How to Land Your First Interior-Design Client

This is a guest post by interior designer Patrick Martins.

After what seems likes endless months of marathon studying, cups of strong coffee and lectures about the pros and cons of paisley, you’ve finally completed your degree in interior design. Now it’s time to break free from the shackles of academia and find your first client. After several months with no leads and plenty of rejection, you’re beginning to realize that breaking into the competitive world of interior design wasn’t as simple as you previously thought. Don’t lose hope; instead, use a few of these simple suggestions to help you land your first client.

Create an Impressive Portfolio

This is your first job, meaning you don’t have great word of mouth or impressive credentials to fall back on. What you do have is a portfolio that showcases your work and, if compiled and presented correctly, can mean the difference between hearing “yes” or “we’ll call you.” Use work you’ve completed for a college course, friends, family members or even create a few mock-ups for the potential client. Take your time compiling the portfolio and only include your best work.

Get the Word Out Through Clever Marketing Strategies

A miniscule budget often makes advertising in trade publications, your local newspaper, or getting marketing consulting services a complete impossibility. In this instance, using your creativity is the best way to get the word out. The best place to start is with social media, so don’t hesitate to place a small ad on Facebook or Twitter. If this modest expense isn’t in your budget, there’s nothing like the power of using your connections. For instance, ask your friends or family members if they know anyone who needs help redecorating a bathroom, bedroom or office space. You might not be paid for your services, but you’ll have more work for your portfolio and the opportunity to generate some positive word-of-mouth traffic.

Volunteer Your Services

At the very least, redesigning a space for a nonprofit agency will give you some valuable experience and provide you with additional resources for your portfolio; however, this first job can often impress an agency’s employee, who will then hire you to redecorate his or her personal space. Many interior designers discover a passion for working with nonprofit agencies and quickly find their status change from “volunteer” to “compensated employee.”

Research Potential Clients

You’re performing your due diligence by hitting the streets and sending out your resume to potential clients. You’ve scored your first interview but aren’t sure how to prepare. Your first step should be to research every aspect of the company. What design firms or consultants has the company hired in the past? What is their philosophy and history? Learn as much about the company as possible before heading into the interview to give yourself a substantial leg up on the competition.

Ace the Interview

Aside from presenting the potential client with your resume and portfolio, the interview provides him or her with an initial opinion of your experience, philosophy and level of professionalism. As a rule, always dress appropriately and get there on time, no matter if the client is a massive conglomerate or your neighbor’s best friend. Present yourself in a professional manner and don’t hesitate to point out the interesting and innovative aspects of your portfolio. If the subject of experience, or lack of experience, is brought up, respond by telling the client that although you’re new to the field, you have a formal education and are willing and able to meet his or her needs and expectations.

When you’re ready to start your career in interior design, begin the journey by researching reputable interior design schools. A formal education is the best way to hone your craft and realize your personal style, both of which can go a long way toward impressing your first client.

Image provided by Mahesh Punjabi Associates from Flickr’s Creative Commons

About the Author: Patrick Martins is an interior designer and guest blogger. It took persistence, dedication and a few clever marketing techniques for Patrick to land his first post-graduate client.

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