Stop procrastinating and get unstuck with these tips to enhance your branding and attract clients.
You’re a busy freelance designer. You’re always hustling hard to make sure that your clients are taken care of — a bit too hard, in fact.
You consistently deliver amazing design work for your clients, but you’ve been procrastinating on investing in your own branding and marketing as a freelance designer. You know it’s important to have a fresh, compelling brand identity to attract more and better clients, but how the heck are you supposed to make the time to invest in yourself when you’re so busy with everything else?
If you’re thinking, “IT ME,” then this article is for you!
You can do it!
The bottom line: investing in your online brand presence will help you establish yourself as a freelance designer. Developing your personal brand — your business name, your website, your social media presence, your bio, your visual aesthetic — helps you clearly demonstrate your artistic style, the services you offer, and the industries you specialize in.
Make yourself the client for once. Schedule yourself some time at the very beginning of your daily working cycle — before you do any client work or even check your email! Spend just 1 hour a day for 5 days, and you’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish.
You may have heard the advice “Do the hardest thing first” when it comes to time management. Well, the same principle applies here, except now you’re doing the most important thing first: taking care of yourself!
If you don’t know where to start, try out these helpful hacks to get unstuck and quickly give your brand presence a big boost!
Problem: You don’t have your own website
Solution: Register a .design domain free at Porkbun.com
Having your own website that you control completely is an extremely important step in establishing yourself as a reputable brand. You may have some social media profiles, but those alone are not enough to establish you as a credible designer.
The fast, simple, elegant solution is to register a free .design domain name at Porkbun.com. Unlike other traditional domain extensions like .com, the .design domain extension has far more available names, is memorable and meaningful, and comes with all these bonus benefits:
Porkbun is offering a bundle of services with everything you need to launch your professional website. In addition to your free .design domain name, you also get free WHOIS Privacy, free SSL Certificates, a free hosting trial, and a free email trial. If you choose to build your website with content management platforms like WIX or Squarespace, you can easily connect your .design domain to your preferred service for free. Porkbun also offers completely free WordPress and Static Hosting options.
Problem: You don’t have a professional email
Solution: Add a .design email address to your domain
You don’t really want to use the corny Gmail account you registered a decade ago with clients, do you? That’s not the look!
Instead, activate your free email hosting trial at Porkbun that we mentioned above, and create a custom .design email address for your professional communications.
For example: Jane@Smith.design is a short, memorable, and professional email address that extends your branding into every client communication.
Problem: You don’t know how to write a professional bio
Solution: Break the work down into small bites
If you’re used to communicating primarily in a visual medium, trying to describe yourself and your brand with words can be a real challenge. Fear not! Here’s how to break down each step and brainstorm your way into an awesome professional bio:
– 1: Take a literal pen and paper. Write down a word cloud of everything that comes to mind when you think of your style, your inspiration, the brands you admire, and the clients you want to work for.
– 2: Start turning your word cloud into a coherent bio.
If you start writing your first sentence only to frustratedly delete it over and over and over, here’s a trick to break through: make your first draft “bad” on purpose!
Try writing the most ridiculous, corny, unprofessional bio you possibly could for yourself. You’ll probably laugh a lot, and when you’re done, you might be surprised just how “good” your “bad” bio actually is! And if you still think your bio is actually bad, then at least you have a full page of copy to edit into something good, instead of a totally blank page staring you in the face!
– 3: Once you have your final bio, edit it down into something tweet-sized. It’s always good to have long and short versions of your bio.
Problem: You don’t have a social media presence
Solution: Reserve your handles and link to your .design domain
Yes, just a few paragraphs ago, we said that “social profiles alone are not enough to establish you as a credible designer.” But that doesn’t mean you can ignore your social presence completely!
Here’s our recommendation: reserve your brand name (which ideally matches your .design domain name) on ALL relevant social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn, Behance, and Dribbble.
If your brand name is taken on any platforms, then consider changing to something where you can achieve consistency. Here’s a tool that will help you check the availability of usernames on most social media platforms: https://www.namecheckr.com/
Once you’ve reserved your brand name, we DON’T actually recommend trying to keep every single account updated regularly. You don’t need to create that amount of work for yourself!
Instead, choose one or two favorite social platforms to update regularly. These are probably the platforms that you’re already active on.
For every other platform, just fill out your basic public profile with:
– your brand name,
– your logo,
– your tagline bio,
– your .design URL,
– and one post, pinned to the top of your profile, that says “Find me at ______.design! Link in bio!”
From your .design website, link out to the select social media profiles that you engage with regularly. This way, no matter what platform someone finds you on, they’ll be able to quickly and easily get to the good stuff – your portfolio!
As a bonus, you could even create a custom “Link in Bio” page on your .design websites. Use large buttons and mobile-friendly formatting to link to your portfolio, contact information, and any other important destinations you want your clients to see. By using your own website, instead of a third-party service like Linktr.ee, you get people onto your website and expose them to your branding more quickly.
Problem: Your portfolio isn’t hosted on your own domain
Solution: Use your .design domain to host your portfolio
If you’ve been using a platform like Instagram, Behance, or Dribbble as your portfolio, it’s well worth it to invest in uploading your portfolio to your own .design website.
Hosting your portfolio on someone else’s platform means you never really have control over how it will be presented. Using your own website for your portfolio is the most professional way to show off what you can do to potential clients because you have the ultimate control over the context, formatting, and navigation of your content.
If uploading and organizing your portfolio content feels overwhelming, remember: you can always iterate. Put something up there, see how it looks, and keep adding to it regularly until your portfolio shows just how unique and talented a designer you are!
One More Tip
If you’re feeling totally stuck, explore the many sources of inspiration that the internet offers to designers. The team behind .design domains is adding to a directory of .design sites that showcases brands, designers, and resources across a wide range of design disciplines.
Maybe once you launch your .design site, your site will be featured there too!