How you price your business services can (and often will) have a direct impact on your interior decorator salary. So, what SHOULDN’T you do when setting your rates for the first time? QC Design School tutor, Tammy Hart, breaks down 5 critical sins to avoid committing!

Tammy, I.D.D.P, CAPS is a certified interior decorating specialist. She’s also a Certified Aging in Place Specialist from the National Association of Home Builders. Tammy is the owner and award-winning designer for the Designer Chick Co., as well as the Past Director on the National Board for DDA (formerly CDECA). 

Interior decorator salary article, July 21 2021, Tammy Hart headshot

Starting Your Career: Determining Your Interior Decorator Salary

One of THE most challenging aspects that brand-new graduates face when entering the professional industry is pricing services for the first time. Similarly, it can feel a bit tricky to try and determine what your interior decorator salary will be when first starting out.

There’s good reason for that. Okay, well, maybe not necessarily a good reason … However, it definitely explains the challenge that each and every new interior decorator faces. Here it is: there’s simply no one-size-fits-all standard. From country to country and business to business, every firm (large or small) prices their services differently. Some interior decorators will base pricing on an hourly basis. Others will set their rates by packages, based on a percentage of budget, or combine any/all of the above.

This blog isn’t going to tell you what you “should” be charging because there are simply too many variables to give you that magic number. That said, what I will reveal to you today are 5 massive mistakes to AVOID as you work to determine your interior decorator salary!

5 Pricing Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Interior Decorator Salary

Mistake #1: Not Conducting Your Target Market Research

Avoid this mistake at all costs!

It’s imperative to the success of your business that you first understand who you want to market your brand to. Moreover, you’ll need to know:

  • Where to find your ideal clients
  • What their pain points are when it comes to interior decorating
  • The budget they have and what they’re willing to pay for your services

The more you understand your target market, the more prepared you’ll be to work with them. You’ll be able to understand how they prefer to pay for your services and products, as well as what they’re willing to pay. If you price your services blindly, you could completely miss the mark when it comes to your target audience. In turn, this will hinder your interior decorator salary because you could get too little for the amount of work you’re doing – or you’ll be asking for too much, which can easily alienate potential clientele.

Market research concept

Mistake #2: You Know Nothing About Your Competitors

This is another massive error that many new professionals make when trying to price their services and structure their interior decorator salary.

Don’t be afraid to do competitive research! Sure, you can look at their business websites. Just keep in mind that not all of your competitors will explicitly list their prices on their sites. So, if you see this, pick up your phone and give their business a call!

Personally, I would applaud a newly-graduated decorator for picking up the phone and calling me to chat about how I structure my pricing. Here’s the reason: many interior decorators have come before you. They’ve all done their research, received feedback from the community in which they service, and know what they’re willing to pay. Any seasoned, professional interior decorator should be willing to help you. After all, we all had to start at ground zero!

Remember: Never Undercut Your Competition

The other reason why you need to thoroughly understand what your competitors charge is so you never undercut them. Yes, I know – you’re starting out and trying to build your portfolio. It can be tempting to want to take any and every advantage you possibly can. However, undercutting other professionals is NOT the way to go. They’ve worked hard to build the industry, as well as establish a standard, acceptable price point. Purposely setting your rates lower than everyone else in your area isn’t going to gain you any friends.

Let me explain why… If you undercut other interior decorators, do you think they’d be willing to mentor you or partner with you? Do you think they’ll ever want to send you business if the opportunity ever presented itself?

The answer is no. They will not. So, understand that though you are trying to build your portfolio, there are ways to go about establishing yourself that don’t involve undercutting the industry.

Mistake #3: Undervaluing Your Services

Far too many times, I see interior decorators devaluing their services. Here’s why I have trouble with this: you’ve become an expert through your professional certification training with QC Design School. This means that you have knowledge that other people don’t. That knowledge is valuable!

Yes, with time, you can charge more for your services. But that being said, don’t start your business by undervaluing your expertise and worth. You are going to be able to solve pain points for your clients – and that is worth value.  So, charge accordingly!

Interior decorator salary article, in-post image

Mistake #4: You Hinder Your Interior Decorator Salary by Overpricing Your Services

Think of this as the exact opposite of undervaluing your services!

If you don’t do your market research, you can easily set your service rates way too high. In turn, you’ll struggle to find clients who are willing to pay such an extreme amount – especially when everyone else in your area is charging a much more affordable price.

Always ensure that you price your services according to your sector and niche. Furthermore, factor in your target market’s demographics and psychographics. All of this will ensure that you’ve priced your services accordingly, thereby making them even more attractive to your ideal clients!

Mistake #5: Giving Your Services Away for FREE

You have knowledge your clients don’t. This is why they are hiring you! If you give your services away for free, you’re giving away your expertise and time. Moreover, you’ll also be reducing your ROI. “ROI” stands for “return on investment”. In this case, for example, you’d be minimizing any return on the time and money you’ve put into your education.

Here’s an example of what I do in my firm:

  • I charge $150 for my initial hour client consultation.
  • If a potential client becomes a paying client and chooses to work with me, I’ll create the final bill at the end of the project. At that time, I’ll reduce the amount they owe me for their design fees by $150. (Thus, making their initial client consultation free in the long run).
  • If a potential client doesn’t book further services with me, then they’ve paid me for the initial consultation. This consultation consists of an hour’s worth of expert advice, guidance, idea generation, and a summary of our conversation and idea starters.

Now, let’s imagine that I show up to a potential client’s house for the initial hourly consultation. I don’t charge them anything for this consultation. I then take an hour out of my day to provide expert advice, guidance, and idea generation. Afterwards, I find out that the individual does not intend to book any further services with my interior decorator business.

In this scenario, what have I gained from that interaction? Absolutely nothing! If anything, I’ve actually lost something in the transaction, in that I’ve put time into a meeting that could have been prioritized elsewhere.

The prospective client, however, has gained information to help them with their project… and they never had to pay a dime.

Doesn’t sound very fair, does it?

My point is, always make sure to carefully consider giving your services away for free. Instead, consider BOGO sales (priced accordingly) and/or pricing discounts (i.e. 10% off) over giving away any services “for free”.

Young couple, family at meeting with realtor, interior designer, decorator, landlord making deal. Husband handshaking with man in suit. Concept of meeting with client, customer

Your Interior Decorator Salary: Final Thoughts

No matter how you choose to structure your fees and interior decorator salary, ensure that you are meeting your budget needs. Furthermore, always remember to value your expertise and worth accordingly.

As a parting tip, I strongly recommend checking out QC Design School’s Accelerate Your Business Workshop. This course is designed to help you build your business acumen. As a result, you’ll better understand in more depth how to build your design business and structure your interior decorator salary.

Got any comments or questions? Leave them down below! And don’t forget to join QC Design School’s free Virtual Classroom on Facebook today!

Boost your interior decorator salary by adding a professional, internationally-recognized certification to your resume! Enroll in QC Design School’s Interior Decorating Course today!

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Bradley Schlagheck says:

    All great tips! As a fellow business owner, all of this info is a great reminder of good business practices.

  • Daniella De Luca says:

    This is definitely something I struggled with in my business and these are great to keep in mind when working through this pricing process!

    • Sloane Seguin says:

      Hey Daniella, thanks so much for reading and commenting! 🙂 Pricing services can definitely be tricky business, especially when you’re brand-new to it and have never done it before. But as we’re sure you now know, once you get the hang of it, it’s not nearly as daunting as it initially seems! What are YOUR top tips for pricing services? Anything that isn’t mentioned in this article? xx

      All the best,
      The QC Team

  • Fernanda Baletha Petizme says:

    How interesting! Starting a new career is very difficult. We have so many doubts and fears, often because we don’t have a lot of experience and we’re still building our portfolio, we can’t value our work. All points raised in this article are important. Congratulations Tammy Hart for the excellent content.

  • Fernanda Baletha Petizme says:

    How interesting! Starting a new career is very difficult. We have so many doubts and fears, often because we don’t have a lot of experience and we’re still building our portfolio, we can’t value our work. All points raised in this article are important. Congratulations Tammy Hart for the excellent content.

    • Sloane Seguin says:

      Hey Fernanda, thanks so much for reading and commenting! We really appreciate your insight. 🙂 As always, we love the perspective that Tammy brings to the table, and we’re so happy to hear that you found her interior decorator salary and pricing tips to be both education and beneficial! xx

      All the best,
      The QC Team

  • Alexa Jorgenson says:

    These are great tips for current and aspiring decorators/business owners!

    • Sloane Seguin says:

      Hey Alexa, we couldn’t agree more! 🙂 We’re very grateful to Tammy for sharing her industry expertise and helping both new and working designers better understand the interior decorator salary and what needs to go into pricing services properly. xx

      All the best,
      The QC Team

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