That’s why you became a graphic artist in the first place. You have the passion to take a blank space and transform it into an effective and informative piece of art. Yes, even a flyer for a business is a form of art and with your talents you can take the mundane and make it eye-catching.
Of course, all of your talent could remain hidden if you don’t sell yourself.
As a graphic designer you need to think of yourself as equal parts artist and salesperson. Now, that might send shivers up your spine; “I have to sell myself?”
Absolutely! For your business to grow you have to sell yourself every day and that might take adopting some tried and true sales techniques.
First up, you need to get your portfolio in order. This will most likely consist of two very important components: Your website and your business card. Because you’re selling yourself as a graphic designer, both of those sales tools need to be exceptional. They have to show your work in a positive light that will instill confidence in a potential customer. (see our tips on creating a stellar design portfolio and where to publish your portfolio online)
Think for a bit. If someone came to you to sell you something – what would you require to be convinced that they are the person for the job? A good portfolio, some great references, a professional website and a very good understanding of the problems that you are going through.
This means your website should be easy to navigate and provide many varieties of your work. It could also include a blog and customer testimonials. If you are targeting a specific industry, then you should include case studies that outline how your work solved the industry’s problems.
As for your business card, it needs to be a bold as your talents are. Before diving in to create those items, check out the competition. You’re sure to see what works and what doesn’t work. Once you have those portfolio tools standing by you’re ready to reach out to prospective clients. Here’s how:
One of the most effective sales tools in your arsenal is right on your smart phone: the maps. Start with your own neighborhood and check out all the shops, restaurants and service vendors within a couple of miles. Each one of those businesses should have their own website. They also probably do flyers, direct mail ads and a wide range of other items which require a graphic designer. How can you help their business and improve their brand? That’s what you’re selling. Get to know the business and their online presence then call up and ask to speak with the manager. Keep in mind that you don’t want to open up with “Your website is horrible.” You never know; they might have designed it! Instead, offer them a free consultation to discuss their graphic art needs.
Remember, address their “pain points”! What are they currently having problems with? Can your services help them solve it? How?
If you can land that appointment then you’re halfway there. Keep expanding your map circle and watch how many new clients you can pick up.
As with the cold calling, online marketing your graphic design talents will take a bit of due diligence. You should schedule a certain part of your day dedicated to sales. Whether that’s a couple of hours in the morning and in the afternoon it’s a task you should stick with. Online marketing allows you to have a greater reach.
You still need to identify those potential business customers to pitch to but instead of concentrating on the immediate neighborhood, go bigger. It might be smart to target small businesses at first.
You can make your pitch with an email invitation to your website and a free consultation phone call. Keep track of all the businesses you are sending out to and make sure you follow up after a week or so.
“No response” doesn’t necessarily mean “no business.”
Search Engine Marketing
Think of search engine marketing as the reverse of your cold calling in the sense that business can come looking for you. If a local locksmith or dry cleaner needs a graphic designer their first stop might be a Google search. Would your business pop up on the top of that search result page?
You can improve your chances by adding original content to your own website that will increase the chances of a top ranking. This isn’t so much about graphic elements as it is about written content such as blogs or articles.
Don’t know if this is effective? Do your own Google search for a graphic designer in your area and see what is revealed. You might just be surprised at how easy it is to make your site the prominent one.
Plan a series of blog posts on your site that targets your potential clients. Start writing guest posts to be published on other related blogs. And even write articles to be published on trade publications that you prospects may read…
Don’t let your talent go to waste; get out there and sell yourself!
About the Author: Sheila Cormier is the Director of Web and Media for Blue Water Editions Studio, a company that provides fine art reproductions, superior imaging and printing services for museums, trade show display graphics as well as to interior designers, art consultants and publishers.