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Staging Diva Dispatch

Quote of the Month!

"There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age." (Sophia Loren)

Staging Diva
November Course Dates

Want to take the Staging Diva courses live with me?

There are still a few spots in the live course series starting November 20. I only take 15 students in a conference call. All notes are emailed to you in advance. You get a phone number and password to join me and your fellow students in the live calls on the five designated evenings.

Get the fall schedule and register before it's full.

Of course you can always order course recordings so you aren't tied to the live class schedule. And, you get to listen to the material as often as you like!

Are new questions popping up that need answers?

As you get further into your staging business, new questions will come up. After all, we never finish learning as there are always new levels of mastery to achieve. That's why I created the Staging Diva Network Online Discussion Group. It's for Staging Diva Graduates only and is a safe environment to ask questions, get support and feel part of a community facing similar challenges. I log in at least once a week to share my thoughts on all of the discussions, start new topics or answer questions. Plus you get to hear what fellow members have to say. It even includes a Live Chat feature in the monthly membership fee of only $20. 

Learn now to join the Network and get one month f'ree

Staging Diva

Peggy, our Manager of Operations is absolutely fabulous. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email her.

Sandy is my Executive Assistant who does a great job getting Graduation Certificates out to you in a timely fashion, keeping the Staging Diva Network humming, editing photos and putting together Directory listings and many other behind the scenes details. Email her when you need help!

Peggy and Sandy will quickly handle your questions about registrations, certificates, course downloads, memberships and more.

Don't worry, I'm still accessible but with over 500 emails a day, I need help! If you ask Peggy or Sandy something directly that they feel needs my attention, they always forward your message to me.

I also review and edit (if required) all directory listings, before they go live and create the tags for search engines to find you.

Great Book

"The Dip - A little book that teaches you when to quit (and when to stick)" by Seth Godin

I love this latest book by Seth Godin, who talks about "the dip". It's the time between when we have tons of energy and enthusiasm for an exciting new idea (like starting a staging business) and the inevitable dip that follows when it gets harder because we actually have to do the work to make it happen.

He rightly points out that, "extraordinary benefits accrue to the tiny minority of people who are able to push just a tiny bit longer than most."

The fact is most people give up too soon on their dreams. When faced with adversity, many give up and switch to some new and exciting idea (until the novelty of that one wears off and the work sets in, at which point the pattern repeats itself). 

Although it can be a test of your commitment to an idea or path in life, this adversity is a good thing. Godin says, "in a competitive world, adversity is your ally." If you keep going when others give up, you'll be the one there to reap the rewards of your efforts!

If you're feeling your enthusiasm wane, don't give up on your dreams! Read The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

Choosing training

Don't take home staging training just because you want "credentials" since there are none (not official ones at least). 

Anyone can call themselves a professional home stager, there are no requirements or licenses to do so.

The only real reason to take a course is if you feel the content will improve your chance of success.

Consider your own strengths and weaknesses. 

Decide exactly what you need to get out of a program and then find training that offers that.

Look for a trainer that has a proven track record of success in whatever they're going to teach you.

Otherwise, what proof is there that their methods work in the real world?

Look for evidence that there's a genuine interest in sharing real information with you and providing ongoing support for your growth. 

If it's all about "selling a course" then don't expect anything else once you're a paying student.

I also recommend you check out comments from real people who have taken the program

If student testimonials have no names, no photos and no way to locate them, how do you know their comments are real?

Are you promised unlimited one on one access to the head of the company, forever? Ask yourself whether this is realistic and whether you are being promised other things that are impossible too.

No single training program will be right for everyone! You owe it to yourself to research your options and choose wisely, based on your specific needs.

Read the rest of this story

Read student comments about the Staging Diva Program

  Issue 15: November 2007

You are receiving this newsletter because you expressed interest in learning about the business of Home Staging. If you don't want to continue, use the "Preferences" link at the very bottom of this email.

Hi ,

Well, I just turned 48 at the end of October. Yes, I'm a Scorpio through and through (for better or worse).

My mother was well enough to travel for the first time in a year and was able to come celebrate with us. And I got a chance to show her my new home (do we ever grow out of trying to impress our mothers?). We've been living here 4 months now; all the painting and repairs are completed, the new furniture arrived and it's definitely feeling like home.

I share this with you in part to say that life goes on while we try and make time for our businesses. I hear from so many aspiring stagers who say, "when my kid is settled in school, I'll start my business," or "when my husband is comfortable in his new job," or "when we move a year from now", etc. The reality is life will never be without distractions and other demands. If you wait for the timing and the rest of your life to be "perfect", you'll probably never follow your own dreams!

Naturally there are weeks when I get a ton of business things done and then others when I can't put in as much time as I'd like. Regardless, my business is rarely far from my thoughts, even if all I'm doing is keeping up with emails, doing a few staging consultations and jotting down marketing ideas for when I have time to get to them.

There are now over 650 Staging Diva Graduates worldwide who have learned from my experience of growing a successful staging company and who have a blueprint to follow. You can read many of their comments here.

I hope you find the content of this issue of Staging Diva Dispatch helpful. I welcome your feedback and/or new story ideas!

Debra Signature

Debra Gould, President Six Elements Inc.
Creator of The Staging Diva Program

In this issue:

Main Section

Lessons from the Gym that Help Your Business

A Personal Trainer For your Business

Student/Graduate Success Corner

Staging Diva Art Shop

Why Some Leads Don't Turn Into Projects

Left column

Quote of the Month

Staging Diva November Courses

The Staging Diva Team

Great Book

Choosing Training

Lessons From the Gym that Can Help Your Business

I belonged to a gym for years and rarely made it there despite all my best intentions. Every month, the membership fee on my credit card reminded me how I'd failed to follow through yet again!

Then last year I had major surgery. What a wake up call to pay more attention to my health! It took 4 months to fully recover and I decided that no amount of wishing and promising was going to get me to the gym until I did something different.

I purchased 50 training sessions with a personal trainer and made appointments to work with him three times a week.

It's been a difficult journey toward being fit, but it reminded me of a few lessons that apply equally to building a business!

1. Even the slightest adjustment can make a world of difference.

I would think I was doing an exercise correctly until my trainer would have me change my arm position by an inch or less. Suddenly I was using a whole bunch of muscles I wasn't before. I could have done the exercise incorrectly for months with no results and concluded that exercise was a waste of time!

That's not unlike someone having a website and giving up after a year or less, thinking it's a waste of effort when the problem wasn't with being on the web, but with the content of their site. Sometimes all that's needed is a little fine tuning to get the results you want.

2. Having an appointment or a deadline keeps you focused.

I've blocked off 2 hours three times a week for my personal trainer. There is no way I'd get to the gym that often if he wasn't expecting me and I hadn't already paid for the time. But now I'm in better shape than I have been in 15 years.

I still fight with the little voice in my head that says, "this is too expensive and too time consuming." But the reality is that there's a huge payoff-- it's keeping me healthy, how can I afford NOT to do it?

This is not unlike someone saying "I can't afford to promote my business or learn how to charge properly for my services." If you don't do these things you won't have a business, so how can you afford not to do it?

3. Having an objective third party give you expert advice and encouragement can keep you motivated no matter how hard you're working, or how hopeless it can sometimes feel.

Just when an exercise is getting easier, my trainer ups the weight, speeds up the machine, or makes me do more repetitions. I get discouraged because then it's hard work all over again and I want to quit. But the trainer keeps me going and encourages me to push through the hard part. Little by little my muscles get stronger and my heart rate recovers more quickly. I'm now on my second set of 50 training sessions and I've even dropped a dress size!

That's what it's like in business. You finally figure out something you were struggling with and it gets easier. You're proud of yourself and coasting along and then you realize your progress and growth won't continue unless you take on another new challenge!

That's because success is a process not a final destination.

With each new hurdle that you tackle, you get stronger and more confident. Then you go through a period of feeling like a beginner again as you take on some new challenge. Check out Adam and Ken's success stories below. You'll see that they've faced all kinds of challenges they might not have anticipated on the road to growing their respective staging businesses, but they are also reaping significant rewards!

Accelerator Coaching -
A Personal Trainer for Your Business
Just as my personal trainer helped me conquer my fitness challenges, I'm helping aspiring and established home stagers grow their businesses.

Here are some examples from the last few weeks of what I was able to accomplish with Staging Diva Accelerator Coaching members:

  • Challenge limiting assumptions
  • Identify ways to reduce income tax by over 30%
  • Identify way to increase sales by 65%
  • Unravel an overwhelming To Do list and get my student focused on the highest pay-off activities
  • Provide a reality check on ideas and expectations
  • Name a new staging company
  • Critique a website and identify ways to improve it's ranking with search engines
  • Edit Staging Diva Directory Profile copy
  • Review home staging portfolio and identify the strongest photos to include
  • Help guide an especially challenging project
  • Work on a real estate presentation
  • Edit and reformat a sales brochure

When you're feeling stuck, need information specific to your situation, or you're ready for new ideas to take your business to the next level, you can accelerate your progress with Accelerator Coaching.

My personal schedule is now available online for students and graduates to book time directly with me for their Accelerator Coaching. Once you order coaching time, you'll be given special access to my schedule so that you can book a convenient appointment time in 15, 20, 30 and 60-minute increments. You'll receive an immediate email confirmation and I'll call you for the coaching sessions so you won't have to worry about long distance charges.

You don't need a prepared list of questions to benefit from coaching. If you tell me a quick overview of your situation and what your biggest challenges are, I can take it from there.

Here's what two members have said about Accelerator Coaching:

  "Debra, I want to thank you for your coaching time this morning. Talking with you reminded me of why I am following this path. I enjoyed the call and your advice was so helpful. Thanks again for continuing to inspire me to build my staging business." Laura Jensen, Lakeshore Staging and Redesign, WI
  "The clarity of your comments is so refreshing! You are so marketing minded and focused; your advice made me realize that I can think bigger than I have been." Laura Horrell, Amazing Space Interiors, OR

There are two ways to be part of Staging Diva Accelerator Coaching:

1. When you order the five courses, you can add two hours of one-on-one business coaching with me for only $300 (that's the same as getting one hour f/ree).

Order two hours of coaching time with the five course audio package.

2. Whether you've taken Staging Diva courses or not, you can order one-on-one business coaching with me at any time for $300/hour.

Order one hour of coaching time.

If that sounds expensive, consider that a single hour can save you months of trying to figure something out for yourself. Or, prevent you from taking a wrong turn, or giving up when your success is right around the corner. What is that really worth?

Student/Graduate Success Corner

  Congratulations to Staging Diva Graduate Ken Sater of Creative Home Visions (CA) who made almost $18,000 on his first staging project. That was a year ago and he's done 17 homes since with an average fee of $10,000. He writes, "I want to sincerely thank you for your help and encouragement. I am now being asked by investors buying foreclosures to be project manager and stager for their property flips. It takes diligence and hard work, but I'm always amazed at where the road leads. New doors opening every day. Okay, year two. Bring it on!"

The Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers welcomes these recent Graduates. Congratulations on getting your portfolios together and putting yourself out there for homeowners, agents and the media to find:

Traci Sampsell of The Finer Stage

Serving Centre Region, State College, Boalsburg, Penns Valley and Bellefonte, PA.

Traci is also part of the Accelerator Coaching Club and we spent an hour on the phone together this week. She writes, "I enjoyed talking to you. Thank you for the constructive criticism and info shared about the industry and the workings of the Internet. I made the changes we discussed and my material looks much more professional!

Lea-Ann Virnig of Home Beautiful Staging and Design

Serving Minneapolis, St. Paul, Eden Prairie, Burnsville and Woodbury, MN.

Ruth Maracle of Dynamic Designs

Serving Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Stoney Creek, Mississauga, ON

Svetlana Kudriavtseva of Staging Touch

Serving Burnaby, Surrey, Langley, Maple Ridge and Abbotsford, BC

Leigh Ralston of Amaze Home Staging Inc.

Serving Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Naples, and Sanibel Island, FL

Pat McArthur of McArthur Home Staging and Design

Serving Toronto, Southampton, Port Elgin, Owen Sound, and Bruce Peninsula, ON

Jodi Whalen of Pear Tree Home Designs

Serving Middletown, Red Bank, Lincroft, Holmdel and Fair Haven, NJ

Since quitting a job that many people would kill for, Jodi has jumped right into building her business so she could follow her passion and work for herself.

Maria Molek of Home Remedy Staging Solutions

Serving Toronto, Annex, Beaches, Bloor West Village, North York, ON

Did you know that when you join the Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers, you can pick any five locations to be linked from on the main page? If you're the first to pick those locations, you'll always be listed first. If there is more than one stager in a city, they are listed on an "intermediate" page for that city (in the order in which they joined the Directory) and from there the links go directly to their Portfolio page within the Directory. Here's an example of an intermediate page I created for Washington DC.

Congratulations to April 2006 Graduate Colleen Ernewein, Home Impressions Staging and Decorating on the fabulous feature article on Kitchener.com. Not only does it showcase what she offers but, equally important, she now has a high traffic site linked to her website, which will be a great boost to her search engine ranking.
colleen ernwein 


Congratulations to Staging Diva Graduate Adam Luttrell of Shift Design in Tasmania (AU) who writes, "Business has suddenly taken another leap forward and we have 12 projects on the go with leads for another three. What is interesting is that we have gone from just providing advice on staging, to owning inventory to providing project management services to clients (just had a $15,000 bathroom reno approved today!).

Congratulations to Susan Rutter of Staged By Susan on being the first Staging Diva Graduate in Oklahoma. Susan has worked in real estate for over 8 years but decided it was time to use her creative talents. She writes, "I was prepared for the staging but not the business aspect. Taking the Staging Diva's class was a very smart move on my part! This was invaluable in launching my business and I am experiencing the results."

Staging Diva Students and Graduates, send me your successes so we can celebrate your triumphs and inspire others! PLUS, being included in this newsletter gets you a F/ree home on another of my websites (the more links I provide you with, the better for your business growth).

Staging Diva Art Shop - Coming Soon!
Imagine being able to build your own inventory of art that you can earn ongoing passive revenue from, by renting your collection out to homeowners, agents or other stagers?

Imagine you didn't have to leave home to have access to over 100 unique pieces of art, personally selected by me for their suitability to staging?

The New Staging Diva Art Shop is almost ready to launch. I'll be announcing it very soon! 

I have already chosen over 100 unique pieces of art (and identified which ones work best in which rooms). They'll be ready for you to have custom printed on paper or canvas (any size) and order in a variety of frames (or unframed if you want to do it yourself!).  


As a Staging Diva Dispatch subscriber,
you'll be getting a discount on your first purchase.

So watch your email for the
announcement of the Staging Art Shop launch and your coupon!

Why Some Leads Don't Turn Into Projects

Even though I've been staging homes for a long time and I'm well known, not everyone who calls me to discuss their project actually hires me. 

This is a reality of the business and one that you can't take personally (though this is sometimes hard, especially when the prospect sounds so interested at first).

Since most people won't take the time to tell you why you didn't get hired (and our natural tendency is to assume it's our fault), I thought this list of reasons might help you take it less personally. You'll see that all but two of the reasons for not being hired actually have nothing to do with you:

  • homeowners are talked out of hiring a stager by their agent
  • the house sells before your appointment with the homeowner
  • the homeowner decides to take the house off the market instead of staging (which means they might still contact the stager when they sell later)
  • some agents lose the listing they were hoping to have staged and they don't tell you that's the reason you weren't hired
  • like any industry, there will always be "tire kickers" who ask for information but never follow through
  • some "urgent" projects get delayed because the client's priorities change, they may fail to tell you this and suddenly you hear from them three months from now
  • inadequate follow-up or not getting back to a client quickly enough
  • the client isn't impressed with your portfolio, demeanor on the phone, or they just simply don't emotionally connect (that's human nature and happens to everyone)

Learn how to improve your before and after photos and explain what you do in a more convincing way