So you’re an amazing designer. You’re willing to turn your hand to any task a client could throw at you. You’ve got the equipment, the software, the attitude, the work ethic…
… but you’ve got little or no work coming in …
Here’s the thing: keeping a blog and building an online brand will get you freelance web design jobs more than anything else.
But first of all, here’s what I’ve tried that hasn’t worked:
- Work for free for friends in order to get “exposure”
- Spend time uploading awesome designs to third party sites (Behance, DeviantArt, Dribbble)
- Cold calling
- Introducing yourself to people on LinkedIn or asking for work in LinkedIn Groups
- Searching Twitter for people looking for web designers and tweeting them
Some of the above may work for some people (although, I suspect, not many) but for me, a blog is permanent online “proof” of my experience and capabilities that attracts amazing clients with great work.
Your website, your blog – it’s the same thing
My website (a self-hosted WordPress site) is mine and not anyone else’s (unlike Dribbble, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) Yes, you can create interest and build a following in those places. But these sites restrict what you can do on them.
As I pay for the domain and the hosting I know my site will always be there. Your own site will always be more important than your profile on a 3rd party site.
If you want to get freelance web design jobs or start a web design business you need to start blogging. And if you are blogging, you need to persevere or keep consistently posting the best content possible.
Through blogging you can attract the right sort of clients. With a blog you can build your own little corner of the net to showcase what you’re best at.
I don’t mean you should always be showing off your latest work. That’s the last thing you should be blogging about. It’s much better to write a blog post about, for example, how to create a website that’s responsive to phones and tablets, how to write an HTML email that works in Outlook or, even, how much a freelance graphic designer should charge.
These are general articles that may well interest other web designers, however, I have got clients contacting me after reading these articles because they are about solutions to problems.
And, what’s more, these articles will continue to attract traffic – and clients – for years to come. This is a much better use of your time than writing a desperate-looking message on a social network which will be lost the next day anyway!
Everyone has different talents. If you are constantly adding content through a blog it will naturally show those talents to a wider audience. You could have a potential client contacting you because they have a need for a specific skill that you have blogged about.
Also, the practice of running a blog and keeping an eye on traffic will teach you about SEO and WordPress which will add to your skills.
Concentrate on my own network
In addition to blogging you need to get links to your blog. You can do this by guest posting but that can be time consuming.
The best way to get links to your blog and people promoting it is by creating and maintaining a network of people who share your passions.
I’m not talking about Facebook friends or Twitter followers. I’m talking about real people who you email and talk on Skype with.
Once you’ve been blogging for a while you’ll naturally be drawn to other bloggers who write on the same subject as you. Some may have more blogging experience; some may have less. It doesn’t matter. Reach out to these people.
Send these other bloggers and people who you admire an email. Tell them how much you enjoy their site. Maybe ask a specific question about an article of theirs you liked.
We all love flattery, especially when it’s honest. If you are genuine, you’ll form real relationships with these people and sooner or later they’ll link to you, tweet about you or promote your services.
And they’ll do it without asking. Why? Because you’ve proven yourself to be authentic by the honest nature of the communication between you. They trust you.
Always try to maintain and grow a circle of professionals that have similar skills to you (other web designers) or skills that are related to yours (developers, illustrators, writers, etc.) Help these people. Keep in contact with them. Pass on any work you hear of.
You can do it
What has worked for me is to show myself as a real person. If you’re advertising yourself through Twitter, Facebook or even Dribbble, you’re just broadcasting you aren’t communicating.
People like to buy from real people. And through blogging you show yourself as a real person.
So, over to you now. Do you think that blogging and creating your own brand can bring you web design jobs or do you get traction from doing something else? Let me know in the comments.