Graphic designers play a critical role for modern businesses. With brands realizing the importance of developing cohesive, multichannel campaigns that allow them to target customers across different platforms, visuals have become an important part of this process. Posts on social media, email campaigns, and general blog content ideally incorporate high-quality visuals that intrigue customers and invite them to learn more.
It’s important for professionals working to build a graphic design business to learn how to market themselves. Understanding how to get your skills out in front of the companies looking for a graphic designer can help you build your client base.
There are various marketing strategies for graphic design businesses, with some even being free. You can use Upwork’s Free Marketing Cost Calculator as a fast and easy way to calculate the spending for various marketing channels. If you’re interested in learning how to market your freelance graphic design business, here’s what you need to know.
What is the best marketing strategy for my graphic design business?
To organize your strategy for promoting your graphic design business, consider a few important factors concerning your business:
- What are your goals? For example, do you want to do graphic design full or part-time? Are you trying to find your first clients or branch out and bring in more new clients?
- What audience do you want to target? Do you have a specific type of graphic design you want to do, such as focusing on particular business types or a specific area? Do you have experience in any particular type of graphic design or a background that might help you excel in particular niches?
- What is your budget? Do you have advertising funds? Those just starting as a freelance designer might want to stick with mostly free options, while those who have brought in some clients and want to expand their base may be able to secure more budget for building their client list.
The answers to these key questions may help you determine the best path forward to market your graphic design business.
Let’s explore some of the most important platforms and strategies you can incorporate into your overall marketing plan and how they can benefit your business growth.
Your website and SEO
Marketers know that a website and search engine optimization (SEO) provide the best opportunities to find traction on the search engine results pages (SERPs) and a concrete online identity to engage with people potentially interested in your design work.
Your website provides you with an excellent means of promoting your skills and experience as a freelancer. You can create an online portfolio to feature on your website that shows your range of skills and past work, such as a site redesign, a mailer image, or an infographic creation. This provides people with something to browse when they consider hiring you for your services.
Amplifying your website with basic SEO strategies and content marketing can also enhance the visibility of your website. Potential clients searching for freelance graphic designers will discover it more easily on the search engines, building traffic to your site and potential leads for your business.
As you create your website, you should also consider creating a profile on platforms for independent professionals, like Upwork. Upwork makes it easy for graphic design professionals to display their portfolio to those searching for graphic designers: your target audience. You can also bid on posted jobs and communicate with clients directly on the platform, taking much of the stress out of building a freelance business.
Vlogging and blogging
Vlogging and blogging operate on similar principles. Both strategies allow you to regularly speak about your industry, demonstrating your expertise and building brand awareness for your small business. You use these platforms to cast yourself as a helpful professional, answering people’s common questions about your industry and your insight into the latest trends.
With a vlog, you communicate with your audience by creating a series of videos about the topics that your audience wants to learn about. You can post the videos on popular video sites like YouTube so that people who enjoy watching videos can easily discover them. Include links to and from your main website so your audience can learn more about you and your work.
Blogging involves creating posts with images and text that engage your audience directly. Blogs often live on your main website, although you may want to create guest posts for other popular blogs related to your industry to build name recognition.
Networking can play a critical role in building any business. Reaching out to others in your industry and related industries can help build your reputation and name. Let people in your network know about your graphic design business and refer them to your website or your Upwork profile so that they can review your work. Use the professional networking site LinkedIn to nurture the connection and give yourself the chance to preview more opportunities to expand your network.
If meeting in person, make sure you have personal marketing materials, such as business cards, on hand when engaging with a new connection. This helps promote your design agency and create a good first impression.
Using these personal connections can help you find work because potential new clients may prefer to work with someone they know rather than finding a new professional. You can also secure work by helping professional connections see the value of working with a graphic designer when they begin to plan a new marketing campaign.
Email marketing can provide you with a highly profitable means of promoting your business. To make email marketing work for you, though, you need to build a quality list. Securing the contact information for people potentially interested in your services is the first step.
To entice people to hand over their contact information, consider offering them incentives, such as:
- Gated content that interests them as they learn more about the value of graphic design
- The chance to receive regular newsletters or other information from you
- Access to unique material and content that will help them with the rest of their marketing strategy
As you build your email list, you’ll find that segmenting the list based on what people want to receive and their place in the buyer’s journey can help you send out content most likely to interest potential clients. Sending people irrelevant material will likely repel potential customers, so creating segmented lists can help you focus on delivering value.
It can be a bit of a challenge to manage an email list for free. While you may manually email potential clients helpful information while your list is small, you will likely want an email management system as it grows. Fortunately, when you have enough people to warrant using one of these platforms, you’ll likely find the initial cost a worthy investment as you nurture your leads toward conversion.
Client referrals and reviews
People prefer to receive word-of-mouth recommendations and trust them more than promotional materials. They know that companies are likely to say only the most positive things about themselves. However, other clients who’ve had a positive experience hold significantly more weight.
As you focus on performing outstanding services for clients, it’s possible to increase your chances of landing client referrals. When you have clients who express satisfaction with your services, reach out to them and ask if they’re open to providing referrals or reviews.
To make the process of securing referrals and reviews even easier, Upwork allows clients to leave reviews for the independent professionals they work with. This means that when you bid on new jobs or when clients seeking new graphic designers browse available professionals, they will see your reviews.
Grow your graphic design business with marketing
Building a graphic design business requires quality marketing strategies that can help showcase your talent and expertise. You can excel by understanding the value of integrated marketing campaigns and how to leverage your talent in creating visuals to enhance your marketing efforts for clients and the messaging you deliver as you build your startup.
Social media sites offer excellent marketing tools for graphic designers to build their business. Since graphic design revolves around creating images and capturing the audience’s eye, the visual nature of the platforms can provide an immediate look at your skills.
For example, Facebook posts get 2.3 times the engagement when people include an image, and Twitter posts get 150% more retweets. Those in graphic design can use these popular options and platforms dedicated to images—such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat—to highlight their creativity and skills in the visual arts.
New graphic designers can also scale their efforts on social media to match their needs and budget. If you don’t have the resources to invest in advertising, creating free profiles and regularly promoting them with engaging images and examples of your work can help you build a following and community.
Those who have a higher budget can use the paid advertising options on social networks to further entice people to visit their profiles and engage on the page. This can broaden your business reach and help you target business owners or marketing professionals looking for a graphic designer to work with their team.