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If you are an upcoming freelancer that does not have his/her name out there yet, finding work might be hard. Let’s face it usually well informed clients go to freelancers who have a strong portfolio. You need to focus on getting your name out there, but what if your cash-flow is running short? There are many ways to promote your design work, that don’t involve cold-calling, taking-out ads, or showering business cards at people. What are they? I’m glad you asked… Below you will find useful information allowing you to leverage this process!

Step 1. Brainstorming

Don’t choose your marketing tasks before knowing how you’re different; understanding your ideal client; and what you want your marketing to achieve. Or you’ll end-up saying the same-old, same-old to uninterested people! Not that you are ready to brainstorm, grab a pen & paper:

  1. Note the problems you enjoy solving for clients – examples might be “presenting complex information in a way that’s easy to read” or “site navigation that encourages people to buy”, etc.
  2. List your strengths – less “websites” or “corporate ID”, more “I understood what that client wanted, when they weren’t sure themselves”.
  3. Write down the jobs you love doing, maybe because they energize or you do a great job in a particular area.
  4. Note the experience that you have – not “Worked for Studio Y 2009-2010”, more like “I remember a client saying they didn’t feel listened to”
  5. List the business values you have – not “professionalism”, that’s taken for granted.

Step 2. Researching

To answer this next section, think of clients you love working with. If you don’t have any, create an image of your mind and also do some research. People come in all different shapes and sizes. By having a standard idea of what traits they might have, you will be ready when the time strikes.

  1. List what your ideal clients do, in terms of work or business.
  2. What visual language do they appreciate?
  3. Write down their top three business challenges.
  4. Note what they’re like as people.
  5. What verbal language do they use?
  6. List where they go, what they read, and what they enjoy – online & offline.

Step 3. Investing in Your Time & Budget

What resources do you have: what’s the budget, how many hours/days are you prepared to invest in it, could you do an exchange with a marketing expert? Know specifically what you want your marketing to achieve. To be completely honest with yourself is quite important.

  1. Examples could be: “get three new blue chip clients who want a corporate identity update”, or “increase the work I get from existing clients by 30%”, etc.
  2. By what date and time?

Step 4. Marketing Activities

To avoid feeling like a salesman, come-up with marketing activities you’ll actually enjoy – because what you enjoy you’re likely to be good at, and less likely to keep putting-off. How?

Note down all the ways you enjoy communicating with others – examples could be sharing solutions you’ve come across, running workshops, writing, talking to people, etc) There are many options, write down what you enjoy.

  1. Highlight where your preferences overlap or match those of your ideal clients – for example, maybe you go to the same business events, or both like LinkedIn.
  2. Now combine your marketing goals & your preferences with your ideal clients’ preferences to see how & where to get your message out there. If examples would help:
  3. Enjoy writing? Creating articles or blog posts useful to your ideal clients might appeal. Titles like “How to Get the Best from Your Designer” – or use your imagination plus your earlier answers about your clients. Approach relevant magazines, blogs and article websites, to get them to publish what you write.  And/or post in your own blog.
  4. Like talking to groups? Giving talks to business organisations (subjects as per 1. could be good.
  5. Prefer social media? Using Twitter to share tips useful to your ideal clients keeps you at the forefront of clients’ minds & demonstrates you have what they’re looking for.

Step 5. Finalizing Your Path

Write down the dates and times you’ll start and complete your marketing ideas – and put them where you can’t help seeing them every day.

We hope you will find the tips above useful. We would love to hear your feedback regarding this article, so please comment below! For more useful articles like this please don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS-feed and follow Inspirationfeed on TwitterFacebook ! If you enjoyed the following article we humbly ask you to comment, and help us spread the word!

Posted by Mhairi Preston

I’m Mhairi Gordon-Preston and I help design business-owners & creative freelancers grow more profitable and more fulfilled. If you found this post useful, get monthly tips from me at I worked as a designer for ten years, have run my own businesses for ten years and am an Enterprise Champion in my local town, helping small businesses connect with each other.

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