Professional graphic designers would agree that finding profitable projects is one of life’s hardest struggles. This is especially true if you have just entered the industry.

There are plenty of promotional tools and techniques that today’s graphic designers can employ for increasing their clientele. From newsletters to blogging and social networking, the choices are limitless.

Budding graphic designers are always on the lookout for inexpensive or affordable promotional solutions to get ahold of more clients. Even the most seasoned graphic designers need to employ a solid promotional strategy to establish their own name in the industry.

Here are five potent ways graphic designers can market themselves and build their base of clients.

home office for designerPhoto by Moose

1. Build a Strong Portfolio That Converts

Creating an influential portfolio is the first step to showcasing your talents. Your portfolio is one of the most vital tools you have to prove your skill and determination to the world.

Customers or clients usually engage most with a portfolio that offers a mix of different elements and styles. By focusing on your best work and including sufficient variety, you can blow potential clients away.

Graphic designers can sign up for online galleries or networks to display their work, or they can create a personal website to make their portfolio available on their own terms.

Here are a couple of tips to make sure your portfolio website scores more views:

• Don’t shy away from posting your original photo. A picture adds more credibility to your portfolio and leaves a good impression.

• Craft easy-to-understand content and don’t use too many technical terms to show your expertise. Your work says it all!

• Provide updated contact info and encourage visitors to sign up for your mailing list to get a discount on their first order.

2. Design Your Own Business Cards

Some people believe that business cards are a thing of the past. Well, that’s not quite true. Business cards are great ways to form connections and establish a rapport with potential new clients.

Whether you work as a freelance graphic designer or at a design firm, make sure you have uniquely designed business cards every time you step outside and meet prospective clients.

They are especially great for graphic designers, since custom-designed cards allow them to express their creativity. Many graphic designers create multiple business cards to attract clients from various industries. If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to create your own business cards, there are various online platforms that allow you to make your own business cards with ease.

Remember to list your contact info, social media channels, and website URL so interested people can explore your work online.

business cards designBusiness cards designed by Ueno

business card graphic designBusiness cards designed by Basov Design

3. Attend Graphic Design Conferences

Graphic designers are often workaholics. Since they eat, breathe, and live design, they frequently feel disconnected from the outside world. Not only does this create a negative impact on their personal psyche, but it also deprives them of potentially lucrative projects.

Don’t let the workaholic in you lead you to burnout. The truth is you must get out of your comfort zone to explore the evolving dynamics of the industry. Graphic design conferences are great ways to form new connections as well as boost your self-confidence.

Conferences and seminars educate you on updated trends. These events motivate you to reinvent yourself and create award-winning designs.

4. Contact Potential Clients Through Direct Mail

Marketers today are constantly in pursuit of likes, clicks, and retweets. But successful marketers don’t rely only on online methods. It’s essential to incorporate conventional marketing methods to create an inclusive strategy—and that means adding print marketing to your overall marketing plan.

Graphic designers can print creative mailer postcards to contact potential customers through direct mail. Creative postcard designs offer a great way to display your talent to the world and connect to key professionals.

Executives already receive plenty of emails from freelancers and entrepreneurs. Don’t hesitate to send out your work samples along with handwritten letters in professional business envelopes to promote your services. If you have a lot of different materials to send to different cross-sections of your audience, make sure each envelope has the best fit for your contents. Choose custom-tailored envelope designs for each specific market. Modern envelopes come in a plethora of shapes and sizes. At you will find solid examples of options available to designers. Display your personal logo on the envelope so that potential clients can better recognize who you are and what you represent.

5. Start a Loyalty Program

Everyone likes to earn reward points. A “gamified” system is one of the best ways to encourage repeat customers. For instance, Nordstrom offers points for each purchase customers make, with special “bonus points” earned on certain days. In the same way, graphic designers can benefit heavily from a reward system that gives points to loyal or recurring clients.

Devise a loyalty program that gives some kind of reward to your customer for booking orders. For instance, once clients have hit a certain milestone, offer them a discount or a free gift to encourage future projects. Be sure to ask clients who participate in the loyalty program for email addresses and other information to add more contacts to your mailing list.

graphic design as businessPhoto by Moose

Final Thoughts

There comes a point in every graphic designer’s life where they need to promote their talents to grab ahold of big projects. Your self-marketing campaign should offer the perfect balance of digital and print promotion to establish your unique image.

Read the guide how to become a graphic designer and check 6 tools for increasing client leads in graphic design.

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