Do Interior Designers Register and Charge VAT?

widget_fashion[1]If you are a small Interior Design practice selling your services to the public then it will not have escaped your notice that if you register for VAT then you immediately become 20% more expensive to your retail clients.

IE you have to charge your clients for your design services AND the products you re-sell to them with an additional 20% on top. It is unlikely that your retail/public client will be able to recoup any of that cost.

Of course most of your larger competitors will be in the same boat.

If you sell your services solely to other, larger businesses then they will almost certainly be themselves VAT registered and the VAT you charge to them is irrelevant – as those clients of yours can reclaim ALL the VAT back.

But of course if you DO register then immediately all the VAT you are charged by your suppliers can be reclaimed ie the stuff you buy will be cheaper.

What are the options?

  1. If your turnover (broadly) is £82,000.00 then you MUST register for VAT and charge it to your clients.
  2. As a small company you can get your client to purchase products directly from suppliers. Most companies, like us (KOTHEA), will do this if we know that we are supporting how the designer wants to bill the project.  Whilst your client will still have to pay VAT for these goods you may be able to avoid charging them VAT on your interior design services.
    • One problem with this is that you have to chase and manage your client’s payment for goods.
  3. Working on a cash basis with no documentation is illegal. You will eventually get found out and fined…a lot. Putting illegality to one side, you place yourself at greater risk with unscrupulous clients.
  4. If you are VAT registered and you export from the EU, with proof of export, then (broadly) no VAT is chargeable.
  5. If you are VAT registered and your client is based in the EU but not in the UK then you will (broadly) not charge them VAT if
    • Delivery is to a non-UK address in the EU (YOU must organise the shipping to make the proof easier, if the client organises shipping then you must charge VAT and then refund it once proof of export is provided to you)
    • The client can supply you with a valid EU VAT registration number – which you must validate.
  6. Register for VAT if you sell your services/products mostly to other organisations. You can recoup the VAT costs from ALL the things you buy for your business.

 

A Great Interior Designer’s Profile Would …

What Makes A Great Interior Designer Profile?

I would argue that an image is the basis of a great profile for an interior designer.

Something to WOW me and to attract me all within a second. Something that tells me more about you than perhaps words could do succinctly.

Then you’ve hooked me I might read on a bit further.

Then you would need to tell your client what kind of projects and people you work with and perhaps also how you engage and work. You might NOT even need a killer headline “Best Interior Designer In London” or you might.

What do you think?

But of course you already have done such a profile on your web site 😉

We are happy to host (no strings or ropes attached) a brief profile of your INTERIOR DESIGN or ARCHITECTURE business on this blog (http://blog.kothea.com) with a link back to your site. Nada. Nothing Rien. No cost. Your benefit is free advertising to subscribers to and readers of this blog and a reputable backlink to boost your site’s visibility even further.

What do we get out of it? One day you’ll buy some fabrics or cashmere throws from us. Maybe. Perhaps. Hopefully 🙂

To be clear: This is for interior designers and architects and NOT their suppliers.

Interior Designer | Brand Boost + Author Boost

Off-White Textured Upholstery on Contemporary Seating
Off-White Textured Upholstery on Contemporary Seating

Modern-day interior designers should know that there are a few neat tricks you can do on your website AND blog to make YOU stand out more in Google when your clients search for you or the things you create.

I’m going to take you through two DIFFERENT but related changes to your blog/website.

Company Brand

When you search for a brand or a rock star or something famous(ish) then you sometimes will see some interesting bits of information appear on the right hand side of the Google search results…the place where the ads normally can be found. Try this search for Barack Obama to see what I mean. This interesting information might come from a Wikipedia entry about a rock stars career or it might tell you that company’s local contact information and maybe some images of their work or some customer reviews of their services.

If you can get a Wikipedia entry about your ‘notable’ business then you will have this problem solved. Tell me how you did it as it is notoriously difficult. (Hint: Don’t try).

You only sometimes see that information because the brand owner has only sometimes told Google what to put there. You can assume that Coca Cola have done this and this search for Coca Cola shows you. You’ll notice it is slightly different to the Obama-Wikipedia one, perhaps your version shows a local stockist?

Well; you are a brand owner of your interior design business. Have you told Google?

Here’s How

You need to potentially do quite a few things here. You (or your techie person) are going to be getting involved in HTML code using rel=’publisher’ and you are going to need to create a Google+ page for your business. If that hasn’t put you off let’s continue.

Firstly you need to create a Google+ account for YOU.

1. If your business has the website BlahDesign.com then you need to have a personal email such as Nathalie.Arrigone@BlahDesign.com (Nathalie@yahoo.com will not work). With that email address go and create a Google+ account for you ie Nathalie Arrigone. It is possible to create a login based on Nathalie.Arrigone@BlahDesign.com if you look closely.

  • Do not use the wrong name eg Nat Arrigone or Nathalie A. It will not work.
  • Do not try and put a funny picture there. It will not work
  • You need a passport standard photo. Otherwise it will not work.
  • Do not put a picture of your company or product. It will not work
  • Got the message?
  • You could of course create a totally fictitious persona based on a photo of your dearly departed aunty. Which would be a bit creepy 🙂

Almost there! Well the first part, at least.

2. While you are on your new Google+ page the only thing you NEED to do is to check that you are listed as a contributor to your website AND to your blog. Go to “About/Links” and add that information.

3. Now use this link to verify your email address.

4. Now choose your profile and then PAGES. Create a the appropriate page for your business. Ideally Local Business or Organisation

  • Add your real-world website AND verify it eg www.BlahDesign.com AND http://blog.BlahDesign.com
  • Add all the appropriate email addresses eg info@BlahDesign.com and verify them ALL including yours if you have not already done so..

5. Finally ! You have to now put a link on your website to your new Google+ PAGE – replace 1111111111111 with the number of your Google+ page. Do it on your home page and also for the home page of your blog.

<a href=”https://plus.google.com/111111111111111″ rel=”publisher”>

Please do not try to link this to your personal page. It will sort of work. For a while. You have been warned!

6. You can now test your new Google+ Company Page is working with the Google Structured Data Testing Tool. Just look for the section further down the page concerning the PUBLISHER information. It’s just that bit that should be nice and green coloured.

So that should be “all” you need to do for the company branding. You can play around some more with the Google+ Business Page and you can add map, product, address and other information which will also get shown by Google in various places.

2. Personal Branding – You as a creator of content. AUTHOR Boost

If you create truly meaningful content then you should go forwards with this option. This particular post that I am writing now would count as meaningful, original content. If you put up a blog post with the line “Here is a picture of a chair I like” – then that is not meaningful content. The content needs lots of original stuff (pictures and/or words and/or video).

Personal branding will mean that sometimes Google will very kindly put your Google+ image (from earlier) next to your content when it appears in their search results. Not always. Sometimes. When they choose. You can’t control it (and from 2015 onwards Google have decided to display it much less as it attracted people away from clicking on their ads !!)

You add this line to EVERY post your write and/or every page of your web site. You change the 4444444444 with your personal Google+ Account (not your company page. The company page will not work. Don’t do it. Honest).

<a href=https://plus.google.com/44444444444 rel=”author”>

Do not try and confused Google between the real you and your company…it will NOT work.

11 Top London Upholsterers – London Upholstery At Its Very Best

Orange, Black and red colourful velvets

Here are a great selection of London based upholstery companies. Some of them are relatively small and other are very considerable and long-established companies. They are not necessarily at the upper end of the market, nor the bottom. I guess I could more easily say here is a range of upholstery and re-upholstery companies in London ! Enjoy, in no particular order.

Barnes Upholstery – 020 8255 9797 info@barnesupholstery.co.uk/
Sofa And Chair Co – 020 8752 8938 info@thesofaandchair.co.uk

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Business-Related Interior Design Articles

Whilst we have dealt with some of these companies as clients this post is not intended as a specific recommendation, or otherwise, of any of them.

 

 

SJ Upholstery 078 7652 8213
Moore’s Upholstery – 020 8421 5448
Chelsea Upholstery 020 7384 1666 info@chelseaupholstery.co.uk
Brown Antiques  020 7736 4141  sales@brownantiques.com
Fine Line Upholstery –  020 7407 7438 info@finelineupholstery.co.uk
Upholstery Village – 020 7731 6586 UpholsteryVillage@hotmail.co.uk
HJ Cooper – 020 8788 8673 enquiries@hjcooper.com
Barnett Upholstery 020 7622 9347 s.carter@barnettupholsteries.co.uk
7 Upholstery – 020 7613 4925 upholsterye27dj@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

Interior Designers: What Social Media Are The Best For ME

Interior Design Magazine
Interior Design Magazine (Photo credit: Associated Fabrication)

Most interior designers these days use social media. They might not use it effectively but they do use it. They might be using the wrong social media…but, yes, most still use it.

You: So, how do I best choose social media to ‘reach out’ (well that means “sell”, I guess) to my target markets?

Me: Well, silly, you use the same social media that your (potential-) clients use.

You: Ah! But what are they?

Me: Oh! 🙂

Well of course “It depends” is really the answer. Just as there are different types of interior designer so too are there different types of customer. If you understand your ‘type(s)’ of customer then you should already know where they digitally hang out. If, indeed, they do that sort of thing at all. Some won’t.

Anyway, as a guideline look at and consider the following:

A. Interior Designer With A Shop or online shops (e-commerce)

Choose: Mass-market retail-type social media: Twitter, pinterest, Google+ and Facebook
You need to work with images, with advertising and frequent/unique content in a highly sales driven way. Focussing on content that converts to sales leads.

B. Practice-Based Residential interior designer (mid-, top-end)

You need a great portfolio showcase somewhere. Probably on  your own website. You might also reach out with your selected portfolio to PINTEREST. There’s also a good chance that many of your clients (or at least their partners) will use LINKEDIN. Showcase your service there as well.

You might also consider targeting advertising on facebook where you can select your demographic market quite precisely which will then of course mean that you should have a FACEBOOK presence as well.

As a one off you should also have a HOUZZ presence. But do not give too much away there. Make your content inspiring but tantalising. Link all the images and content back to YOUR website. Do NOT link to their website and let your leads go elsewhere.
C. Hotel / Commercial interior designers
Twitter, LinkedIn and pinterest are the sites to use here. However you CANNOT use them half heartedly. You really have to interact on these sites. Not just with people looking at your content there but also, on pinterest, with target clients.

Even then your success here will be limited. The phone call to find out about re-fits, office moves and new hotels will prove the best way to generate new leads. Perhaps couple that with industry knowledge site such as http://hotelprojectsworldwide.com.

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Interior Designers: Star Ratings in Google

How to get a 5-star rating on Google searches for YOUR Interior Design business.

Interior Designers and, indeed, smaller companies in general face a significant disadvantage in showing up and standing out in Google search results. You have a lot of bases to cover and, let’s face it, bigger companies like eBay may sell a similar (but inferior) product / service to you but it is VERY difficult for you to get ahead of them.

There are a few tricks that can help you. This post/article looks in a bit of detail at getting pretty STARS against stuff that  you write. As shown in the image below.

Have a look at this screen shot of something I’ve worked on recently related to fabric searches for certain kinds of Mohair Velvet in one of the markets we are targeting.

Interior-Designers-Getting-On-GoogleYou’ll notice a few things that make either KOTHEA or me stand out.

1. Being on the first page! Yes that helps!! If you write a blog then Google give you bonus points for new content and that content ranks highly for a small period of time, say a couple of weeks.

2. Having a pretty mug shot of yourself. This is linked to ‘authorship’ of your page and is quite involved but can be achieved if you have time to spare. I can cover that in another article if anyone is interested. It’s quite important.

3. Images/Image Search Results at the top. That first product image at the top is one I took. I can’t remember whether it is on a blog page or a website page but I appropriately ‘tagged’ it with the ‘right’ keywords and voila! there it is.

4. Adverts. On the bottom right hand side one of my adverts is showing up. Cool!! but I have to pay for it 🙁

5. Brand/Company Results. These are not shown on the image above but if you properly set up a company or brand page in Google+ (or get a Wikipedia entry) then additional information about your company will appear on the right hand side where the shopping results and adverts currently are.

6. If you sell products OVER THE INTERNET then you can use Google Merchant and results will appear on the right hand side. I don’t really know how to do that as we do not sell products over the internet (that is a pre-requisite).

7. Ranking stars. You will see that on one of our website’s pages we have a ranking. 9.4/10 … how cool is that! This article/post is going to talk about how you can get those.

RANKING STARS – RATING STARS

OK. Here is where your problems start. (Don’t worry though if you keep reading I will tell you how to circumnavigate those problems).

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More Interior Designer BUSINESS Articles

To get a star ranking to show up then you have to have, from memory, at least 10 ‘proper rankings’ in ‘proper places’. The figure used to be higher but it has been lowered recently.

Now, if you are eBay or amazon then of course you could get hundreds of rankings every week from the myriad of customers you have and you can build trusted ranking systems into your online e-commerce package. Fair enough. Except, as an interior designer, you might only have 3 projects/customers a year and sometimes client’s don’t want to write a review even if they are super-happy with what you have done for them. So, if you can get one review per year, then you might have to wait 10 years for your reviews to filter through to Google’s rankings. You probably also do not have the same resources that Ebay or Amazon have to dedicate to their online e-commerce solution.

That is clearly not fair and clearly does not create a level playing field for small- to medium-sized organisations. Indeed it positively UNlevels the playing field in favour of larger firms. So, despite the internet giving smaller companies a chance, the nature of the search-engine-beast mitigates that chance considerably downwards.

And it’s worse than that. Because larger companies FOR SURE employ agencies to boost and create spurious/fake rankings. Cheating, basically. Google try and stop this and some of the companies that produce the rankings try and stop this but in reality the ranking companies are not going to stop their customers paying to use their ranking service.

Here’s what you can do:

1. TRUSTPILOT.com: This is one of the ranking companies. They all charge for their services as far as I know. Trustpilot are no different BUT do provide an initially free service where you can mail all your past customers asking for a review. Once the free service expires then your future customers can still leave a review but they have to create an account to log in and then leave the review. In reality that discourages customers from leaving a review. If you want to leave a review for KOTHEA then you can do it here: http://www.trustpilot.co.uk/review/blog.kothea.com. I wouldn’t want you to leave a review about our products if you have not bought them, however it is ethical that you could leave a review about our blog and any value that adds to your efforts. The paid-for Trustpilot service might be appropriate for you if you have 50 sales transactions a month as there are other benefits to reviews rather than just getting pretty stars to appear on Google.

2. Google+: If you haven’t already got a personal Google+ page AND ALSO a Google+ page for your business then you should do. There are many google-related search benefits for having one. Once you have a Google+ page for your business then there is automatically a section created by Google+ for reviews. So you can invite your customers to leave a review. After you have finished a job or sold a product you should ALWAYS ask for a review to be left here. These reviews WILL count towards Google’s star ranking of you. The less honest amongst you will ask all your friends to leave reviews. Naughty.

3. Aggregate ranking code. You can look at all the rankings you have all over the internet and aggregate them together manually. You can then display the result on your website with a small piece of HTML. The less honest amongst you will just invent an aggregate ranking.

You might want to display this on each relevant page:

Starts:

“Customer Survey

UK Interior Designer: April 2014

Rated 9.9/10 (1063 reviews)”   : Ends
To do that you need to insert the following HTML code which will even work on a WordPress blog:
Star-Ranking-HTML
You can change the text if you think about it a bit. Basically you can change the bits in black.

There you go, you star!! Go give yourself a gold star for reading this far. Oh yes and please thank me by clicking ‘like’ or leave a comment. I hope you found it useful….there’s lots more business tips for designers on this website and there will be lots more in the future.

 

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Interior Designers: use pinterest more to generate interest

English: Red Pinterest logo
English: Red Pinterest logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Interior designers are a visual bunch. At least they deal with stuff that is inherently visual, with the end product being an eminently visual thing.

Clients, too, are fundamentally concerned about the aesthetics of what they are buying.

So, anyway, it seems strange to me that many of us in the industry have a rather limited portfolio of images of ‘the stuff we do’. Maybe you have parts of your portfolio on your web site or Houzz or somewhere else.

Yet there is probably more we can do with imagery to generate some ‘buzz’ around our services (or products in our case).

Let me talk a LITTLE about pinterest for those of you who don’t already know. Basically pinterest is a way to ‘copy’ images from most websites and put them onto boards that YOU create for yourself within the pinterest website. You can keep those boards secret OR you can share with the wider world AND you can let other people add to your boards if you want to. You can put your own images there too.

Here are some examples of what we use pinterest for.

  1. http://www.pinterest.com/kothea/luxury-cashmere-throws/ – This shows some standard product photos of ours. If you click on an image it shows you a slightly larger image and gives you the opportunity to add comments or questions. Nothing too amazing there (other than the product of course 😉 ).
  2. http://www.pinterest.com/kothea/best-business-blog-4-interior-designers/ – This is a bit different. Here we have used some visually compelling images to draw your attention to the text below which describes some content on our blog which you might be interested in (or not).
  3. http://www.pinterest.com/kothea/purple-interior-design/ – Here we have some visual resources that we have gathered from elsewhere on the internet. We have themed images by colour. This might be of interest to an interior designer putting together a mood board. You could do a similar thing with other colours/textures/shapes/designs or whatever. I guess the marketing idea here is that we would provide this sort of resource so you keep coming back to it and that might help raise the awareness of our brand in our target market. I suspect the reality is that the resource (the colours) would need to be updated much more often than we have the time to so do.
  4. http://www.pinterest.com/carladeoliveira/wow-furnitureinteriorsarchitecture/ – So here is an alternative. Rather than colours we have “WOW architecture or Interiors” you can put your images here. You might do that to generate more interest in what you do; we let you do it because it saves us time whilst providing a useful and changing resource in a part of the internet that we (kind of) control and have our brand linked to.

So that’s how we have used it. As an interior designer, however, you might use it for these purposes:

  1. Use a secret board to keep track of your competition. IF your local competitors or industry competitors produce lots of images then pinterest is a great place for you to keep tracks of them.
  2. For market research: If you are researching a specific product you could gather images from diferent potential suppliers. You can also pin any old image that link to content elsewhere -for example pinning an image from this post will add a link back to this post if you find this content useful.
  3. Understand your customers. Probably better for those of you who target commercial customers.
  4. Client collaboration. You could create a secret board which you give your client access to – you can both post or comment on images that may or may not provide useful info to your project.
  5. As an alternative to Houzz to organize your visual content – you have more control of how to categorise your content whereas Houzz tends to want you to use their classifications. A downside of this compared to Houzz would be that you would get more people who are not interested in your services (yes EVEN more than on Houzz!).
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So those are some ideas of what you might use pinterest for. Now here are some of the technical ways of making this happen. To make them work properly you will need to convert your pinterest account to a free business account. Then use the tools that you can access through the pinterest menu at the top left hand corner of the screen.

1) Pin It Button

You will see at the end of each of the posts on this blog there is a pinterest icon. You click it to save to your pinterest board

2) Follow Button

follow-us-on-pinterest[1]Invite people to follow you on Pinterest from your site like this:

3) Widgets: Pins, Profiles & Boards

You can then use the pinterest website to get ‘widgets’ (bits of html code) that you can put on your site so that a nice image is displayed and that images links to either: a specific pin; a specific board; or to your profile. If. for example, any of those change (eg you add a new image to a board) then the image that you put on your wessite will be automatically updated. So it could, for example, display your 30 latest project images.

Recommendations

:

I’m very nervous about using third part site like Houzz or Pinterest to store content. Their whole raison d’etre is to get traffic on THEIR site not yours. So by incorporating their functionality on your web site your risk a potential client clicking away from your site and going onto pinterest. So be nervous about that.

On the other hand it would be a great way to share images with clients or for research or personal storage type applications for your business ie ones that are not involved in (pre-) sales & marketing.

Related articles

|* 99 *| Top Interior Design Websites & Blogs for 2014, Leading Interior Designers London > UK> Europe > World

Expo Design MAP à Saint-Étienne

We’ve scoured the net to find and list the sites we know and love. Some you already know, some you will love once you see them for the first time. Either way enjoy the depth and variety of the information on our industry and don’t forget to see which ones are voted as the ‘best’ at the end of this article – you can vote for your favourite too.

These are all sites that might be useful for interior designers rather than ones created by interior designers (or their suppliers) to promote their business. Maybe they provide a nice showcase or perhaps just a tad of inspiration in a seemingly never-ending sea of banality. Enjoy!

In no particular order then:

  1. Houzz.com – probably one of the best resources.
  2. pinterest.com – yep, you know that one too
  3. saniapell.com/athomeblog – At Home !! Best Image Curation !!
  4. Dezeen – Architecture, Interiors, Design
  5. Design Spotter
  6. The Business Bible For Interior Designers
  7. worldinteriordesignnetwork.com
  8. wallpaper.com
  9. decofinder.co.uk
  10. archpaper.com
  11. thehousedirectory.com
  12. designboom.com
  13. echochamber.com Retail matters
  14. thecoolhunter.co.uk Roaming the UK and the globe so you’re in the know
  15. roomreveal.com – Like Houzz
  16. design-milk.com
  17. Remodelista – Sourcebook for considered living
  18. http://www.architecturaldigest.com/
  19. architonic.com
  20. homeshoppingspy.com – Irresistible home buys you will love
  21. emmas.blogg.se – Design and style from a Scandinavian perspective
  22. The Fabric Blog
  23. thebeatthatmyheartskipped.co.uk – Dedicated to daily design inspiration   !! BEST NAME !!
  24. icreatived.com – Interesting Creative Designs. Find a different world in site..
  25. Apartment Therapy
  26. paper.li/JaffeDesign/1323302539
  27. My friend’s house
  28. Pachadesign
  29. Moon to Moon – Sharing the best in eclectic Interior design from across the web
  30. The Selby – is in your place
  31. Design Sponge
  32. Design Squish
  33. The Accessorator – Musings from Judi Roaman
  34. A Library of Design
  35. Slim Paley – Cats, Queens and other things
  36. A Bloomsbury Life – Within Shopping distance of Hollywood and Vine
  37. Design Tripper
  38. Herriott Grace –  A savings account for things I like
  39. Emerson Merrick
  40. Even Cleveland
  41. Past Imperfect
  42. Moco Loco – Design Interiors, Art Architecture
  43. wowhaus.co.uk – Wow property for sale
  44. brightbazaarblog.com – quintessentially colourful
  45. roomenvy.co.uk – Dedicated to finding the latest lust-have schemes
  46. thepeakofchic.blogspot.co.uk – Musing on stylish living
  47. Arianna Interiors – the woman rocking the world of interiors
  48. bibleofbritishtaste.com/category/houses
  49. ikeahackers.net
  50. designshuffle.com/blog
  51. witandwhistle.com/blog – Stylishly quirky paper goods
  52. thishomesweethome.blogspot.co.uk – Interiors DIY inspiration
  53. designismine.blogspot.com – bringing on the inspiration
  54. klausandheidi.wordpress.com
  55. arowantree.blogspot.co.uk
  56. talesfromahappyhouse.blogspot.co.uk
  57. mylittleorangery.com
  58. printpattern.blogspot.co.uk
  59. designspiration.net
  60. ardesiadesign.co.uk/blog
  61. stephmodo.com – Where practical meets pretty
  62. dishfunctionaldesigns.blogspot.co.uk
  63. decor8blog.com – fresh finds, inspiring interiors and ideas
  64. whatsinyourbedroom.blogspot.co.uk
  65. Fresh Design Blog
  66. The Design Sheppard – Rounding up the very best in interior design today
  67. Isak Blog
  68. InHabitat – design will serve the world (and show you quite a few adverts…)
  69. Web Urbanist – Daily New Articles Featuring Architecture, Art, Design, Travel, & Technology
  70. Swiss Miss
  71. Desire to Inspire
  72. Better Living through Design – Your design guide to home and style
  73. Freshome – Design & Architecture
  74. Trendir – Home decorating trends
  75. the style files
  76. Sub-Studio Design Blog – a compilation of products, furniture, jewelry, architecture and artists that float our boat
  77. Funfurde – Funky.  Furniture.  And. Design.
  78. Contemporist
  79. GrassrootsModern
  80. 2Modern Design Talk
  81. Coochicoos – a design blog for modern parents
  82. Home Design Find
  83. Haute Nature
  84. Hatch: The Design Public Blog – Fresh new design
  85. Gaile Guevara
  86. Breathe Modern
  87. ProjectDecor
  88. Belle Maison 23 – Inspirational finds for creating a beautiful home
  89. archiproducts.com
  90. archello.com/en/products
  91. http://www.stylepark.com/
  92. http://www.materia.nl/
  93. designaddict.com/
  94. iconicdutch.com/uk
  95. carlaaston.com
  96. mydesignsource.com
  97. modenus.com/
  98. Yanko Design – Form beyond function

Shows:

As the cleverer ones amongst you have spotted there are not YET the 99 promised. Suggest more to me using the voting mechanism below (you can add voting options)….

Please LIKE or SHARE … it keeps us sane to know that you are out there benefitting from the information WE share. XOXOXOX

Now VOTE for your FAVOURITES – you have ONE CHANCE to vote but you can vote for lots of sites in that one voting chance. You can also add your own website or blog to the list if you feel brave enough in the face of very stiff competition!! If you get ‘lots’ of votes I’ll add you to the list with a link 😉 But YOU can only vote once.

[polldaddy poll=7238136]

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Sponsored Blog Posts: Stop Getting Conned

Mad Men - Advertising Agencies
Mad Men – Advertising Agencies (Photo credit: DavidErickson)

Interior Designers can be lucky enough to be paid to publish articles by other companies on their own site. You could get several hundred dollars/pounds a year by doing this without being too detrimental to your readership. If you are good you could then even get asked to paid to write on other blogs…but let’s not get ahead of ourselves!

You may well already have been approached several times by annoying emails asking you to host a guest blog post from another company. Most of these you probably ignored. Fair enough, we all do that. However from my experience they are NEARLY ALL genuine. Now, I’m not saying they are genuine MONEY-MAKING opportunities for you! BUT they are at least genuine enquiries.

The problem, which if you have responded to any of these emails, is that most essentially want you to host a free advertising-like article for another company. They pretend to be offering you ‘free’ content. Usually such an article is written by an independent blogger or ad agency who is being paid to get content on other websites/blogs. Ones like yours and mine!

Yet they want this for free 🙁 [Big unhappy face for that one!] I don’t like using emoticons but 🙁 is DEFINATELY appropriate here. I mean, what a cheek! You may well have spent years building up your blog and readership and now somebody wants to piggy-back on your success FOR FREE. I don’t think so! That’s really very, very (and I’ll say it again VERY) cheeky.

Click To Read More Interior Design Articles
Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

So what I do first of all is to try to sort the wheat from the chaff. I reply and send a very short email with MY advertising rate card attached (click on the link to my advertising rate card and you can copy, change and use it yourself). This then gets rid of 80% of the original respondents who really were just looking for a freebie. Maybe there are lots of suckers out there?

But what about the remaining 20%? Well they are real, genuine enquiries who WILL pay you some money in return for a post and an image and a back-link. Easy money for you. BUT how much should you charge? And how easy will it really be in terms of the time required by you to either write, edit or publish it?

What is a Sponsored Blog Post?

A sponsored blog post is a blog post which you are paid publish on your blog. It may be written by you, an agency or another blogger. Effectively it is an advert pretending to be an article and it will usually contain at least one backlink and one image.

To be honest with your readership and to comply with laws in some countries you should include a footer line clearly stating that Company X has sponsored this post.

Sponsored Blog Post Rate Recommendations

There are many rate cards or charts out there. Most try to come up with a figure of what you should be paid based on some complicated technical algorithm. In the end it will come down to what the buyer/advertiser is willing to pay AND the number of people in the chain of command taking a cut on this ie AT LEAST an agency and a writer and you need to get paid for this.

The amount will depend very much on the industry you are in.

Let’s look at the interior design industry. Over the years manufacturers (like us, KOTHEA) have paid THOUSANDS of pounds for full page colour ads in House & Gardens, World of Interiors and the like. If you also add in the cost of photographing and producing the image and managing the advertising process then you are talking about a very significant amount of additional cost ie MANY thousands of pounds. In the case of a fabric company, you have to sell a LOT of fabric to break-even on that – probably an amount equivalent to the profit from one of your BEST customers over a whole year.

Niche interior design industry manufacturers can’t afford that kind of cost. So they have historically, typically paid for small, ineffective ads on the back pages of the abovementioned publications. Still, these small ads cost hundreds of pounds.

So most manufacturers/sellers DO HAVE an advertising budget. That’s the point.

The issue with advertising on blogs is that the readership is often MUCH smaller than a renowned international magazine. The readership is potentially no more or less relevant than your readership just that there is more of it. Your blog is potentially attractive, however, because it is impossible to produce true statistics to see who actually saw and remembered those expensive colour ads in the press – whereas you DO have the stats for your followers, subscribers and visitors. KOTHEA’s blog has many hundreds of followers, a blog like DesignMilk has probably got many thousands. Yours might have NO followers.

So if that were the only way of valuing a paid-for blog post on your site you would get paid nothing. And I wouldn’t get paid that much!

But that clearly is NOT the full story. Your wider readership is MUCH wider than your followers of your blog. It includes the followers on your FB page, your Twitter feed and of course many people will ‘just’ arrive at your blog after a generic internet search. So the overall traffic you receive is also important as is the amount of time and number of pages the average visitor spends on your site as is technical considerations like PAGERANK. The latter of which plays a role in determining the likelihood of someone arriving on  your page after a generic Google search.

So manufacturers DO HAVE a budget. But it will be spread over many media types and the amount allocated to blogs will also be spread according to the perceived effectiveness of that blog in reaching the manufacturers target audience. And it will be spread over LOTS of blogs.

Who is your target audience? Is it other designers or is it potential customers for you or is it people who want to learn about interior design or someone else? None of those are essentially ‘good’ or ‘bad’, just different. Different manufacturers will want to target different kinds of customers.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say in this section is that the Interior Design industry does have money to spend on paid for blog adverts BUT that it is at lower levels to that found in other industries (from my experience). So some of the rate cards you see elsewhere are too high for you to achieve…unless you run DesignMilk or one of the blogs with LITERALLY millions (plural) of unique hits a year.

What Blog Advertising Agencies Charge for Sponsored Blog Posts

I have limited contacts in ad agencies. But I do have some.

From what I can gather the ‘top dollar’ rate paid by a advertiser will be US$/GBP1,600. The agency will get broadly half that and you or I would, again, get half of that half. (A quarter for all you maths genius types out there). So you might get US$/GBP400 if you are lucky. I’ve managed GBP200 from M&S on KOTHEA’s site, and larger amounts outside the Interior Design industry.

You might be able to get 4 ads a month at GBP/US$50. But then do you want Jo’s Roman Blinds and Petra’s Porcelain Cornicing advertising on your site? They were totally fictitious companies but you get my drift that the companies that pay top-dollar are more likely to be top brands that you want on your site rather than local unknowns.

Here are my suggestions on what bloggers should charge for sponsored blog posts.

I’m using two metrics here, unique visitors per month and Google PageRank as a measure of authority.

sponsored-blog-rates-interior-design

How to Decide What to Charge for Sponsored Blog Posts

So you’ve seen a generic guideline as low as US$50. That might put you off. Then again you might think that you offer more value to a potential advertiser and that may well be true. If it is true then the rates are more flexible so consider:

  • You could offer exclusivity to your advertiser for monthly, repeat business.
  • Do you want a low volume, high value approach or a high volume, low value approach? The latter is probably more realistic but probably more detrimental to your image.
  • Do you also post to pinterest? tumblr? Google+? twitter? Facebook? If you have a wider social reach then that will justify a premium.
  • Is the company actually one that might be of interest to who your know your readership to be? Be sure the advertiser will check the effectiveness of their ad. If it was successful they will come back for more. It will only be successful if the message and the audience match.
  • Will you write the post? That is one option where you save the agency some money on copyrighting and so you can charge more.  But will the agency trust your writing skills?
  •  Will you write/host an ad? Or can it be genuinely meshed in with what you normally write? Again, the latter has more value but the agency might prefer the control they have of the former.

Best Practice Tips for Sponsored Blog Posts

1. Develop your portfolio

Just get started at lower rates and build up a portfolio of ads. You can then use that track record to raise your rates later.

2. Understand your true value

Read this article closely and develop a charging structure that genuinely reflects your influence and writing skills. You’ll get found out, or exploited, soon enough.

3. Get payment

Get paid, then write. In that order. Or ‘take down’ the ad/post if payment is not made within 24 hours (eg to you by paypal). Agencies WILL pay that quickly.

4. Be professional

Start with my rate card and some of the points on that. Expand it to include the following points stating the process you will follow:

  • take payment;
  • write the headline;
  • write the blog post;
  • make client’s changes;
  • approve final copy;
  • schedule the blog post;
  • publish the post.

Insist that you have final say of the copy of the advertiser writes the copy.

5. Quality not price

I am pushed for time and generally I only accept a sponsored post written by someone else and approved by me. If you have more time then on some occasions you can get paid MORE for writing the copy.

Many companies don’t really mind either way as long as what you say is positive AND that you link back to their site. Many of these companies are just paying for glorified back-links to improve their position in Google ranking.

More enlightened companies will be looking at building the buzz or conversation around their brand. They will be looking for someone to push their brand to your engaged readership. These enlightened companies are the ones that will pay more but then you might need to deliver more than just an article. So you might additionally agree to post a few links back to your article on forums or on twitter or other sources.

6. Be honest with your readership

When you start writing sponsored blog posts let your readers know what you are doing and why. Be honest.

7. Ask for more

Some advertising agencies will be able to offer you multiple payments for multiple posts. You  might want to give a discount for this.

Let  your client know when the article is published and tell them any extra things you have done such as automatically posting it to Twitter.

8. Follow the Google guidelines

Google frowns on sites that sell text links too frequently. 4 times a month isn’t going to cause any problems. If you plan to do it more than that then make sure you do some more research. (look on google for rel=nofollow)

9. Blog advertising agencies

There are apparently agencies that can direct opportunities towards your site. I only found one (can’t remember it’s name) but I never had any joy with it.

10. Build your brand

It’s fine to use all of this as a side line. Don’t get too carried away as you will end up wasting too much time and diluting your brand.

The Final Word on Sponsored Blog Posts

Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t give away things that have a value for nothing.