Designers: 5 Reasons Why You Can’t Get More Projects

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Are you a freelance designer who is struggling to find work, or quality jobs that will allow you to grow your career? Or maybe you’re looking for full time, in-house design work, but just can’t seem to land the perfect gig you want.

If you’re a designer in this situation for long enough, you may begin to think there’s something wrong, and you’d be right. We’re going to look at some reasons why you might not be finding the design work you’re looking for, and how to correct those errors.

1. Your Work Isn’t Good Enough

Ouch. Harsh, I know. But many times, designers only think they’re doing professional quality work, when really, they’re not. I was guilty of this at the beginning of my career. I was fresh out of school, and overconfident in my meager abilities. Little did I know, I had much to learn. I learned quickly when would-be clients laughed at my outrageous prices and high opinion of myself. If I was going to eat, I was going to have to accept that perhaps I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.

Even designers who’ve been in the industry for many years can become trapped by their weaknesses, and blind to them. They might feel they’re infallible and that their word is the law. They may try to boss their clients around and bully them into accepting a design solution that’s completely wrong for their business. As you quickly find out, this is not a good way to get people to pay you for your work. Clients may become frustrated with your arrogance and decide not to work with you.

2. You Don’t Have Anything To Say

Or, rather, you’re not writing or sharing any opinions about design with the larger community out there who’s listening. Blogs and social media are the best ways to get your message out there and let others know you have something important to say about design. The more you encourage other people to learn from you and inspire you in turn, the more they will respect you as a designer and begin to share connections or invitations to events or groups you never knew existed.

These days, you can’t simply be a technician for hire if you want the best design jobs. People expect you to be a part of the conversation that’s being had about design, in whatever way you feel is best. More and more businesses, especially young startups looking to change the world, are searching for that perfect founder-designer who can understand their mission and get caught up in the excitement of creating something that will change people’s lives. You can’t really be that designer if you never have anything to add to the discussion.

3. You Don’t Connect Enough Dots

Most jobs are gotten through connections. Someone knows someone else who’s looking for a designer, and suddenly you’re working. So don’t forget to go out there and make friends, both in the industry and outside of it. Believe it or not, the best way to get more design work is not by talking to other designers, but to people who know someone who is looking for a designer. This could be anyone, depending on the industries you’ve decided to serve.

This also works in reverse, by the way. If you know that your friend designer A would really benefit from meeting potential client B, dive in there and make the introduction. Both parties will be exceedingly grateful that they both got what they wanted, and your reputation as a connector will have risen a few notches.

4. You’re Not Helping Others

There are many ways to provide value to clients and other designers, which we can talk about in detail forever. But in this case, I’m specifically talking about helping other designers with the technical skills required to compete in today’s design industry. The best way to learn is to teach, as they say, and the things you learn when you’re helping others can really help you to be the best designer you can be.

Writing tutorials or articles to help the design community is a great way to get your name out there and let people know you have something of value to offer. Providing resources and how-to’s for other designers to use will position you as a source for people to go to, which will inevitably include some potential clients. If you post tutorials or resources to other websites (and you should), be sure to let people know where else they can find your work.

5. You’re Not Marketing Yourself Properly

This is a topic for another article (and I’ve written it already). But you need to get out there and market yourself. There’s just no other way around it – if you want people to know who you are and what you can do, you have to tell them about it. There are as many ways to market as there are designers, and no single method will work for everyone.

Take stock of what kind of designer you are, and how you best communicate ideas to people. Then use that knowledge to scale your message to even more people and get on a bigger radar. All of the points we’ve gone over today can be adapted as marketing tactics.

In Conclusion

The design industry is smaller than you think, and people do talk. If you develop a reputation as someone who helps out fellow designers and is talented, you’ll find yourself with more jobs than you can handle.

Author:

Addison is the author of Food Identities, a blog that explores the crossroads of food, design, and culture. She's written some things, designed other things, and eaten a whole lot of food.

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