The most successful freelancers are the ones that do the best job of getting their name out there. Being able to successful showcase and promote your own work is key to gaining more clients and becoming well-known for what you do.
It’s definitely hard to stand out in the crowd sometimes when you’re a freelancer, so it’s important to promote yourself and make an impact. Self-promotion can be incredibly difficult so it’s important to start to think of yourself as a brand. You are your own brand and you need to know what your speciality is, why people should use your services over the services of others, and what makes your skills stand out (for good reasons).
Today, I’ve brought 10 resources and promotion facts for freelancers together to help you start yourself off right when it comes to marketing and self-promotion. As I’ve said before, and I’ll said again, the best freelancers are the ones that know how to market themselves. Here are my tips for you to start your marketing efforts:
1. Build a Brand Around Yourself
You are your own brand. As a freelance designer you need to fully realize that you are your own business. Take a minute to answer these questions:
- What is my specialty?
- What are my skills?
- What design can I do in my sleep?
- What design do I enjoy doing?
- What am I unable to do when it comes to design?
- What kind of design work do I want to be doing?
- How much work do I want to do?
- How much work can I take on at one time?
Once you understand these things about yourself and your freelance business, you’ll better be able to build a brand around yourself. Are you a web designer? Do you create icon sets? Is branding and identity design your specialty? Whatever your field may be, you want to become recognized as a specialist in that field. Don’t try to do a million and a half different types of design projects at once. Instead, start with one sort of design type and then expand your business once you’ve become well known in that sector of the industry.
Interested in Personal Branding? Check out these articles:
2. Attend Events
Network, network, network. Big design events attract the best of the best when it comes to potential future clients. There are a multitude of start-ups and companies just looking for the perfect designer to kick start their project. Could you be that person?
All you need to do is meet that one person that could launch your freelance business into full swing. These don’t always have to be the biggest and most-expansive design events out there, anything from local events and conferences work just as well.
Things to Keep in Mind for Conferences:
- Don’t forget your brand – who are you, what can you offer these people?
- Bring 3x as many business cards as you think you may need.
- Carry around a notebook with you the entire event.
- Every time you meet someone, get their business card and write something personal you learned about them on the back.
- Have work samples on hand – if you create postcards or anything creative give them out.
- Keepsakes: printing custom pencils doesn’t cost a lot and you may want to think of giving out something cool and unique as your business card.
Looking for an event to go to? Check out these resources:
3. Create an Online Portfolio That Stands Out
If you’re handing out business cards at design conferences and trade shows, you’re going to need to direct those people somewhere so they can gain more information about you and see a more in-depth look at your work. A portfolio, when properly crafted, can skyrocket you to success.
Things to Consider When Creating a Portfolio:
- Make it Easy to Contact You: Have your email address, phone number, a contact form, and any other potential forms of contact front and center. You want people to be able to find you….easily.
- Showcase Good Design: If you’re a designer your website really should show unique design. Make sure your website is top quality and showcases your awesome skills.
- Provide Off-Site Links to Design Work: Showcase the creative projects you’ve done for other sites and companies, link to references, or testimonials that highlight your awesomeness.
- Incorporate a Gallery of Your Design Work: Show off all the cool stuff you’ve done so people can easily browse and find out what makes you so awesome.
Need Some Inspiration to Create an Awesome Portfolio? Check out these articles:
Ready to Get Started? Here are Some Tips & Resources to Create an Awesome Portfolio:
4. Incorporate a Blog Into Your Website
A blog is a great way to showcase your creative style, offer valuable resources and information to potential clients, and send organic search traffic to your online portfolio. Your blog can be a place where you offer up design advice, showcase helpful tutorials, or curate impressive design inspiration from around the web.
Encourage people to sign up for a newsletter to your blog so you can start collecting email addresses for promotional purposes. Once you’ve built a large list, email everyone out and offer your design services at a discounted or promotional rate.
Why Every Designer Should Have a Blog:
- Makes you look like a trust-worthy and reputable source.
- Drives organic traffic to your portfolio
- Helps you get your foot in the door if you want to guest post and showcase your work on reputable design blogs.
- Can be a creative outlet.
Need some more information on why you should start a blog? Check out these articles:
Ready to get your blog going? Here’s some useful information:
5. Promote Yourself on Social Sharing Platforms
While it may not seem like a designer would normally be on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook those are all places that your potential clients are searching for inspiration for their next design project. If you publish your blogs, design projects, and interact with potential clients on these platforms you’re guaranteed to gain more clients and boost your audience.
Social Networks You Should Be On:
- Twitter: This microblogging platform allows you to share short updates with a community of millions. You’ll be able to post interesting articles to your blog, discover new ideas for design, and gain followers and potential clients. You can use Twitter’s search feature to find people talking about design in your area, or look for people searching for a designer. Things to Remember with Twitter: Try to incorporate
#hastagsso people can find what you’re talking about, also search for influencers in the design community through sites like WeFollow to Tweet them your work or interesting articles.
- Tumblr: Tumblr is a site that allows you to post everything from photos and videos to links and articles in a ‘blog’ type format. It’s a great place to find design inspiration, and the perfect place to post images of your cool design work. Be sure to incorporate hashtags to people searching for things like ‘design,’ and ‘inspiration’ can find your stuff.
- Pinterest: Pinterest is the ultimate site for visual inspiration. Here, you can post images of your design work and get people sharing your stuff everywhere.
- Reddit: If you really want your designs to go viral, posting on Reddit is definitely the way to go. Reddit allows people to discover interesting and inspirational content that gets highly trafficked.
- StumbleUpon: This site literally allows you to StumbleUpon a variety of interesting sites and articles. It’s an easy way of driving traffic to your site or portfolio and gaining instant exposure for your design work when you submit links to your portfolio.
6. Showcase Your Designs on Design Networks
Design networks can help you get your work noticed by other designers, as well as people searching for freelancers. Most of these sites feature job boards to help you in the hunt for freelance positions, and they allow you to post work samples for potential employers to hunt out. Each site has different requirements, some are invite only, some are solely portfolio sites, and some don’t have job boards. Check out some of these sites you should be posting on:
7. Sell Designs Online & Offer Free Design Resources
One way of getting your name and designs out there is to offer free and for-purchase resources for designers and people who are just looking to get creative. If you’re designing numerous assets for projects you’re already working on it shouldn’t be hard to create design resources people can customize and tailor for their projects. You can offer them for purchase on sites like Creative Market, or offer them as freebies on your own site as incentives for signing up for your newsletter.
If you also focus on doing artistry or illustrations, you can also sell your designs on sites like Society6 and Zazzle. These sites tend to do a great job of promoting shop owners and will help you gain recognition for your work. You may even gain new clients who want custom work crafted just for them!
8. Become Known as a Specialist in Your Field
When you’re first starting off or starting to make a name for yourself it’s important to start out with one specific area of design. Work very hard at becoming a specialist in something whether it be illustrations, WordPress theme design, or template design become an expert.
Perhaps you’re in love with historic typography? Become an expert in that field, write blogs about the topic, and craft intricate and unique typefaces. Once you’re well-known in the design industry for a certain skill set, you can start branching out.
Pay attention to sites like Help a Reporter, where people in the news industry look for information and resources on everything from design to trends. You may find you could be a valuable asset somewhere and be recognized for your skills that way.
9. Create a Design Contest or Host a Give-A-Way
Once you’ve established your blog or portfolio website, consider hosting a design contest that brings creative individuals together. You can offer awards and prizes to the winning designer, and feature their designs on your blog. A great way to use a design contest to your advantage is to require email sign ups for every person that enters the contest. This way you start collecting email addresses that you can use for future newsletter mailings.
Another thing that can help drive traffic to your site and help people become aware of your design skills is hosting Give-A-Ways. You can use tools like Rafflecopter, that make it easy to host give-a-ways and incentivize people to promote the give-a-way and your site by Tweeting, adding images to Pinterest and joining your mailing list.
10. Leave a Lasting Impression for Referrals
Whenever you complete a design project with a client send them a goodie bag. Include a short stack of business cards, pencils engraved with your logo or website, and anything else creative you can think of. The best promotion tends to come from word of mouth and referrals. Include a small brochure of your design work in the packet to them, and they’ll definitely show it off whenever anyone mentions the need for a new designer.
I hope you’ve found these resources and promotional tips to help you boost and jumpstart your freelance desigpn business. If any of these ideas have worked for you, or if you can offer any other resources or promotion facts for other designers please leave them in the comments below.