that likely demographic
  4. Make it pretty
  5. Have it photographed
  6. Move on with your marketing routine – blog, Houzz, social sharing sites, newsletter inclusion, Instagram, Squidoo, tumblr, whatever is your social media marketing cocktail.

However….your work is being wasted if you don’t tell the realtor/broker WHOM you’ve made the home for. If you don’t, how do you know if your concepts made it to the brochures and the MLS?  Do you have your own Lifestyle Features Summary?

It’s just as much your responsibility to define the lifestyle in the home as it is for real estate photographers to always have a money shot. (Separate beef coming)


I now write the home profiles for Jacksonville Magazine. Last week, I was asked to take that same voice to a narrative for a house sales brochure.  Fun story – the house had been moved on a barge from one side of our city to another.  That whole “did the earth move for you, honey?” “No, it was the house.” kinda thing. Seriously, on wheels to a barge then back on wheels going from an old orange grove to a prime spot on the Intracoastal Waterway.  All good fun.

I was given the article from when the move took place  in 1983, and then the feature sheet from the realtor. That the house has 3 air conditioning units with 5 zones is important, for sure, down here in NorthEast Florida, but it’s not part of the “story”. Nor will it be the factor that tips a family from lookers to buyers. The house had not been staged; the only lifestyle evident is the one the homeowners themselves have. Since they are now the sellers, we can consider that they are at the end of their chapter with this house, and that a  re-set is in order for a new family to see possibilities.

Look at those standard Just Listed brochures –>Real Estate Brochure

There are more places to tell the story than you might imagine. Yes, the move is more towards just great photos, i.e. less text,  but for those who do read, you hope that they will fall in love from the brochure or at the very least, determine to see the property.

Not every stager is a writer, and really, that’s not what’s being asked of you. All the brochure person needs is a summary of your intent and decisions.  They can spin the story from there.

I’m not sure what we’ll wind up calling that sheet at The Staging and Redesign Academy, yet. We have long taught lifestyle marketing but it wasn’t until we were working with a brochure person that we realized we don’t want our efforts wasted by lack of closing this loop.

So there are 2 areas we want to extend our home staging assistance: the MLS blurb and the brochure (admittedly more on higher end sales.)

Is it a Concept Sheet?  A Lifestyle Features & Benefits Summary?  What would you call it; what DO you call it if you already do this?

You Might Just Be A Home Stager!

jacksonville home staging classesAre you living your passion, where the lines between work and pleasure are so blurred you have no concept of time passing?  Do you “follow your bliss”… living in purpose… using your talents…having fun…and making a living at it?

What if all the things that you love don’t feel like a proper profession?  You know, things like color and fabric?  What if you love wandering through show homes and model units?  What if you have a nasty HGTV habit?  That’s okay, it’s perfectly respectable – you’re probably a home stager.  We understand.  Good news is, it IS a profession; you can learn how to do it well, and for a tidy profit.

If that sounds too good to be true… why not try out one of our Jacksonville home staging classes – we will be live and in person this July?

Perhaps you’re still not sure. So, let’s take this self-examination one step further —————>

You might just be a home stager IF

1. You know where every Home Goods store is within a 50 mile radius.Jacksonville home staging classes

2. When you’re in a Home Goods, you can’t help yourself re-arrange the shelves, uniting pairs of things, and sorting things into more logical groupings.

3. You have different sets of pillows and accessories for each season, at least that’s what you tell your family. Every space in your home needs a little refresh from time to time, no?

4. You have been known to fashion a set of drapes out of an old tablecloth with merely a pole and a few rubber bands.

5.  You’ve always wanted to be an interior designer, but can’t draw, can’t be bothered with math, construction nor have any interest in studying all that time in school, apprenticing, dealing with clients, …forget all that, you just want to make rooms pretty.

6.  You can see what a room ought to look like despite what the current owner has done to it. You just see it.  (And frankly don’t understand why other folks can’t see it too.)

Jacksonville Home Staging classes7. You, home decor aficionado, yes, you  can tell the difference between beige, “greige”, french vanilla, ivory and white dove.  [We'd go to "50 shades of... but it's already been taken by a flooring company in the UK, then a nail salon, then...over it, now)  In fact, you own a fan deck. You'd own one from every paint company if you could, though of course you have your favorite!

We know. We get it. We live this way, too!  We know lots of great stagers who make a nice living and are of real value to their community. Value?  Sure, when homes sell for good prices it maintains the value of the neighborhood for everyone.

A sense of design and a feel for color is something you're born with; but cultivating those talents into a profitable career has to be learned, honed and practiced. The good news is that Melissa Marro, the award winning stager , who has built not one, but TWO successful staging companies - in Charleston, SC and now in Jacksonville, FL - is returning to teaching in person. Her first return to the classroom will be in Jacksonville,  this July 16 - 21, 2014 with two options: 2 individual 3 day sessions or one comprehensive 6 day course. This new series of home staging classes will then travel around the US in the Fall, with stops in Atlanta, Dallas and Indianapolis.

What makes your heart happy? Is it interiors?  Then come join us, know that you're not alone.  You're a future home stager and we're ready to get you shoving sofas around with the best of 'em!!

jacksonville home staging classes

Yeah, we see it. You’re one of us.

Photo courtesy of The Rragged Wren.

Jacksonville 3 and 6 day home staging classes now offered!

The last few years SAR has only offered it’s home staging training programs online. Because I’m settled in Jacksonville now and have started establishing a new team, we are ready to begin holding live hands-on classes again. Our new classes will be similar in format to our old 3 day new home stager training program but with a completely updated curriculum, suited to today’s changing real estate market. I’ll personally be teaching at my local Watson Realty Corp office where we’ll have state of the art technology at our finger tips.

Dates When the Class is Available:-

July 16 – 21

September 24 – 29

November 19 -24

9 – 6 most days
Wed Start at 10: a.m.
$2,195/3 day program
$2,999/5 day program
$1,295 for the Vacant 3 day
$2,195/3 day program
$2,999/5 day program
$1,295 for the Vacant 3 day
$2,195/3 day program
$2,999/5 day program
$1,295 for the Vacant 3 day

Three (3) Day Class

Earn your Certified home stager designation in this 3 day course.

online home staging training class

Day 1:  9am to 6pm

  • Course & Instructor Introduction
  • Release, Confidentiality & Authorization forms
  • Staging Facts, Fiction and Fundamentals
  • Understanding demographics & how it affects your business
  • Working with clients, selling your services, bidding and building a reputation
  • Types of consultations, jobs and revenue streams

Day 2:  9am to 6pm

  • Working with Vacant homes
  • Basics of Design Principles, client and architectural needs
  • Accessories, Inventory and Management
  • Pricing Workshop
  • Sales Strategies and Overcoming Objections
  • Presenting to Realtors
  • Working your business – includes goal setting, business planning & marketing workshop
  • Team Building

Day 3:  9am to 6pm

  • Hands on staging – Stage an occupied property currently on the market
  • Creating a compelling portfolio – taking & editing photos then putting it all together
  • Setting up your business and getting started
Space is limited. Call Melissa Marro (904) 466-2093 or Juliet Johnson (973) 477-7000 to reserve your seat or for inquiries.


Six (6) Day Class

Earn your Vacant Property Specialist Designation in this three day course.

Learn online vacant home staging

Included in this 3 day add-on or stand alone course: comprehensive 100 page manual, staging business forms and contracts, access to our private Facebook community, national and local press releases, certificate of completion &  Vacant Property Specialist designation logo.  Lunch, snacks, and drinks included on Day 6.

Day 4: 9am to 6pm – Vacant home staging

Previewing the property

  • Creating a vacant home staging plan
  • Picking and packing
  • Vacant staging installation
  • Buying and managing inventory
  • Visit CORT furniture


Day 5: 9am to 6pm

Understanding logistics

  • Pricing your vacant home staging jobs
  • Structuring your contracts
  • Working with other stagers
  • Visit project home
  • Pick and Pack for tomorrow’s staging

Day 6: 8am to 6pm – Staging Day

Meet at office

  • Stage vacant home currently on the market
  • Discuss project
  • End of class.
Space is limited. Call Melissa Marro (904) 466-2093 or Juliet Johnson (973) 477-7000 to reserve your seat or for inquiries.


Vacant Property Specialist (stand alone vacant staging class)

Already have your staging certification but looking to expand your business? Learn the ins and outs of managing vacant staging for investors, home builders, and individual sellers. Attend days 4, 5 and 6 to earn your VPS designation.

Learn online vacant home staging



Classes will be held at the Watson Realty Office on Rte 220:

175 Hampton Point
St Augustine, FL 32092

Space is limited. Call Melissa Marro (904) 466-2093 or Juliet Johnson (973) 477-7000 to reserve your seat or for inquiries.

Virtual Home Staging VS Traditional Home Staging. A Conversation.

A few days ago on I posted about the question of Virtual home staging VS Traditional home staging and promoted a conversational debate that was going to happen over on Steven Aaron’s Facebook feed last night. Unfortunately I was busy at an Investor’s Group meeting that had been on my calendar for weeks (prior to me learning about Steven’s conversation). I was thrilled to find out that the chat happened in a facebook post on his business page, which meant that not only could I go back and read it, but I could in fact embed it into my blog post. (I would have done it on AR’s post since that’s where I orginally posted about it but unfortunately they don’t seem to allow you to embed feeds. I don’t quite know why that is.)

(click comment icon above to read comments)
I was very pleased to see that Steven answered some of my questions even though I wasn’t there.

My virtual home staging questions to HGTV’s Steven Aaron.

“We can see how virtual staging can make a difference when the buyer is shopping online, however, do you feel that not having the property staged negatively impacts the property when the buyer visits in person? Do you feel that the virtual impacted this important part of the equation? If so, how?”

In this case, its hard to tell because we’re in a very low inventory market and the price point of this particular property was lower. Therefore there is a tremendous amount of demand for it. In general, I would only use virtual staging for specific situations and/or properties only. Nothing can replace the emotional connection that a buyer makes when a home is actually beautifully staged. 

“Did I expect this topic to be so controversial and why do I think that it is?”

You know, technology is a very funny thing. For example, I advocate the advances made by social media and the opportunities it has created for realtors to strengthen client relationships, develop referrals, celebrate listings & sales, etc. However, at the same time, what was once very labor intensive to create, technology has supported an accessibility to things like virtual staging, which I believe isn’t the best tool to use to ensure maximum success in selling a listing on the market.

The home staging story that brought up the conversation (again).

Of course this conversation and the controversy that created it, all started because Steven Aaron, a home staging advocate who spoke at the 2014 RESA Convention, posted that he had used a virtual home stager and that this property not only sold quickly, but over list price.

home by Virtual staging solutions

To give you perspective, this property was listed at $339,000, which is a lower price point in our market. We received 3 offers and sold the property in less than one week, $352,500. 13k over asking, all cash​, ​15 day close.” Steven Aaron, HGTV’s Selling LA

The problem to the home staging community is that this public acceptance by a Television personality that typically uses traditional home staging could create competition. Additionally, many in the staging industry feel that in most markets this type of visual marketing simply won’t be effective. It will tarnish the viability of an industry that we’ve spent more than a decade building up, one that only now seems to actually be gaining momentum and becoming more commonplace. It is typically already enough when we have other visible Realtors who are seemingly questioning whether or not staging is important in the selling process.

The truth is that there is no right answer. There are better answers, but only if the customer has the right budget. In this case, if you read Steven Aaron’s story, you’ll find that this seller did not have the budget to stage the entire home. Instead they went for a different option, one that they could afford.

Is Virtual Staging really just another example of Vignette Staging?

I don’t frankly see this as very different than the idea of vignette staging (also interestingly enough abbreviated by stagers at VS). Vignette staging is where small items are placed in the home that help to warm it up, or soften hard, cold spaces – like kitchens and bathrooms. Typically you’ll see this represented as towels in the bath and bowls of fruit, cookbooks, and plants in the kitchen. Occassionally, you’ll also see bookcases treated with vignette staging. I’ve always been of the opinion that this isn’t really satisfactory either. My Jacksonville home staging company won’t even provide this service to our customers.

That said, Karen Otto, one of the SAR Instructors in Plano, TX, does a lot of vignette staging and believes strongly that it is a huge benefit to her customers. Her work is beautiful and she’s one of the most successful and talented stagers I know, so who am I to argue?

plano tx home staging

sar home staging training tx

After listening to the discussions and weighing them out in my head, I think the answer is that there isn’t really a right answer. I think any good Realtor or home stager will tell you that professionally staging the entire home is probably the best thing you can do to sell it quickly for top dollar (especially if it is vacant). When the home is occupied, a home staging consultation and the seller doing the recommended work may be enough. When there isn’t enough in the budget to hire a professional or rent furniture, art, and accessories, then vignette staging and virtual staging may be a better option than doing nothing.

Now, Realtors and home stagers, I’m curious to hear what you think. 

Are you embedding your facebook home staging posts into your blogs?

I’ve written before about why and how you can and should embed your social media posts into your home staging blogs, but are you doing it? If you are blogging, doesn’t it make sense to increase your exposure on social media or other blogs by utilizing something you are already doing?

home staging social media

how to share your home staging work

Don’t just add hyperlinks, use visualization to increase your followers.

Let’s imagine that you are writing about something fabulous and make reference to another staging project, or another subject. Perhaps you are talking about your most recent home staging project and want to discuss the importance of professional photography in maximizing the online appeal. Do you think a link to your past post, or an embedded facebook post would get more clicks?

What if you wanted to share tips on how to use photography?


Use your facebook posts to give additional information on individual projects.

Writing about a specific home and want to share more photos? Sure, you can create a gallery in that page and post all of the photos, or you can give a quick snapshot, and send them off to your social media platforms …

Linda Barnett, Home Matters in Indianapolis, and Margaret Gehr in Chicago, have done this seamlessly in their recent blogs. (It’s always nice when people pay attention to what you write. =)

Here’s what it could look like though….



Remember that when people are looking at your home staging blogs, chances are that they are looking for visual references and cues as to what your work is like. We know that people are far more likely to skim over your posts and look at the pictures, bolds and highlights than they are wordy paragraphs. With so many people connecting on mobile devices, capturing easy groupings of photos and links that clearly showcase what they’ll find may be the secret to getting more viewers.

Now, how will you start to use a social media embed strategy?

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 probably 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 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. 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 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:


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:

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.