Do a quick scan of the feelings that come up when you read those words.
Do you feel resistance? Excitement? Annoyance? Defiance? Apathy?
Despite all the years that I have been in business teaching other designers how to make more money by specializing, I still feel a little bit resistant to it.
And I am guessing you do too.
Why? Because no one wants to be put in a box, restricted, or possibly limited in their business. It is in our nature to want it all; to be scared—yes, scared—to do anything that may block potential clients from coming our way.
Sure, I'll do mid-century modern! French country, no problem! You only have $1,000 for your entire home? Of course I can make it work! You want five full design schemes? Give me a week! A cabin 500 miles from anything? Sounds great! Yes, three weeks is doable!
The fish in the barrel are the ones already looking for a certain design specialty. They've self-identified and rounded themselves up for you.
Why you should choose a specialty
When we specialize, we're saying "this is what I do best, and this is why you should hire me".
Have you heard the saying "jack of all trades, master of none"? You want to be a master of something in the interior design business because you will make more money specializing. You want to be known for what you do best. You want to attract your ideal clients solely by being known for your specialty.
Okay, so how do you make more money by specializing? Wouldn't you have the potential to make more money if you just accepted any clients?
When you have a specialty, ideal clients will come looking for that specialty. They will specifically search you out, and it will be an easier decision to hire you because you have what they are looking for. They will see you as a master, and they will not question if you're the right match.
Let's say you design luxury pool houses—it's what you love and what clients seek you out for. If your designs are everywhere when clients search online for "pool house design", then they will have no doubt that you are right for their pool house when they meet with you.
On the other hand, let's say that your interior design business accepts all sorts of clients, and you've never defined any specialty in luxury pool house design. Getting clients will be more difficult because you will have to work harder to stand out as a generalist.
It's like shooting fish in the ocean vs. in a barrel. The fish in the barrel are the ones already looking for a certain design specialty. They've self-identified and rounded themselves up for you.
(P.S.: Google "luxury pool house designer"—there aren't any design firms that come up. Looks like an opportunity to me! Some SEO and content marketing and you could be THE luxury pool house designer.)
Your specialty doesn't have to be as specific as luxury pool houses. Just because you specialize doesn't mean that you can't take on other clients or projects.
How to choose a specialty
Your niche could be about the client, like single dads or young professionals. It could be location-based, such as a certain neighborhood or area. You could specialize in a certain room or type of project, such as new construction, vacation homes, or kids' bedrooms. You could also differentiate yourself by focusing strongly on budgets or timelines. The strongest specialization (and the one that will likely make the most money) will combine two or more of these niches.
Here are some great examples of designer specialties:
- Amber Interiors: A very specific Los Angeles aesthetic.
- Tiny Little Pads: Kids' rooms. Super cute.
- Aaron Stewart Home: Luxury design primarily for projects located in Puerto Rico.
- James Mills Studio: High-end retail store conceptualization, design, and visual merchandising.
Creating a successful interior design business doesn't require you to be a master in everything, or even a jack of all trades. You only need to be the master of one.
Capella Kincheloe is an interior designer who helps fellow designers build their businesses. She is cofounder of Design Collective ATL, has been published in national magazines, and has worked on all types of residential design projects. She can help design and build your optimal business too—learn more at www.capellakincheloe.com.
This post originally appeared at https://www.capellakincheloe.com/blog/make-money-specializing.