Part-2-FA-01-WEB

PART TWO

Freelancing Tips for Designers in Australia

14th September, 2020

I’ve received some really positive feedback from you, thank you! If you haven’t read it, Part 1 - How to set up your business can be read here. Part 2 is about How to market yourself.

Marketing yourself! 

So, you’ve done all the nitty-gritty stuff and now it’s time to get noticed in hopes of landing your first client. Here are a few tips to help you get started. Again, I’ll preface that these are tips based on my own experience and I’ve outlined methods that have helped me, which may not be relevant to you.

🤖 Branding

You’ll need a brand identity so that you can market yourself. Being a designer, this is the fun part. Developing a unique logo that represents yourself is important. The same rules apply to yourself as it would with a client. Create your essential branding kit:

  • Logo
  • Colour palette 
  • Fonts 
  • Visual language; shapes, patterns, imagery 

But before you start hitting the artboard, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is my ‘Why’, why does my business exist? 
  • What is my unique selling point? Think about your strengths and weaknesses. 
  • What do I believe in? 
  • Who is my ideal client?

Write your answers down so you can remind yourself. It also becomes handy when you’re writing your bio on your website. On that note… you need a website!

🖥  Website

It’s essential for designers to have a website, how else are people going to see the amazing work that we do? Building your own website can be time-consuming and expensive as you’ll need to hire a developer too. If you’re on a tight budget, luckily there are a lot of online platforms available to help designers and small businesses create great websites. For a small monthly fee, I’d recommend Squarespace. They have pre-designed templates suited for designers, and it is simple and easy to use. So there is no excuse for not having a website. It is a designer’s shopfront.

Other platforms to consider building your website on are Cargo, Wix, or WordPress. If you’re pretty web-savvy and you don’t have a coding background, but you’d like to have more control over the functionality of your website then I recommend Webflow.

What to include on your website; 

🖍 Portfolio

Make sure your portfolio of work showcases your best work and attracts the kind of clientele you want to work with. Most designers and design agencies will feature their best work on their homepage. Each project should be well presented and curated. It should also include a detailed description of your thought process behind the project. Check out projects on Behance to get inspired. 

👋 About Page

The about page is one of the most visited pages on a website. That’s because potential clients want to know about you. Here are some suggestions as to what you should include:

  • Introduce yourself
  • Tell people your experience
  • What you’re passionate about 
  • What services you offer
  • Your design process 
☎️  Contact details

I’m an opportunist so on every page, I’ll make sure my contact info is easily accessible because I want to reduce the number of clicks/steps a client needs to take to reach me.

🔢  SEO - Search Engine Optimisation

I’m not an expert on SEO, but it is important to mention it because we do want our website to be discoverable. So I’ve provided a link to the Top 10 SEO tips. These tips are simple to follow and actionable. Side note; for larger-scale projects for clients then I recommend reaching out to an SEO expert.

🌏 Domain Purchase

Don’t forget to purchase a domain for your website. I usually use GoDaddy but make sure you do your own research and find out where to buy the cheapest domain from.

👄 The Adage of Word of Mouth 

Five years ago when I launched Faber & Lo with Mary*, we had a website, Instagram and Facebook page. In fact, our Facebook page garnered 3000 likes in three days (we did not pay for the likes either) and we thought, “This is it! We’re going to be rich!” But the complete opposite happened. We didn’t get any new clients via Facebook and none of our followers turned into potential clients. In fact, my first job under Faber & Lo was a logo design for $200. How did I get the job? Through a friend of a friend.

In fact, throughout the years, it’s been friends that have helped me find new client work. Through their connections, I’ve gained clients. So start letting your mates know what you do and that you’re looking for design opportunities because chances are they might know someone that’s looking for a designer.

🤝 Networking events

You can also join networking events on MeetUp and Eventbrite which can connect you to people that are starting new businesses too.

🌈  Social media & other platforms

Social media is a great tool to show people what you do and get noticed. I’ve listed my top 3 platforms that I’ve found useful.

Instagram

Instagram is a good platform to post images of the work you do. It’s also a healthy reminder to your network of people that you’re a designer.

Behance

Behance isn’t a social media platform but it’s a platform where creatives showcase their best work. It’s also a place where a lot of potential clients search for designers. I’ve worked with some really great clients from Behance.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a powerful platform. It’s the official professional networking platform and a great place to market yourself. Mitch King, a Talent Acquisition Manager at Linktree & Boster has written a great series titled “Make yourself easier to find on LinkedIn”  which gives you tips on how to elevate your profile so that you can get noticed!

Read Part 1 here.

As your business grows there are other platforms and marketing tools that can help enhance your chances of getting noticed. However, I recommend engaging with a Marketing specialist when you cross that bridge.

🦚 Customer service - How to manage your clients 

My design degree never taught me about customer service. We seem to think it’s only relevant to the retail industry. Well, it’s not. As freelance designers, unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of an account manager or a project manager, so we have to manage our own clients.

A very long time ago I lost a client. They told me it was because I was bad at communicating and slow at delivering my deliverables. Wow, that was a big wake-up call.

Rule #1 - Communicate! 
  • Always make sure you respond to emails, even if you don’t have time, just let your client know you’ll respond to them properly later. 
  • If you’re going to miss a deadline, let your client know. It’s important to be honest and transparent. Otherwise, you appear unreliable. 
  • Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. Sometimes, some problems can be solved a lot quicker by calling or Zooming.
Be nice! Be humble! 

It takes years to build credibility. Apart from my poor experience earlier, I’m fortunate to have good relationships with past colleagues, employers and clients and those relationships have helped me progress in my career. So being nice is super important. 

🧓🏻 Mentoring 

Guess what? It’s actually really hard work running your own business. I’ve called freelancing a business multiple times in this article, because that’s what freelancing is, it’s a business offering services. So, I think it’s important to get into that mindset and commit to it. Here’s something people don’t often tell you—get a business mentor if you’re stuck. I worked with Carole Issa several years ago, and some of the key learnings from those sessions still stick with me till this day. Because we don’t have all the answers!

🔮 One last tip - Be accountable 

It’s all on you now. We no longer have an agency to hide behind. So it’s important to be accountable. What does being accountable mean?
It means committing to:

  • Turning up to your desk on time every day
  • Meeting client deadlines
  • Making sure you’re producing the best solutions possible 
  • Learning—we can never know enough. Whether it’s learning about your client, learning a new design program or learning about SEO (scary) 
  • Being honest with yourself
🌯 To wrap it up

So once again, there is a lot to consider in this post. But if you’re unsure of anything please feel free to reach out to me. I’m always happy to help.

🙏🏻 I wish you luck on your freelancing journey.

*Faber & Lo is my sole trader business name. It is a business name that I share with my good friend Mary Faber. She runs Faber & Lo in New Zealand. We both operate as sole traders. We use Faber & Lo as a platform to collaborate on projects and showcase our work as a collective. 

Special thanks

Special thanks to Maggie Lo for helping me check the copy for this article. Banner illustration originally from Free Pik has been alternated by me. 

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