THE ART OF SELF-PROMOTION

The first year of my freelancing career taught me one of the most important lessons about marketing and self-promotion. The situation that lead me to this “revelation” was quite simple: I had just finished a nice, long gig and realised that the only thing that I had in my pipeline for the next few months was a week of holidays — and that was about it! It turns out that a few weeks of relatively steady income blurs your judgment and allows complacency to settle in. The cold realisation that I had no idea where my next paycheck was coming from and that my resources were depleting rapidly was uncomfortable enough to make me take action.

I decided that with my limited amount of money I would create a simple flyer and send it out to anybody I could think of that might need my services. I had to make my presence known somehow.

Emails are too easy to ignore and I have a visceral reaction even if I hear the words “cold-calling” so the brochure seemed like a perfect choice. Not too intrusive and quite interesting. I know that they say print is dead but not for our industry. We love it here in the design world. It is the magic of a tangible, designed object which is almost forgotten in the web era. We like to inspect print and grid, judge font choices and colour scheme.

The research, design and writing the copy took about a week and a half to complete. While waiting for the print I was creating a detailed list of companies and hunting down names of key people that I wanted to get in touch with. The first week of sending brought me three new clients almost instantly (four years later I am still working with two of them). After that came a few longer contracts and some odd projects allowing me to build up my portfolio for the next edition of the flyer. My self-marketing MO was established.

So, what should you remember when you are creating your own campaign? I can’t give you a golden rule, I can only tell you what I try to keep in mind when creating my own materials. For me it all comes down to three basic things: research, personality and communication.

The key to success in every project, even if you are working for yourself, is research. It is vital to know your potential clients, their tastes and what kind of services they might need. There is a plethora of things that you can learn from their website, blog and their social media accounts. That knowledge will help you find common ground, tailor your marketing to their needs and show that you have initiative.

It seems that with every year that passes, the creative industry becomes more and more competitive and saturated. This means we can no longer depend on the quality and uniqueness of our work alone, but also have to show some personality. That makes creating materials organically, and in your own personal style even more important. They have to include work you are not only proud of but also can talk about. Something that you are more than happy to share with people without second guessing your choices.

Treat any type of your marketing as a conversation starter rather than a monologue listing all your skills and achievements, and trying to seal the deal at first glance. This is the starting point of a relationship that could give you months of work and great experience, so take it slow and focus on things that matter to your client. Get your viewers interested and if they want to know more all they have to do is get in touch.