Blank Canvas: How Do You Promote Yourself?

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Self-promotion is a must for any self-employed or freelance graphic designer or illustrator. This installment of Blank Canvas asks our readers: how do you promote your services?

Cold calls? Mailing lists? How do you use the internet for your marketing? Social networking? What works best? What have you tried and abandoned? What services or methods do you recommend as the most effective?

I’ll start things off with my own approach. The bulk of the promotion I do for my illustration services is online. The main thrust of this is by proper, Google-recommended search engine optimization. Nothing shady, just good practices for the content of your website. And by content I am referring to the text content. People search using words, so you need those words to be on your website.

A big part of this is not just on my own website and blog, but also being an active participant in online design & illustration communities and artist/designer blogs, collectives and related websites. I also create accounts on as many relevant online portfolio sites as I can and I regularly submit my work to photo-sharing sites such as Flickr.

One drawback to this approach is that I am limited to clients who are searching for an illustrator. Certain portions of the industry such as children’s publishing, editorial/spot illustration for magazines and websites and apparel design/illustration are most likely not out there doing a Google search for illustrators. This is where a direct-mail marketing approach or cold-calls might fare much better.

The upside to this approach is that you have built-in interest from the potential client. Typically these clients are starting up a new business, which also has the potential for additional design work for branding and other marketing materials for the client’s new company or service.

For the past year I have been considering a direct-mail approach, but currently my online marketing keeps me busy enough that it hasn’t been a priority.

One aspect of reaching out to larger companies that is a big lure to me is the added exposure of your work which can come from working with a larger company, as well as the name-dropping you can do when promoting your services to future clients. I do have some “dream clients” I would like to work for, which is the biggest impetus for me to strike out with this approach. I love the clients I work with, but getting some “street cred” is appealing.

And getting an “in” with a larger company also has the added benefit of ongoing work. If they like your work, you’re likely to get more of it. Probably keeps the stress levels somewhat lower.

Your turn — Go Media wants to hear from the readers, please let us know in the comments section below how you handle your self-promotion and marketing. Go!

Discussion

We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.