How To Succeed In Graphic Design (or How Do I?) Feedback Needed!

5 replies
Hi everyone, this is my first thread on this board and its going to be a long one. I'm posting this to my blog as well, but wanted to start here. I encourage interaction and would love some feedback from everyone, not just graphic designers

So... I've completed a project for my first client! It took about three hours. You can see it in my portfolio (link in sig).

It feels good to do something worthwhile for someone. I did the e-cover for the client for free and I think doing that is the the best approach for the time being.

The problem: I'm not an established graphic designer and therefore I have no choice but to build a list of prospects and clients before considering a set pricing structure. (Edit: Thinking about doing a "Pay What You Think Its Worth" promotion...)

I need tips, though. From other established graphic designers and service providers.

My biggest question is what are some ways I can get into contact with prospects ethically and as non-self-promoting as possible?

Problem is, I've just started, am fairly new to the industry, and no one knows about me. I'll be asking for advice on that later in this post...

But first, I've put together a basic business plan for this work... its not all-inclusive but I have a few goals set as to where I want to go with this.

Here's what I've put together so far for this particular venture:

## Goals
- Build a respectable and consistent portfolio
- Get unsolicited organic traffic to the pages promoting my services (elance,
- Build a mailing list of prospects (how to create desire in them?)
- Work for 2-3 clients every day (new or existing)

## List of Services
- Via Hire Me! and Graphic Design Portfolio pages
- Pricing structure (currently testing)
- Service features (high resolution, 300dpi, print-ready images)

## Bookkeeping
- Record all income, expenses, clients in small notebook with date, name, and comments
- Save all receipts for expenses

## List of Prospective Client Personas
- self published authors (incl. poets, novelists, who need high quality, 300dpi, print-ready for novels, ebooks, short stories...)
- artists and musicians (solo albums, concept albums, album art, flyers, posters, catalogs, portfolios)
- independent film producers (dvd cover design)
- marketers and business owners (business cards, e-books, courses, reports, newsletters)

## Building Web Presence
- Promoting my move into this market via multiple avenues
- Twitter
- Facebook
- Stumblupon
- Digg
- Reddit
- Forums (Warrior, DP, various other marketing and self-published author forums) (any suggestions?)
- Blogs (including mine)

Is there anything else I should add to the plan? That's all I've got so far. My problem is how do I go about promoting my services in an ethical manner without appearing spammy? The only solution I've come up with is offering those who I contact unsolicited a free design. I'll probably do that pretty consistently, but then that defeats the purpose of one of my goals - to do work for 2-3 clients today for INCOME.

So then the questions becomes, what are some ways I can bring in UNSOLICITED traffic to my services? Traffic I didn't specifically request? If anyone has any tips on this, they would be MUCH appreciated. Some ideas I've come up with are listing myself on Craigslist, Elance, GetaFreelancer, Guru, etc. I've also thought about featuring photoshop tips and tutorials on my website for organic traffic from search engines and social bookmarks.

Is there anything else I can do? I need other ideas, even if they are only spins on my original ideas.

(Edit: do you think the blog i'm using is a problem? what if i branded it as a graphic design blog? i'm also going to use it as a web asset portfolio... think i could brand the blog as one featuring graphic design and virtual real estate topics? suggestions?)

Also, does anyone have any additional tips on building an authentic and genuine web presence in general?

I apologize for such a lengthy post and disorganized post. To make things easier on you, I've bolded all my questions. If anyone could help me out with this, I would REALLY appreciate it.

For Warriors:

At first my mindset with all this graphic design talk was "Oh I can just promote my services on forums! Great! It will be so easy!" Well... maybe not.

There's no way to tell if anyone is interested in what you do unless you PM them (solicited) or they PM you with an inquiry (unsolicited).

Obviously, the key to success in virtually any venture is establishing a relationship with your prospects AND clients and then over-delivering.

Providing more value than your customers know what to do with.

What I love about these forums is the ability to help people with less experience or knowledge than your own. AT NO CHARGE. It's not about money. Its about helping others, and for the short time I've been on this forum, I can say IT FEELS GOOD.

So with this post, I'm asking for the forum to return the favor to me because of my inexperience in this field. In return, I'll keep offering help, advice, tips, etc until I stop using the forum altogether.

And if you're reading this and HAPPEN to be looking for e-cover design services I'll offer you the "Pay What You Think Its Worth" promotion. You need a design for your product or report, and I need testimonials. So let's be symbiotic here. Send me a PM if you're interested.

One last favor: If anyone has any ideas specific to maintaining a relationship with my list in the market of graphic design, I'd love some input.

Thanks in advance everyone and you have my warmest regards,

#design #feedback #graphic #needed #prospects #succeed
  • Profile picture of the author Matt Hoey
    Why not apply for local graphic design jobs?
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  • Profile picture of the author jrailsback
    That is a good point and something I will probably need to do. I am also looking for tips on establishing myself online from other service providers in general, not just gd. I'm basically a freelancer, I guess...

    Please read the sig file rules

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  • Profile picture of the author Bishop81
    Look into craigslist and see if there are any freelance opportunities available.

    As you read through the WF, you may see people that need help, and you can just post your offer to help them out. I've gotten a few gigs that way too.

    Finally, you can offer a WSO. This has been done by many different people, and seems to be successful. Either offer mini-sites, PLR Graphic Packs, custom site design, or something in that area.

    I'm tired of my signature... Deleted.

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  • Profile picture of the author jrailsback
    Thanks for the feedback everyone! The WSO thing is something I was considering but I don't think I'm -quite- ready for it. I need to build my portfolio some more.

    And to BlueSquares - thank you -so- much for your PM! It boosted my confidence immensely and was very helpful. It wouldn't let me send you a PM back, though, so I'm thanking you here.

    Please read the sig file rules

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  • Profile picture of the author Roey Pimentel
    Go through your "Big Life List" and find niches there (cycling, charity, etc.) Then get involved in those areas through forums, etc. and promote your services there. Keep your links in your signature.

    Another thing you can do is to a freebie/extra with your services. For example, offer to design a free personal avitar with every order from the Warrior Forum. Another thought is to offer promotion of the product that you design the cover for.

    I think you are on the right track, and seem to have a plan in place. The key is get the traffic, of course.

    Best of luck.


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