Everybody out there will discourage you. They’ll tell you there is stiff competition and you need god-level skills just to survive. Don’t hear any of that; you can create a fruitful career in graphic design without trying too hard.
One thing I will tell you is: it takes time to create a great graphic design career, just like any other thing worth having in life. Competition is an animal that’s going nowhere but if you persist, you can overcome just about anything.
We’ve all seen small name brands taking on the big and mighty, and coming out the other end victorious. You’re a victor, and if you have the passion, we’ll arm you with the tips you need to win as a graphic designer.
We understand you have no time to waste, so we will skip straight to the dessert. If you have the hunger to build a beautiful career in graphic design, here’s the cheesecake.
Top 5 Tips to Grow Your Career in Graphic Design
We’ve listed the following tips in no particular order. Create a checklist and examine the areas you need to improve. And when the money comes, don’t forget to share the knowledge with the next person. After all, you learn the most by teaching others.
Create a Portfolio Website
We live in the digital age, and potential employers expect a fantastic portfolio website that puts your expertise in a good light.
It is their first point of contact, and also your golden chance to sell your graphic design skills. If an employer likes what they see on your portfolio website, they are more likely to hire you.
If you put together a portfolio website haphazardly, they are more likely to turn away and go with your competition.
A well created and maintained portfolio website earns you jobs repeatedly. It’s like having a marketing employee working for you 24/7.
Blogging on your site can help you to clinch better rankings on search engines, which leads more visitors to your site. With the right marketing message, you can convert mere visitors into paying customers.
Showcase your best graphic design work, and ensure that potential employers know you’re available for hire.
Use testimonials, reviews, and social proof to make your offer more exciting, and you won’t have to cold call anyone for a job.
In my time working online, my best investment has been my portfolio website. Nowadays, I barely work on the website; all I have to do is check my email, and reply to service inquiries. Usually, most of the people who contact me via the hire page end up becoming highly-paying customers.
Oh wait – I checked my email again (I know, I should focus on the post instead). But guess what? NEW CLIENT! Cha-ching!
I’m not gloating, I just want to tell you that a professional portfolio website works wonders. Then you can receive payments via PayPal, and pop the bubbly.
Build yourself a brilliant and professional-looking portfolio website. Don’t know where to start? You can start with a platform such as WordPress or Wix. Either platform allows you to create remarkable websites without coding knowledge.
“No man can stand alone; no man is an island” goes a popular adage. It’s just human nature to want to connect with others. That being said, your network can make or break you. I can’t tell you the number of times referral business has helped yours truly stay afloat.
If someone knows and likes what you do, they are more likely to recommend you to a friend looking for a graphic designer. If you’re looking to collaborate on any given project, your network is usually the first place you look.
Need help with anything? Your network can come in handy too. Creating and surrounding yourself with a strong network of likeminded individuals is a sure-fire way of growing your graphic design career.
So, don’t shy away from networking both online and offline. Your network can be a great source of the feedback you need to improve. Your network can also motivate you to keep pushing especially when things become tough.
Surround yourself with supporters, mentors and even critics. Then learn as much as you can from your network. But remember that you must offer something in return; don’t just take – give something back. Nobody wants to feel like they are being used or sold on your services.
But a helping hand? Everybody loves that!
Use social media channels to your advantage. Join graphic design groups on Facebook and elsewhere. Then be part of the conversation; don’t just sell your services or spam people. Nobody likes that guy.
You can attend graphic design networking events, and there are many wherever you look. Need a little help? Search “graphic design events” in Google, and you will have more events than you can attend. Alternatively, you can use a service such as Eventbrite.
Learn, Do & Repeat
Graphic design is a versatile field. It moves fast too, meaning you must keep learning a whole lot of new things. The best part is, it’s exciting learning new graphic design tricks. Tricks that help your career. When researching today’s article, I tried a couple of graphic design tools.
Learning all sorts of new tricks and stuff. Man, it was exciting; now I have some extra skills that will come in handy on future projects. And when it comes to graphic design, you can learn from anywhere – online and offline.
Graphic designers can be entirely self-taught and don’t need a college education to be good graphic designers. At the same time, having a graphic design degree can open up more doors as far as advancing your career goes, whether you a freelancer or employee.
Maryville University puts it in a better way:
“It’s an exciting time to build a future in the global design industry. Every advancement in digital graphics and technology changes the way creative professionals think and work — and pushes designers to new heights of sophistication. That means the design and digital media field is shifting to appeal to evolving sensibilities, and businesses are looking to build the modern aesthetic to thrive.”
Additionally, endeavor to learn some soft skills to help you flourish in your career. Regardless of the position you hold, you should be able to communicate your ideas clearly, manage your time well and so on.
Use the Right Tools
Tools make your work infinitely simpler, and at times, doable to begin with. Without tools, you’d have hard days at work. We live in a world of technological advancements, and the successful graphic designer has the right gear for the job.
Essential hardware includes tools such as a powerful laptop, graphics tablet with a stylus, nice sketchbook, excellent ergonomic chair, keyboards, and so on. Essential software includes Adobe Creative Cloud Tools and so on.
You can get more by reading the 20 best graphic design tools recommended by top digital artists over at 99designs. A simple Google search should suffice as well. We recommend going with the tools you prefer, but if you have the budget, splurge on gear and you won’t regret.
There are a million and one graphic design tools out there, both free and premium. You won’t need all, but you should cover a few bases. If you don’t have the budget, start small and grow. Oh, and that portfolio website will help you in ways you can’t imagine, so you’re sorted.
Which are your favorite graphic design tools? Let us know in the comments.
Do Exceptional Work
A no brainer; you want to excel? You must put in the work. You must give something to get something; nothing’s for free. Let your personality and everything good shine through your work.
Don’t conform. Stand out. Make your work standout; put in the effort – give it all. 100%. No excuses. If you have the passion, it becomes easier to just whip up designs like a ninja.
That aside; you’re in the creative arts. You are an artist; and your ideas keep you going. Graphic design needn’t be boring; you can enthuse yourself about the endless possibilities out there.
You still don’t get it, right?
If you do incredible graphic design work somewhere on the web, many people see it, including your potential customers.
Ted from example.com might be saying, “They have some really killer designs, I’m hiring this guy/girl…”
While it’s essential to create a great portfolio website, you must create your best work out there – in the wild. Guest blogging comes to mind. Fuse graphic design with guest blogging somehow, and do your best work.
Absolute beginner? You might consider signing up on websites such as Behance, Envato, and CreativeMarket among others.They all have graphic design categories – and there is Fiverr too, if you’re looking to make a quick buck. Oh yeah, there is Pinterest and Instagram too, for promotional purposes.
In terms of SEO, you get at least three high-quality backlinks to your portfolio website. Imagine you have great portfolios on the above websites (and others), and they are all pointing back toyour website, where you have another killer portfolio.
That’s business. For. You.
No matter how you look at it, you are winning.
What about you? Which are your favorite graphic design tools, tips, advice or suggestions? Please let us know in the comments.