Professional Organizing is one of the fastest-growing industries and a great option for self-employment. Folks need help managing their time, space, and paper — and for busy people who can’t seem to do it on their own, a good Professional Organizer is worth his or her weight in gold! You can build a successful and rewarding career assisting these clients in creating order — and my job is to jump-start your business and help you achieve success even more quickly than you would on your own!
My name is Ramona Creel, I’ve been a Professional Organizer since 1998, and I am a Golden Circle Member of NAPO. From the very beginning, I’ve seemed to have a natural instinct for what makes an organizing business successful. I did the unthinkable and actually turned a profit in my first year (and have done so every year since.) After only 6 months in business, I found myself with more clients than I could handle and raised my rates for the first time (and I continue to do so each time my business grows to a new level.) I was even awarded “Rookie Of The Year” my first year in business by my local NAPO chapter, because my company took off so quickly.
I eventually turned my love of organizing into a website called OnlineOrganizing — during the 9 years I ran the site, it won numerous national awards and grew into the largest organizing resource on the web, generating business for thousands of other organizers. Finally, I did what a lot of P.O.’s consider impossible — I sold a successful organizing company for a healthy profit. I have since then returned to one-on-one coaching, organizing, writing, and public speaking. I’m proud to say that I have succeeded at several different business models throughout my career, both as a service provider and a product retailer — I’ve sort of done it all! And I say this not to brag, but to show you that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to running an organizing company.
The best way that I know to give you some insight into my experience as an organizer is to answer some of the more common questions I get from “newbies” who are considering entering the field. Then, if you decide that you need additional help getting your own Professional Organizing business started, I would be happy to assist you in any way I can.
Organizers come from every background imaginable — teachers, counselors, corporate executives, scientists, lawyers, homemakers, you name it. Many organizers are drawn to the field either from “helping professions” or jobs which required them to be exceptionally organized. But they all share one common goal in that they wanted more from their careers — more satisfaction, more control over their time, or more freedom. And all successful organizers tend to exhibit certain characteristics — an understanding of basic organizing principles, strong people skills, the ability to teach new ideas, and a high capacity for creative problem-solving. But don’t worry if you feel lacking in some of these areas — you will become more knowledgeable and competent over time (and a bit of training can certainly help speed up the process, as well!)
Start by telling everyone you meet about your business — you never know who might be a potential client. But don’t waste a lot of money on expensive advertising, because this is an industry built on word-of-mouth. Folks are less likely to hire you from an ad, as compared to a recommendation from a trusted friend who has used your services. Relationships and referrals are the key to getting clients, so network as much as you can (talk to me if you don’t understand what “networking” is all about.) If you live in an area where you can’t find enough local clients to sustain your business, you can also work with clients who live a bit further away — either by traveling to them for appointments (you may need to charge additional fees) or by providing long-distance coaching in the form of “virtual organizing” (I can teach you how these processes work, as well.)
That’s up to you. But consider what a contract does. It lays out all of your business policies (including how you handle pricing, payment, cancellations, the purchase of supplies, travel and after-hours fees, client responsibilities, the structure of your appointments, ethical issues, etc.) up front so there is no confusion between you and the client. It educates clients about how you work, what you expect of them, and what they can expect of you. And it protects your interests if a client violates one of your policies, takes advantage of you, sues you, or fails to pay on time. So what do you think? Personally, I’m in favor of putting it on paper! And I can teach you how to set up a clear, concise, and defensible contract (if you aren’t sure what to include or how to word it.)
Each organizer’s fee will be different, based on level of experience, area of the country, type of service, and the state of the economy. Hourly rates for organizers can range anywhere from $15 to $250 (and even more for speakers) — but the current average in the United States is between $55 and $95 an hour. And while it’s important to know what clients in your area are willing to pay to get organized, your fees should be more about what you deserve to earn and less about what others are charging. Of course, you need to cover your expenses and make a profit. You will charge more as a veteran than as a novice., and you might charge more for services that involve higher levels responsibility or difficulty. But is it better to be paid by the hour, the day, or the project? It can be complicated (talk to me if you aren’t sure what an appropriate rate should be.)
Relax! Just go in with the intention of finding the best solutions you can to improve their situation. If you have the opportunity to provide a FREE consultation, do it. This gives you a chance to check out the situation and plan your strategy before beginning work — and you can make that all-important in-person human connection with your client. It’s also a great marketing tool, a way to show your clients that you really know your stuff before they hire you. You will want to complete an assessment form (I can help you, if you don’t already have one of these), begin to work out an action plan for the project (the same goes for this one) — then walk your client through “closing the sale.” Overcoming objections and helping your client make the decision to schedule that first paying appointment are crucial skills to learn (and I’m happy to teach them to you!)
The National Association Of Professional Organizers (NAPO) has been around the longest and is the most recognized name in organizing. Professional Organizers In Canada or (POC) and the Australasian Association Of Professional Organizers (AAPO) are other great options — and look for more overseas groups to start up in the coming days. Membership in one or more of these organizations is a good investment. They allow you to get to know other organizers and build a support network of folks who want you to succeed. You can participate in educational and business-building opportunities throughout the year — conferences, certification exams, promotional activities, and local chapter events. And you don’t have to run your business in a vacuum — your colleagues are there to provide feedback, reassurance, and even a wailing wall!
Yes. My course includes detailed information about what’s involved in taking the CPO exam (in the lesson on on developing credibility) — you will understand the number of client hours you must have under your belt, the educational credentials you must have obtained, and the core competencies you must have developed in order to pass the test. You can’t really take the exam until you’ve been in business about 1-2 years, and that’s by design — you must have a certain level of field experience in place before you sit for the test. My training program is meant to help organizers get started more quickly, log those client hours faster, and develop those core competencies with greater ease, so they can take the test sooner and actually pass it the first time around.
I have created a variety of products and service packages to help organizers (both new and old) be more successful business people. Whether you need assistance with basic business administration, marketing, bookkeeping, structuring your client appointments, setting up a website, or creating a unique logo for your company — I’ve got a toolkit that will take care of you! And if you’re looking for a comprehensive training / coaching / mentoring program, or even a discounted business start-up package that will give you everything you need for one set low price — I’ve got you covered! If you aren’t sure which product or package is right for you, please contact me and I’ll be happy to help you make the right decision for your company. Here’s wishing you business success!
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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.
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