Guess what? Not everyone is willing to climb a ladder in cold temps to staple lights to the roof. So they hire someone (and pay good money) to do it for them—because not everyone’s got the skills and hustle you do. You’ve got what it takes to bring that twinkle to neighborhoods in your town, and hanging holiday lights can be a lucrative side hustle, addition to your existing operation, or even its own standalone seasonal business.

The key is to get your business wrapped and ready with a big bow on top for customers to open as soon as the festive spirit strikes (even if it’s still patio and shorts weather). So if you’re ready, we’re ready—let’s take a look at how to start a Christmas light business in just a few steps.

The basics

You won’t be surprised to learn that running a Christmas light installation business is not a super complicated task. But you might be surprised to find out that setting up the business end is easy too. Okay, if you happen to become the Elon Musk of holiday lighting there are definitely some more complicated things that you can do to add value and organization to your business (more on that later). But if you’re just getting up and running for your first season, there are really just five steps you need to take:

  1. Name your business and build a website
  2. Drive traffic to your website 
  3. Provide ways for customers to get in touch with you 
  4. Acquire essential tools for the job 
  5. Set up ways to get paid

Let’s get acquainted with these basic steps, then you can peruse operational upgrades in the section that follows.

1. Name your Christmas light business and build a website

Here’s the thing about a Christmas light installation business: it’s not exactly the sexiest service in the world. So you’ll need to come up with a way to get noticed and remembered amidst all the other holiday noise folks will be facing. That all starts with a festive and memorable name.

Your business name should be:

  • Unique
  • Thematically-related to your service and the holidays
  • Not claimed by an existing business
  • Compliant with your state’s business naming regulations

Your state government most likely offers a search tool that will allow you to find out if your preferred name is available and compliant. Speaking of availability, you should also choose a name that is available as a website address and social media handles so that your brand is coordinated and easily recognized wherever customers might see it.

If you are just adding holiday lights to your existing business, consider coming up with a special name for this specific service as a way to brand it and set yourself apart from the competition during the holidays. Having trouble coming up with a name? AI-powered name generators like the one used by Durable can help you get the creative juices flowing in just a couple clicks.

Once you’ve got names done and dusted, it’s time to build an electronic holiday greeting card—your website! Thanks to the power of modern wonders like AI, building a website isn’t the soul-crushing chore that it once was. Not even close. In fact, Durable's AI website generator can build you a professional looking site with images and copy in 3 clicks and 30 seconds. You don’t need any coding experience or design skills, there aren’t any hidden costs, and you can update it whenever the spirit of the holidays strikes you. If you have an existing service business and you’re adding Christmas light hanging as a new option, add a seasonally-branded page just for the holidays.

2. Drive traffic to your website

As soon as the leaves begin to change color, people start thinking about the holidays. With your twinkly new website up and running, you’re ready to spread holiday cheer to capture the attention of early pumpkin spice sippers (plus you’ll be ready for Last-Minute Larry desperately looking for help on December 24).

Here are some tactics you can use to motivate potential customers to visit your website and book your services:

  • Tell friends and family. There’s no shame in booking a job with friends or family. Let them know you’re in business. Post to your personal social media channels, too. You never know who might be looking for your services in your personal followers list. 
  • Post to local boards and forums. Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and Nextdoor are just a few excellent (and easy) places to start. Your ad doesn’t need to be fancy or over the top — just spread the word beyond your direct circle as soon as you can
  • Blitz social media. Build simple (and free) business pages on Facebook and LinkedIn. Instagram is also a great place to post photos and short videos of especially dramatic or complicated lighting displays that you’ve created (once you've started making installations, that is).
  • Pay for ad space. Ads on social media, Google, or in local publications are definitely worth lookin into. A small investment can help to bring your message to people who may not be actively searching for help with their holiday lights.
  • Paper the neighborhood. Printed door hangers are sure to be effective when strategically placed in areas with larger homes, affluent families, and seniors who shouldn’t really be up on the roof. And when you’re done, leave behind a lawn sign so that the neighbors know who did such a nice job.
  • Wrap up your vehicle for Christmas. Your car, van, or truck is a big, mobile billboard that can advertise your services while you’re on the job, or you can park in highly visible locations during off hours. Be sure to print that website and phone number BIG and LEGIBLE.
  • Email your customers. If you have an existing service operation, don’t hesitate to email your customer list to let them know about your new holiday lighting business. 
  • Build your reputation. Once you’ve got a few jobs under your belt, request reviews from anyone you've worked with

3. Provide ways for customers to get in touch with you

Your website is the primary way for potential customers to learn about your Christmas light installation business. But they also need some ways to contact you directly—to ask questions, to book your services, and to make special requests: “Can we have Rudolph and Prancer playing poker with Joe Biden and Ernest Hemingway?”

Well, can we?

Your website contact page absolutely must include:

  • Your phone number. It’s old school but it’s fast and direct and the contact method of choice for older folks who are likely to need help with their colorful light display. And if you don’t mind booking service calls by text, let your customers know they can send you an SMS whenever it’s convenient for them.
  • An email address. Email is less direct, but still gets the job done. Make sure your email address is coordinated with your overall brand. If your website address is www.EvesEaves.net, try to get EvesEaves@gmail.com. You can also pay a nominal fee for branded email and get Eve@EvesEaves.net, which is even better for your branding. If you build a website using Durable, it will automatically create a contact form that funnels directly to your email. 
  • Direct messages. Social media is not a set-it-and-forget-it situation. Tell people about your social channels and make sure you regularly check your DMs and respond promptly. Messages that go unanswered can hurt your business.

When customers get in touch to inquire about your services, you should record their information in a client relationship management software (CRM). It’s a tool that will help you remember details about customers next season and the season after so you can always provide top-notch service. If keeping every communication detail sounds up your alley, Durable has you covered. Every website made with Durable automatically generates a lead capture/contact form, so all of your business communications go to one tidy place.

4. Acquire essential tools for the job

Excited to get your Christmas light business started? Us too! But don’t go out to the store and buy a ton of lights and decorations until you’ve actually taken a deposit for a job. There’s no sense in breaking the bank before you have guaranteed income on the way.

Here are a few inexpensive items to add to your kit so that you’re ready to start hanging lights when the first call comes:

  • A ladder 
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Christmas light clips (for gutters/eavestroughs)
  • Baling wire
  • Wirecutters
  • Zip ties
  • Electrical tape

Of course, the big separate category here is the actually lighting and decorations themselves. These will depend a bit on the job—specific customers might have specific requests, so don't go hog wild on buying up decorations left and right before booking that first job. Rule of thumb: expect to need about 500 bulbs / 150 feet of lighting (LED is best, and pretty much the standard these days).

You might also consider some fall arrest safety equipment like ropes and harnesses if you intend to work on very high buildings or steeply sloped roofs. Here’s what OSHA has to say about fall protection.

5. Set up ways to get paid

If you were setting up this business 20 years ago, you’d expect to arrive home each day with a big pocketful of cash, and maybe the odd personal check. Not so today.

People want to pay by credit card or bank transfer and they want it to happen through a secure system based on the web. With an invoicing tool you can give them exactly that (and save yourself a ton of time). It takes just a few minutes to generate a professional invoice and send it using integrated data from your CRM (it’s like an address book that works automatically). Once they receive it, they can pay instantly via their payment method of choice. No more mucking around with paper while it sleets down your neck.

Operational upgrades

Starting a Christmas light business is a quick and easy way to make a little extra dough in advance of the holidays, but if you plan on using it as the cornerstone to a bigger and broader year-round business or scaling it year after year, there are a few things you can do to create a foundation for success.

  • Write a business plan. It’ll help you set goals, stay organized, and understand your competition. Get a template and guidance from the Small Business Administration (SBA).
  • Register your Christmas light hanging business. If you’re doing it as a side hustle, in most states you can just claim the extra income on your personal income tax return and you’ll automatically become a sole proprietor. But if you want to build a bigger operation you should consider other business structures and register with the help of a CPA or business attorney. Keep in mind that you might also need a business license or permit from your city or county so check with your local government before you get too close to the holidays.
  • Get lighting accreditation. You do not need a Christmas light hanging degree from Yale. But it can be helpful from a marketing perspective to have accreditation from the Christmas Light Installation Pros Association. Yes, we are surprised that it exists too. Make sure you put their logo on your website once you’re registered to build trust with customers.
  • Open a business bank account. When it comes to personal and business finances, take advice from The Offspring: you gotta keep ‘em separated (that was bad, but you'll never forget it now, right?). A business bank account will make accounting and tax prep so much easier. We recommend Durable Money, which includes a debit card, 1.5% cash back, and it works automatically with your Durable invoices.
  • Insure yourself. No need for anything revolutionary here, just some good old commercial general and professional liability insurance to protect you from liabilities like personal injury or damage to property (we can help with that).
  • Price competitively. A holiday light installed can expect to make an average of around $18 per hour in the United States. But make sure you look at what your competition is charging in your area to ensure your pricing is competitive.
  • Hone your skills. If you don’t have a lot of experience installing holiday lighting, don't try to totally wing it. Watch a video on the basics then let your imagination go hog wild. YouTube is a great place to look for inspiration.

You’ve got the green light to start a new business

This holiday we’re giving you the tools you need to start a holiday lighting business. Make it your side hustle, add it to an existing business, or dig deep into your electrified creativity and become the world’s greatest holiday light extravaganza installer. Wherever you're at, Durable makes it fast (and easy) to skip ahead to the money making part. Get started.