The 10 Habits of Successful Designers

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Jump into Design with These Tips

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Google the term “habits of successful graphic designers,” and you’re sure to get hit after hit of books on this topic. Some of these habits are obvious. Others are new or are often overlooked. While all of these practices are important, there are 10 that are essential to making a difference in your design career.

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Follow Up

Yes, it sounds cliché, but to be a success in the design world, or in any career for that matter, you must follow up, follow up, follow up. Although it may seen tedious and even unnecessary, this habit is actually a form of advertising. Staying in front of customers, and potential customers, is the most basic, and effective way to get business. Simply put, repetition and familiarity are powerful influencers of human nature, which makes up the marketing science behind the “follow-up” habit.

People gravitate to the familiar. Something that is new or unknown can have instant negative connotations associated with it. We want the familiar. We want to know what we are getting. Repetition helps us to remember what we find commonplace. While the mind remembers everything, it takes repetition to help us recall it.

Be a designer that is well known by your prospects and clients. Make sure you are in front of them regularly. It will pay off for you.

Have an Updated Blog or Website

If you do not have a blog or website, get one ASAP. The blog or website is really a living, functioning portfolio that will follow you your entire career. You can view it like this: a website, portfolio, or blog is your store or tangible depiction of your service. It’s also the foundation of your future endeavors. If you expand your service this will be the hub clients and prospects will come to. If you create a business, the link from this portfolio can help the Internet rank of the new site, leading to more business for you.

Invest Time in Facebook

I doubt strongly anyone reading this does not have a Facebook account. Professionally,

building your Facebook friends list is not just a great way to build your network, but it’s also a great way to target specific communities.

While Facebook is a great way to communicate about how you spent your weekend, it can also help a designer develop a presence in a geographical location. This may even be crucial if you’re trying to develop clientele in a limited area. Facebook has groups that are based around area activities. Join them and contribute.

The LinkedIn Pipeline

Of course you’re already aware of the importance of getting new contacts and customers. With the advancement in technology, new tech tools are making it easier to connect with others in your industry. Start by cultivating contacts on LinkedIn, and focus on reaching other marketing managers and business owners. These are prime prospects who use graphic design services. At the very least target these two groups when you are adding friends or contacts.

Get It in Writing

By monsoon I mean the periods where the business pours in after a spell of no revenue–much like a jungle flooding that occurs after a dry season. Even if you are in a steady design job, companies have periods where they rush to meet demand, which causes you to be showered with projects. Accept this and gear up as this flush of work will most likely end. Be organized with your projects so when they do flow in you can get them out in an efficient manner. Also, if you frequently work for one particular company keep records of busy times so you can anticipate those upcoming “monsoon” periods before they hit.

Be Cheat Proof

Be very careful about the army of unscrupulous “customers” out there I affectionately dub as “cheats.” You know these people. They are the ones who bring coals of fire on their heads in the long run because they cheated people in the short run. One of their favorite methods is to find a way to get you to do free work. Do not get sucked in or tricked into doing this–remember, you’re a professional. Make sure any work or custom “sample” is contracted out and charged, and use this rule of thumb: if they are too cheap to pay for a work sample, then they are too cheap to pay your going rate, or at all.

Make Sure Client Instructions Are Clear

In business as in life, it’s tough dealing with people who can’t communicate clearly. These people are often incapable of articulating what they want, which can be a nightmare when it comes to business. Clients like this jump around and never give any clear or consistent direction of what they want. Not only is this frustrating, it wastes valuable time.

Make sure that the client knows how, when, and in what increments they will be charged. (Remember to document this, as mentioned in Habit 5.) Do not give a client a project price if you don’t have any specific written objectives. For example, if they want a logo, make it clear that they will receive a sample and revision requests for a specific price or an hourly rate, and have them sign off on it. This puts the onus on them since they are paying for your time.

Create Your Own Brand

When you are a brand you are unique. In essence you are not a service or commodity. When people are looking for a designer, chances are they’re searching for a service. Therefore, your job is to become a brand people seek out when they need specialized work done on a project. Make sure you mimic the cues of great brands in the industry. Ensure your blog or website has a consistent, unique color scheme and design that reflects your style. Over time people will see it, remember it, and seek you out.

Have Multiple Backups of Your Work

This is overlooked, but can be vital to the well being of your business. Remember to maintain multiple copies of designs and projects in multiple places so if one source gets destroyed you have it saved elsewhere. Investigate different Cloud technologies or protected file sharing software, which will help legitimize and establish your business even more. In addition, it also makes your work accessible where ever you go–a major benefit for a designer on the go.

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About The Author

Michael Saks is a digital marketing specialist with experience in seo, sem, web content design, web design, graphic design and general marketing. He has worked in multiple industries.

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