This post is primarily for experienced designers, but if you’re new to this industry please keep an eye out for my next post to learn how to avoid common pitfalls and grow as a creative.
As a person who (like you) is passionate and relentless in their skill building and client catching, you may have wasted your time, money, or been subtly disrespected with a comparison to a less than reliable marketplace where “I can hire a designer for $50 for this logo” – which is annoying and also and that’s avoidable to begin with –
Here are 5 ways to earn what you deserve and find clients with interesting projects:
- Find a reliable designer agency or marketplace for freelancers such as Toptal – this will help you get your work seen by quality clients, without paying to apply, and if accepted, no stressful competitions with dozens of other designers for one job. The application process is easy and it’s one of the highest rated agencies for freelancers. The application form lets you express who you are as a creator, and is actually read. You’re also given genuine feedback, and even if you don’t make the cut, the Toptal staff takes the time to tell you why, so that you may return once you’re fully ready. A good way to judge how you compare in skill level to the designers featured on the site is to check out their portfolios and review your work. Head to their 10 Best Designers for May 2016 and see what they’re working on. Whether you end up intimidated or relieved, there is always something to learn or be inspired by. Go for it! On to #2…
- Attend networking events that your type of prospect would be likely to attend, especially if a contact on your dream client list announces online (blog, their twitter etc) what they’re doing and where they go. Most appreciate portfolio shows and gallery openings. Even if they are not there, you can still look up these types of events in addition to official networking events. As for the networking, stick to authentic events such as those hosted by Swap The Biz. Some events overall may be pricey, but there are always free events to discover. Meeting people directly is the best way to promote your business aside from unique messages and agencies.
- Research the decision makers at your dream client’s company, and send a thoughtful email or letter to them, based on your findings. For email, let them know what interested you in their company and why you’d work well together. Talk about things you admire, such as projects they’ve done. You may also offer a tip in a modest manner.
- For mail, create and send a thoughtful card or write a beautiful handwritten letter with the above and a sample of your work relevant to them, addressed to the specific person (you may need to deliver in person to be sure it gets to them). If you’re not in their area physically, do your best to get their address or go for the email and tweet them, with caution and wiseness, should a post by them interest you. Start the conversation in a genuine, interesting manner.
- Post your best work on Bechance, Twitter, Instagram, DeviantArt, Dribble, etc. – recruiters (legit recruiters) are always looking for talent on there. This means you need an Adobe account, but you may likely have one already as you’re an expert who wants to take on higher level work. If you don’t, you can always compile a list of creative agencies and try step 3. Adobe lets you make a portfolio site, choose a custom plan for various apps such as Photoshop and Illustrator, and connect your portfolio to Behance.
That’s all! I’ve seen each method being effective personally and from an outsider’s perspective, and of course researching how to be noticed, and doing so. I wish you the best of luck and thanks for reading.
~Until Next Time