I have loved to organize ever since I was a little girl. Yes, I’ve heard that it can be a learned skill, but I have had a passion for it from the earliest time I can remember. I hear this same thing, a lot, from my fellow professional organizer friends. How fun it is to have a job, and be able to make money doing what I absolutely love! But unfortunately, I’ve learned that to make “Organizing” a profession, A LOT more is involved, than just having a knack for organizing!
I started "cleaning and organizing", back in about 2000, thanks to my bestest buddy. My 5 kids were finally all is school full time and we had just recently moved back to expensive California! I wanted to do something to bring in some extra money, where I could just work while my kids were at school. My childhood friend, Audge told me I should do something with that passion she knew I had and told me I should “organize” for people. I laughed because that wasn’t, like a real job! But Audge ended up telling all her “mom friends” about my amazing skills and set my first “jobs” for me!!
I charged a whopping $10 to $15 an hour and worked my butt off! It was exhausting! I was scrubbing floors, cleaning toilets, doing dishes and then organizing everything around me. It was SUCH hard work and for so little money. I started to really hate the cleaning part. I just wanted to organize. But again, that wasn’t how it worked or so I thought.
I did this off and on for a few years. But in 2008 I had an opportunity to purchase a “real” business and something that would make real money. Since it was a franchise I was actually taught HOW to run a business, which I am so grateful for now! I did this business for almost 7 years. There were things I liked about it, but so much I hated. It was NOT anything I had a passion for. I didn’t wake up excited about the day ahead of me, like I wanted and I was really feeling the need for a change.
So when this business was at it’s peak and really starting to bring in some decent money, I informed my husband that I couldn’t do it one more day and that I was selling the franchise. I was going to go back to doing what I loved. This time I was going to just focus on organizing. Knowing how little money it brought in and that I would have to find clients all over again, he was NOT thrilled. But he wanted me to be happy so we said good-bye to the money I was bringing in and I got online and started doing a little research.
I came across NAPO.net, National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals. There was actually an organization for people who were actually, Professional Organizers!!
I joined right away and this is the first thing I suggest you do if you want to start an organizing business and just don’t know where to start.
For those of you who are seriously wanting to become an organizer, let me share with you a few things that I have learned and let you know about some things that are important to do.
Join NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers)
http://www.napo.net This is a place where we all learn from each other. There are monthly meetings at local chapters, yearly conferences, events, training, book clubs and a million classes you can take, teaching you, basically, how to be a better organizer and ideas of how to be better at running your business. If you choose, you can even become a Certified Professional Organizer.
Get a Business License, Domain and Website!
Come up with a business name ASAP. Keep in mind that you are going need a website, and that website is going to need a domain name that reflects your business name. For example, my business name is Organize Simply. My Domain name is OrganizeSimply.com
You’ll want to try to find a business name and a related domain name that are both available. This could be tricky. I really wanted this and ended up having to pay a lot of money to get the domain name I wanted. It WAS available but was previously owned and they were selling it at a high price. I actually started out with a different domain name and finally purchased OrganiseSimply.com, just recently.
Setting up a website is critical! That is how people are going to find you and see what you are all about. It does NOT have to be fancy or perfect to start. You can build your own website using templets from places like, Square Space or Wix. You can also hire somebody to help you. I went with a company call LivewebMedia. They are the ones who put this website together for me.
How to Get Started
When you are JUST starting out, I would work for friends and family for very cheap or even free for a awhile. Do this in exchange for Before/After pictures that you can use for social media and your website. Once you start getting paying clients, most of them do NOT want before pictures on the internet. So take advantage of this while you are learning and becoming more familiar with what this job is going to truly entail. You can also work at “a discount” for friends and family in exchange for them finding you other clients. That’s what I did with my friend Audge.
Also start out assisting other organizers, on the days, which will be many, that you don’t have your own work. Let other organizers in your NAPO group know you would like to assist. You learn sooo much from this and it gives you work. When I first started doing this, these experienced organizers would pay me around $25 an hour.
What to Charge Your Clients
Once you are feeling confident, tell your friends and family and past co-workers to spread the word and begin to start charging your clients with confidence.
This was and still is the hardest thing for me. But it is important to be confident and charge the rates that an organizer makes. It hurts everybody in the industry if you aren’t charging Professional Organizer fees. Where I live, in Southern Californian, I have found that Professional Organizers around me, make an average of about $75 an hour. When assisting other organizers you can make between $20-$40 an hour. You can talk with other organizers in your area to see what the customary rate is. This is not information that can legally be talked about at NAPO meetings though.
$75 an hour may seem like a lot of money, which it is, BUT you won’t be working 40 hours a week actually organizing. I would say, 2/3 of my time is spent marketing, planning, scheduling, invoicing, shopping, putting together and teaching workshops, blogging, researching, etc. All things I am NOT getting an hourly wage for. But I work hard at all these things, which is all part of my business.
Ways to Bring in Business
Speaking is a really good way to get your name out in the community! Ask to speak, for free, at first, for libraries, mother groups, church group, local community centers etc. I have gotten some great clients from doing this. I now get paid to speak at some groups, but occasionally will still speak for free. For those of you who are writers, you could also volunteer to write for your local paper.
BNI is the largest networking group in the country. You can attend each local chapter, twice for free. Check it out and see if it would be a good fit for you. There are lots of other networking groups out there as well. Go online and find what is available in your area. But getting out and networking in some way so that people know about what you are offering is usually a great idea! I visited all of the local seven chapters to me, twice each. I never ended up joining because I started getting busy and didn't feel I wanted to give the time commitment needed to be actively engaged in the group, but I know of many organizers who have found these networking groups to be very helpful in getting business.
What to Expect/ Advertising
It takes time to build up an organizing business. Lots of time! There were months that I only had two jobs for the whole month. I never advertised because I didn’t have money to do so. I have had my business for four years now and I am JUST now starting to spend a little money to help my SEO for my website. This is the first time I have put any money into advertising in any way. This is a form of advertising that I'll talk about but will save for another blog post. Being active on Social Media is a great form of advertising and it's FREE. I also recently started asking clients if they wouldn’t mind putting a review on Google or Yelp, after I've worked for them. That has been HUGE and I wish I did that from the very beginning! You can advertise on Facebook for really cheap but since my main focus is on on Instagram, I didn’t bother with doing that. But I hear it's a great inexpensive way to advertise!
Just know that ALL of us organizers have LOTS of ups and downs. There are lots of cancelations as well. People who are chronically disorganized get overwhelmed quickly. Often they feel nervous and feel like they aren’t ready for you or other things just come up. You should let your clients know that there is a cancellation fee, although, I have never enforced it. But just be aware that there are busy times and then times where it is extremely slow. It takes times to build your business! Just know that you are not alone when things are going slow and don't get discouraged.
You, of course, want to have a contract that you have your clients sign to make sure everybody is on the same page. I just purchased a bundle of legal forms for Professional Organizers from www.metropolitanorganizing.com. Everything is just laid out for you, but you can change the heading to your logo and change the information to fit your business.
Insurance isn’t cheap, but again, necessary. If you are a member of NAPO, they have an insurance company that works with us to give us a better price. It is still about $800 a year. I checked with my own insurance company and a few others and everything was more expensive, so I went with what NAPO had to offer. I couldn’t afford it, and went without if for the first couple years, which probably wasn’t smart. If you are assisting other organizers, most likely they will require you to have it.
Assistants Vs. Independent Contractors
Having an assistant helping you not only makes each job more enjoyable and more efficient, if is a way for your business to make more money. When you have others helping you, you are able to bring on more work. After you train and feel comfortable, you can send these organizers off to do work at one place, while you're working at another. Your business gets paid and then you pay the contractor or your employee. I do not have employees, because of the expenses it would take and because I would want consistant work for them which I don't feel I could always give them at this point. My independent contractors typically have own organizing business as well and they just help me when I need them, IF they are available.
Having my own organizing business has had it discouraging times when I wasn't always busy. But what I do is beyond rewarding! I help relieve stress and help change my clients lives for the better! I make people sooo happy! I am just having so much fun, I can hardly stand it!
Was This Helpful?
I hope this was helpful! I really wish somebody had shared all this with me when I got started the first time back in 2000! Please share your thoughts and comments below. If you have started an organizing business, what things could you share with us? What have you learned from your experience? If you have more questions, let me know. We're all in this together. There is plenty of work to go around, so lets help each-other! :)