Guest post by Owen Oliver
Graphic and web design is an art as well as a job. Unfortunately, like most artists, designers tend to go long periods of time without consistent work. At the beginning of their careers they may struggle just to find any reliable work. The good news for designers is that as more business is done over the internet, the demand for designers is only projected to increase over the next decade.
Nonetheless, as an artist with a smaller portfolio in a competitive job market it can be tough to find that first big break. The key for young designers today is to find businesses that are still just a planted seed. Going to work for smaller businesses may not pay as much right out of the gate but the fact is if you join them early enough, their growth as a business will parallel the growth of your portfolio.
Any business owner will tell you that good marketing is essential in the early stages of building a business. There is not a more versatile and effective form of marketing than a well-constructed website. The trouble is many business owners lack the web skills or Adobe Training to set up a marketable website. It is for this reason that a young designer and a small business owner are match made in start-up heaven. They are both trying to develop themselves as professionals and have the ability to make the other grow. In this sink-or-swim economy neither party is going to prosper if the business relationship does not produce results.
Many young designers make the mistake of trying to find a business within the city that is constantly near a large population and may stand a better chance of taking off. The problem with this approach is that office space and property within the city is usually more expensive and if a business has set up shop there this means they usually have decent amount of money and they want to be able to market their business more with billboards, flyers, apparel, etc.
Young designers are better off looking for work with smaller establishments in the towns outside major cities because these are usually the ones who are in more dire need of online marketing. Sure it probably won’t pay as much to work for “Uncle Sam’s Private Owned Tire Business” but you as designer will have much more creative freedom and be able to showcase your skills.
Today’s economy is a jungle and if you’re thrown out in the middle of the wild, which do you want to take over first — the biggest apple tree or the small stream of fresh drinkable water? This mindset can help both small business owners and designers. For designers, look for the lesser known brands and newly started up businesses.They are the ones who need help with marketing the most.
For small business owners, be smart with the money you have whether from investors or from an accelerator program. Find a good graphic designer looking to build their portfolio. They will usually be very affordable to hire and will work hard to help you market your brand to the entire world. As a freelance marketing specialist there are few others who depend on the success of the business they work for more than a freelance designer.
Owen Oliver is a designer and marketing writer for American Graphics Institute. When he’s not teaching a Photoshop class or helping someone with Adobe Training he enjoys swimming and watching his Seahawks play.