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You need to promote your design business if you want it to grow.Just like any other endeavour, if you don't promote your design business you are drastically impeeding its chance to grow. It's called brand recognition, which you being a designer should know. The idea is that when someone is in need of a service, you offer, there's a good chance they will choose to work with someone they know, or at least someone they've heard of. It's up to you to get your name out there so that the “someone they've heard of” is you.
I've put together a list of 12 inexpensive or free ways you can promote your design business. I go into much more detail on each one in the podcast. Be sure to listen for the full story.
12 Inexpensive (or free) ways to promote your design business.
Many organizations, service clubs, churches, charities and such put out electronic or printed newsletters or bulletins for members and followers. If you belong to any such organization, you should reach out to them about advertising your business in their newsletter or bulletin. Most organizations would be happy to promote a member for a small fee. Recipients of these newsletters and bulletins are often inclined to support fellow members and use your services when needed.
Sponsor a Team or Club
Local sports teams and clubs are often looking for donations to fund their events. In exchange, your business name becomes associated with the team or club and is mentioned along with them in news articles. By sponsoring a team or club, you are not only helping your community, but you are spreading the word about your business and the goodwill associated with your donation.
As an added benefit, some teams or clubs will offer you a tax receipt so you can write off the donation as a business expense.
Businesses, non-profits, charities, and organizations will often put on an event attracting a gathering of people. These events often include draws, prizes, giveaways or some other form of incentives for attendees. Offer a discount or coupon towards your services to be included amongst the incentives. For example; offer a free business card layout design with every logo design project or one year of free website hosting with every website project.
Similar to promotional events, silent auctions are a way for an organization to raise funds. Most items in a silent auction are provided by local businesses. Offer a coupon towards a service you offer showing the value of the offer. For example, $300 off design services or a free year of web hosting (a $xxx value). The people who bid on your service are people who are in need of your help. Those who don't bid will at least see your item in the auction and hopefully remember your brand should they ever need it.
Business Card Boards
Have you ever been to an establishment that has a board or wall filled with peoples business cards? Why not add your own. It doesn't cost you anything, and if someone who requires your services spots your card, there's a good chance they contact you.
Wear a T-Shirt Promoting Your Services
When I first started my business, I had a T-Shirt made that said “Hi, I'm a web designer. Is your website working for you?”. I wore that shirt everywhere potential clients might be. I was amazed how many people approached me with questions about their website or asking about my services. Many become clients. If you want to try this yourself, I created a couple of T-Shirts you can purchase at https://resourcefuldesigner.com/tshirt
Claim Your Online Local Listings
If you haven't done so already, you should claim your free local business listing on Google Places, Yahoo Local and Bing Places for Business. Sign up and be found in your local areal. Warning, you have to enter an address to claim your listing. If you work from home, you may want to think twice before proceeding unless you have a separate business address you can use.
Community Sites and Local Directories
Search for online directories in your area to list your business. Some such as your local Chamber of Commerce business directory may require a membership but other directories, such as your local municipality may be free.
If you use your vehicle for both business and personal use, you may not want permanent signage affixed to it. Car Magnets are a great way to promote your business while out on business errands and are easily removable during your time out with family and friends.
Sending out press releases is a great way to get free promotion for your business. Send out a press release any time you or your business does something newsworthy. Have you won an award? Are you offering a new service? Have you been involved in promoting some local event or charity? Send out a press release every time you have news to spread. News outlets may not publish every press release you send out, but those they do will be free promotion for your business.
Run a Workshop
You are a professional designer. As a professional designer, you have knowledge and skills most people don't. Run a workshop in your area teaching local business owners information they can use to improve their businesses.
Contact your local library, College, Chamber of Commerce, Business Service Center or Economic Development Center and ask to put on a workshop covering your expertise. Reach out to business networking groups. They are always looking for people to talk at their meetings.
Present at your local College
Many colleges and adult learning institutes offer entrepreneurial and business startup courses. Contact them and ask to present to the class the benefits of proper branding or having a well-built website. Most of the students attending these classes could become future clients.
Promoting your design business
There are thousands, if not millions of ways to promote your design business. The idea I wanted to share with you is that it's important to get your name out there. People may not need your services right now but should they in the future there is a greater chance of them turning to someone they are familiar with. Let that someone be you.
How do you promote your design business?
Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.
Questions of the Week
Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.
This week’s question comes from Silas
I noticed your resource section is full of very powerful tools, but just about all of them are way out of my price range as a recent graduate. Is there anyway you can suggest some free tools? For example, I went out to find an alternative to Suitcase Fusion because as much as I loved it, it was not in my budget. I found a program called FontBase for free that works similarly.
To find out what I told Silas you’ll have to listen to the podcast.
Resource of the week Enlarge an image without losing quality
From time to time you may need to enlarge an image in Adobe Photoshop beyond what is considered good practice. There are many third party options to do this but most cost money and enlarging an image may not be something you do on a regular basis. Here is a link to a quick tutorial showing an easy way to get the best out of your image enlargements in Photoshop.
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I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form.
I want to help you.
Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org