Staging Your Home For Autumn and Halloween

Your efforts to sell your home this fall season can be aided by some simple decorating that reflects autumn and/or the popular holiday of Halloween. Some effective touches can not only ’round out’ your staging; they can also encourage potential buyers to imagine decorating the home themselves by creating a warm, inviting atmosphere.

The first rule of Halloween decorating is: don’t go overboard! You’re staging your home, not throwing a Halloween party. No skeletons, NO fake blood and nothing that is meant to jump out and startle people! You want people to enjoy their tour of your home; not have a heart attack when the fake bat drops onto their head.

A fall staging theme can be as simple as warm fall colors being featured in the decor. Or, it can be tastefully elaborate, with some kind of decoration in every room that ‘ties’ the rooms together.

In homage to the holiday, you can use pumpkins and the small pumpkin-like gourds to accent your porch, tables and mantelpieces. Pumpkins are definitely an attention getter, both in terms of size and color. Use them wisely.

If you decide to carve your pumpkins, make sure that they are carved in harmless, “happy” expressions, if they have faces. One idea is to use your jack-o-lanterns to highlight the numbers of your address. Or, you could carve a tiny house into one.

If you do decide to go the jack-o-lantern route, use candle substitutes. The last thing you want is to find the perfect buyer, only to have your home burn to the ground because a candle fell over. Flameless flickering lights are available cheaply from local stores, especially around Halloween.

Flowers and plants are popular with home stagers and you can make them work for you. Chrysanthemums and dried leaves are good fall choices for the home stager. A vase of these in a room can provide some attractive natural color that calls to mind the crisp warmth of fall. Planting hardy fall flowers like mums can also add some color to an otherwise fading garden.

One idea for home showing is have business cards printed up with a picture of your home and contact information. Tie these to Halloween candy bags and put them in a fall/Halloween themed bowl for prospective buyers.

Halloween and fall provide you with a great decorating scheme to bring your house together with warm, inviting colors and decorations that reflect the fall harvest/Halloween season. This can help prospective buyers imagine decorating your home for their seasonal celebrations and encourage them to think of your home as their own.

7 Tips for Staging a Successful Live Event

In this age of online connections, live events continue to be an essential part of brand and business-building. Hosting a live event gives your brand and business the opportunity to stand out from your competitors. In this way you can have a deeper and more meaningful brand-building effect on your consumers that is more effective than indirect and media-centered marketing efforts.

Yet, with so many groundbreaking events happening all over the world, businesses and events professionals need to increase their efforts to make sure the event they stage will be engaging for their target audience and deliver their target objectives.

The live event industry is booming, so much so that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the event industry will grow by 44% from 2010 to 2020, exceeding most growth predictions for other industries. Even so, there continues to be a lot at stake when organizing a live event. They are very expensive to put on and necessitate a substantial amount of planning – even if they only last a weekend.

Here are the tried and tested best practices for staging a successful live event.

Audio

Audio is the number one component when it comes to staging a successful live event. No matter what size, or type of event, the top event companies know that you must always strive for great audio; otherwise, you will lose the interest and attention of your audience.

More often than not, microphones will be part of the setup, so plan to test each and every one of them early enough that your audio engineers have time to deal with any problems that may arise, paying special attention to wireless frequency interference.

Additionally, get in the habit of using fresh batteries for wireless microphones for every single event. If you are utilizing a webcast audio feed, make sure it is clean and audible.

If your event is going to include remote presenters, schedule a test round with each of them, as most won’t be using a high-tech setup and, instead will be using a basic headset microphone or even a telephone connection.

Video

In the past few years, live video has proven itself to be the dominant form of marketing, and when used correctly at events, increases audience engagement. Live video at events offers brands and businesses the opportunity to tap into this engaging tool, bringing you and your customers together.

Just like in a TED Talk video, plan to have multiple camera angles to create a cinematic experience. Capturing raw moments and different perspectives helps everyone feel closer to the action.

The power of video is elevated by the fact that you can stream your events to audiences around the world, enlarging the live audience and furthering the results of the event you are staging. Filming any speakers, panels, or performers can later be turned into content (such as webinars) to promote your next event.

Visuals

In addition to the power of audio, visuals add an extra component to the story you are telling. The level and intricacy of the visuals are going to vary based on your brand’s aesthetics and the nature of the event; however, in all cases, some form of visuals should be used.

Motion backgrounds are a fantastic way of adding an extra dimension, as the subtle movement lightly enhances everything else that is occurring on stage. For a more extreme visual experience, LED lighting rental is the way to go.

Another idea is to incorporate your brand or business’s logo into the look of the event. All in all, you want the space that your event occupies to turn into an immersive environment.

Processing Fees

When selling tickets for your event, you may encounter ticket or credit card processing fees. Depending on the company, these can vary from 2.5-3.5% and may have an additional flat per-ticket fee.

Make sure that you are building these extra charges into the price, instead of adding them on at the end. Psychologically, customers would rather see a slightly higher ticket price than have a load of additional fees added at the end.

Venue

Selecting a location and venue for your event is a question that may require a lot of brainstorming. First, take into consideration the niche your event falls under and what (if any) characteristics your venue should have for that niche.

Once you have selected a venue, don’t solely focus on the positives, but also consider its limitations. Ask about power capabilities, if certain things will set off the smoke alarms, the weight capacity of the ceiling, etc. – go over all the small things that could potentially turn into big problems.

In the days and weeks leading up to the event, make sure the core team members know their way around the venue. When everyone is running around trying to get everything in place, knowing the quickest routes from A to B will feel like a blessing.

Wherever you decide to host your event, make sure that there are plenty of charging stations. You want everyone to be tweeting your event #hashtag all day long!

Technicians

When dealing with product and service suppliers, the most important tip of all is to hire the right attitude. You want to ensure that the people you are going to be working with are the creme de la creme of the industry.

Organizing and hosting these events can get slightly messy and intensely stressful, which can only be made worse if the people who are in charge of your audio, lighting, stage and rigging have not been listening and can’t remember what to do. A good, energetic, motivated attitude goes a long way.

Don’t forget to make sure you are rewarding your crew with good food! It is amazing how much more motivated people can get when the reward for hard work is a tasty snack or meal.

Feedback

After your live event has wrapped up, make sure to ask attendees to provide you with post-conference feedback. This is the key to ensuring that the next event runs more smoothly and is more impressive than the last one. If you don’t ask, then you may never know that the chairs were uncomfortable, that too many panels overlapped, or that the coffee machine was never full.

Pro Tip: As you will probably need to sleep for three days once the event is over, prep your post-event emails and surveys before the event even starts. Check that all the links are working and leave space for pictures that you can add from the event before you hit send.

By hosting a successful and engaging live event, potential customers can begin to develop a relationship with you, increasing the chances of them purchasing from you in the future.

Home Staging As a Career – What Is the Average Salary For a Home Stager?

You’ve probably seen pictures of staged homes in real estate and weekend newspaper house and garden sections. The rooms look perfect, welcoming, and emotionally neutral.

Creative staging with a few pieces of furniture and decorations can help prospective buyers envision a property as their home, filled with their belongings.

What is Home Staging?

Home stagers are individuals who prepare a residence for sale or rent by making it appear attractive and appealing to prospective buyers.

Staging may be a simple process of rearranging a few pieces of furniture to maximize space and improve the flow of traffic from room to room. Or, it may be complicated, requiring many steps to make a property more presentable and sell- or rentable.

Do you have that instinct for decorating and placing things just so? Perhaps you should put your decorating instinct and talents to work as a home stager.

Educating the Home Stager

There is no mandatory licensing or formal education requirements to become a home stager. However, many professional stagers (and some real estate agents) have taken courses, completed certificate programs and/or interior design degrees to learn the fundamentals of interior design, decorating, color schemes, window treatments, and furniture placement.

Building a Home Staging Career

Home staging was listed as “one of the best jobs for 2013 and beyond.”

However, becoming a full time stager is not necessarily a fast process. It may take a stager several years to develop sufficient skills, experience, clientele and a reliable full time salary as an independent business person. Some stagers work with large real estate agencies, setting the stage for home showings and open houses. Others work with construction companies and modular home manufacturers.

Staging is a deadline-driven business that requires the stager to be able to quickly “see” or envision a staged home before work has even begun. Stagers must be mobile and flexible as clients’ needs can occur on very short notice.

A home stager’s income will depend, in part, on location. An average salary may range from $50 – $150 per hour (according to the Accredited Staging Professionals). The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists a stager’s average earnings per job as $75 for a consultation and $500 per house.

Higher incomes are found in areas where there is more expensive real estate (on either coast and in larger metropolitan areas). Home stagers on the east or west coast are reported as charging $250+ per hour. Hourly job rates in more rural areas can be as modest as $30 per hour.

The Value of Staging

The value or Return on Investment (ROI) should not be underestimated. Industry observers have published studies showing that:

  • Staged homes, on average, sell between 50 – 80% faster than homes that are not staged.
  • Staged homes generally sell for more than unstaged homes – by about 7%.
  • Buyers tend to decide within 15 seconds of first seeing a property whether they will have continued interest in viewing the house.

To be a home stager is to creatively reinvent the appearance of a home to help prospective buyers see the excellent qualities of a property and to help the seller realize the most advantageous purchase price possible

Why Charging a Flat Fee Can Flat-Line Your Home Staging Business

The pricing structure (and items you charge for) you set up for your home staging services can either make or break your business. Good for you to follow your heart and get into a career you enjoy, but if you’re doing something you love and not making money, it’s not a business – it’s a hobby.

Even if you’re the best home stager in your city, if you charge a flat rate for your services, you could end up broke faster than you think. In fact, you could be setting yourself up to “flat-line” a business that could otherwise be extremely profitable.

Charging by the square foot or setting a flat rate per room is a common mistake that has ended more than one home stager’s career. Why? No two spaces are ever the same. It could take more time for you to stage a 900-square-foot condo than a 3,000-square-foot detached home. Why should you charge the same rate for both?

When you’re elbow deep in a project and realize it will take hours more to complete than you originally estimated it’s too late. By charging a flat rate instead of by the hour, you will have successfully undercut yourself!

There are several scenarios you’re likely to find yourself in if you do any amount of home staging at all. In these classic time-sucking situations, your flat rate couldn’t possibly compensate for the amount of time that’s wasted:

o Your home staging client has to tell you the entire background of each piece of furniture or art work in their home and why they love them all.

o Your staging consultation is interrupted dozens of times by a client that’s constantly taking phone calls or breaking up fights between screaming children.

o You find yourself elbow-deep in a project only to learn that the client has changed their mind about using your services.

o You end up in the midst of heaps of clutter that would rival an Oprah ‘hoarder’ episode, spending hours to go through your clients’ beloved items.

If you have the proper hourly pricing strategy in place, none of these time-suckers will matter. In fact, if clients like these are eating up your time, you’re making more money by charging hourly. However, if you charge by the square foot or by the room you will find yourself working for nothing much of the time. I’m sure you didn’t go into business for yourself to lose money.

If you don’t charge by the hour for your home staging services, you really need to reconsider your pricing strategy before you burnout from all the extra work you must do to make ends meet or your business flat-lines.