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Freelance Graphic Designers: How do you Find New Work and Clients?

Thought I'd poll all you freelance graphic designers, logo and web designers out there, and see how you all collectively find yourself new clients, or how clients find you.

I've opened up Comments below, so please take a moment to share your various strategies.

Hopefully you'll like to share any methods that you employ in your quest to make yourself findable to potential clients, such as:

Google Search, Blogging, Social Media, External Portfolios, Paid Freelance Directories & Showcases, Paid Ad platforms like AdWords and Facebook Ad's, Local Press Advertising and Marketing.

How do you help potential clients find your design studio, how do you help yourself be found amongst the ever increasing number of freelance designers and design studios?

My Basic Strategy

I for one mostly have bene able to rely on Google, through many years of blogging. It seems the majority of my client clients still find me via Google Search.

Some clients find me on Portfolio platforms like:Behance, Coroflot, and Dribbble (paid-up Pro member), whilst a small percentage find me on LinkedIn, directly on Twitter and Facebook.

Some new leads come from word-of-mouth, recommendations and the occasional repeat client.

I do dabble with the occasional Paid FaceBook Ad campaign, but that's mostly to just help overall awareness; Sowing the seeds so-to-speak.

There's no doubt that over the last few years, it's become dramatically harder to find new clients just due to the sheer scope of competition.

There are many any new freelance logo and graphic designers arriving to compere for work each day, not to mention the heavy competition from crowdsourcing sites like 99Designs and Crowdspring.

If you're of a generous and helpful disposition, then it'd be great to hear how you look for, and get new clients.

 




In this post I'll provide some basic, but useful, advice for clients who are looking to find and hire a logo designer on Google, and the Website in General

If there is one thing I know for certain? It's that it must be a complete nightmare to hire a logo designer that 'ticks all the boxes', not because there are so few of us logo designers around: it's actually the complete opposite.

There are gazillions of potential logo designer candidates worldwide: all of varying skill levels, some with years of experience and some none at all; some experienced without any academic qualifications, and some with; some with a unique 'signature' design style, and others who are very adaptable; some that are cheap, mid-priced, and others that pitch higher than usual.

I really don't know what 'the' usual price level is for logo designers given the sheer scope of factors that can and do determine how much a logo designer can, should, does, or doesn't charge

Some are local for a given search, and some will be geographically challenged; some talented logo designers simply don't advertise, or make it easy to be found, whilst some logo designers have the marketing, advertising, social networking savvy that makes it easier for them to be found; some are well-known, and some are not; and so on.

Just to be clear: I am mostly talking about the self-employed/freelance logo designer, not so much the hobbyist, or indeed the larger design studio/agency. 

However, it's certainly a travesty that certain logo design shops tend to dominate Google's (and other search engines) top rankings, as well as completely gobbling up the sponsored ad spots, which must cost them a complete fortune to run day-after-day-after-day (I can barely afford the minimum for one day).

Typical search terms, like: "logo designer", "logo design", "freelance logo designer", "professional logo designer", "I need a logo designer", and so on, are invariably 'taken' for Google 1st page results.

It's Better Than it Was

For sure, things are much better on Google than they were, even just 2 or so years ago. Google has done an incredible job really, when you think about it, of clearing up the no-good-for-nothing-black-hat-gangsters looking to prey on the weak and naive.

I clearly remember thinking how on earth is someone like me will ever be found on Google: the proverbial needle in the haystack, likely at the bottom, in the middle and buried under 5ft of earth.

It's a Daunting Process To Hire a Logo Designer

It's a daunting process trying to locate a suitable logo designer for your needs, made even harder when you have to negotiate and filter out logo design 'battery farms'.  You may be looking for a certain type of designer, or looking for a company local to you.

Yet, whatever you search for in Google, you are faced with the many number of search results focusing on the latest marketing buzz hook: 'free logo designs', 'logo designers for $5', 'create your own logo for free online', '300% Guarantee', 'professional logo design for £19.99 in under 24 hours', 'bronze package', 'silver package', 'carbon fibre with titanium and moon rock dust package'.

I need to emphasise that not all the 'package deal' options are to be avoided, far from it. But this is part of the problem, some of these package-dealers try hard to look respectable, genuine and honest, and often succeed in doing so.

Being discovered is seemingly the hardest challenge for the: solo, self-employed, small studio logo designer. The genuine, the sincere, the passionate logo designer will likely not have the funds, resources and audacity, needed to prise themselves to top of the 1st page of search results.

Look Past the 1st Page

All these search results seem to take up the first page, you may be lucky and find a respectable and very reputable logo design studio/agency dotted the 1st page of results, but it helps to know what you are looking for, and what specifically one should avoid.

Unless you are familiar with graphic design, and have inside track on the logo design industry, you may find yourself out-manned, and out-gunned, and very quickly out-financed.

You may end up exhausted and frustrated in your search, giving up and opting to go with a logo designer that you just hope will deliver. The promise of that 'Titanium Package with unlimited tweaks, designed in 24 hours and only costing you a fantastically cheap rate of £49.99' seems to good to be true.

If you're needs are small, and you simply don't care much for quality, then you'll be serviced just fine, but if you feel the logo and identity is important to you, then it's unlikely the cheap options, but the ones that you'll be served up on the 1st page, will indeed deliver.

Picking up the Pieces

In recent years, I have found myself, more and more, picking up the pieces for a number of clients who thought they'd try their luck with the cheaper logo design option, or crowd sourcing site, such as 99Designs.

Invariably, after being served up their 3-5 logo ideas, they realise how utterly disappointing the experience has been. Then it's usually a case of having to pay yet more money to now find a more competent, and personable, logo designer.

It's quite gutting for me to see the sort of work they were presented, you can just hear the utter disappointment in the their voices. The realisation of how far behind schedule they are, and now having to pay all over again.

Some General Advice to Hire a Logo Designer

The best advice I can give, without sounding too 'use me, use me' is to not rush any part of this process of finding a logo designer to work with. If you are genuinely short of time, then the first option below could be the life saver you need.

RECOMMENDATIONS
Recommendations are valuable, if you know of someone who had a logo designed, then ask them for a name. Twitter is perfect for this sort of method, as word-of-mouth quickly spreads, and you could have a interesting mix of contacts to check out.

GOOGLE
Ultimately, and this really is the moral and purpose of this post: Don't give up looking on Google once you reach the end of Page 1. I can assure you: if you spend time looking through pages: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and onwards, you'll come across some truly talented logo designers.

Just because a logo designer does not appear on page 1 of your favourite search engine, it certainly does not mean they should be ignored. If anything, it's this reason that they ought to be given more of your time.

"Poor Google rankings, and placement, is by no means a reflection on the integrity, skill and reputation of a logo designer."

I know many talented designers that probably don't come even in the first 5 pages of search results.

A GOOD FIT
And this is the thing, try to find a logo designer that is a good fit for you, not just visually but also from a personality point of view. The more you can 'gel' with a designer, the better the whole process and the more likely you will have a logo designer prepared to bend over backwards for you.

That level of commitment in a designer just can't be bought. It is a partnership.

COMMUNICATION
A designer who is prepared to talk on the phone, who is relatively transparent in the area of communication and contact is a positive sign, but not all designers can or will spend hours on the phone with their client. This is down to you, go for a designer that feels right for you. You may be OK with not needing to talk on the phone to discuss progress, or you may be someone that needs that level of feedback and interaction.

To Conclude

Many logo designers are keen social media junkies, actively contributing to the design community, writing and posting on their own blogs, chatting with other like minded designers on Twitter and Facebook.

You'll find some super talented logo designers on Flickr, just browser through some of the popular Groups, even basic search queries will provide some good results to check out. Dribbble is another major creative platform that should certainly result in finding a suitable designer to work with.

There are heaps of external portfolio sites, such as Behance, Iconify etc, that specialise in showcasing logo and brand identity projects, and these provide a proverbial gold-mine of talented designers to pick from.

Don't rush your search to hire a logo designer, but do try to be a little more selective on where you conduct the search.

If it's Google, then you'll be rewarded if you generally scoot pass the 1st page of results.

Don't ignore the 1st page, as it depends completely on your search term, but do allow yourself time to give the next few pages of results some of your time.

We are everywhere, if you know where to look.




Blink
NOTE FROM GRAHAM

Since reading Malcom Gladwell's book, 'Blink' I have become considerably more comfortable in my own ability to make the 'correct' decision as a 'snap judgement', instinctual response, emotional or anger, practical or in practical, right or wrong. It would seem for me anyway that my  instinct has been proven right on many occasions which can only fill 'me' with more confidence about the 'inner workings' of 'me' as a person.

It's only if I allow time to doubt myself that it all goes horribly wrong (some would argue my whole life is horribly wrong). Malcom, through many studies and examples gives a convincing case that our instinct is 'mostly' the correct response in any given situation. It is a great book, not huge, so a easy swift read. He also has a web site, www.gladwell.com and Blog (blog is lacking in recent entries). The book will no doubt leave you feeling a lot more self assured. That's ofcourse if your instincts have generally been spot on. If not, then maybe you should give it a miss! :0)

This following study from University College of London, reinforces this understanding of the human mind.

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