Making Money as a Home Stager

We get a lot of inquiries from aspiring home stagers on what is involved in starting up a home staging business. I blogged about the top 10 things to consider when starting a staging business however another very important point is … how do you make money?  I think this post is insightful and incredibly well written; a must read for anyone who is serious about Home Staging as a career, not as a hobby.

Via Melissa Marro, Staging & ReDesign

How do you earn money as a home stager?

Posted on January 18, 2012 by Melissa

Becoming a home stager and earning a six figure income seems so easy when you listen to some training companies talk about it.  Now, I’m not saying it’s not possible, but it’s not what some trainers will tell you.  Ask any full time professional home stager and they are more than happy to talk about income with you though.

So, why would I, a professional trainer and owner of a successful home staging training company want to tell you that it’s not a cake walk?  Because I want successful students in my classes.  I don’t want to just earn a nice pile of cash for duping people out of their savings.  I remember my industry peer saying early on, when I first started training, that all the training companies were just there to “make a quick buck.”  I had to constantly defend myself and let them know that I was a real stager too and I “got it”.

Still to this day we hear rumblings inside our industry against the training companies because they spend so much effort asking the newly trained stagers to sell their brand, to buy their pens, clipboards and stickers, or worse yet, sully their newly forming reputations by hocking “home care” products like green cleaners or air purifiers to clients.  Newly trained stagers are often left wondering how they will ever earn their tuition back in the hard hit economic markets of today.

For those who are reading that are wondering the same thing…. I’ve got some news for you.  Staging can be a GREAT business.  It can be VERY profitable and you can make a pretty comfortable living from it.  I do think you need to separate the fact from fiction, however.

I earn over $100 an hour as a home stager.

Yes, that is true…. except for one tiny detail.  That’s the BILLABLE hour rate.  For most home stagers, their billable hours are only about 25-35% of their total work time.  To put this in perspective, the average 40 hour a week home stager can only actually bill for about 10-12 hours of that time. The rest of it is spent doing things like marketing, billing, packing, writing reports, and so on.

Building a team will help you increase your number of billable hours and in turn, increase your overall income.  Of course that comes with additional overhead too.

I can earn a full time paycheck with only part time hours.

When was the last time someone said that who wasn’t trying to sell you something? Typically if it sounds too good to be true, then it is.  Home Stagers have to work when the clients are available.  We have to be available when rental companies, movers or other demands require.  Again, if you only have nights and weekends available, or only want to work when the kids are at school, then you may have to consider adding on help or set up a referral base for clients who cannot work around your schedule.

You still have to fit all of the demands of the job into your part time schedule. The general rule of 25-35% billable hours is still true.  If you can only dedicate 20 hours of work a week, then you will only get paid for about 5-6 of them.

My training company will list me on their directory and then jobs will come pouring in.

Uh huh… You will get the occasional referral from  your training company.   Virtually all paid staging jobs, however, come from building relationships with agents and sellers in your area.  Your training company can’t do that for you.  Your training company, should however, teach you how to begin doing it.

All I need are a few clients and my business will run itself.

This one is nearly true to be honest.  My partner and I ran a staging company in Charleston (before I sold it to her earlier this year).  Our annual sales were mid six figures and we really only managed about a dozen regular clients between us.  Those clients would refer other agents, some who became regular clients, others who were occasional clients.

Still, the company didn’t run itself.  We still had to have a team to help keep up the day to day operations.  We still needed to put out newsletters, update our websites, blogs and network with those agents.

So, what’s the point of all of this?  Surely it can’t be to discourage you from getting into an industry that I now make my income from getting you into.  Hopefully, it is to open your eyes a little.

Becoming a home stager can be a completely fulfilling and profitable way to do what you love.  But be prepared for a lot of hard work.  It’s all the things that current working stagers are all too quick to tell you about and training companies try to minimize, that make the biggest difference to your success.

You won’t make a profit overnight.  No REAL BUSINESS does that.  It takes time, energy and work.  It takes a plan, marketing and resources.  If you play your cards right though, if you do what the successful ones before you have done, learn, listen and act – then you just might find the best is right at your fingertips.

The staging industry is still in its infancy.  We are still feeling our way along.  A few pioneers have started a path and now we watch and wait for the newcomers to pave it. The question is…. do you have what it takes?



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