Graphic designers are in a prime position to experience stable business growth in 2020. Graphic design is an in-demand service, requiring both technical and creative skills.
The concept of graphic design can be traced back to 1922 and the work of William Addison Dwiggins. As his work designing books was a combination of typesetting, illustrations and design, he felt that his process needed to be distinguished from previous descriptors.
Fast-forward nearly a hundred years and the graphic design industry is set to hit over $10 billion in sales in the U.S. alone in 2019. That isn’t set to change as the industry is projected to experience an annual growth rate of 3.1%.
So, how you can you translate the industry’s success into personal success for your graphic design LLC? How can you get graphic design clients as a freelancer? Here’s what you can do to upgrade your business and reduce the stress of acquiring new graphic design clients.
Evaluate Your Business's Message
Before you start moving forward on marketing your business and driving in new leads to your sales funnels, you’ll want to check in to ensure that your brand is optimized to best appeal to your ideal leads and reflects the current state of your business. Slip on the shoes of a lead and observe these aspects of your business:
- Intake and sales processes: Are your sales and intake processes suited to fit within your leads’ schedules and expectations? What could you smooth over?
- Portfolio: How does your portfolio speak to your core design skills? Do you have multiple portfolios based on different industries or deliverables?
- Messaging and design: How current is your content and colors? Each word and design choice is sending a message to potential clients. Be certain that that message is clear and in line with how you want to be perceived.
How did you develop your sales, marketing and onboarding processes? How recently have you checked in with YOUR specific data? How has the industry, or your specific market, changed since you generated these processes?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, that’s where you need to start. Acquiring this clarity is necessary to confidently get clients as a freelance graphic designer.
Inbound Marketing Strategies for Graphic Designers
Inbound marketing efforts act as many different messages that reach out and grab the attention of leads. Placing value first is the best way to entice leads to take the next step towards converting to a client.
While some forms of inbound marketing are more fleeting than others, all of your messaging should be packed with value as if it were a key pillar post. The point of inbound marketing is that it reaches leads on their time.
So, whether it hits their social feed within minutes or a lead is cleaning out their inbox months later, you want it to be equally impactful. Here are the inbound marketing strategies graphic designers should be implementing:
- Social posting and blogs: Producing value-driven and informative content on social media or your site’s blog is a chance to position yourself as a trusted expert and thought leader in your industry. If a lead finds value in one of your LinkedIn articles or is impressed with the design in the accompanying image, they’re already warmed up to the idea of working with you.
- Site copy (SEO)
- Directory listings
- Referrals/word of mouth: Let your work speak for itself by wowing existing clients each time you get a chance to provide a deliverable. You can also establish a referral network with trusted and relevant professionals within your industry or an adjacent industry like photography, web design, or copywriting.
- Opt-in email campaigns: Similar to social posts and blogging, if you’re able to display your talents and value through a weekly newsletter, leads will quickly realize that you’re the design group they need for that next big project.
- Short- and long-form video content
- Ebooks, webinars and courses: If you’re deemed as influential and knowledgeable among your peers, leads will respect your status as an authority figure in the graphic design community.
Outbound Lead Generation Tactics for Graphic Designers
Unfortunately many newer graphic design LLCs don’t have the authority to maximize inbound marketing campaigns the way that larger and more well-known entities can. This means that pulling in new leads may require a more active approach. For graphic designers, here are the most effective outbound marketing efforts to focus on:
- Events: Get involved with both broad and specific business groups, networking events and conferences. Events are not only informative, but great opportunities to meet face-to-face with potential leads, vendors or referral partners.
- Email outreach and direct messages: While inboxes are sacred and notifications are productivity killers, cold emails and DMs are still effective (when done correctly). The key is to get straight to the point and provide value. If you offer up a package of royalty-free images, a set of social graphics and/or a banner design to use, no strings attached, this will create a rapport that will warm up these cooler leads.
- Comments: Business influencers like David Rock will post to their social channels encouraging followers to network. Businesses will also post directly to their channels asking for graphic designers. Follow along relevant hashtags (#graphicdesign #graphicdesigner #logo) and participate in industry discourse to display your talents and expertise. Once you’ve garnered the attention of relevant business owners and professionals, invite them to your website or schedule a consultation to convert them to a client.
- Paid ads: Boost your organic content or send leads to an efficient and specialized one-pager. Make sure your ads speak to various leads at different stages along the buying journey.
Remember to Maximize Your Messaging
In the age of social media, it can be easy to overvalue optics over impact. Putting out messaging isn’t about just getting likes and shares. If the content you’re producing isn’t actually leading to revenue, you likely have an imbalance in your approach. Brand awareness is key, and in building awareness, likes, shares and follows are gold.
However, make sure that your content, messaging and ads appeal to your audience’s specific ideals, interests and pain points. It’s also critical to maintain a balance in where you’re reaching leads along the sales process (i.e., the top, middle and bottom of your sales funnel).
- Top of funnel: At the top of your sales funnel should be the broadest audience of potential leads; however, these leads will need the most coaxing and education before they convert. This type of messaging is branded, but not as technical or specific. It could be entertaining just to establish a positive first touchpoint, or it could inform leads why graphic design is such a valuable aspect of modern business.
- Mid funnel: Mid-funnel content, messaging and advertising gets a little more technical. You’re starting to get into more narrow and specific topics.
- Bottom of funnel: Hit hard on your Unique Value Propositions, keep it clean and concise and provide a direct path towards scheduling or purchasing your services.
If part of your plan for growth requires a new business formulation or structure to take on new teams, reach new markets or improve your tax benefits, Incfile makes changing your business structure affordable and easy. Make this the year when you transform your rich business success into sustained wealth!