As she entered the final months of her senior year in college in 2018, Leah Rowan wasn't sure what she'd do after graduation. Having studied public relations and business, she knew starting a business was an option, but figuring out which kind of business was a challenge.
Rowan, now 25 and based in Philadelphia, knew she was "passionate about organizing, maximizing your space, efficiency, productivity," she says. So she bought a book about how to be a professional organizer, read it "front to back in about a week," and realized that's what her business should be.
To find her first clients, Rowan created a profile on Thumbtack, a platform for hiring professionals ranging from plumbers to DJs. A woman contacted her whose partner had filled their garage floor-to-ceiling with items she'd hoped to resell before passing away. The woman's goal was to "park her car there by the winter."
Within four four-hour sessions, Rowan had helped the client clear out her garage and realized that, indeed, there was a market for her services.
Today, Rowan has been able to take her business, called Back in the Box, full time, using Thumbtack. She charges $65 per hour and is bringing in around $4,000 per month. Here's how she built her hustle, and her advice for anyone else who wants to grow theirs.
There are multiple specialties within the home organizing space, including interior design and personal assisting. Knowing she loves to organize and declutter, Rowan honed in on hers pretty quickly and it has remained the same since.
"My specialties are downsizing, decluttering, packing, unpacking, and helping with moves, and [helping to sort out] large family estates," she says. "That's what I've found interesting because I've always enjoyed people's stories with their items."
Before creating her Thumbtack profile, she took on some organizing projects for her family and snapped before and after pictures to "build my portfolio." Then she made sure to share those photos on her profile.
To begin with, Rowan charged $45 per hour. As she learned the business and got better at the services she offered, she hiked the price up to $65 and figured out her ideal schedule.
"Usually I work in four-hour blocks for sessions," she says. "After that we get a little decision fatigue." Her days are usually 6 to 9 hours, including organizing jobs, phone consultations, and generating new leads on Thumbtack.
These days, though 80% to 85% of Rowan's leads still come from Thumbtack, she says, she's also expanded her client base: "I get referrals from a lot of my previous clients."
These include referrals to renovators and movers who need their clients' homes packed up, as well as realtors showing homes to buyers. "When they're showing a house and they might have a client that has a little too much stuff," she says, "they will call me in to help them help their client go through the items."
For anyone keen to find success with their hustle online, Rowan's advice is to make your profile as robust as possible.
"Thumbtack gives you ample questions to be able to explain your process, explain any type of questions about your service," she says. There are opportunities to put up pictures, fill out a detailed "About" page, and respond to people's reviews.
"Make sure your Thumbtack profile is full and looks good," she says. "And you keep it updated."
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