These tips are designed to help you to prove both your ability and worth as a designer. If you already have a portfolio it’s worth going over these tips at the side of what you have, if you are yet to develop one then keep them in mind for when you plan the project. Like a good real estate guy selling the best real-estate in Ukraine & Russia, as a good graphic designer you should consider many aspect before designing.
I see a lot of great graphic designers who are really good at one style have a portfolio full of that one style and nothing else. There is nothing wrong with playing to your strengths, in fact it should almost be a point in its own, but you should always consider that a potential client may not be looking for that particular style or format.
I recommend, if you don’t have a massive range of styles and products, you actually give yourself the job of creating them. Make a magazine cover, some album art, a flyer and posters, even something as seemingly trivial as a few desktop wallpapers can really spice up your portfolio and make you look a lot more versitile.
Make sure you vary your style and colour schemes too, sometimes it’s easy to think “I hate blue” and never include it as the main colour in work but your clients may not see the same view and by excluding it from the portfolio you could be going against them before you even start.
2) Work Online & Offline
This si the digital age and your online portfolio needs to be a big deal but this doesn’t mean you should have nothing to show people in the flesh. Networking is extremely important but networking without showing people your work is pointless.
You need to make an impact on people whether your online or offline so be sure to provide something of interest in both. Not taking a portfolio folder with you? Here’s a few idea’s;
* Range of different styles business cards
* Business cards with logo designs on
* iPhone ready portfolio sub-site
* Customised clothing
3) Understand Marketing
As a designer you main set of clients will be approaching you from some sort of marketing perspective. Spend time learning to understand what they want/mean/are saying about a project and more importantly why.
If you can more accurately understand the goals of your clients then its much more likely you will produce initial and finalised work that they are not only happy with but will achieve their goals and have them coming back for more.
This is not an easy task but read related websites and talk to any contacts you have as often as possible about marketing and stay on top of the latest trends.
There are a number of things, especially on an online portfolio, that can make you look more professional than you actually are. These little tweaks can make a big difference to how you recruit clients and what types of clients you attract.
Here’s a short checklist to run through;
* Spelling and grammar
* Terms and Conditions page
* Have a basic contract ready
* Full contact details and where applicable, company registration numbers
* Display awards, accreditation and qualifications somewhere on the site
Professionalism carries through to you as a personal as well, treat clients with respect and be sure to be understanding in the face of problems.
An additional note, while professionalism is important don’t let it stifle creativity, you can still be yourself, have fun, use bright colours and have teddy bears in the office just don’t throw the teddy bear in the clients face and call him names when he is late paying a bill.
5) You are a Brand
A lot of people don’t get this but you, as a designer, are a brand in yourself, even if you work for a company.
The purpose of any brand is to become well known and recognisable and to do this you have to be in the public eye. On the net this is very easy to do but time consuming. Here are a few ideas for building yourself as a brand, they can each be explored in depth but feel free to ask any questions about specific strategies.
* Run a personal blog, talk about your work, the industry, whatever you want, just be you.
* Take part in social networks, join Twitter and post regular updates, join Facebook and Myspace and publisise these things from your blog.
* Make yourself a presence on industry related forums and blogs and speak to “the big” players in your particular speciality, can you make friends and contacts out of these people?
* Use online portfolio sites to increase the number of places your work is displayed