Online design or e-design is something I wanted to do ever since college. Back then I had this idea of doing physical mood boards for clients. Packaging them up with cute branding along with a shopping list and floor plan. Back then I built a website for this business venture, I believe I called it Casa Decor. I didn't do much else from there. It's safe to say I had no idea what I was doing when it came to business and nobody had ever heard of such a thing as design in a box, literally. Had I known how to get it off the ground I might have been sitting on the very first e-design goldmine.
Reason #1 to follow your creative ideas.
A few years later e-design became all the rage and I jumped in at the very beginning and started a design company that only did e-design because I chose to run my business with all the freedom I could get while still offering a high end service.
So What is e-design and how does it even work?
With Interior Design becoming wildly popular, thanks HGTV! It's no longer a luxury service meant for people who can afford it. Personally it shouldn't be, design and having a beautiful space should be available to everyone and e-design allows that. Basically it's where every part of the design is handled completely online. The process is as follows:
1. The client signs up and answers a questionnaire or this could be a phone interview with you.
2. The client provides existing photos, measurements, rough sketch of the floor plan and sends all that information to you.
3. The magic happens and you, the designer, pull together a design board.
4. Send the board over to the client for approval. You may go back and forth on the design a few times before final approval.
5. Once approved you do the shopping list and floor plan.
The great thing is you get to decide how extensive your services are. Since this is supposed to be quick and easy you might decide to only give them 1-2 revision and then charge for any changes after that. I've done projects where I also provide a 3-D rendering.
Sky is the limit when it comes to an e-design business.
Every e-design company I've done work for and including my own business has offered pricing a la cart, meaning one flat fee. This is anywhere from $150 per room (way too low) to $300 per room. Some have provided up charges for purchasing furniture, I personally would not do this unless your were purchasing the furniture for your clients from to the trade only providers. If you are using online retailers like Target, West Elm, etc. I think it's a bit unfair to do an up charge on these items but again it's totally up to you and how you want to run your business.
You could decide not to do a la cart and charge by the hour. If you go this rout it's best to quote the client how many hours you think it will take and have them sign a contract based on this amount. My hourly rate is about $100/hr so If the design takes 10 hours to complete I've just made $1000. If the project goes over 10 hours, I inform the client and have them purchase extra hours.
Remember this should be a lot faster and easier than traditional interior design services with less hand holding. Projects like this should not last months, however there will be "those" clients that need a bit more attention.
The fact that this is an online design business means that majority of your clients will come from online sources. 99% of my clients came from online, the rest were friends of mine. This means leveraging yourself online and being visible on social platforms is extremely important. This also means you will start to build a following pretty quickly as well as a brand. Here's where things get fun when it comes to the online world. Since the people you work with aren't necessarily one and done because they are seeing you pretty much daily via social media and online this means they could potentially come back many times for various services. To ensure that we need to get them from the social platforms into your email list because those of us in online businesses know "The money is in your list."
So how do you do this?
That's what's called an opt-in. Know that box that pops up on your favorite retailer that ask for your email address to get 10%, that's an example of an opt in.
I recommend getting a bit more creative than a discount though so you stand out. Such as a design style quiz or free gift of some sort.
Depending on what I felt like doing from month to month I was taking home $700-3000 per month from e-design and most of the time those larger amounts came from just one client.
I know the above information can sound like a completely different language but I'm here to answer any questions you might have!!