How to Become a Better Self-Marketing Graphic Designer

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So you’re a freelance graphic designer.  A really good freelance graphic designer, as a matter of fact.  But for some reason you just aren’t getting the business you want.  You do everything you think you’re supposed to in terms of marketing, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Is it possible that while you are hitting all the right marketing buttons, you just aren’t hitting them the right way?

Here are four things that you shouldn’t just do, but that you need to do well.

If you read through this, and find you need business card inspiration, newsletter inspiration or other help, check out these posts:

What tips do you have for being a better self marketer?  Let us know in the comments!

Business collateral

You’ve probably been told that you need to get some business cards printed if you want to be taken seriously as a freelancer. Did you dutifully get some cards made with your name and phone number printed over the words ‘Graphic Designer’? If so, you may want to go back to the drawing board. Literally.

For a graphic designer, business cards are useful both as a way to share and store information (allowing potential clients to keep your name and contact details handy) and as a mini sample of your work.

That’s right, use your business cards to showcase what it is that makes you the best graphic designer in town. Are you known for simple, sophisticated logos? Or for funky, vibrant web design? Or maybe you specialize in so-beautiful-it-should-be-in-a-frame posters? Whatever it is, this should show through from your business cards, letterhead, brochures, whatever.


Any successful business owner knows that it is much easier to keep customers than to recruit new ones. You probably know that too, but do you know how?

A monthly or bi-monthly emailed newsletter will foster a sense of community between you and your clients (maybe even among your clients). Keep them updated on designs you’re working on, introduce them to things that inspire you, let them know if you’re offering a new service… You’ll definitely be the first person their minds when a new project arises. And, as always, use the style and tone of the newsletter to reflect your work.

A newsletter is a really easy way to keep in touch and also a great way to remind people just what you can do. This can make the difference between being someone’s graphic designer and being someone’s guy who did some work once.

Blog, Facebook and Twitter

Having a website is a no-brainer for any graphic designer. What better way to make sure people find you than to post samples of your work online?

Unfortunately, your website is only effective if it’s being viewed. A blog is a great way of getting new post is up. In addition to getting your existing network to read your blog, social websites make sharing easy so when you write something especially stellar your friends can pass it on.

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No matter how great your online presence is, there is no substitute for meeting someone in person.  It only takes a few seconds to make an impression on a potential client, collaborator or referrer. So you show up at all the mandatory events, shake hands and trade business cards. Is it working?

To network like a pro, remember to act calm, comfortable and friendly (even if you’re feeling nervous). It’s also worth figuring out a way to sell yourself in just a sentence (a few words to share your personal focus and style). And always dress appropriately… even if you usually work in a t-shirt and sweatpants, it’s worth dressing to impress the people who may someday be paying your wages.

Pack up your new and improved business cards and head down to gallery openings, small business networking events or luncheons. Once you start to master the art of networking, hold your own networking events with clients, friends and clients’ friends: it’s a great way to make sure everyone there knows who you are and what you do.

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