As a freelance designer, one of the most difficult aspects of the job is finding clients. This is especially true when you’re young and relatively inexperienced in the industry. While you may be more talented than the top designers in the field, few people are going to just stumble across you and ask for your services. You have to actively pursue clients and enhance your visibility. In this article, we’re going to discuss how you can do the latter in order to establish a steady stream of work.
5 Tips for Being Seen
The beauty of the internet is that freelancers like yourself can build a brand and find clients without having to invest in expensive office space and other physical resources. For just a few dollars, you can build a website, establish social media profiles, and find folks who need design work.
However, there’s also a distinct negative when it comes to the internet’s role in freelance designing. There are millions of other designers competing for the same jobs. Sometimes, this competition comes back to hurt you. There will always be someone with more experience – or at least someone who’s willing to charge less than you. This makes it difficult to compete. It doesn’t make it impossible, though.
If you want to be competitive, you need to get your name out there. As your visibility increases, you’ll notice that more and more prospective clients will actually reach out to you. Then, you can decide which ones are worth your time and which ones don’t fit your specifications. Without further ado, here are five helpful tips for gaining visibility as a young freelance designer:
The first key to gaining visibility is to launch a website that effectively showcases your work and positions yourself as a brand. If you want to land professional clients, you have to show them that you’re professional. This means having a branded domain name, logo, portfolio, and contact information.
Speaking of contact information, you need a professional email address. Your old firstname.lastname@example.org email address is not professional. Pay a few extra dollars per month to add an email address to your domain.
Offer Your Services
Nothing comes easy in business. Just because you’re talented, doesn’t mean you’re going to land top-paying jobs right away. You have to earn your stripes, as they say.
In the beginning stages, be willing to take on low-paying jobs, or even free ones if you deem the opportunity great enough. You’re not taking these jobs for the direct compensation. You’re taking them because they let you bolster your portfolio and build connections. While the job may only pay you $100, you never know when that client will refer you to another client who’s looking to pay $10,000 for a bigger job.
Carve Out a Local Niche
Picture the internet like the ocean. It’s deep, wide, and never ending. Now, picture the neighborhood you live in like a pond. It’s small and contained. When you make a ripple on one end of the pond, it may even reverberate all the way to the other end.
Trying to find clients online is like trying to make a splash in the ocean. It’s possible, but it takes a lot of work. Trying to find clients in your local neighborhood is significantly easier. If you really want to gain meaningful visibility, start by carving out a local niche. This will ultimately give you a strong foundation to build on. Later, this foundation can be used to launch a more universal approach.
Leverage Past Clients
Many freelancers are afraid to ask past clients for connections, but there’s really no reason not to. Your past clients are often your greatest sources for future work. You don’t have to be desperate. Simply send out an occasional email that lets them know you’re currently accepting new clients and would greatly appreciate any leads. If you’ve done a good job for them in the past, they should be more than happy to pass your name along.
Offer Something Unique
Finally, you need to offer something unique. There needs to be something about your design services that’s unique, memorable, or proprietary. It’s much easier to gain visibility when people are able to associate your brand with something different.
When searching for your unique “flair,” think about what you’re passionate about and good at. Maybe you’re incredibly talented at designing landing pages. Maybe minimalist web design is your thing. Perhaps you have awesome soft skills that let you offer unparalleled customer service. Whatever it is, find a unique advantage and leverage it.
Build Your Brand and Generate Leads
Gaining visibility takes a lot of time and sweat equity. You aren’t going to become an expert at lead generation over night. However, over time, a commitment to brand building will produce a steady number of leads. Think about these tips as you grow and make publicity a priority.