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How to better market my Graphic Design business

CalieCalie subscriber Posts: 2
edited July 2008 in Marketing
Hi Everyone,
I am a Graphic Designer in San Francisco.  I`ve been in the business for over 8 years and on my own for almost a year. I`ve been profitable, but am looking for ways to better market my services. I do a bit of freelancing at ad agencies and take on private clients. Ultimately, I`d like to stop freelancing and do only private clients. I`d love to meet VC`s starting new businesses or work with existing companies in the city as there go to person for design services.  I`d appreciate any ideas, especially from designers who have been in the business on their own for a long time.
Thank You,


  • CalieCalie subscriber Posts: 2
    Hi Craig,
    Thanks for your feedback...interesting ideas. I`ll have to read the "emyth", been hearing about it a lot lately.
    As far as my business, I`d like to stay solo for now. I don`t want to expand into a marketing business. I love graphic design and aside from small business tasks prefer to spend the majority of my days designing.
    I have found a good balance of meeting with a client, getting briefed on the project, and then going back to my studio to work on it. 
    As far as being paid, I haven`t had any issues with people not willing to pay my rates for design in the SF Bay area. All clients have come from referrals and they tend to come back to me from time to time for other projects. I`m really looking for ways to get more of these clients. Should I be sending out a beautiful graphic email to all the businesses in the city? Leaving promo-mailers in lobbies of big corporations? Or hitting the networking scene harder. I`m also open to doing a few networking events per week for socialization and new business...however, I haven`t been .
    There are VC`s here that are always starting up some new venture and usually they like to brand that venture. I know this because I see other designers taking on these clients. The other sweet spot here is the tech or green start-up`s. I`ve had a few of those that needed my services when they were looking for funding or launching.
    My ideal vision for my business, is to have it stay solo and comfortable, but be profitable enough that I can fund my Roth and invest a bit more in mutual funds.
    Again, thank you for your ideas.
  • LogoMotivesLogoMotives subscriber Posts: 15
    Hi Calie -
    I`ve been working as an independent design for most of the past 30 years.  For me, getting out and networking on a regular basis with business people, writing articles/books, speaking engagements, and constant self-promotion put my name/business out there to my target potential clients.
    Here`s some links to pieces I`ve written on marketing/promotion:
    Prepare for any marketing or promotion opportunity with a customizable "media kit"
    Marketing through social networks & social mediaA look back at a successful self-promotion effort
    To market, to market, to get design gigs?

    I hope those articles offer you some useful suggestions.
    - J.
  • CalieCalie subscriber Posts: 2
    Hi J,
    Thank you for links to your great articles. They are extremely helpful!
    Would you be open to having a brief conversation over the phone with me? I`d love to ask you questions about your career, etc. I completely understand if you don`t have the time, but would greatly appreciate it!
    Thanks again,
  • LogoMotivesLogoMotives subscriber Posts: 15
    Calie -
    Let`s touch base sometime this week.  Feel free to email me through my website.
    - J.
  • LogoMotivesLogoMotives subscriber Posts: 15
    Paula -
    I have posted the article Preaching what you practice - but I haven`t written an article about how I started my public speaking efforts.
    I`ve just always been a public speaker - from as early as junior high and high school. Most of my more recent gigs have come out of just networking with a wide variety of business people - and often, in the course of a conversation, someone will ask if I would be interested  in speaking to their group.
    One of the most helpful things for me has always been simply being a prepared as possible - whether speaking to a group of 20 or 700.  I usually go through an new presentation a couple times, with an audience of a few critical friends, before hitting the stage at an event.  I now have an archive of 10-12 presentations that I can got to immediately any time I am asked to speak.
    - J.
  • digitalvision313digitalvision313 subscriber Posts: 3
    First, Jeff, great stuff.  Real valuable.
    Secondly, to Callie - I think it all depends on what you want.  If you want to stay a one-person shop, that`s fine.  This is a GREAT thing actually; one of the things I`ve found is that regular niche players can be very successful as you can be part of a team.
    In my working space, there are a ton of traditional folks who think they know online and just give bad advice and make trainwrecks of campaigns, websites, blogs, and more.  One of the reasons I decided to focus and be online/interactive only.  Someone wants print? I call folks like yourself.
    My thought, since stability is your focus and I run an interactive agency - is "the money is in cement." VC projects are cool, but what I`ve found in business is that the money is in doing the hum-drum of the regular needs that people have.  For instance I know a freelance graphic designer in another market that 60% of their work is DTP for translation manuals for folks.  It pays the bills, and everything else is gravy.
  • ImagingBuffetImagingBuffet subscriber Posts: 0
    Hi Calie:
    First, I think that your design work is fantastic. I really like your photos and your blog as well.
    I agree with Jeff about writing articles. Check out ezinearticles.com and consider writing an article like: "5 things to always do before choosing a graphic designer." The links back to your site through your resource page are very valuable.
    I would also offer a special report on your site and blog when people sign up for your newsletter, and I would suggest you add a newsletter. That can be very useful for keeping your past and prospective clients aware of new projects, media appearances, special offers, etc. VerticalResponse.com is a good choice in my opinion because it is pay as you go and they make the whole process easy. I use aweber.com, but that`s more for high volume e-mailing and auto-responding in my opinion. I have no connection with either company, but I think their customer service is excellent-real people who know what they are talking about.
    I`d also look for PR opportunities that highlight your great talent for integrating design through multiple areas: stationery, web, magazine ads, trade shows, etc. That is what struck me when I viewed your portfolio. You can write case studies about how those projects came together and how they were implemented. They can be submitted to magazines like Communication Arts, HOW, or online magazines. Also think about the publications your prospective clients read, such as WIRED. You might be able to do a layout for them, or you can submit something cutting-edge that fits their niche.
    All the best!
  • CalieCalie subscriber Posts: 2
    Hi digitalvision313 ,
    Thank you for your ideas. I agree that you have to have the cement projects. I tend to use PowerPoint presentation design for that. And yes, I`d like to stay solo which results in freedom and flexibility.
  • CalieCalie subscriber Posts: 2
    Hi Andrew,
    Thank you for the positive feedback on my work! I`m definitely going to brainstorm around the article idea and start submitting my work for competitions.
    I`ve been wanting to do a newsletter that showcases my current projects, highlights from my blog etc. I just haven`t researched enough providers that will allow me to really customize the newsletter template. I thought about constant contact, but have to play around with how customizable they are, I`ll check out the ones you mentioned as well. Having a nicely designed newsletter is imperative to its success.
    And as far as PR, I agree I need to get that ball rolling. I like your idea about pitching an all encompassing brand design.
    Again, thank you for your ideas. I greatly appreciate it.
  • LogoMotivesLogoMotives subscriber Posts: 15
    RabbitMountain - You`re welcome! - J.
  • toppdoggtoppdogg subscriber Posts: 8
    Have you tried ELANCE?  We use ELANCE for graphics design/copy writing projects.
  • CalieCalie subscriber Posts: 2
    Hi Toppdogg,
    I have a profile over at Elance, however I dont use the site much. It tends to be very low bidding.
  • NateStockardNateStockard subscriber Posts: 0
    I have a design and marketing firm, and I too have found it extremely challenging to market myself to acquire those long-term clients.
    I started doing the network marketing thing recently. I tried it a few years ago and just couldn`t get into it, but now it is different. I have been to 3 networking events in three weeks and have acquired 3 clients because of it. I haven`t acquired these clients directly from the networking events, but it forced me to open up and look for opportunities in new places. I think you should give it a try.
  • printprintprintdotbizprintprintprintdotbiz subscriber Posts: 1
    Hi Everyone,
    We have had much success with such items as printed postcards mailed to select businesses, yard signs, and going to networking events. If you do these 3 things on a consistant basis, you`ll find yourself with many customers.
    Lower Your Printing Costs - www.PrintPrintPrint.Biz
  • TechnoPimpTechnoPimp subscriber Posts: 2
    I am also having trouble marketing my graphic design business. I have read the above posts & will be adhearing to the great advice. I am also interested in learning how I can better market my services on the web. My website exists, however I think it may need some tweaking in the meta tag/keyword area.

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