Top 5 marketing tips for designers, builders & architectsMarketing for homebuilders is about finding the right audience, gaining their trust, and inspiring them to work with you.


Nothing will dissuade a potential client faster than looking at bad photographs.


Only put your best work in your portfolio. Only put in the kind of work you want to do in the future. Be brutal about this. Ask your peers if the image quality is high enough or if there are any projects that need to get cut. 

What I often see on the portfolio pages of builder and architect websites is older work that doesn’t reflect the  work they are currently doing. Often this is because they only have a couple of projects that are new and they are worried about not showing a large enough body of work.

I hear you.


Organizing your portfolio


Here’s what you do. In that stage of the game, instead of showing individual projects, show a portfolio page that shows a couple of projects all mixed together. You can organize it much like I’ve done on my photography page here. This is a WordPress site, and the plugin I use for that is called, Essential Grid. It’s fantastic and highly customizable.

It is unlikely that people will identify a page with a collection of photos as one or two projects. When you’ve got 5 or 6 fantastic projects, you can break it down into individual pages. Depending on your niche, you may end up liking this format better than individual project pages. It’s nice to be able to scroll through a large amount of photos on one page instead of navigating back and forth. 


Before and After Photos


I’m not a fan. There may be cases when it works, but for the most part it feels very 1988. Poor quality before photographs ruin the mood. Mostly they are cluttered and depressing, which is what made them great “before” photos in 1988. They distract from the quality of your work, from the mood you are cultivating, and have an HG TV feeling that lacks the professionalism of  modern designer. Leave the past alone and get with the present. There are some cases, like historical renovations, where a before photograph of a room that has great bones and has been totally cleaned out will get my nod of approval. But for the most part, nah. If you’ve got a good example of before and after shots, please post in the comments, I’d love to see it.


How to get the best photos.


Hire a professional, it’s worth it. Nothing sells your work better than your own outstanding work. The Wall Street Journal reports, “real estate listings with nicer photos gain anywhere between $934 and $116,076.” Even if you’re not a realtor, those kind of numbers indicate what kind of boost presentation counts for.

Kitchens, Bathrooms and People


What kind of photos? Kitchens are number one. Take photos of people using the space, opening drawers, serving food, hanging out at the table. Let the dogs run through the house and the kids hang out on the floor. Document people stuff because people love people. You can read more about why I think people in architectural photographs are essential here.

Why kitchens? 1 in 6 Houzz users renovated a kitchen, spending $50,000-$55,000 on average. Kitchens are where it’s at. In a Houzz survey, the average time spent in the kitchen is 3 hours per day. Cooking, cleaning, entertaining. People also reported that after renovating a kitchen they were making healthier eating choices because it was such a joy to be in the kitchen, and that added up to more family time. People want to build custom homes because they are looking to improve their lifestyle. Show them what that new lifestlye looks like.

As soon as you’ve got a project ready for photography, get it done. The quicker you can up-level your portfolio the quicker you can attract higher level clients. 

Cheers, Melissa

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