In this guest post, Duane Kinsey shares a few tactics to help you become a success as a self-employed designer.
If there’s one thing we can all probably relate to is that finding success as a self-employed designer is tough.
Having been an avid reader of Logo Design Love for a while now, I know there are many of you in the same position I was only six months ago. You’re struggling to secure clients, and finding it difficult just to make ends meet.
Here I am going to share with you how in just six months, you can turn things around and run a profitable and growing design business.
So, how can you do it?
Well, its a lot of hard work, so get ready for that, but at the heart of the focus is your efforts in building an effective online presence.
You really need a blog
It’s absolutely the best platform for you to share your ideas, showcase your work, talk about the industry, and most importantly, build authority for yourself online. While I am not really saying anything new here, it still really surprises me how many talented logo designers I meet, who don’t have or are still not interested in starting a blog.
If you don’t have aspirations to be the next wildly popular design blogger, that is completely fine. It is your blog, and you can aspire for it to be as big or as small as you like. The most important thing is that you are in some way unique, and consistently provide valuable content to your audience. Valuable content can be anything from articles, to detailed tutorials, to just some simple snapshots of a logo that you are currently working on.
How you go about blogging is up to you. Its success will directly correlate to the amount of time and effort you invest.
For many designers their blog has become the absolute cornerstone of their business. As more and more business goes online, those who have the largest and most effective profile will benefit, and those who already have established a blog will have a huge advantage.
Use social media wisely
While having a blog is critical, just having a blog is simply not enough. To build a successful online presence, I would argue that having a strong social media presence is also an absolute must. For designers, this usually means being active on both Twitter and Facebook, as a minimum.
Social media is much the same as blogging in that to be successful the most important element is to provide valuable content. I truly believe that it is as simple as that. Apart from focusing on quality content, a few additional tips for using social media are;
- Focus on promoting the work of others – Your colleagues will appreciate that, and in general what goes around comes around. Don’t only promote your own content.
- Choose your platforms and completely own them – Don’t spread yourself too thin across too many social media platforms. Choose 2-3 and try to dominate them. For me personally, I focus on Twitter, Facebook, and StumbleUpon.
- Set time limits and stick to them – social media can literally eat hours out of your day, so it is important to set limits to stay productive. I try and batch social media usage to 30 minutes in the morning, and another 30 minutes in the evening.
- Study what is working for others and see how you can apply that to yourself – Everyone uses social media in different ways, however by observing successful strategies others are using, you may find yourself a shortcut.
It is possible to find clients as a direct result of social media interaction, however that is not really the point. Social media use for designers is about engaging with the community as a whole. Do this wisely and this can lead to opportunities to secure new projects, or perhaps to collaborate with someone you admire.
It helps to have an SEO strategy
In an ideal world, search engines would rank every designer according to the quality of their work, sadly however, that is simply not the case. While blogging and utilising social media will pay dividends, unless you can achieve a fairly high level of visibility in the Google search results, finding sustainable success as a self-employed designer is going to be difficult.
Competition in SEO for design related keywords is extremely tough. While your blog will be great for SEO in itself, to have a chance ranking for potentially lucrative design related keywords, such as “logo design” you will need to have an SEO strategy to identify how you are going to get there.
There are all sorts of resources out there to teach you the fundamentals of SEO strategy, so I am not going to go into any detail about it in this post. Just remember, while it can be a frustrating journey and cut-throat game at times, there are still opportunities for those who are both savvy and committed.
Sometimes you just need to look hard enough.
There are still opportunities abound
With literally hundreds of websites selling outsourced sub-$100 logos and crowdsourcing continuing to grow, some would argue that the future for a self-employed logo designer is pretty bleak.
However, I am still optimistic.
Although it is certainly competitive online with lots of hard work, with the right plan you can still carve out a successful niche for yourself.
If you keep producing great quality work, look after your clients, and focus on building an effective online presence, the opportunities will find you.
Related: Self-employment advice for designers (on davidairey.com)
Image courtesy of upscale typography