Design Resources

Increase Visibility and Grow Your Design Business

In this multi-part blog series, we’re taking an inside look at some super cool online courses created specifically for interior designers – to help you grow your business, become more profitable, and market yourself better. Next, we’re taking a look at Visibility Warrior a course by Design & Style’s Rachel Moriarty and Dixie Willard!

Everyone has insecurities. Stories we tell ourselves that hold us back from doing scary new things. “I’m too old,” or “I’m not attractive enough,” or “I don’t have enough experience,” or any one of a hundred other whispers from that voice in our head. Yet some people find a way to push beyond those limiting beliefs to grow and shine in a way that’s totally true to them. Even “introverted introverts” and “shy awkward turtles,” as Dixie Willard and Rachel Moriarty refer to themselves.

Dixie and Rachel formed a close bond while building their own design firms and struggling to learn how to grow them into successful businesses. They coached each other and learned together. And eventually, they realized that most of their success was the result of one underlying thing: visibility.

In the beginning, Dixie and Rachel were not all that comfortable with being visible. Rachel is a natural creative, taking her career from international fashion merchandising to photo styling, boutique owner, and now running her own interior design firm (not to mention an 8-year stint as a private banker, which was an unexpected but valuable experience in becoming comfortable with high-value clients and money in general). Similar to Rachel, Dixie always had a talent and affinity for design. She has a degree in interior design degree, earned her certification, and now runs her own business as well. Both Rachel and Dixie struggled with insecurities and discomfort in “putting themselves out there” — but both women were also driven to have their own business and make it as successful as they could. So they kept trying and encouraging each other, and eventually figured out what worked along the way.

Now they’re sharing what they’ve learned with other designers in their online course, Visibility Warrior.

“We created a space for people to share their insecurities and fears, and we celebrated it. We really cheer people on when they do their first Facebook live or their first video. Even changing their profile avatar on Facebook from a logo to their face. Those little steps are the beginning of claiming your visibility.”

Becoming Visible Doesn’t Have to Be Scary, or Overwhelming

Back in the day, designers worked by word of mouth. It was slow and dependant on connections and what circles you ran in. But now, we have social media and blogs and mobile phones – it should be so easy! But it’s not that simple – it’s a big mindset change for most designers.

A lot of designers start out by dipping a toe into building visibility: a Facebook post here, a blog there. They know they’re supposed to be doing it for their business, but it’s random and without strategy or purpose. It can feel time-consuming and unproductive.

Dixie and Rachel get it – they started there too. But over years of pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and learning and encouraging each other, they’ve learned that the more you do it, the easier and more comfortable it becomes to grow your visibility. Even better – any designer can do it.

“You can do one blog post, and then take that content and do Facebook Live for five days. You can syndicate content so it’s not as overwhelming. You can make a lot of waves from a little bit of effort.”

Be a Business First, Designer Second

Design is the thing that comes easy. It’s your passion and it comes naturally. But if you don’t actively get in there any grow and manage your business, you won’t have much design to work on. It’s important to consider yourself a business owner first, and designer second. It helps you prioritize some of the stuff that you might otherwise push to the bottom of the pile: marketing, bookkeeping, being visible.

“If I’m not visible (whether it’s in the community or online)—letting people know what I do, who I do it for, how I do it—they’re not going to find me. You can’t just register your company name and expect people to come flocking to you. The bigger part of business is staying top of mind.”

A lot of designers would love to be seen as a trend spotter, or be part of a blog tour. They wait for someone else to validate them. But you don’t need to rely on someone else – you can create it for yourself.

“If you take yourself seriously, not only as a designer but as a brand, and put yourself out there in a real way and start talking about what you’re passionate about, you can create your own reality. Define yourself as a style spotter. Create your own blog tour. No one else has to take a sword and say, ‘I deem you style spotter.’ You can go do that yourself.”

When designers get into the mindset of really owning their business and getting clear on what they want to achieve and their goals, everything begins to open up for them.

About the Course

The Visibility Warrior course teaches participants how to become more visible in a way that is comfortable and productive for them and their business. There are ten modules; each includes a video, worksheets, readings or other support material. Master classes also give supplemental information based on the interests of the group (for example, if participants are interested in learning more about how to use Pinterest, Dixie and Rachel may bring a Pinterest expert in to do a live video call).

The course is organized around nine key values –  The Nine C’s:

  1. Clarity: who you are, what you do, and where you want to be a year, three years, five years from now
  2. Commitment: How and where do you need to show up to achieve your goals?
  3. Courage: A four-step Facing Your Fear process that helps you discover what it is you’re really afraid of and how to overcome those fears.
  4. Content: what types of content work best, where to put that content, ideas for future content, and ways to keep it all straight.
  5. Connect: How you can connect in a personal way in both your in-person and your online visibility.
  6. Creativity: Applying that creativity to your visibility
  7. Community: the different types of communities you need to have as well as how to cultivate and grow them
  8. Collaboration: the benefits of collaborating, how to find others to work with, and how to make the most of reaching out to each other’s communities.
  9. Consistency: You have to keep showing up. You have to keep showing up. You have to keep showing up. Learn the frequency that works best for you, your business, and building your community.

The tenth bonus “C” is for “Concoction”: the unique visibility concoction that will work best for you and your business.

The course can be taken either in a self-guided format that gives participants access to all of the course content so they can go through it on their own schedule, or a guided session during which Dixie and Rachel provide personal support and guidance while participants go through the course together week-by-week.

Do you learn best by watching videos? Prefer to listen to an audio while you drive? Or read and take notes? The Visibility Warrior content is offered in different formats for people’s different learning styles.

Participants in the guided version get a three-month membership to the Visibility Lab, an ongoing monthly membership group in which Dixie and Rachel answer questions, hold weekly office hours, and foster conversation about visibility. More informal evening Visibility Support Sessions offer an opportunity for additional coaching (“Usually wine or whiskey is involved,” Dixie mentions, laughing.) After the course ends, participants can continue to access the course materials and receive ongoing continuing education in the Visibility Lab.
“it’s knowing that you are you, accepting yourself for who you are, pushing forward, making new strides every day and doing it no matter how scared you are.”
In addition to Visibility Warrior, Dixie and Rachel have:

Paid membership site The Visibility Lab ($35/month)

Learn more about Visibility Warrior [Registration for the next guided session will open in July 2018; cost is $597. Registration for the self-guided version is currently open; cost is $297]

Find Dixie and Rachel together on Design & Style’s Facebook and Instagram.

Gather for Interior Designers

Gather helps streamline your business and create growth opportunities. Use its elegant and easy-to-use interface to organize your design projects and collect, manage, and track product specifications.