7 simple steps to marketing yourself as a designer

As a graphic designer, you’re already busy with client work and focused on doing what you do best: being creative. The idea of marketing yourself can feel kind of icky—especially if you’ve never done it before. No need to reinvent the wheel for this one! Design by YokaonaBut forget everything you know about traditional marketing and buckle up for some truth: marketing yourself is an important part of being a successful designer and scaling your freelance business. Otherwise, how will people know you exist, and that you’re the answer to their creative needs? It doesn’t have to mean mindless self-promotion or employing sleazy sales tactics, and it also doesn’t have to be complicated. It begins with a bit of self-awareness and understanding your brand. Then, you can identify the right touch points, reach out to people and ultimately cultivate great relationships (and ideally, repeat clients). As a natural storyteller, you’ve totally got this. With a bit of commitment and elbow grease, you can market yourself organically and grow your list of prospects. This article highlights how you can market yourself as a designer—without the ‘ick’ factor. Let’s jump right in. 1. Have a strong foundation in place
— Hang on there, champ. Before you start shouting from the rooftops, make sure that your personal branding is in tip-top shape. You’re ready to hit the ground running if you’re clear on who you are as a designer and what you stand for, and you know exactly who you’re going to target. A good foundation isn’t something you can hack, since it will influence your entire marketing strategy. A bit of hard work will yield great results. Design by Spoonlancer.This requires a bit of self-awareness. So if this first step has you stumped, we suggest to start by thinking about your personal brand’s purpose, or your “why?”. Why do you get up in the morning and do what you do? What is it that you’re ultimately trying to achieve? This could be professional success, or supporting others with your creative talents. Then, think about your core values. What do you want to stand for? What do you value most of all in your personal and professional life? Creativity and innovation? Integrity and respect? Discipline and dependability? Let these values drive your communications going forward. If you still need to brush up on some knowledge, check out our tips on how to brand yourself...

The Secret Designer Halloween Special: Nightmare Clients (and How to Defeat Them)

Friends, I come with a warning…not to alarm, but to assist. Grab your crucifix, gather your silver bullets, prime your chainsaw, because I’m about to shine a light on nightmare clients that will chill the heart of the most experienced web professional. Nightmare clients everywhere, await the unsuspecting designer. They’ll suck the time from your day, relentlessly pursue you, and trap you in a project that you’ll never escape. My friends, forewarned is forearmed. This collection of fearsome fiends is easy to tackle…if you know their weaknesses. So pay attention, because what I’m about to share, may just save your life (or at least your weekend). The Nosferatu Client The Nosferatu client creeps into your home at night, sucking the life from you to feed his own self-importance. Whether it’s a late-night call, weekend texts, or meetings booked for 7am, the Nosferatu client wants to own you, and every second of your life. The key to defeating the Nosferatu client is setting boundaries and sticking to them. The Nosferatu’s chief weapon is flattery. You are invaluable to him. Your quick-thinking is keeping the project on track. The work you’re doing is award-winning quality. It is all designed to make it impossible for you to say, “No.” The Nosferatu client is always looking for ways into your life. If he discovers that you’re working the weekend, he’ll expect you to be available every weekend. Don’t open the door to him. How to Defeat a Nosferatu Client The key to defeating the Nosferatu client is setting boundaries and sticking to them. Let your clients know that you work regular office hours, even if you really work until midnight every night. Never invite the Nosferatu client into your spare time, once he’s invited in, he’ll never leave. Never call, post on Slack, email, text, upload files, or make any other sign that you are working after hours. If you finish a deliverable 30 minutes after your official close-of-business, then upload it the following morning. Never invite the Nosferatu client into your spare time, once he’s invited in, he’ll never leave. The Mephistopheles Client Like the devil of Faustian folklore, the Mephistopheles client has a great deal for you. A deal too good to turn down. The opportunity of a lifetime. Never mind the small print, just sign here… Lots of clients will offer you a terrible deal. It’s easy to turn down solicitation...

How to Build a Web Design Portfolio & Grow Your Freelance Business

What makes a good web design portfolio? That’s the question that each and every web design freelancer has asked herself at one point in her career – especially when just starting out in the business. You want to stand out among your competition, express your skills, and gain the attention of your ideal clientele but you don’t have a lot of experience yet. How can you show what you’re capable of before you’ve had the chance to secure your own clients or your first web design job? If you’re working in web design now or just beginning your career you CAN actually begin to build your own web design portfolio before you get your first big job or big client, you just need to have a DIY spirit. In this post, we will walk you through how to grow that portfolio and make it the best it can be whether you’re brand new OR looking to revamp your existing portfolio of work. Build Yourself a Website Hello! Constructing your own website is a twofold win for your portfolio dilemma. In the first place, you’re showing potential clients or employers that you can build a great website by doing just that – building yourself a great site. Second, you now have a place to house and host all of your future best works AND blog about the process, to let everyone know that you know your stuff. While you shouldn’t go nuts putting every bell & whistle into this website, you can demonstrate excellent use of forms, nice widget functionality, intelligent visual design, clean code, optimized images, and so much more with one website. If your site looks great, and you’re using it to house other projects that also look great, you could be off the ground in no time. Grow what you know – then show it
By taking some tutorials or teaching yourself different facets of web design and development, you can boast new skills and show those off. You don’t need to have a spiffy web design job or a ton of clients to start doing this – just get into those new tools or frameworks and start messing around. Once you’re getting really good, you’ve got a new gold star to show off to potential clients and add to your resume and your spiffy website. Anyone looking to hire a designer or developer with that special skill will see you as a stand-out partner. Take some classes Not all classes run cheap, we understand. However, if you do take a course – even just on Udemy or somewhere else online – you can...

37 banner ad ideas to inspire you

We don’t have to tell you that the interwebs is a cluttered space—and if you want to make an impact on your audience, you need to find a way to break through the chaos and grab their attention. And banner ads are, hands down, one of the best ways to do it. Banner ads are one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your website; one Google study found that banner ads increased brand recall by nearly 16% and website visitors who are retargeted with banner ads (which involves tracking website visitors and showing them highly targeted ads after they leave your website) are 70% more likely to convert than visitors without banner retargeting. But not all banner ads are created equal. If you want your banner ad to drive traffic and conversions, it needs to be impactful, attention-grabbing and (of course) well-designed. But what, exactly, does that kind of banner ad look like? Let’s take a look at some banner ad inspiration to get your creative juices flowing. You’ll soon be on your way to designing a banner ad that’s going to make a serious impact on your business. Banner ads that use color to their advantage
— One of the most persuasive tools in your design tool belt is color. If you understand how color works, you can use it to inspire specific thoughts, feelings and actions in your audience—including clicking on your banner ad. We’re talking about color psychology, and when you understand the psychology behind specific colors, you can design your banner ads in a way that helps you get the most out of your color choices. If you want your banner ad to pop, use complementary colors (colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel) like blue and orange. Want to increase clicks on your banner ad? Try incorporating red into your design. Studies show that making a button red can increase conversions by up to 34%. Advertising a kid’s product and want to grab a parent’s attention? Try yellow or orange, which people tend to associate with youthfulness. Taking a color-specific approach can be a slam dunk for any business that’s trying to inspire a specific emotion, feeling or action with their banner ad design—or, in other words, anyone. No matter what your end goal is with your banner ad, you can benefit from getting a better understanding of color psychology—and incorporating what you learn into your designs. Banner ads that “come alive” with...

Promote Yourself with These Free Business Card Templates

When you’re creating a business card, it’s imperative that you nail the design. This little piece of paper is the face of your business, and often a first impression of you and your company! It’s not something you’ll want to just throw together in Photoshop. But you can make a professional business card that looks great by yourself! If hiring a card designer takes too much out of your startup costs, or you’d just rather have full creative control, business card templates are exactly what you’re looking for. You can create and personalize a card without having to design one from scratch. Here are a few of the best free business card templates that you can find online, compiled just for you. Your Web Designer Toolbox
Unlimited Downloads: 500,000+ Web Templates, Icon Sets, Themes & Design Assets
DOWNLOAD NOW Graphic Design Junction Not everything on GDJ is free, but there are quite a few freebies to be found if you’re willing to dig. This is some high-quality stuff and easy to edit, too! Many of their graphics are made with easily-resizable vector shapes, trim marks or “safe zones” – so you know where to put the important text. A few pre-made designs are available to try out, as well. Here we collected a few of their business card freebies. Check it out! Minimal Photographer Business Card PSD Template Vintage Business Card PSD Template Creative Red Business Card PSD Template Freepik Freepik has a bundle of PSD files that are free for any use, with attribution. These business cards look great, especially if you’re looking for a tech-focused design. Many of these templates use dark themes with abstract elements. But if you’re looking for something modern, stylized, or simple, there’s a card for everyone in here. It was hard to pick just a few examples from all the great designs! Red and black corporate business card Vibrant business card Red and white business card Canva With nearly 12,000 designs, there’s no way to pick just one from this list. Canva is an online program that allows you to create elegant designs for a variety of categories, each with thousands of hand-crafted templates. You can even browse by business type! Here’s just a few cards that web designers might enjoy. White Pencil Neon Green Loading Sign Landscape Business Card Avery Not sure where to begin with business card dimensions? Want a completely blank sheet...

How to design an app: the ultimate guide

Did you know the average person in the US spends approximately 5 hours glued to their smart devices? Whether it’s messaging, posting photographs or gaming—the current digital age we live in has people constantly using apps. With massive popularity comes massive competition, and while competition is a good thing (it keeps us on our toes and makes everything that little bit better), entering a world where apps grow on trees can be an intimidating yet rewarding venture. If you’ve decided to build an app, coming up with something that sets you apart from the competition is integral to your success, and can be the difference between standing out and simply making up the numbers. That something is an amazing app design. Beautiful interfaces, striking simplicity, and easy navigation are 3 of the most prominent traits in a great app. You want people to tell their friends about your app, understand its purpose, have an easy time navigating through it, and ensure it’s something they keep coming back to. But how do you create a great app design? Our ultimate guide to app design is here to help, and we’ll walk you through the process of how to design an app that is sure to be a winner: Getting started Set the goal of your app Make a plan Research your niche and competitors Design and development Create a wireframe Get your app designed Options for getting your app designed App design tips: What to look out for during the app design process Collect feedback on your design Get your app developed Testing and launch Test your app with a focus group Launch a beta version Launch your app Getting started
— 1. Set the goal of your app Design by GoogaBefore you run for that keyboard, pen and paper are a good place to start. Try to think about why you are designing an app and what you’re setting out to accomplish. Put your thinking cap on and jot down the answers to the following questions: What is the underlying goal of your app? What exactly do you want it to do? How will you make your app appeal to users? What are you setting out to do? What’s the problem you want to help people solve with your app? Why would people want to use your app instead of one of your competitors? How does it set itself apart? It’s not just app design where goal setting is important, it’s a life lesson! Setting clear goals for your app and writing them down will give you a...

3 Essential Design Trends, November 2018

When looking at good design, I often look for things that aren’t totally obvious. There’s an instinct that you like something before you know why. That’s the common thread among this month’s three essential design trends. From animations that delight and take projects to the next level, to white space that makes a design so approachable, to dark color overlays that enhance readability, these trends contribute to better user experiences. Here’s what’s trending in design this month: 1. Next-Level Animation Nothing makes you want to click around and engage with a website like a delightful animation. While full-screen video is still one of the most popular animated effects of the year, other opportunities for animation can be just as impressive. Use animation to bring attention to certain elements, create the scene for your story and grab user attention or prompt continued engagement with an interesting way to navigate a design. Each of these techniques is used in the examples below (you should definitely click through each to see the animated effects in action). What makes a good animation? Here’s how each of these designs takes animation to the next level: Mistretta Coiffure uses a water effect over still images so that the whole background seems to be right below the surface of a pool. Text elements are static to ensure readability. The effect isn’t overwhelming and it’s something that feels unique to the content of the website for a salon—which uses a lot of water. Wonderland uses animation in a more interactive way, meaning users have to engage to activate it. Each of the photos in the row across the bottom of the screen serves as a secondary navigation element. Hover over any one and it pops up into a larger element and impacts the background as well. This instance of a cool hover animation can help encourage users to interact more with the design. Naturalis Topstukken takes a completely different approach—every card in the design is part of the complete website. User-controlled animation allows you to drag and drop elements on the screen to enter different parts of the website. It almost feels like a game. The design is highly engaging and for those that don’t quite “get it” the screen scrolls on its own after a few seconds to encourage that first click. 2. Large White Margins One of the most dramatic—and easy—ways to draw attention to a design or...

Popular Design News of the Week: October 22, 2018 – October 28, 2018

Every week users submit a lot of interesting stuff on our sister site Webdesigner News, highlighting great content from around the web that can be of interest to web designers.  The best way to keep track of all the great stories and news being posted is simply to check out the Webdesigner News site, however, in case you missed some here’s a quick and useful compilation of the most popular designer news that we curated from the past week. Note that this is only a very small selection of the links that were posted, so don’t miss out and subscribe to our newsletter and follow the site daily for all the news. New Adidas Site Takes it Back to the ’90s   100 Days CSS   The Evolution of Website Web Design Trends from the 90s to Now   Don’t Be Design Shamed Because You like What Adobe is Doing   8 Tips for Great Code Reviews   The Scandinavian Rule that Every Designer Should Follow   Websites in 2018   Is Gutenberg the End or a New Beginning for WordPress?   Crack Adobe CC with this Keyboard Cheat Sheet   Bird Scooter Redesign   Keep Notes on the Web is the Latest to Get a Material Design Refresh   Dangerous Times in Design   Bad Practices on Phone Number Form Fields   User Experience: How to Improve your Website UX with Humor And Cuteness   6 Ways to Improve Contrast in your Designs   Site Design: Friends, a Collaborative Design Company   Chrome 70’s Best New Feature is Picture-in Picture   Now You See It: Dark Patterns in Design   Confessions of a Flawed Designer   Typographica: Our Favorite Typefaces of 2017   UI Design Inspiration – Oct 2018   Web Accessibility for 2019   You Know your Web Page Sucks When it Cost 7-million Dollars To read!   Black Light Pro – Color Effects on a Schedule   Making your Design Systems Dynamic   Want more? No problem! Keep track of top design news from around the web with Webdesigner News. Add Realistic Chalk and Sketch Lettering Effects with Sketch’it – only $5!

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Free Styleguide Templates for Your Web Projects

Styleguides help you stay consistent when designing a website by collecting color palettes, images, and UI elements into one easy-to-reference place. This invaluable tool is all but essential for web designers. But where to begin in creating one? These templates will help you get your styleguide set up properly and beautifully, so you can design knowing that each page is consistent. Catalog Building the bridge between web design and development isn’t easy, but Catalog pulls it off with its “living style guide”. The open source project comes with extensive documentation. This is no simple PDF file, but an amazing tool for designers and developers alike. 99designs Brand Guide Along with a helpful explanation of what a styleguide is, 99designs provides a visual styleguide with sections for logo, typography, colors and even a spot to talk about yourself! This styleguide is intended to be submitted to clients for review before you start designing. Free Brand Guidelines Template This awesome resource is meant to be given to clients once the project is completed, so future updates to their website can be done without breaking the site’s consistency. Tell them how to use the design elements properly and what not do when they decide to add something later. Style Tiles When you’re struggling to get your clients to choose a mockup they like and spending too much time creating them, Style Tiles may be the solution. It’s an easy way to offer clients a few different choices and discuss how a website could potentially turn out. It’s free and in PSD format, so feel free to try it out! Style Guide Template Sketch Resource Do you use Sketch app? Then you’ll definitely want to check out this styleguide template! It’s made for small projects and beginner web designers, so try it! It’ll work great for your Sketch project. Cool Blue Brand Book This elegant styleguide was made for print! Easily edit in Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, or PDF format – then, print it to use in real life. There are various style guidelines covered. If you’re looking for a brand book to print rather than a computer file, this is definitely what you want. Huge Styleguide Here’s a fabulous HTML tool by Huge that allows you to create a guide for colors, fonts, forms and more! Use it within your project or independently. Download directly or from GitHub for free. It’s available on both Windows and Mac...

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08 Dec 2018