How To Market a Graphic Designer – Illustrator

getting work as illustratorA friend of mine asked me today on how to market herself as a graphic designer and illustrator. I listened, then I gave her my two-cents.

Her thoughts were to join the area’s Chamber of Commerce, but at the $300 price tag for a year’s worth of ‘meet-and-greet’, I don’t think that’s where she should be putting her attention, especially since she does not have a large enough portfolio to show these more established business owners.

No, her prospective clients should be those who are just starting out, opening their first business and [still] think that this [running a business] is a great idea! She needs to be there right after the owners have picked a name, got their ducks in a row and are ready to spend some cash. In other words, she needs people who are approved for a bank loan!

In order to get a loan, the business owners would need to submit a business plan — meaning that their business is a viable one. Approval by the bank ensures that someone believes in the idea AND more importantly, that they have money to spend on services.

Talking to your friends and circles looking for someone who needs a new business logo, or business card is pretty tough, let alone someone who is willing to pay you for your services to create a new one!  These people probably have an ‘official’ look that they have grown to like, or at least, are afraid of change and what it might do to their business image. Take the GAP and Belk’s new logo design as an example.

So what’s my advice? Go to her local banks and ask to speak with the Loan Officers to see what type of data you are able to receive legally regarding new business start-ups. Start with her own bank, take business cards and speak with the Bank Manager or Branch Manager. These people can network for you — something that would cost quite a lot in terms of your time or advertising dollars. The want both businesses [the designer and the new business] to do better because that means more money coming through their doors. Get to know these people; it is well worth the effort!

“Yeah, but what else can I do? I need work now.”

One word: Craigslist — or is that two? Post a free service announcement in your area. [as you are only suppose to use the list in the area closest to you, otherwise you’re spamming and we don’t want that!]

The other thing you can do is search through the other cities near you and even though you’re not posting there, doesn’t mean that you can’t look to see if someone else is either competing against you, or posted a “wanted graphic designer” ad.

“Okay, what else can I do to get the word out that I’m a graphic designer/illustrator?”

follow the moneyChase the money. Go where people go to get the money to start a business. Banks — yes, but how about grants? People apply for grants all the time and they hand money out all the time — did the light bulb go on yet? Grant organizations have to announce the recipients — tax reasons and such — so get the list, check their websites, get on their newsletters — CHASE THE MONEY!

Now if I wasn’t busy writing this or working with clients, I should probably follow my own advice and maybe I will one day during the winter when I’m bored. Speaking of which, I can’t remember the last time I was bored.  Oh yeah, I’m too busy to be bored!

So apply this not only to how to market a graphic designer, but any other business service as well. There is millions of dollars spent on market research every year and someone, somewhere knows or has this info. Please share this and let the other ‘starving’ artists know how to bank some cash for a change!

When you get further along in your web efforts, you may want to check out my How To SEO section for more help.

I'm your mild-mannered, marketing guy. I love maximizing returns for businesses using imagination and low-cost approaches.

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