Being a graphic designer is great. In fact, it’s so great that lots of people want to be one. So, in order to get noticed, you need to make sure you actively let clients know you’re out there and ready to do some top quality work for them.
In this blog post I’m going to list 5 things that you, as a graphic designer, can do to raise your profile and make people aware that you’re here and ready for hire. All 5 of them don’t cost a penny to do, which is especially good if you’re just starting out in the world of freelance and don’t have much of a budget for self promotion.
1) WRITE A BLOG
This just had to be the first one on my list as I’m writing a blog post about it!
Set up a blog on your website and write helpful articles that show your expertise as a graphic designer. Try to write some posts aimed at fellow graphic designers and some posts for clients to show them you know your stuff.
A blog is also a good way to get your site further up in the search engine results. Sites like Google always love fresh, original content and will prioritise those sites over outdated ones or ones using content copied from other places.
I will admit it’s hard making time to write post when you’re busy with projects but I personally think it’s well worth while.
2) BE ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Hopefully you’ve already got yourself set up on LinkIn, Twitter and any other social media sites you decide to use but just setting up a profile and then forgetting about it won’t get you noticed. You need to regularly be active on them and let people know you’re around. You can use tools such as Hootsuite to help manage and automate some of this but I also think you need to get on there and interact with people.
3) GET LISTED ON WEBSITES
The more places on the internet you can get your name the better and a really easy way to do this is get yourself listed on website. Yell.com is a good one to start with. It’s free to get yourself listed for your local area but be aware, they will try to get you to then pay for being listed in other areas. If you don’t have budget for it just tell them that and you’ll still have your free listing.
Local councils often have a local business listings website that is free to get yourself on to. My local one for Worcestershire is finditinworcestershire.com and I have my own business listing, logo and contact details on there.
4) MEET PEOPLE
It sounds obvious but you do need to get out and shake a few hands, put a few faces to names. People always deal with people and no matter how good your branding is or how slick your website looks, clients often choose a person they’ve met and like.
Take advantage of any meeting, planned or otherwise, to promote yourself and your business. Always carry a couple of business cards and always be polite and courteous. Don’t got for a hard sell approach with people, just let them know who you are and what you do.
5) WORD OF MOUTH
I’ve saved the best for last. I think this probably the single best way of getting known as a graphic designer but also the most difficult one to do. Never be afraid to ask clients who you’ve completed a project for to recommend you if they think you’ve done a good job. Even give them a few extra business cards in case they can pass them on to anyone.
People are much more likely to take a recommendation from a friend or colleague than all the above put together. Just make sure you leave a trail of happy clients behind you and you will find word gets out and people will start contacting you.
We’ve all seen an advert for a product and immediately recognised which company it’s from before even seeing the logo. How come? Most probably because of a simple but clever thing called brand constancy.
WHAT IS BRAND CONSISTENCY?
At its most basic, brand consistency is using the same colours, fonts and styles for all marketing and media produced by a business. It’s giving each piece of communication produced the same look and feel. Most companies do this by having something called “brand guidelines”. This is a list of rules on how their branding should be used.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Being consistent with brands help build familiarity for customers and in turns helps with something called “the customer journey”. When the customer visits a website, then sees an advert that uses the same branding, they will already know who it is and have a mental connection with that company or product.
When it comes to them making a choice for a purchase, by the time the customer enters the shop or goes to your web store they will already have the confidence knowing who they are dealing with and are much more likely to make a purchase.
Making sure brands are instantly recognised through consistent styles are also great for customer loyalty as they will return to brands they know and have had a good experience with.
IS BRAND CONSISTENCY FOR ME?
Good brand constancy is for anyone with a business where customer confidence is important and that’s pretty much any type of business. It isn’t just for large international corporate giants. No matter what size your business, you can help your customers recognise your brand and build that confidence in them dealing with you.
HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT DOING IT?
Getting some brand consistency isn’y as difficult as some people think and can be as brief as a sheet of A4 paper.
If you are in the process of starting up your business, any good designer or agency should offer you the option of producing brand guidelines to accompany your new logo. If you are already an established business, guidelines based on you existing creative can easily be written.
WHAT SHOULD BE IN BRAND GUIDELINES?
The first thing I usually add in to the brand guidelines for a client is the logo. I specify the colours of the logo as Pantones, CMYK and RGB colours, so not matter where it appears it looks consistent. I also offer a single colour and a white out logo option. Then I set rules for something called “logo clearance”, this just explains how much empty space to leave around your logo so it stands out.
The next thing to specify is the font to be used in all marketing material. This is just as important as the logo for giving a brand familiarity. You can even specify the size and weight of the font to use for headlines and titles etc.
After that it’s up to you how much details you add. For most small businesses that’s enough but you can go on to add more detail if you feel your brand needs it. Everything from style of photography to the tone of voice used in written text.
So you've got your beautifully designed leaflet emailed to you from the graphic designer, then you realise you need to ask a print house to print it... HELP!
A lot of graphic designers are happy to help you with getting a print quote or will even do it all for you. However, if you want to do it yourself or even just want to understand the quote your printer has sent through, then read my guide below which explains what it all means.
Lets break the quote down into each element the printer will need to know and what the most common choices are.
It sounds obvious but you will need to tell the printer exactly how many copies you want. The quantity you want will make a difference to the type of print process used and subsequently the cost of your print job.
First you need to know how big your final artwork needs to be. If you've already got your artwork from the designer then you should already know this. If not, these are the most common paper sizes:
The above sizes are by no means exhaustive but are the most common sizes used. You can technically have any size and shape of paper you want but sticking to the above sizes will keep your print costs down due to the way the printer will fit them on the press.
How many pages that will make up the publication. If it's just a leaflet then you will just need to tell the printer if it's single sided or double sided. If you have more pages then it will be what are call printers pairs. All this means is every booklet or brochure must have a page count that is divisible by four as the pages are in pairs and each leaf have two sides.
Stock is just the word printers use for paper type. While there are lots of different types of paper in different thicknesses, for now I will just explain the basics. The first part is to decide what finish you'd like on the paper. The basic types are:
Once you have chosen the finish of the paper you need to decide on the thickness. Paper is measure in GSM (grams per square metre):
After reading this you will now hopefully have a better idea of what to ask for when getting a print quote. If in doubt, don't be afraid to ask the printer. They want you business and should be happy to help!
So you've decided to go for it and take that step into the exciting world of freelancing and one of the first and, in my opinion, most difficult things you need you need to do is think of a name for your business.
To help you along, I've put together my five top tips of things to consider when choosing your business name, compiled from my own experience and research into the subject.
1) HAVE THE NAME MEAN SOMETHING TO YOU PERSONALLY
Whilst there are many business name generators out there on the web, your business name needs to mean something to you personally. It should either say something about yourself, your business or, if you're going down the abstract name route, have a connection or story behind it. Clients will often ask how you got your business name and just saying, "I just picked a random one" doesn't really demonstrate your creative skills to them.
2) MAKE SURE THE DOMAIN NAME IS AVAILABLE
You'll want the domain name of your website and email to match your company's name, so once you've got a few potential names the next thing I suggest you do is use a "Who Is" lookup tool such as whoislookup.com to check and see if it's available.
3) PRACTICE SAYING IT OUT LOUD
This one may sound a little strange but you will find yourself answering the phone and talking about your business a lot. Just pretend you're answering the phone using your business name and even try it out on people. If the name is long, tricky to say or easily misheard then you should consider another one.
4) ENSURE PEOPLE CAN SPELL IT
One of the names I initially thought of for my business was Flex Creative. I thought it was easy to say and (at the time) the domain name was available. Then when I spoke to someone about it the thought I meant "Flecks" rather than "Flex". This kind of issue could cause your potential clients some confusion and result in you losing business due to them not being able to find you online. Make sure your business name can only be spelt one way and isn't susceptible to misspellings.
5) LIVE WITH IT FOR A FEW DAYS
Once you have what you think is the perfect name for your business, the last thing I suggest you do with it for a few days is... Nothing! Just live with it and keep saying it, looking at it and talking to people about it before you decide to go ahead and use it. The reason for this is that hopefully your creative empire will be around for a long while and you will be looking at, saying and typing your business name every working day. If you find yourself getting fed up with it after a few days, have another think in case it's not right one for you. But, if you still love it, then go ahead and register your domain name, design your logo and go get those clients!
Malcolm Roberts is a Worcestershire based graphic designer, blogger and lover of all things creative.
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