One of the harder aspects of being a graphic designer these days, we think you’ll agree, is actually securing work. As we touched on in a previous blog, like most creative markets these days, the world graphic design can be seen as slightly oversaturated… Which means hunting down actual design work is more difficult than ever.
BUT DON’T WORRY. Trust us when we say it isn’t all doom and gloom. If modern tools like the Internet have helped make the market more oversaturated than ever, they’ve also opened up more avenues when it comes to securing work for yourself. If you’re willing to put in the time when it comes to getting your name out there and making valuable connections, then it’s sure to pay off incredibly in the future.
If you’re just starting out as a designer, you may find that the process of finding and securing work takes up as much of your time – if not more – as actually designing. Kinda messed up, right? But if you promote yourself properly, then the balance is sure to shift in no time. The first few pieces of freelance work you get are sure to be the hardest to secure, but, over time, things are sure to get easier, with one job usually leading to another and then another…
But if you need some help when it comes to getting those initial bits of work flowing in, don’t worry – Do More Design have got your back!
Reach Out To Friends
Let’s start off with the simple stuff. In order to find freelance work, you’re probably going to need to reach out into the world and make new connections… But before you do that, why not make use of the connections you already have?
One of the fantastic things about working as a designer is that it connects you with all sorts of companies. Every business – whether it be a software company or a greetings card retailer – is likely to need some form of design work done at some stage, whether it be a logo, website graphics or something else completely. Because of this, making use of your existing connections – whether it be friends, family or old colleagues – is a great way to source work.
Unless you have a strict ‘I only hang out with designers’ policy (which, if you do, is a tiny bit odd) you’re likely to have friends working in a bunch of different industries. Hit them up and find out if they or any of their friends and colleagues need any design work done. There’s no telling what it might lead to.
There are now more ways than ever to connect with people and get your name out there as a designer. From networking events to social media platforms, there have never been more ways to reach out to other designers and businesses seeking design work.
One networking method we’d like to highlight in particular is Meetup. As a website and an app, its popularity has exploded in recent years, being one of the go-to ways to connect with people who have similar interests. Of course, a lot of people use it simply to find book clubs or hiking buddies but it can also be an incredibly helpful way to make friends with other designers. Groups and meetups on the website are obviously location specific, so take a look and see if there’s anything going on near you (and if there isn’t, you can always start up your own group).
We’ve mentioned social media platforms as a form of promotion in the past, but we thought we’d touch on them briefly again. Instagram, in particular, is an incredibly helpful platform for up and coming designers, being a great way to get your work out there where potential employers can see it. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are also worth exploring as well; the more you get yourself out there, the opportunities for work you’re likely to receive.
Build A Portfolio
If you’re a designer and you don’t have a portfolio website, you should probably drop everything and get on it. For a designer, an online portfolio is a lot like a CV these days – it’s a way to show off what you have to offer. People can see if you have what they’re looking for at a glance and if they’re interested can take a deeper dive into your work. Basically, having a portfolio website makes things easier both for you and for potential clients.
The key to a good portfolio website is to keep things straightforward. Sure, gimmicks can be fun, but at the end of the day, the most important thing is showing off your design talent… So make sure that people can navigate it as easily as possible. Websites such as Squarespace and WordPress are good for throwing together quick and easy portfolios – featuring plenty of templates – and are definitely worth checking out if you don’t have anything at the moment. And if you’re interested in going for something a bit more complex, there’s plenty of inspiration available out there on the web.
Work For Free
Free work?! We’re imagining a look of utter disgust on your face as you read those two words, but trust us on this one…
Whether it be freelance work, some sort of internship or even a charity gig, working for free can be a great way to gain some experience and references… Additionally, there’s always the possibility that it might lead to paid work eventually, whether through the same client or another company they recommend you to.
But unpaid work can also be a tricky area… When agreeing to work for free, or for a low amount, you have to weigh up whether it’s worth your time. How valuable is a reference or a recommendation from this business likely to be? Is it likely to lead to paid work? Unpaid work is something you should only feel inclined towards doing early on in your career and once regular paid work starts coming in you should always insist on being paid. Just trust your instinct when it comes to free work – only do it if you think you’ll get something valuable out of it.
Do More Design
…Okay, so our last point is a little bit of a plug. But really, we are a fantastic resource when it comes to securing paid design work and gaining some all too valuable experience. Our competitions do a great job of cutting out the hassle when it comes to connecting designers with clients – making the process easier for everyone. And if you’re just starting out, it can be an incredible way to get your name out there and beef up your portfolio.
Which methods have you found helpful when it comes to securing design work? Feel free to share them with us at all the usual places – a.k.a. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.