Design Business

Should You Offer Online Interior Design Services?

Everything’s gone online these days, so it makes sense that interior design has turned online, too. The traditional model of welcoming clients into your office is now replaced by booking Skype calls and meeting with clients virtually, from different time zones, different cities, and even different countries. It’s a brand-new world.

But should you really embrace virtual reality and offer online interior design services?

In this post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of offering online services to your interior design clients. Let’s get started.

Here are must-know tips for working with long-distance clients in your interior design business.

The Pros of Offering Online Interior Design Services

What are the benefits that you stand to gain from hopping on the e-design trend? Here are the top reasons why you should consider offering eDesign to your clients:

You can be location-independent

Because online interior design can take place anywhere with a laptop, you don’t need to come into a physical office to do your job. You can work from your bedroom or while on vacation in the south of France.

Young interior designer working on laptop with coffee and young coconut

This also goes for your interior design clients. They don’t have to physically come into your office. They can live anywhere in the world and still take advantage of your design genius.

You can reach the next generation

In 2019, Millennials (born from 1981 to 1998) are expected to outnumber Baby Boomers. This represents a changing of the guards. It’s also important to note that there are approximately 5 million more Millennials than there are Generation Xers (born from 1965 to 1980). Because Millennials are also buying their first homes and hiring interior designers to decorate them, it’s important to speak to this generation.

Millennials are not like Baby Boomers. They don’t do interior design business in the traditional way. They’re more likely to turn to Pinterest, Instagram, Houzz, or even YouTube for design inspiration. They’re also highly likely to DIY their interior design.

Millennial interior design clients using smartphone with coffee at university college break - People hands addicted by mobile smart phone - Technology concept with connected trendy millennials - Filter image

However, their DIY spirit doesn’t mean that they see no need for interior design services. They’ll welcome a reasonably priced online interior design service to set them on the right path and give them specific advice about their space. If you offer this eDesign service, you can reach a generation who doesn’t necessarily want a full-fledged interior design experience, but wants to benefit from your design know-how.

eDesign is affordable for you

When you offer eDesign services, you are able to do so with little overhead. One reason is that you can avoid opening a physical office, unless you want to. Physical offices are costly with recurrent lease and utility bills. Offering eDesign exclusively allows you to control costs considerably, while still doing what you love.

eDesign is affordable for your clients

You’re not the only one who benefits financially from offering eDesign services. Your clients can pay considerably less for your expert advice, which is a definite perk for them.

Many would-be clients don’t hire interior designers simply because of the high price tag involved. That’s not a knock to you, because you deserve to be paid for your hard work. It’s just how it is. However, eDesign changes the playing field and makes it easier for prospective interior design clients to consider hiring you.

You can work on an hourly or per-project basis. You can also offer multiple tiers to denote different levels of experience or service scope. Remember to give your clients choices so that they make the decision that best fits their budget.

It’s easy for a prospective client to justify paying for online interior design services, especially if you provide them with immediate benefits in return.

eDesign allows you to expand your list of services

As mentioned above, you can open your interior design business to a wider audience simply by expanding your services into the virtual realm.

By the way, the deliverables for most eDesign services include most or all of the following:

  • Shopping list
  • Floor plan (2D or 3D)
  • Vision board
  • Mood board
  • Fabric, paint, flooring, wallpaper samples
  • Design implementation instructions – How to hang curtains, art and accessory placement, etc.

You can have more flexibility in your work day

If you work exclusively with eDesign clients, you can arrange your day around a schedule that works for both you and your clients. You don’t need to clock in at 9 and go home at 5, unless you want to. This is especially true if you’re working across time zones and need to be available for those early-morning or late-night consultations.

The Cons of Offering Online Interior Design Services

Now that we’ve explored the major reasons to go for eDesign, let’s discuss some of the looming drawbacks.

eDesign requires technical know-how

Because most eDesign takes place on the computer and on the Internet, you’ll need to be familiar with both to do your job successfully. At the very least, you’ll need to know the following:

  • How to create and maintain a website
  • How to share your screen
  • How to use design software to bring your drawings to life
  • How to use Skype (or a similar program) to communicate with your clients

Even if you know the above to a comfortable level of proficiency, you’ll still encounter technical difficulties— many of which are out of your control. For example, you must rely on your clients to take usable snapshots of their room in good lighting in order for you to understand the space. And, you’ll find out, that not everyone is a born photographer.

Additionally, clients will also need to know how to use the same communication technology, and that can become a hassle really quickly if they do not.

Keep in mind that if you’re a designer who offers “traditional” design services, you will also need to be tech savvy. You still need to maintain a website, be able to respond to client queries via email, and understand the ins and outs of the main social media profiles.

eDesign can lead to unclear client expectations

Offering Online Interior Design Services

When offering eDesign services, you must set clear boundaries and expectations with your clients.

One of the major benefits of eDesign is its affordability for the client. But that affordability also means that you’ll attract a lot of clients who want more than what you are able to give unless you set their expectations. While “traditional” designers also run into the same issue, it’s even more important for those offering eDesign to protect their time. Doing so will ensure that the project is profitable and not a waste of time.

The reason you’re able to provide consultation services at such affordable rates is because eDesign is “low touch,” and your clients need to understand what that means. Be careful to explain what your eDesign service does and does not include. Create a clear terms of service agreement to cut down on the grey areas.

Should You Offer Online Services Exclusively?

Should you or shouldn’t you?

eDesign isn’t for every interior designer.

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Some designers are much more comfortable in a face-to-face environment with their clients, and if that’s who you are, then embrace it. You’re always best at doing what you love. However, if you’re itching to explore this trendy service, go for it. The pros definitely outweigh the cons, and if you hate it, you can discontinue these services at any time.

Also remember that you can try out eDesign on a temporary or trial basis to see if it’ll work.

Have You Signed Up for Your Free Trial Yet?

Whether you offer eDesign services, “traditional” services, or a combination of the two, you still need a tool that allows to manage your projects.

Meet Gather. Instead of patching together unrelated software to make your design business work, use an all-in-one tool that allows you to clip images to your library, communicate with your clients in one place, and tally up all of the costs related to the project in one place. Manage and grow your business with Gather. Start your free trial now, no credit card required.

Don’t forget to download your list of tips for working with long-distance interior design clients.