How to Become a Professional Organizer and Tidy Up for a Living
If you’re a proud Type A personality with a knack for cleanliness and order, your skills are calling for you to learn how to become a professional organizer.
The role of a professional organizer is to help people declutter and bring a functional order into their homes, or even their offices. In most cases, you’ll be using your skills to create a clean and attractive living space, while also keeping the daily necessities within reach. Your goal is to create structure in a way that matches your client’s desired lifestyle and routines.
Professional organizers can also have a deep impact on people’s lives. By strategically arranging a space and using basic psychological principles, organizers can inspire healthy behaviors and prevent poor diets, hoarding, and anxiety.
Does this sound like your perfect gig? Keep reading to learn about the skills and certifications you may need, and how you can start making a living with your organizational skills.
Must-Have Skills for Professional Organizers
Plenty of individuals have outstanding organizing skills, but taking on an organizing business requires a special blend of talents beyond the obvious. Here are a few.
At the heart of your business is your ability to understand what your clients tell you, communicate your personalized solutions to them, and communicate your vision to the rest of the world. This skill allows you to navigate the world of networking, marketing, and selling, all while creating positive, empathetic interactions with clients.
Great organizers will do what it takes to achieve a clients’ goal, even in the face of difficult hoarding situations. Along the way, you should have an eye for detail and have a precise reason for where things are placed after you’ve worked your magic.
Clients’ busy schedules are a large part of what keeps them from organizing themselves. When they hire a professional, they’re looking for someone who can complete the job within a deadline. Having time management skills will also ensure you’re getting paid adequately for your time, especially if you’re charging a project-based fee.
How to Become a Professional Organizer With a Certification
While some professional organizers may be able to skate by with documented experience and solid testimonials, many choose to pursue certification from the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO). When you have a certified professional organizer (CPO) credential, you show your clients that you’re heavily trained and highly experienced.
But receiving your CPO credentials isn’t as easy as paying a fee, which is part of the reason it provides you with instant credibility. To get approved by the Board of Certified Professional Organizers (BCPO), members of NAPO must:
- Have at least a high school diploma or the equivalent
- Have 1,500 hours or more of paid professional organizational work experience within the past five years
- Read and follow the code of ethics
- Pass the CPO exam, which has a total of 125 questions that you’ll have two hours to complete
The CPO exam is a pretty big investment, at $450, and is only offered three times a year, but NAPO won’t leave you to fend for yourself. To help you pass on your first try and avoid wasted time and money, the organization allows newer organizers to join as provisional members before they receive their certification. When you join with this low-tier membership, you gain access to NAPO University webinars and coursework, as well as other business resources that will lead you to succeed on your test.
Starting Your Organizing Business
Whether you launch your brand before or after you gain your CPO accreditation, you need to know how to launch. Below are some tips that you’ll find helpful in the process.
Forming Your Business
Owning your own business is rarely as simple as offering your services and making money. Whether you’re working full-time or part-time, you’ll want to consider the self-employment taxes you’ll have to pay and the business model you want to use for growth.
In addition, every business owner must choose a legal structure for their business. Most professional organizers will go one of the following routes:
- Becoming a sole proprietor: This is the easiest path for professional organizers to take. When you operate as a sole proprietor, you essentially are your business, making for an easy startup process. All you need to do is complete any local requirements. Some states may require you to have a business license or permit, while a few don’t require you to do anything at all, but overall, paperwork should be minimal and straightforward.
- Forming a limited liability company: When you form an LLC, you’ll have far more fees to pay and paperwork to complete. However, this type of company is best if you’re planning to hire employees in the future. In addition, it offers an extra layer of protection for you. LLCs separate the owner from the business, which means any debts, legal issues, and so on won’t affect your personal legal records or credit history.
Even with attractive marketing in place, it’s difficult to find clients without having some experience under your belt. If you launch before becoming a CPO, you’ll likely have to start from scratch. In this case, we recommend offering discounted services or small incentives (like gift cards) to people who are already in your network, including friends and family members.
For these first clients, request social media shares, Yelp reviews, and testimonials for your website in exchange for the incentive. Your digital presence will quickly be populated with trustworthy reviews that will catch potential clients’ eyes as they search for their ideal organizer.
Beyond the testimonials, gaining new clients is all about getting your business out into the world. To do so, we recommend first forming a niche, so you can target your marketing. Some specialties may include helping clients save space, stay healthy, increase productivity, or boost mental health. Once you have your niche down, you can expand your clientele by:
- Consistently posting on your social media channels
- Creating a website that showcases your services
- Getting involved as a provisional member of your local NAPO chapter and getting listed in their directory
- Creating business cards and carrying them with you wherever you go
- Networking within a wider business professional community
- Launching advertisements on channels your audience is using
You may also consider using some of these growth hacking techniques to expand your professional organizing business without enormous costs.
Business Development Opportunities
To be successful in any industry, it’s important to keep up with new techniques, productivity tools, and anything else that can have an impact on your work life. To do so, you can choose to take part in networking opportunities and additional training programs — anything that can help you be as effective as possible for your clients.
NAPO members have the opportunity to attend an annual conference, network in their respective cities, and access classes that help refine their organizing skills. Beyond NAPO, you can also consider these business development opportunities:
- Taking classes, certification, and events offered by the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD)
- Becoming trained and certified in the KonMari method
- Joining professional organizer meetups near you
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re still interested in becoming a professional organizer, you may have a few questions on your mind. Here are our answers to frequently asked questions to help you decide if this is the right path for you:
1. How much do professional organizers make?
It’s typical for an organizer to charge around $60 per hour, though this can range from $30 to $80 per hour, depending on your services and experience. If you’re charging per organizing project, you may request up to $400 per room (depending on the square footage) or thousands for organizing a full home.
Looking at market prices in your area can help you offer competitive pricing for your organizing services, while still making enough to earn a considerable profit and get paid your worth.
2. Does NAPO require membership fees?
Yes, NAPO requires membership fees that go toward your business resources, networking events, and more. At $299 per year, membership isn’t exactly cheap, but it ensures that every member is a committed organizer who’s looking to grow.
When you pay the fee, rest assured that you’ll get your money’s worth in the end. After all, this annual fee is directly related to your business development, which means it’s more than likely that you’ll be able to get a tax deduction for the purchase.
3. Do I need to pay for additional materials that are needed to organize a client’s space?
This is entirely up to you. As a perk of being your own boss, you can choose how your fees work. If a client doesn’t already have the necessities to ensure their success (i.e, storage boxes or mason jars), you can choose to provide materials for free, or charge their exact cost in addition to your per-hour or per-project rate. We always recommend being upfront about the cost. Working with your client and receiving their input and approval before making purchases will guarantee a solid working relationship.
Help Clients Organize Their Lives
Everyone deserves a happy space to return to every day. If you’re passionate about tidying up, creating structure, and helping others find peace of mind, start your own organizing company and put your skills to good use. We hope this article helps you start your business, gain credibility, and grow your clientele.
If you have additional skill sets that you want to cash in on, read this article to get our small business ideas. Whether you’re great at organizing, cooking, designing, or just loving pets, there’s something out there for you.