As an interior designer, one of the best ways to separate yourself from the pack is to specialize. While others are generalists, you can become a respected expert in an interior design specialty that you love. However, if you’re not sure whether choosing a niche is for you, let’s look at the benefits that you stand to gain, along with how to find the right specialty.
What is an Interior Design Niche?
A niche is an area of expertise. As an interior designer, your niche can refer to any of the following:
- Your favorite design style (i.e. shabby chic, minimalism, art deco)
- Your preferred client type (i.e. married couples, Generation Xers, young families)
- Your preferred type of interior (i.e. lofts, tiny homes, houseboats)
- Your preferred budget type (i.e. budget friendly and affordable for all, ultra luxury, somewhere in the middle)
While this isn’t an exhaustive list, it does illustrate how many different ways there are to niche your interior design business. In fact, you may be in a niche right now without realizing it. If so, that’s awesome, and here’s why:
What are the Benefits of Choosing an Interior Design Niche?
Even though you’re in a people-pleasing industry, it doesn’t mean that you need to please everyone. Specializing allows you to focus on the clients that you are certain to please with your work, price, project management style, or all of the above. Let’s look at the 6 benefits you’ll gain by choosing an interior design specialty.
1. Deeply Understand Your Ideal Client
The idea of working with a wide assortment of clients may be enticing. One day, you’re working with an eccentric millionaire who needs help designing his luxury yacht. The next day, you’re working with a middle class family who’s saved for years to re-imagine their basement. It can be an ego boost because you’re able to work with so many different clients without running out of useful ideas. However, the constant switch between client types can be dizzying after a while. It’s easy to get exhausted by the endless switching back and forth.
The solution? Focus on one client type.
At first glance, this may not seem like a benefit. After all, you’re limiting your pool of prospective clients. However, limiting clients is good because it allows you to truly learn as much as possible about that person. You can ask questions like:
- What are their needs?
- What are their wishes?
- How much are they willing to spend?
- How much convincing will they need?
- What interior design knowledge will they have?
- What style of design are they most comfortable with?
- What tax deductions may they apply for?
When you narrow down your ideal client, you’re able to learn a lot about them, which will help you create a stronger interior design business.
2. Enjoy Your Work
You feel at your best when you’re doing what you love. In fact, you deserve to create an interior design business that satisfies your soul. When you specialize in your passion, you’re able to truly enjoy what you do.
3. Distinguish Yourself From the Rest
The interior design industry is filled with generalists. You can distinguish yourself from other interior designers by specializing in one design area or by working with a specific client or project type.
Prospective clients who want a specific design service will often start off their Internet search with niche + interior design + city (i.e. “art deco interior designer dallas, tx”). If you specialize in a design niche, you can also optimize your website with relevant keywords to attract prospective clients. Otherwise, you’ll be competing with every other “interior designer” in your area for the same client pool.
4. Become an Expert
The benefit of being a generalist is that you’re infinitely flexible. You’re not limited to a certain client or style. You can work with houseboats or snow chalets or millionaires and middle income.
However, as a specialist, you can build your brand by developing a reputation for being insanely good at one particular niche.
Plus, when you specialize in a niche, you have the potential to become the go-to expert. Whether you concentrate on a particular interior design style or client type, the more you work with a specific topic or group, the more you’ll learn about it. This will eventually translate to expert status.
5. Make More Money
Along with the respect that expertise grants you, you can also get paid more money. Many clients are willing to pay extra for your expert advice. Because of your familiarity with the subject matter, you are able to charge a higher rate than you could as a generalist.
6. Market Your Business Easier
Once you’ve locked down your ideal client, you can start creating a marketing campaign that targets that specific person. (Here’s a guide to search engine optimization, or SEO, specifically for interior designers). By using the perfect keywords and imagery to appeal to that unique client persona, you’ll be more efficient in your marketing.
A common error that many interior designers make is to go generic with their marketing and try to appeal to a wide variety of customers. But remember that not everyone will gravitate to your work, so why waste your effort or marketing dollars on those who will never convert to customers? When you specialize, you can then focus directly on people who you know will benefit from your services.When you specialize, you'll avoid this common error that many interior designers make. Click To Tweet
How to Find the Right Interior Design Niche
How exactly do you find the right specialty? Here are a few questions to lead you in the right direction:
What are your preferences?
Start with your passion. What stirs your creativity? What design style, home type, budget type, or customer type excites you?
Who do you like to work with?
Take a look at your best clients. Why do you prefer these clients? Expanding beyond your current client set, is there a specific client type that resonates with you? What client type do you understand and why? What is your experience with this client type?
Who do you work best with?
In addition to the above question, think about what client type you currently work best with. Some clients are easier to vibe with than others based on your own personality and work style.
What is your unique value proposition?
Are your services unique because of affordability, or fee structure? Do you offer a unique variety of services, such as virtual interior design?
What do you bring to the table?
What is unique in your education and/ or experience in relation to interior design? How can you build a specialty around this knowledge?
Among your previous clients, who has benefited the most from your services and why?
Take a look at your previous clients and ask yourself who seems to get the most value from your services? Often, these are the same people who recommend your services to others. So, it makes sense to cater to the people who will bring you more business.
Is there a need in the market?
Finally, you must ask yourself if there’s actually a demand for this niche. If you can’t find clients, you’ll set yourself up for failure. Instead, make sure that the specialty you choose already has a demand so that you can start working as soon as possible.
Choosing an interior design niche is one of the best things you can do for your business. You’ll do what you love with clients that you can truly understand. If you need a little extra help narrowing down your ideal niche, be sure to download the extra resource at the bottom.