Competition in the design world is fierce, so it’s no longer enough to simply possess the necessary skills and knowledge and expect work to come to you. The best way to set yourself apart from your competition is to market yourself and get your work featured to develop an authority and reputation in your field. But don’t stop at traditional marketing tactics; use your innate creativity to fuel your efforts to get your work seen. Follow this guide to build up your presence in the design community.
If you don’t already, you need to develop a specific brand identity for yourself. This will help you become more memorable and recognizable as a designer, and represent a more solid service. Think of yourself as a brand when you evaluate these characteristics.
While the traditional marketing mix of product, price, placement and promotion may not fully apply to you as a designer, it’s a good concept to consider when building your brand. Plan out your goals, target audience/clients, specific services, etc. before establishing your marketing plan.
A logo is the most important visual face of a brand, so design one that represents your goals, as well as provides a simple, memorable and recognizable mark. This is an important foundational step in constructing your identity as a designer.
Business Cards and Media Materials
Once you have a solid logo, you can expand your image to other marketing materials like business cards, portfolios and postcards. This can provide a deeper look into your style and work to demonstrate to and touch base with potential clients.
All these branding aspects will contribute to establishing yourself and enabling other designers, bloggers and clients to recognize you when you start making your work known.
Get Involved In Design Communities
A great way to begin showing off your work is to participate in online design communities like DeviantArt, Dribbble and CSSelite. Most of these types of sharing sites enable other designers to view your work and give you feedback – and vice versa – so you can continue improving. When you’ve submitted enough work and taken part in discussions, you’ll begin to develop an online presence that will help you get to know other designers and build a network of contacts.
Become a Blogger
When done strategically, blogging can be an extremely effective marketing technique. Firstly, it’s an easy way to expand your brand identity by displaying and linking to your logo. It’s also one of the best ways to establish your expertise. Post high quality articles and helpful, unique tutorials to aid and answer the questions of other designers and clients. Showcase your work to illustrate your advice and skills in action, and produce entertaining content to keep your readers engaged.
Continually contributing to this combination of branding, showcasing and content will quickly build your authority in your field, and you’ll eventually gain a growing following. Blogs provide insight to your design expertise and personality that traditional marketing efforts may not be able to, because of their nature of providing and selling an experience. Before even getting involved in a project with you, clients and designers can get a sense of what working with you would be like.
Drive Traffic to Your Blog
Producing good content for your blog may not be enough to get the attention of readers and designers, so there are ways to spread your blog’s name and drive visitors to it. One way is through other social networking sites. For instance, you can promote featured articles or work from your blog on Twitter and Facebook to entice users to take a closer look. You can also submit your work to sites that promote designers to get published in other parts of the web.
Another option is to submit articles and tutorials to aggregators like DesignBump, Designfloat and pixel2life. You’ll cast a wider net for readers, and the ones within your target audience will be likely to begin following your blog. This also creates potential to contribute to other design blogs if their creators like your work.
Specialize in Something
You may have a wide range of skills and knowledge to offer to readers, clients and fellow designers, but a good way to set yourself apart from the crowd of designers who all possess the same skill sets is to learn (or make greater use of a skill you already have) a new, unique skill. Or, tailor your current services and work to a smaller, more specific niche. This will greater establish your expertise in a particular area of design, rather than getting lost in a sea of common skills and content.
You can also go the extra mile in your branding and blogging by taking a creative stance, angle or gimmick. For example, some blogs cater to design humor by producing humorous content on designer mistakes or behavior. If you go with an approach like this, just make sure you stick to the identity you’ve created so that you’ll become consistently known for that trait.
Design is constantly changing in its trends, software and techniques, so it is essential that you stay up-to-date on all of these changes. Produce work and content that applies to current practices so that you continually offer a fresh perspective for others. Fellow designers and bloggers will take notice of your leadership in current trends and will want to feature your work. Readers and clients will look to your work as being quality and cutting edge – all contributing to the likelihood of your work getting featured, admired and employed.
Getting your work featured and recognized is a process that takes continuous effort, but it will get easier once you get established as a designer. Creating a solid identity for yourself builds your marketing foundation. Getting involved in design communities puts your work out there. Continually producing quality work and blogging content helps readers and attracts followers. This process is the best way to make yourself known and draw attention to your work, so get your name out there!