As a web designer, it’s easy to get lost in the art of creation – after all, conceiving and realizing first-rate websites is what the industry is all about. However, just as important as creating great designs is getting them out there for the world to see – especially if you are working as a freelancer or running your own business. Promoting your abilities as a designer is crucial, and a proactive marketing strategy is key to driving a steady flow of clients and maintaining the freedom to work for yourself. Whether you have a long-established design business or are just starting out, here are some of the most valuable tools and techniques for promoting your work.
A Strong Portfolio
As any kind of artist or designer will tell you, a captivating portfolio is absolutely paramount. As your visual résumé, it should be one of the first things your potential clients see, and making a lasting impression is therefore essential. There are several things to consider when curating your portfolio, both in terms of the work you present and how you present it. Of course, you want to highlight your best designs, but it’s also important to showcase a varied mixture of projects in order to convey the diversity of your skillset. This will help to attract a broad range of clients from various backgrounds, giving you more opportunity to take on new challenges and cast your net even wider. At the same time, it needs to be updated on a regular basis, if only to show that you are well and truly active as a designer.
Equally important is the presentation of the portfolio itself, and this should be treated as a design project in its own right. It makes sense to have your portfolio online, be it as part of your business website or as a separate entity. In terms of a custom-made website, it’s possible to allow others to take care of it, but as long as it’s easily accessible and simple to navigate, this is an excellent opportunity to get creative and come up with something memorable. For further inspiration, take a look at some of these seriously unique portfolio designs currently on the web. Finally, it’s crucial to include clearly visible contact details and to point back to your portfolio from all other marketing platforms.
Social networking has long been hailed as the key to successful marketing, and navigating the most important social media channels is a must. When it comes to finding success within social media marketing, avoid the urge to spread yourself too thinly – selecting a few relevant channels and maintaining a regular, active presence is far more productive than posting sporadically on every available platform. Consistency is key, and dedicating a little bit of time to social media each day will enable you to really position yourself within the industry; continue to put out useful and relevant posts to your followers. In addition to promoting your services, platforms like Twitter and Facebook are ideal for linking to relevant content and generating interesting discussions, which will help to grow a strong online community.
In addition to joining the most relevant platforms, it helps to tailor your approach slightly to suit each one. Instagram and Pinterest, for example, can be used to focus on the visual aspects of design whilst Twitter is ideal for following and discussing industry trends. Despite their individual differences, cross-linking your social media accounts will enable you to drive traffic between each platform and nurture a strong social presence overall.
It’s easy to get caught up online – especially in an industry like web design – and whilst the internet is an extremely powerful marketing tool, neglecting face-to-face networking is not an option. In fact, with so many businesses operating online, there is always the risk of getting lost in the crowd. Attending conferences, workshops and meetups can help to put a face to your name and waive some of the anonymity that comes with the internet, ultimately making you far more memorable. New clients are highly likely to do business with someone they connected with personally than a name they stumble across online, so be sure to cover all bases. Try to attend an industry event once every few months, and have some well-designed business cards on you at all times – and, of course, you can reinforce any real-life connections by reaching out on social media afterwards.
One of your most valuable marketing resources is your previous clients, and letting them sing your praises is an effective way to acquire new ones. Once you finish working with a client, ask them to write a few brief lines on their experience with you – it’s best to do this fairly soon after the project is complete, whilst communication is still regular. You may then wish to include a ‘testimonials’ section on your website, or feature them on your portfolio alongside the corresponding projects. Alternatively, you could simply ask each client to give you a rating out of five and present this in your portfolio in a similar fashion. Once again, social media can also come in handy here; sharing how much you enjoyed working with a particular client will most likely prompt a positive response, which not only serves as a testimonial but also gives your business a more personal edge.
Last but not least, promoting yourself as a designer is not just about showing outstanding design skills; it may also be necessary to demonstrate other strings to your bow. One thing that often comes hand in hand with web design is content marketing, and this isn’t just limited to blogging. If you don’t have the time or passion for writing, there are plenty of other ways to share great content and provide valuable industry insights – from infographics and videos to tips and how-to guides. The key is to provide unique content that is interesting and valuable and, most of all, represents your brand and you as a designer. By leveraging the power of content marketing – coupled with social media and a strong portfolio – you can set yourself apart as both a skilled designer and an industry expert.