Read, Write, Speak, Record (Repeat!)

One of the reasons online or e-design has failed so miserably (as I have long predicted it would) is because of the intimate and physical aspects of high-level interior design.

By physical, I mean like a hair stylist is physical. Like a massage therapist or dentist is physical. They have to touch you and not an image of you on a digital screen.

Probably more than before, you are realizing the vital role that touch plays in interior design, whether it is enabling the client to run their fingers across a tile or fabric sample, allowing them to sit in a sofa in the design center showroom, or just putting your arm around them during that kitchen renovation and saying, “Don’t worry…it’s going to be worth it!”

You just sort of need to be there…and now you can’t be. At least for a while.

Maddison Maxwell understands this. She’s a hair stylist in Highland Park, NJ who points out the obvious: “Well, we can’t style hair virtually. So, we’re trying to find what aspects of our brick and mortar business we can take online.” After years of thinking about ways to add digital products, the coronavirus crisis is forcing her hand.

A week after closing her salon as cancellations had poured in, she turned it into a studio. She bought some professional lights and a green screen and used her very capable iPhone as her video camera. (A green screen is the weatherman’s trick to enable any background to be shown as if it’s on the wall or panel behind you. It’s a very simple trick that any amateur can do today.)

Using a mannequin with a wig, she began a series of video tutorials on how to style curly hair. She also began offering half-hour FaceTime consultations. Then there are her new “beauty boxes” with products like shampoo and moisture masks that sell for as much as $150.

The concept of offering online design services on a stand-alone basis has failed to present a viable economic model. However, there are many things that you could do digitally and, if you find yourself with some spare time (or are just seeking a mental diversion from the daily news) you could undoubtedly think of many creative things to do that you’ll be glad you did after the thaw.

For example:

  • Consider a series of short videos using screen capture software, or your iPhone with a green screen behind you, which explain key operating procedures to employees…including those that will be coming back soon.
  • Think of a series of 8-10 short videos (under three minutes) that you could put on your website, or place online for prospects or clients to access to better understand how you work and how your projects flow.
  • Consider a series of “insider tips” on the real pros and cons of working with a professional designer
  • Do some research and create some “Top 10” lists of various things like, “Things to avoid when renovating a mid-century home.”
  • Consider video calls (Zoom seems to be the favorite today) with former clients and interview them about your process. Not only might you find some terrific testimonials that could be edited out, but it’s a great excuse to contact and commiserate with former clients and friends.

And that’s just video. I know of people who have created a complete e-book to establish themselves as The Authority on a subject, and have done so in as little time as one week. You can Google this as well as I can, but there are some great methods out there such as:

  • Research your desired topic on the web for three hours and jot down every possible outline point;
  • Choose your 8-10 chapter titles. For an e-book that will be presented online as a PDF, a chapter can be as short as 2-3 pages. For a more serious book that might be sold online or even printed, a chapter can be 15-20 pages.
  • Get a digital recorder and dictate all of your thoughts on each of the 8-10 chapters, using your original research to jog your memory.
  • Send those recordings to Fiverr where a freelancer will transcribe and do an initial edit on them.
  • Rewrite the edit and send it back to Fiverr for a final proofread.

Just that quickly, you’ll have the PDF and, if you want to go further such as publishing on Amazon, there are plenty of sources to help you with that.

All of this is really just to say that you should not arrive at June 1…as the lock down is ending and little green shoots are appearing in the economy, and feel like you had wasted your time. Get productive! Read, write, speak, record…and repeat! You just never know what might come into those periods of creativity.

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