13 Ways to Gain Exposure as a Web Designer

As a web designer, you may be faced with the challenge of getting your work and your abilities in front of others. If this is the case, here is a list of 13 different things you can do to get noticed.

1. Start a Blog

As a designer, maintaining a blog can be a great way to increase your exposure. Blog posts will give you an opportunity to share your knowledge with readers, build repeat traffic to your website, increase search engine traffic, and you can even use your blog to promote your services and display your recent projects. Writing articles and maintaining the blog will take some time, but I think you will find that the additional exposure that it brings will be well worth the time. We’ll discuss this more a little later.

2. Give Away Free Templates or Blog Themes

By creating templates or blog themes you can display your quality of work and provide something free at the same time. Of course, your goal as a designer most likely involves earning an income, so you may feel that giving away your designs would be a bad decision. On the contrary, the free templates and themes can link back to your own website, which will increase your exposure with click-through traffic and improved search engine rankings. Additionally, others will link to you and refer friends to your work if the quality is high. In most cases, you will only want to give away a part of your work, and then you can sell other templates, themes, or custom design services. Many designers who give away free themes also make money by offering to customize the theme for clients.

3. Give a Free Design to a High-Profile Client

If you don’t mind doing some work for free in order to really increase you earning potential in the future, contact someone who is high profile and has a significant influence. If you design a website or blog theme for a well-known or highly-trafficked website, it can be an incredible source of exposure for your work. The one free job may lead to 5 or 10 jobs at full price.

4. Run a Contest for a Free Design

Another option for gaining exposure through a free design is to run a contest. You could run the contest from your own website or blog, or you could sponsor a contest from a higher-profile blog. This is very common with premium WordPress themes right now. The contest will hopefully create a lot of interest and draw new visitors to your website.

5. Set Up Profiles on Freelance Websites

Freelance websites will allow you to set up a profile as a service provider and bid on jobs that others have posted. People looking for services will also be able to find your profile and contact you about designing for them.

6. Start a Community Site for Web Designers

There are a number of different types of community sites for web designers, such as forums, online magazines, multi-authored blogs, etc. By starting and promoting a community-based website you can gain exposure to other designers and visitors of those sites.

7. Write Tutorials

Writing tutorials is an excellent way to show your knowledge, help others, and gain some exposure at the same time. There are countless sites to which you could submit tutorials, or you could start your own tutorial website. Those who are reading the tutorials will see you as an expert on the subject if you are able to help them learn something new.

8. Design and Give Away Free Icons

There’s no shortage of free icons online, but designers are always interested in more. If you’re good at designing icons this can be a great method for drawing inbound links and getting others to your website.

9. Write Articles for Other Websites and Blogs

While maintaining your own blog is one option, writing for others will also help you to reach a larger and more diverse audience. There are plenty of websites and blogs that accept article submissions.

10. Accept Clients for Freelance Work

If you are currently working for an agency or as an in-house designer, managing some clients of your own on a freelance basis would certainly provide some outstanding learning opportunities. With your own clients, you will need to consider things like pricing your work, securing the client, project and time management, financial management, communication with the client, possibly outsourcing some of the work, and meeting deadlines.

Some of these things, like time management, communication, and deadlines, are likely already a part of your daily work as an employee, but when you are managing the client and the project on your own they will probably have a different type of significance.

11. Write a Book or E-Book

We already talked about the opportunity that blogging presents for challenging yourself, but that’s not the only possibility for those who like to write. Writing a book or an e-book is now a realistic option for just about anyone. Services like Lulu make it possible to publish a book independently, and e-books are of course easy and inexpensive to produce.

Covering a specific topic in a book or an e-book will force you to really dive into the subject, and you’re bound to learn plenty along the way. Of course, you’ll probably not want to attempt to write a book on a topic that requires extensive learning on your part, but even writing about a subject at which you are well versed can present learning opportunities and experiences that will improve your abilities.

12. Sell Stock Graphics

Marketplaces like GraphicRiver and stock photo sites like iStockphoto allow designers to sell stock graphics like vectors, illustrations, and icons. Designing these types of items presents unique challenges that are not a part of the client process.

Selling stock graphics can also provide a nice secondary income and can also be a great fill in activity when client work is slow or between projects.

Similar to selling stock graphics, you can also design and code template or themes (premium WordPress themes are especially popular) to be sold. Selling themes/templates has become a significant source of income for many designers, but even if making money is not your primary goal designing for a mass audience rather than designing for a specific client will present some new challenges.

When it comes to actually selling your work you can either use a marketplace or manage the sales on your own through your site. If you’re primarily focusing on it as a way to learn and challenge yourself you’ll probably want to use a marketplace like ThemeForest, which can save huge amounts of time as compared to setting things up to sell from your own site.

13. Answer Questions on Forums

There are plenty of design and development related forums where users interact and look for help and guidance from other users. If you’re looking for a way to challenge yourself why not take a few minutes to browse through some forums and attempt to answer questions from other users?

In some cases, you may be able to answer the question easily based on your experience, but at other times you may want to answer a question that requires research or experimentation on your part. This is a great opportunity to stretch your own skills and knowledge in areas that are likely to be valuable to you at some point in the future, and it will also be appreciated by others.

Bonus: 10 Reasons Web Designers Should Blog

As I mentioned, there are plenty benefits you’ll get from starting a blog as a web designer. Maintaining an active blog has been one of the best decisions I ever made in terms of my career. I feel that every designer could greatly benefit from running a blog if they have the desire to share their thoughts with others. Here is my list of 10 reasons for designers to blog.

1. Increased Exposure

Vandelay Design gets far more exposure as a result of this blog than it would from any other method, outside of spending a ton of money on advertisements. Without the blog, 99% of those who have heard of us probably never would have. There’s obviously no shortage of designers and design firms out there, so we all need to stand out in one way or another. In my opinion, a blog is as good a way as any.

2. Improved Name Recognition

With the competitive nature of the design business, having a name that is recognized by potential clients can be an advantage. A blog is just one way that you can achieve name recognition, but it is a very achievable method.

3. The Learning Experience

Writing new blog posts can be a challenge that constantly builds your knowledge and your ability as a designer. Personally, I like the fact that I can produce content for the blog and learn at the same time. By writing blog posts that will challenge your knowledge and abilities, you can improve your overall performance as a designer by learning on the go.

4. Networking

Whether you design for a firm or whether you freelance out of your home, networking with other designers, SEOs, marketers, and potential customers can make your work more enjoyable and productive. With a blog, networking online is a natural occurrence and you will be blown away by the connections that you can make so easily.

5. Helps Customers to Find You

A blog can bring potential customers to you in a number of ways. They could come to your site through search engines, through social media, or through a link to one of your posts. They could even be one of your subscribers that follow you on a regular basis. Publishing a popular blog will bring plenty of new people to your site that can potentially turn into more business.

6. Improved Content on Your Site for Search Engines

As I just mentioned, potential customers may find your site through search engines. With a blog you will have far more pages indexed than you would otherwise, plus it will be fresh content that covers a variety of design-related topics and draws search traffic for a much greater number of keywords and phrases. Just having a small design portfolio will not give you a very good chance of drawing search engine traffic because the web design market is so competitive. However, with a blog you can easily build up search traffic over time.

7. Improved Communication Skills

As a blogger, you will be constantly improving your writing and communication skills. While these skills are important in just about all aspects of life, they are especially valuable skills for designers who need to be able to effectively communicate with clients and other designers. With a blog, you can develop skills that will make your projects more successful.

8. Demonstrate Your Knowledge

When prospective customers visit your blog they will be able to see that you know what you’re doing and that you are a qualified designer. While a portfolio can demonstrate your technical design ability, a blog will allow you to put that knowledge into writing and go a step further towards showing customers that you are the one for the job.

9. Potential Promotion When Needed

Once you have built up a decent number of subscribers you will have the ability to promote your work to an interested audience. Say you are having a bit of a slow time when you could use some additional work. Why not publish a blog post that announces a short-term discounted price to your blog readers? Rather than spending considerable time and money to find a new project you may be able to get quick results by simply reaching out to those who subscribe.

10. Variety of Work

One of the nice things about blogging is that it can break up the monotony of your work and give you something different to do. Designers obviously enjoy designing, but sometimes it is nice to mix in another worthwhile activity like writing blog posts.

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