The market for design is a global phenomenon and many countries are highly regarded for turning out some of the best designers in particular fields. But one of the biggest challenges to master is how you get your name out beyond your own national or regional market and expand your portfolio overseas.
Here are some top tips
1. Consider your motives
Ask why would you want to leave the comfort of your local work and invest in another territory? What motivates you to start seeking work overseas? This is even more important when working far away from home because you need to be very sure of a number of factors to make it work and to make it pay. We all have some initial motivation for working overseas but you must remember that marketing, profit, income, effectiveness and construction are equally important to other more glamorous motives.
2. Where do you go?
One of the easiest routes is to go to a place where you already know people. Do your clients have second homes in a particular area? One of our panel spent 5 years just working within one regional area of France for clients that were all networked together.
You should consider at the very least:
- What do you know of the culture?
- How long will it take to get there – and back?
- Can you speak the language?
- Are you allowed to work there?
- What are the rates for design work?
- What is the competition?
It might seem a lot to find out but there are plenty of formal government websites that can help you here but also check out business blogs. Be careful that they are written by people relevant to yourself, your home country and culture so that you get it right.
3. How do I continue working back home?
Then think about how it will impact on what you do back home:
- What will your family do and how do they support this?
- How will it impact on your clients in the UK?
- Who will pick up the work for you here?
- Will you lose out locally in your already developed market?
4. What do people think of English garden designers?
One of the biggest failures of designers working overseas is to think that just because someone asked them out to a country that they are better than the locals. As Adam Frost recounts your client will show you off but there are plenty of locals in your new region willing to tell your client how you won’t know about the peculiarities of local climate, soil, sourcing and building. So:
5. Research and develop your local knowledge
Find key locals who can support you. The people who might sell your skills, those who know the best place to buy plants, the best landscapers. All our panel said the hardest challenge was finding good hard landscape professionals.
6. How do I price my services?
So often when working in the UK we consider just our time and because we have lots of jobs we’ll cover our expenses of premises, overheads, printing etc. But when we’re traveling overseas we may need to cover substantially higher costs because of travel. Add to that the UK being one of the most expensive places in the world it can mean that your usual UK fees in comparison to the local market may be expensive.
So there are lots of challenges but the rewards can be many, not least an opportunity to travel and develop your skills and expertise beyond your regional borders. Garden and landscape design is a global professions that is on the whole made up of very driven individuals so there is a lot of competition. But within the global gardens and horticulture community there is a great camaraderie which can lead to a global network of like minded friends to support your work wherever you might be.