Perhaps the largest perk of working as an independent graphic designer is the ability to control which projects you take on, when, and for how much. This career path also offers an exciting degree of flexibility and autonomy for people who’d rather be their own bosses than work as employees.
Of course, the challenge then becomes securing a steady stream of clients.
Here are five ways for graphic designers to get new clients.
Optimize Your Portfolio
Your work will speak loudest about your capabilities as a graphic designer, so it’s imperative to optimize your portfolio for prospective clients. This means curating your work in a way that demonstrates both range and specialization. It’s also important to make this portfolio as widely accessible as possible, which means launching a responsive and aesthetically pleasing creating website.
Here are a few tips from HubSpot on putting together a winning graphic design portfolio:
- Prioritize quality over quantity
- Build a professional website full of information useful to potential clients
- Highlight a case study of which you’re particularly proud
- Show off your personality
- Outline your creative process
Your portfolio should exude — at a glance, and at a more granular level — the essence that makes your work yours
Use Ratings, Reviews, and Testimonials
Of course, prospective clients will also want assurances you’ve worked successfully with clients in the past. Providing social proof is a powerful way to motivate newcomers to work with your company. Why? People tend to trust recommendations from other consumers — even strangers — more than they trust branded messaging.
Ask previous clients to provide a rating and a review or an in-depth testimonial about their experience working with you. Display this feedback from prior clients across all customer-facing channels.
Work on Your Pitch
As potential clients move down the sales funnel, they’ll reach the stage in which you’re communicating directly about the terms of a contract. Your ability to pitch your company well and exude professionalism at this stage can make or break the outcome.
Say you’re in talks with a new startup to execute the graphics for their next ad campaign. Exciting! You’ve made it to the final round of candidates; the client has expressed they like your past projects. They ask you for one last thing before signing the contract: proof of insurance. Lacking basic graphic designer insurance, like General Liability and Professional Liability coverage, puts your business at a professional disadvantage. It also leaves you open to paying out of pocket for accidental liability.
Tighten up your pitch, start to finish. This includes getting all the paperwork, contracts, and licensure you need together before communicating with potential clients.
Network on Social Media
Turn your professional social media pages into a hub for content and conversations. Your aim here is to genuinely engage followers, whether you’re posting an album showing off your latest campaign to go live or linking to an informative blog post you wrote. This is a space to connect remotely with other businesses and communicate your brand’s selling proposition to the world. Limit overt promotional content to about one-fourth of your feed; the other three-fourths should center around building a rapport with your audience.
Join a Coworking Space
It can feel daunting to make connections from behind your computer screen. One way to meet other entrepreneurs and small business leaders in your area is to join a coworking space. These organizations often compile membership lists and encourage other members to connect if they’re looking to hire a specialist in a certain field. Another benefit you’ll get for the cost of membership is professional development and skill-share classes.
Are you a graphic designer looking to acquire new clients? Optimize your portfolio, keep connecting with potential clients on social media and in real life, square away your business logistics before pitching, and demonstrate social proof to potential clients.