Novice designers have lots of dreams of making it big in life with their creativity and the unique artistic perspective they have of the world. They come out of colleges fresh and fueled, brimming with the excitement of sharing their art with the world. They are filled with the desire to bring exceptional artwork and clients in their portfolio, and become a freelance design superstar with a name of their own.
If only it were the only thing that mattered.
To see the other side of the coin, rewind that.
Novice designers, stepping out in the real world, have little or no experience of producing marketable artwork. They have mostly worked on assignments their teachers gave them or the work they did during their internships. In either case, they don’t have any presentable work, and they have no client in their portfolio to boast of.
The Silver Lining
I know your palms have suddenly started to sweat, if you’re a starting-out designer – if you’re a veteran, you have been through this phase. So, newbies! Fear not! For the very reason that every designer who’s made it big in life went through this phase! After all, all of them were newbies when they came out in the real world. They also had no portfolios. If they made it without all the marketing opportunities you have, why can’t you?
Now that we’ve established that, let’s focus on how to get you make your portfolio a hefty collection of big names and exceptional jobs. I won’t fuss about unnecessary details; we can go straight for the jugular. Here are the 3 strategies that will get you clients for your empty portfolio.
Boldly Promote Yourself
This is more of an attitude strategy. It’s the most important part of my advice in this article. So, I’ll give it more room than the rest.
Being shy doesn’t make you a very sociable or confident person. Even if it is otherwise considered a virtue, it becomes a vice if you keep it in professional freelancing, especially in designing, where you have to openly and assertively discuss ideas and defend them. It’s understandable that you’d feel reluctant meeting prospective clients in the beginning but you need to keep all the doors open (the next sections talk about how to exactly keep them open).
You may also feel bad because self-promotion feels like you’re notoriously jumping down people’s throats trying to sell yourself. However, that’s not what I’d ask you to do. In fact, that’s not what any expert would suggest to you because such attitude only irks prospects and they try to run away.
Let’s break it down into smaller pieces so you can easily pick each of my points.
- It’s your skills you’re selling, not yourself. And your skills can’t go and sell themselves. You’ll have to meet people and introduce them to your skills.
- Your need of clients matters much more to you than their need of a designer. Why? Because there are countless professionals like you waiting for a chance, but you have to work hard and be outstanding enough to get jobs and make money. They can go get work done from any one of their many options, but you won’t grow any younger or richer waiting for them to find you.
- If you don’t promote your skills yourself, who will? Shyness only brings you out as an unconfident designer. That’s not a label you want to wear.
Establish Your Presence
Shy or not, this is something you need to work on. The good news is this is lots easier in this digital age than it would have been just a few decades back. The world is going global on the Internet, and, being a freelancer, you need this edge more than the designers working for employers with fixed salaries. So, mark this as a very important strategy. Here’s what you’re going to do:
- Make a professional website. It will work as your virtual base, where you bring all your traffic to sell your skills. When you don’t have a portfolio to show to your prospects, a display of your design skills on your website will do its job. So, put great effort into it, taking it as the one job that could equal the price of all the jobs you’ll ever get. Yeah, that’s expensive. So, take it very seriously and show them how creative you are and how sophisticated your aesthetic senses are.
- Make sure you are reachable on all popular social media forums designers in your niche are using. You have to be among the competition to beat them. Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., are among the most popular online social media forums, and can provide you not just a sustainable followership but also a place to build relationships with prospects as well as peers.
Yeah. Blog. That’s the most important social medium you’ll ever come across. It takes time and effort to establish, but once you’ve developed your blog it’ll become your gold mine.
The problem with other social media is you’ll have to spend hours upon hours to produce content that appeals to your followers and interact with them, and that will get far more difficult once you start getting jobs. It’s easy to spend all the time on trying to get clients when you don’t have any, but once you begin to get jobs your focus will be on designing.
This is where your blog becomes crucial. You can maintain a constant flow of good quality content to your followers through regular posts on your blogs without having to spend hours on your social media profiles.
Just remember to keep your blog on your website. Keeping your work gallery and blog on separate websites can drastically affect traffic.
Author Bio:- Fahad Raza is a web enthusiast and ingenious content strategist, who loves all things design and technology. He is the editor-in-chief here at, a popular custom logo design company. Do keep in touch with him at http://www.facebook.com/logodesignconsultant.