Nowadays it’s easier than ever to sit down and find job opportunities—as long as you know what you’re doing. Don’t be one of those annoying graphic designers who spam people’s Instagram DMs asking to make them a logo or whatnot.
You don’t have to go there! We’ll show you eight strategies that will actually help you make some traction in your graphic design business. Tha strategies you’ll learn about here include cold emailing, leveraging Instagram accounts the right way, and running local Google ads, among others.
So, let’s get started!
The easiest way to find new clients as a graphic designer is to tap into freelance marketplaces such as Upwork and Fiverr. These platforms offer hundreds of new graphic design job posts every single day. It would be tough to miss them. (By the way, we do have a great writeup on whether Upwork is worth it in 2023, and how might it be a good fit for!)
However, keep in mind that there are several downsides to using freelancing platforms to find potential clients. You’ll have to compete against other graphic designers when bidding for jobs and, even if you land new clients, a hefty service fee will catch up with you at the end of each project.
Behance, Dribbble and similar sites are a great option for a freelance graphic designer who wants to expand their reach easily. However, if you’re looking to build a sustainable network and grow beyond freelance marketplaces, you’ll have to look outside of these networks.
In order for your business to outgrow freelance marketplaces, you need to start building your own online presence. That includes setting up a professional website paired with niche-oriented social media accounts.
That might sound like a lot of work but, if your business can handle it financially, you can outsource Wordpress design and web development or have a professional build up your brand identity. You may even take a shot at this on your own, just make sure to do plenty of research prior to getting started.
Speaking of social media accounts, Instagram should be one of your top priorities as a graphic designer. However, it’s important that you approach building your Instagram page the right way. Don’t be one of those graphic designers who spams people with random DMs and comments on everybody’s posts.
You don’t want to come off as unprofessional and scammy. Instead, focus on creating helpful and visually impressive content that will get people to follow you and interact with your page. Building a presence on Instagram can be a long and frustrating game but it pays off once you start getting some traction.
Just stay away from scammy follow-unfollow strategies and don’t offer your services to random people you’ve never interacted with. Try to build a connection first, get to know people’s businesses and then softly pitch your graphic design services.
Once you build up an impressive design portfolio backed up with a professional website and strong social media accounts, you’ve earned your right to start cold emailing. Although tiring, this strategy can help you land new clients for this type of work. However, you need to learn how to pitch your own business to other entrepreneurs and business owners who may need your help.
There are plenty of YouTube videos and podcast episodes on the topic of cold emailing. Do some research on how to best utilize this type of outreach before you start emailing people. Here’s a great video that will show you a few useful cold emailing templates:
Next up, consider running local Google ads to attract potential clients. Getting local business may be an even better option than working remotely with clients from different countries. With locally based clients, you can build a stronger connection, have face-to-face conversations, and visit their businesses to get a better understanding of their needs.
There is no doubt that paid ads are much more efficient than organic strategies such as SEO. However, you’ll need to do your fair share of learning about copywriting before sending out your first ad out there.
One of the best ways to find new clients as a graphic designer is to find where they’re hiding online. Let’s say you specialize in doing graphic design work for restaurants and coffee shops. Having a specific niche like this one will make finding new clients way easier.
Now you know that you should be looking for places where restaurant and coffee shop owners may be spending their time online such as business-themed Facebook groups. Once you find their hiding spot, don’t just pitch your design skills out of nowhere. Start by networking and connecting with business owners, as well as providing some value through friendly advice. That’s how you get them interested.
You’d be surprised by how much simple word of mouth can do for you. I’ve personally gained dozens of great job offers just because my existing clients bragged about the results I created for them. The better relationships you build with the people around you, the more likely they will be to recommend you when someone asks them for graphic design referrals.
Thus, it’s in your best interest to get people to spread the word about your services. Create your own business cards and give them out when networking with people face-to-face. Whenever you get an opportunity to mention that you’re open to more freelance work, go for it! I’ll leave you with this TED talk about how word of mouth really works.
The eight strategy to get you new projects is to network everywhere and anywhere and start writing your own blog. While local and face-to-face networking may be limited nowadays, there’s plenty of room to network online via LinkedIn and similar websites.
Take every chance you get to connect with other small businesses and showcase your best work in a not-so-spammy way. Leverage LinkedIn to share valuable content and network with recruiters who might have access to your potential clients. You’d be surprised at how far LinkedIn networking can get you.
While you’re at it, take some time to write a few blogs to showcase your personality and expertise. Not only will this help you with SEO but it will also show your potential clients what it could be like to work with you.
Overall, growing your graphic design business gets easier as you build up your experience and network. Make sure to combine all of the strategies listed above to get as many new clients as you can!