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Why I Invested in an Interior Design Agency: My Journey from SEO to Interior Design

After working in the SEO industry for 10 years, transitioning to the interior design industry may not seem like a natural move. However, that’s what happened to me in June 2023.

From a young age, I’ve always gravitated towards interiors. As a teenager in Wales, we’d shop at the local shopping complex. I always preferred going around the home stores with my mother than the sports shops with my father (even though I’m football-mad).

During the pandemic, we all did new hobbies or courses to keep us busy; mine was an interior design course. That helped to reaffirm that I’m neither an interior designer nor want to be.

Before I set up my agency, I worked in-house for MADE.com; at the time, this was a dream job for me. To do SEO for a well-respected (at the time) brand in the interior niche was what I wanted.

However, the entrepreneurial bug took me and set up NOVOS with my business partner. Fast forward 3.5 years, and we sold that business to the staff in an EOT model.

As part of the sale money, I wanted to use it to get into the interior design niche, but I needed to figure out how or what that would look like.

It wouldn’t be an eCommerce product, so it must be service-based. Yet, service-based typically lends itself to a traditional interior design company. Still, I wasn’t a fan of the perception traditional interior designers gave to the industry of high-end pretentious clientele only.

I had to find the intersection between my skill set, experience, and passion.

This concept or idea had lived in my notion notes for over 3 years; how would I get into the interior niche, and what would that look like?

When selling the business, my priority was to find a new home for my family as we were expecting our first baby.

Once we’d settled into our home, we needed to renovate it to make it our space. I’d sold the business at the time, so I had some cash to invest in an interior designer. Still, I wouldn’t do it for the perceived pretentiousness I mentioned previously. I felt they’d laugh me out the door if I wasn’t spending thousands of pounds on a redesign. This is when I thought there had to be another way and started researching alternatives.

That’s when I discovered virtual interior designers. A service that evolved and grew through the pandemic as the world got more accustomed to consuming services virtually.

I knew straight away this was it. It’s a service-based offering in the interior niche, and I would naturally lean more on Digital Marketing to grow (my background and skillset), so this offering ticked all three boxes for me:

  • Service-based offering: I can help with my experience of scaling a 40-person service agency

  • Operating in the interior design niche but accessible to everyone, not the pretentious traditional offering, so something that could be marketed to a semi-mass appeal

  • Requires Digital Marketing to raise awareness of the service and acquire the leads vs competitors, which I had experienced across my 10-year career

So my approach was to research different firms in this space; any that resonated well with me, I’d use their services to see their different approaches and how passionate they were about their services and niche.

After using a few, The Living House was a clear leader, and I made an offer to invest, take a stake and then contribute time towards helping them grow.

My decision came down to:

  • Their passion for the niche, not just the discipline they offered but more the level of service

  • This aligns with my values and thoughts on the industry, e.g. pretentious traditional companies who don’t want to offer interior design to the everyday folk.

  • How much could I help and support them? They already had naturally decent SEO, so it was a powerful platform to build on and grow; their SEO wasn’t starting from scratch.

  • There are 3 founders, which I found appealing as there are more resources to leverage and maximize before looking to hire.

Once my offer was accepted, the legal process was quite painful. While we were eager to move forward and get things started, the lawyers were incredibly slow. They ignored the actual brief we provided and ended up having to redo the work, charging us for it. However, after approximately 6 weeks, we were able to finalize everything.

For those interested in investing in companies with existing income and founders, our approach involved having multiple share classes for each owner. My shares have lower voting rights, specific timeframes for dividend payouts, and a specific amount of ownership compared to the other three founders. This set up is sometimes referred to as ABC shares.

Fast forward to February 2024 and things are flying. Here are some of the key highlights:

  • We moved one of the founders (Sophie) to a full-time marketing role to work with me on marketing and growth.

  • Launched a YouTube channel with multiple videos over 1k views, one getting past 5k in under 6 months.

  • Launched a new website to level up the brand and perception and streamline the user journey.

  • Improved website user flow and implemented cleaner tracking.

  • I brought AdWords in-house, which I restructured and relaunched, saving a £250 monthly fee for an agency which we can re-invest in media spending.

  • Cleaned up the website, reducing the large number of unnecessary pages that Google was crawling.

  • Implemented a PR and link-building strategy, acquiring multiple high-tier, relevant publications, including Ideal Home, Home and Garden and Women and Home.

  • Refined the proposition and offering towards ICP of families

  • implemented content strategy with new SEO-led blogs going live weekly

The results?

  • Over 250% increase in new monthly visitors year on year

  • Average of over 125% revenue growth year on year for the last 3 months consistently

Below, you can see the trend of SEO growth since June, which has hit new heights in 2024

What’s next?

  • Levelling up Pinterest with a consultant and training

  • Explore more aggressive advertising now the website is live

  • Expand the Adwords account with a consultant now the new website is live

  • Continue with what’s working on SEO and YouTube

  • Constant testing and iterations to grow YouTube’s reach

Follow along if you want to hear more about our journey