0 comments / Posted on by Erin Gates

For those of you who have e-mailed me for advice, this post is for you. My inbox gets so cluttered every day that I rarely get the opportunity to write back and then I feel like a grade-A ass. The two most common questions I get are about starting out in interior design and starting a blog.  I hope that these answers help you a little and please leave any additional questions in the comments section and I will try to answer them!

Advice for those starting out in design:

Getting into the design world and making a profit is not easy.  I was lucky to not only grow up around design thanks to my Dad and his company but I also landed a paid internship many years ago with a small Boston design group. I was only there a year, but I learned a TON about the business, interacting with clients, knew the Design Center like the back of my hand and experienced the design processes ins and outs. The issue became that in order to become a junior designer I needed to not only know AutoCad (I had taken some classes but that program takes a WHILE to master) but also codes and more advanced stuff learned in a masters program.   I applied and got into a masters program but realizing it would take 4 years to complete I got some advice from my Dad (who did not get an advanced degree in design either)- that I already had a great eye for design and unless I wanted to be doing AutoCad all day I should keep trying to work in the field and learn that way.  Thanks to my husband’s support, I quit my day job and gave myself a year to see if I could get my own design business going. Needless to say, it worked.  But I was very lucky and worked very hard at it!

In this economy not only is it really hard to find paid internships, but even ANY internships at all!  If you are interested in design but have no experience in it I would advise you start by taking a adult education class in it at night or on weekends.  Just to get the lingo, concepts and general business down.  If finding an internship or office manager job with a design firm proves to be difficult, try working at a showroom at your local design center or furniture store.  You meet a lot of designers that way and get your feet wet in the design world. Starting a blog and networking that way is fantastic, but it’s a lot of work and takes a while to get going- so be prepared time-wise (see next question).  It certainly can lead to small jobs here and there that give you a start to your portfolio.

As for getting your Masters, if you just want to work on residences in a decorative manner I don’t think it’s worth the 4 years and HUGE investment. Plenty of decorators do not have their Masters.  If you want to work for a bigger design firm, you probably will need to complete this though.  It gives you all the design knowledge in the world and makes you VERY hire-able, but again, having a good eye cannot be taught!  You need to know in your gut that you have that ability innately. So be honest with yourself about whether you want to pursue it as a career or just as a hobby or passion on the side.  Being a decorator is 20% creativity and 80% paperwork/project management!!! It looks very glamorous from the outside, and it can be when you are in the creative part of the work, but the bulk of what you do is place orders, manage shipping and receiving, coordinate deliveries and installations, run numbers, and manage expectations.  It’s not how it looks on Pinterest. :)

Advice for those starting a blog:

Blogging is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself professionally.  It’s the best marketing tool in the world and got me 99% of everything I have now.  But it took a LONG time and a LOT of work to get here.  Blogging should be treated as a job in order to make an impact- the most important thing is being consistent and posting regularly. Everyday if possible.  Some days I have NOTHING to say and am slammed with work but I always post something, even if it’s just a little photo or piece of furniture I love.  When readers, such as yourself, know that there will be new content daily they tend to become loyal (at least I HOPE so!)  It’s also very important if you have sponsors or want to attract sponsors to post daily.  I also believe that showing your personality and sharing a bit of who you are and how you think is really important in forming a bond with readers.  a blog doesn’t have to be wither business OR personal- I feel it can be a blend of both and be very successful.  I’ve heard from a lot of people that that is one of the reasons they love my blog.  Be sure to reach out to other bloggers, work on collaborative posts, comment on other blogs and be active in the community. This gets harder as you get busier (I am SO guilty of that) but it’s so important in the beginning. Most importantly, HAVE FUN at it! It shows in your writing.

Last but not least social media is CRAZY important- sign up immediately for Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest if you have not already!  Utilizing these mediums is so vital and helps spread your blog like wildfire and makes networking that much faster!

Thank you for your e-mails and again, I am sorry if I was not able to write each of you back!


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