Since 2016, I’ve specialized in writing for interior designers. In that time, I’ve learned a ton about them, the design industry, and what it takes to market effectively to their clientele.
I’ve also heard again and again from designers that working with writers who don’t specialize in the interior design industry is just an exercise in frustration. They don’t know the language. They don’t understand the services and processes. They just don’t ‘get’ interior designers.
I don’t fault any other writers, though. Copywriting for the interior design industry is very nuanced. It involves luxury and aspirational lifestyle content, yet many designers want to come across as approachable. They’re often a personal brand with a solo designer as the face of the company, yet they may want to show their capability of handling large, complex design projects. It’s about the designer whose name is on the door, but it’s also about the ideal clients they’re looking to attract.
That’s a lot to handle, and if a writer doesn’t know this world inside and out, they may not be able to produce copy and content that feels custom and authentic to you and your design firm, let alone that’s going land you the exact clients you want to serve.
As a writer who works almost exclusively with interior designers (there have been a few fine artists and product creators in the mix, as well), here are some of the things I ‘get’ about interior designers that help me write great copy for them:
1. You’re not like other business owners.
You’re professional, you’re smart, you’re polished, but you’re also creative. You’re stylish, innovative, and artistic. The last thing you want is copy that makes you sound like you’re an accountant. No offense to accountants, of course, but you definitely want your copy to have a creative, inspiring tone to it in addition to sounding professional and polished.
2. All interior designers are not alike.
You don’t use a cookie cutter to create your designs and you don’t want your writer to use a cookie cutter to write your copy either! You want copy that represents you as distinctive and unique. Copy that doesn’t sound like it could be about any other designer but you!
3. Your clients aren’t looking to be sold to.
This is a BIG one. Granted, I’m a copywriter, which by nature means I write sales and marketing copy. But because I specialize in writing for interior designers, I know how to go soft and easy on sales. No flashing “BUY NOW!” buttons for your site! In fact, there’s no overt sales language whatsoever (with the possible exception of online shop pages for product sales, but even then, we keep it classy!).
4. Your brand is personal–but it isn’t all about you.
Writing for interior designers is a strange hybrid. In most cases, it’s the client’s personal brand and we’re touting them as the principal designer and face of the company. When that’s the case, it’s generally most appropriate to use a personality-focused approach to the copywriting, meaning we keep the spotlight on who my client is and the kind of work they do. BUT–and this is a very, very important but–I actually always want the spotlight to be on the designer’s ideal clients. If the copy is all about the designer, it won’t serve the marketing purposes we need it to serve (aka, helping their prospects know, like, and trust them; helping the prospects feel seen, heard, and understood by the designer, etc.). I’ll spare you the technical details of how I accomplish copy that feels like a personal brand for my client but that also keeps their clients at the center of everything, but suffice it to say that it’s a delicate balancing act!
5. The words you use matter.
Do you say ‘renovation’ or ‘remodel’? ‘Full-service design’ or ‘turnkey service’? Do you call your aesthetic ‘modern contemporary’ or ‘contemporary modern’? You might not know how you want everything said in your copy (if you did, you probably wouldn’t be looking to hire a writer), but it matters if you do say certain things in a certain way. Writers who don’t specialize with interior designers aren’t likely to know about that tiny nuance that in the end is going to make a big impact on whether or not your website copy feels and sounds like you. I’ve been working in the design industry since 2016 and I know just about all the industry speak there is to know (I’m sure there’s probably something I haven’t heard of yet). More importantly, I know what questions to ask and what to pay particular attention to in order to determine what words you use–and don’t use. My expertise in the industry and my process eliminate tons of revisions and frustration on your part right off the top that you may not even notice when you work with me, but believe me, you’ll definitely notice it if you work with a writer who doesn’t specialize with designers!
6. Just about everything in your business is more (much, much more!) than meets the eye.
The processes, the financials, the logistics… all the behind-the-scenes stuff you deal with for your interior design business is at least 10x more complicated than most people realize. Which in turn means that the value you’re providing for your clients is more than they realize, as well. As your writer, I know hidden benefits like this are important to pull out from the shadows and shine a (subtle, non-sales-y) light on so they better understand the value they’re investing in with you.
7. “It depends,” is actually an honest answer to the question of cost.
In other industries, when a prospect asks on the discovery call how much their project will cost and they hear “It depends. I need to come to your home to meet with you before I can give you a price,” it’s usually just a sales tactic. But I know that talking about pricing with your prospective interior design clients isn’t just delicate–it’s individualized. Furnishing the very same living room can either cost $25,000 or $75,000, depending on what level of products they want to invest in, whether or not they’ll agree to reface the fireplace, and which art–an original or a limited edition print–they’ll go for. If we address pricing in your website copy at all depends on a number of factors including how your pricing is structured, how many services you offer, and what kinds of prospects you’re getting at this stage of your business. But if we do touch on prices, we work to address the variable nature of the numbers depending on the size, scope, and specifics of each project.
8. You’re so much more than just a ‘personal shopper.’
Listen, I’m not knocking the selections and purchasing aspects of your job. That’s far more than I could ever do, that’s for sure! But I also know that this can be a bit of a sore spot with a lot of my clients, particularly when they have an education and/or a skillset in any of the more technical aspects of design like architectural interior design, CLIPP, or kitchen and bath design. To be fair, even projects that are limited to selecting and sourcing products involve much more from you than just that (see #6 above), like creating layouts and space planning, developing or improving lighting plans, developing color schemes, and so on–not to mention managing the project and tracking procurement. Let’s just say that you’ll never see copy from me that highlights my clients’ innate ability to pick the prettiest throw pillows.
9. There’s more than one way to niche yourself.
If you’ve listened to a business podcast or worked with a business coach, chances are you’ve heard that in order to succeed as an interior designer, you need to niche down. While I don’t entirely disagree with that advice, I do disagree with how you’re probably being told to accomplish it. Most often, designers are told to niche down to a particular type of client or a particular type of property, or to specialize in solving a particular design challenge. The problem as I see it is that either there aren’t enough of those types of clients, properties, or projects within the designer’s service area to support a sustainable business model or that niche or specialization doesn’t differentiate them enough from other designers in their service area to help them stand out. A huge part of the work I do with my clients is to uncover what makes them different in the eyes of their ideal clients. It’s so important, in fact, that I start every project working on this. And trust me when I say every client has multiple differentiators that make them the perfect designer for their ideal clients. We just have to find them and put them into words in their website copy.
10. It’s absolutely possible to market your design business in ways that feel authentic to who you are and that effectively connect you with the clients and projects you most want to work with.
I’ve taken marketing advice for my own business in the past that didn’t feel authentic to me and that I didn’t think would resonate with my clients. We’ve all done it and it never feels good. But I’m here to tell you that it feels amazing to create marketing (or more accurately, communication) that really speaks your heart and mind about your work, that represents who you are authentically but in a polished way, and that you can’t wait for your ideal clients to see because you know they’re going to help them feel connected to you. Whether that communication/marketing is in the form of website copy or content marketing (blog posts, social media posts, email newsletters, etc.), it IS possible for you to go from, “I don’t know what to say and it seems like no writer understands me enough to help me,” to “This is EXACTLY what I wanted to say but didn’t know it and didn’t know how to say it until I got the right kind of writing help!” It’s possible for your ideal clients to see that piece of marketing and to immediately trust you. To immediately know that you are the designer they’ve been searching for. To believe that you understand them and to trust you with their design project. Now how good would it make you feel to put that kind of marketing out into the world?! It’s not icky or sales-y. It’s not generic or cookie-cutter. It’s not even pompous or braggy. It’s just you introducing yourself to your ideal clients and them making the connection. What could be better?!