We get it. With a full to-do list of daily items each week, it's easy to lose sight of your larger business goals. But intentionally setting aside time to assess what is working (and what isn't) in recent months is key for keeping business on track.
Outlining action items can be overwhelming, so we’ve broken it down into seven steps you can easily conquer one-by-one to keep moving forward. Better yet, you can tackle most of these checklist items TODAY. We’ll cover SEO, analytics, outsourcing, education, and everything you need to for a boost. Let’s get started!
1. UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE
If that sounds daunting, fear not, these are not our usual lengthy and in-depth tutorials. Here are three steps that you can conquer in less than three minutes each.
Update your website footer copyright to be current for the year. “Copyright 2022 – [insert business name here]. All rights reserved.” Don’t forget to hit save and publish.
Submit your updated website to Google for indexing. Google “crawls” websites to find content periodically but smaller websites aren’t crawled as frequently. You can ensure Google has your most current version of your website by clicking here.
Spend an hour updating your previous blog posts to cross-reference each other properly. For example, if you revealed a kitchen project in February of last year, go back and link to the other three kitchens you revealed later in the year. A simple paragraph at the end of a post such as “Looking for more inspo? Check out our Project Name, Project Name and Project Name for our latest kitchen designs.”
You can do the same in your portfolio projects! Include in a description links to similar projects your potential clients might be interested in seeing. These backlinks not only help your user experience, so you can guide your website visitors to finding the content they’re looking for and invite them to stick around.
OPTIONAL STEP FOUR
If you’re on a roll and ready to improve your website’s visibility even further, follow these quick steps to drastically improve your SEO. Are you an interior designer or lifestyle brand? Click here to easily update your website portfolio.
2. ANALYZE WHAT SHOULD BE OUTSOURCED
If you’re looking to grow and scale your business, one of most strategic decisions you can make comes down to outsourcing. At the IDCO Studio, our team grew by leaps and bounds recently, and it’s because we fully believe in outsourcing as much as possible! The hiring process can feel so overwhelming, especially for a solo-preneur, but when you hand off tasks that aren’t your magical sweet spot gift, your business will thrive. Hire an expert and they’ll get it done in a fraction of the time it takes you (and better!) while you focus on the parts of your business that you know and love. A few items you might not have thought to outsource are things like renderings + elevations, receiving orders (which should be billed back to your clients anyway!), press pitching, and bookkeeping. Side note: we actually wrote an entire post on why you should outsource bookkeeping with a special code to try our platform of choice with your first month free.
At the IDCO Studio, we’ve also expanded our offerings to include tasks like blog content creation, Pinterest content packages, newsletters, Instagram content packages, portfolio curation along with our signature branding and web design for interior designers. We’ve found this allows our interior designers to streamline their outsourced work with one creative agency, keeping things consistent across platforms.
PS: If writing is not your forte, we offer Client Email Templates produced by our team of expert copywriters to streamline your workflow. These inbox-ready emails are one of the easiest ways to outsource + save time with fill-in-the-blank templates made for every email interaction in your day-to-day.
3. REFRESH YOUR MARKETING MATERIALS
In a service-based industry like design, client experience is everything. From the initial outreach to the final send-off, every designer needs a seamless process in place to impress clients at every turn. Maybe you’ve already developed an investment guide to help field new inquiries, but the work doesn’t end there. Once you’ve signed on a new client, it’s time to continue showcasing your brand.
Now is the perfect time to give your marketing materials a serious refresh, whether you DIY or choose to outsource with our Client Process Templates. These customizable templates (which are available to shop either individually or bundled) serve so many functions, like setting expectations, sharing timelines, and communicating what to expect each step of the way. Not only are your marketing materials a key part of the client education process, but they’re one of the QUICKEST ways to take your brand experience to the next level.
4. CHECK YOUR GOOGLE ANALYTICS
It's always a great idea to know the source of the majority of your web traffic.
To find where your website traffic is coming from:
Log into analytics.google.com
Go to Acquisition
You’ll see four categories: Social, Referral, Direct, and Organic Search. You can click on any of these categories to see what links referred to your site, which social platforms sent the most traffic, as well as what keywords people used to find your site via Google search.
HINT: Instagram is NOT our top referral. We get by far the most website traffic from Pinterest—about 25x the amount from Instagram actually!
This information will show you where your efforts are worth the time and where they might not be. Better yet, you can use these stats to reallocate spending or to justify investing more money in certain marketing channels.
Successful businesses are those that are analyzed and edited regularly. Don’t let this analysis fall to the back burner, schedule in time to review your year and set interior design business goals. As always, don’t forget that every loss or misstep was a learning experience to celebrate. Not every win in business is a win!
5. DIVERSIFY YOUR REVENUE
As designers—and this goes for everything from graphics to interiors—everything you’re paid to do requires your hands and eyes on it. In a service-based business, it’s particularly important to diversify your revenue streams, because sometimes, projects are delayed or there is a lull in your billable hours as you’re waiting for product to arrive. Multiple streams of income gives you a little insurance when business is slow in one area or another.
As an example, you could consider offering hourly design consultations for one-off services like selecting countertops, paint colors, or fixtures for a client who isn’t ready to commit to full design services. These consults will be billed at a 3x premium rate. So, if your hourly billable rate is $220 on a standard design project, these calls should be limited to 60 minutes and billed at $660. Keep these calls limited to a single day a week (we like Mondays, as they are often our admin days) and limit yourself to no more than three so it isn’t eating into your other work.
Affiliate links are an easy way to link similar items from a project and have them live permanently on your blog, creating passive income. We’ve also found that our affiliate links make us steady revenue when pinned to Pinterest. We’ve got more on the best ways to use affiliate links as an interior designer here.
Designer mentorships are another creative way to earn extra income in slower periods of business. Many young designers have formal education (or are self-taught) but lack the real world, on-site experience they need to be successful. You can set up these mentorships however you’d like—one day, one week, six months with two days per month, etc., but these should be charged at a premium as well. Your time, your energy, and your experience should be priced accordingly.
PRO TIP: DON’T FORGET TO SHARE YOUR NEW SERVICES.
The key to diversifying your income is that you need people to know it’s something you offer. Talk about it on Instagram Stories, announce it in newsletters and reference it later, share case studies/examples on social media or blog posts. People need to know there are ways to work with you aside from full-scale projects for these other revenue streams to generate income.
6. REVIEW YOUR PAST PROJECTS
Looking back on the past year, which projects stand out as your favorites? What about them made them a favorite? Was it the client, the budget, the location, the design style? Which projects would you rather not repeat? What about those less-perfect projects made them less favorable? Of those items, which could you have handled differently to change the outcome?
Of all your projects, rank them in order from least favorite to favorite. Now focus on your top three. Pick three similarities about them. Those three similarities are what you’re going to build your marketing + branding around going forward. They will build the profile for your ideal client and give direction to your interior design business goals in the future.
For example: when we did this exercise heading into 2018, we realized all of our favorite clients were interior designers with 2-5 years experience. From that moment on, we stopped focusing on anyone with a creative business and honed in on serving interior designers exclusively. Those other creative entrepreneurs created the same revenue, but when we took stock of what we loved and felt we did best at, the answer was clear. It’s important to note that this recommendation isn’t as much about niching as it is messaging. The similarities in your top three projects might not be type, but budget or location-based. It could be that they’re second homes. The point is that by identifying your ideal project, you know who you are targeting. This allows you to write more effective copy on your websites, social media captions, and email marketing that resonates with that market.
For more on this topic, check out How to Attract Your Ideal Client.
7. INVEST IN BUSINESS EDUCATION
The New Year is a great time to reassess which areas of your business need additional expertise and which specific skills you and your team might be lacking. Business education has not only made the most substantial contribution to our success at IDCO, but it’s the key component to the growth of your brand that you should be budgeting for every month. We suggest laying out your budget for the year and working backward. Select the online courses, workshop or retreat of your dreams, and start planning for it NOW. This will serve as your inspiration platform and guiding light for the year.
The bottom line: business education is always an investment worth making. Make this the year you commit to better serving your clients + your team through continued learning.
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