10 Ways to Promote Your Design Project

The life of a designer is not always an easy one. There are projects that you do for clients and sometimes projects that you do just because you want to create something new. Getting those projects out there can be the toughest part of all.

But it is not impossible. It just takes a little planning and work. Here are 10 easy (and mostly free) ways you can promote a design project. (And all of the examples are from designer portfolios.)

Take Advantage of Social Media

Social Media

Social media sharing is one of the easiest ways to showcase your work. The catch is that you might not know how many people have seen it.

Log on to multiple social media networks and share. (There is no shame in asking for retweets or shares either.)

But how do you know which networks to use? Start with the biggest networks – Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Then consider pinning to Pinterest or sharing on LinkedIn. Use networks that are visual so that you can show your work and not have to describe it in words.

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Remember to share in different places at different times of day. Share more than once and respond graciously to comments.

Share on Portfolio Sites

Portfolio Sites
While most of us already have portfolios, it is important to share and have an up-to-date presence on sites such as Dribbble and Behance. Designers frequent these sites. So do clients looking for new talent.

Post active projects – as long as they are not confidential in nature – and ask for feedback. Use built-in sharing tools on these sites to get your work out there even more.

Ask Influencers to Share

Influencers to Share

Sometimes you have to ask for a little help when it comes to promoting new work. Start with other friends in the design community. Ask them to share your work or project as well.

Then branch out. Ask some of the people who influence you online to share your projects. (What’s the worst that can happen … they say no?)

A little boost from third-parties can really help get your work out to an expanded audience that you may be unable to reach on your own.

Email Design Blogs

Email Design Blogs

Step 1: Write a press release.

Step 2: Send it to every design blog or magazine you can think of.

If you want your work to be noticed, you have to tell the industry about it. A press release is a simple way to do that. (Here are a few tips on how to write a great release.)

Make sure to include a way to be contacted and an image of your work. (And yes, you should have a studio-quality photo or high-resolution digital image.)

Then be ready to talk about the design project if you are called. Why did you create it? Where did the idea come from? How did you do it? What do you how to achieve with this work?

Network

Meetup

While a lot of the promotion tips thus far have been online-based solutions, it is important to actually get up, get out of the house and meet people. Networking is one of the single most effective tools you have when it comes to self-promotion.

Go to networking events near where you live and work. Bring plenty of business cards and be ready to show off and talk about your work with strangers. Attend design meetups in your area. (A lot of the big design groups sponsor them. Adobe, Behance and Dribbble meetups, for example, are held regularly in cities all over the world.)

Interacting with others in the design community is a great promotion tool. Even if you are shy, get out go to a meeting and make a point to talk to just one person.

Create a Blog

Create a Blog

Make yourself useful and helpful. Create a blog that relates to your work. Write about what you do or the process of creating or even tutorials on how to do certain things. This will help you become and authority in your field while showing off your work.

Not quite ready to start on your own? If you have a knack for writing or video, do some work on the side for a reputable design blog. (Designmodo, for example, hires designers who can write for this blog.)

Buy an Ad

Buy an Ad

It’s not a free method of promotion, but advertising works. Buy an ad – online, in a newspaper or magazine, on television or radio – to help you reach more people.

Base your ad on the type of design work you have created. Remember to show the work in the ad if possible and explain why your work is important. Place the ad in a medium that will help you reach your audience directly.

If you are a designer looking for local clients, place the ad in local media. If you are looking for clients online, run an ad with Google or Facebook.

Create a simple targeting plan and budget and stick to it to get the most out of your advertising dollars.

Offer a Simple Freebie

Offer a Simple Freebie

Bring people to your website with a simple freebie. Create a badge, color palette, texture or vector pack that you can give away to drive traffic to your site and your work. (It’s hard to pass up a good free item.)

Share your free download across your social media sites and make sure it links back to the item you really want people to see.

Enter a Contest

Enter a Contest

Is your design work good? Is this a project that you are especially proud of? Enter it in a contest.

Awards and honors are a great way to help promote a project. (Everyone wants to be called an “award-winning designer,” right?)

Just entering a contest – even if you don’t win – helps your work get seen by more people. The judges of the contest, people who visit the contest website or view the entries and many others will see the work because it is part of the contest grouping. Look for contests that you think have a good reputation and would be proud to be a part of. Enter categories carefully and make sure to follow all the rules so that your work is not disqualified. And good luck!

Create or Recreate Something Trendy

Recreate Something Trendy

This sounds a lot harder than it is. But look at some of the most viral designs out there – a redesign of Wikipedia, a redesign of Google, a redesign of Netflix. All of these concept designs are just ideas that a designer came up with and then shared.

By creating (or redesigning) something popular or trendy, you can almost latch on to the buzz surrounding it. This can drive traffic to your site, social media profile and portfolio.

Conclusion

Getting a new design project out there can seem like a daunting task at first, but it is really not that difficult if you come up with a plan and use the tools you have available.

Start with this list. Mix and match as well. Some of the items above can be intertwined to help maximize your promotion potential.

What other ways have your gotten attention for a new design project? Let us know in the comments.

Carrie Cousins has more than 10 years experience in the communications industry, including writing for print and online publications, and design and editing. You can connect with her on Twitter @carriecousins and Google+.

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