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Get your name out there.In part one of this Bootstrap Advertising series, I discussed bartering your services to get exposure. This week I’m sharing more ways to get exposure by promoting yourself on client projects.
Exposure means making people aware of your design business. After all, People cannot hire you if they don’t know you exist. So the goal here is to get your name, business name, and logo in front of as many people as possible.
This form of promotion is called a shotgun approach. There’s nothing scientific or targeted about it. Instead, you hit the masses and hope that someone who sees it needs or knows someone in need of your services. This “spray and pray” approach doesn't cost you anything and is a great method of bootstrap advertising.
If you’re not familiar with the term bootstrap or bootstrapping, it means promoting or developing by initiative and effort with little or no assistance. In other words, bootstrap advertising is getting your name out there with minimal effort and practically zero expense on your part.
Let me share two methods you can promote yourself on client projects.
Put your name on everything project you design.
My stance is if I design something, my name deserves to be on it, from websites to posters, brochures, car wraps, wedding invitations and more. If I can get away with it, I put my name on it.
I’ve learned over the years that, as the adage goes, “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission?” If you ask a client if it’s ok to put your name on their project, there’s a 50/50 chance they’ll say no; they’d prefer you don’t. And many times, they’ll ask if they get a discount if your name appears on their project.
However, if you include your name on the initial project proof without asking, only one in twenty clients will ask you to remove it. That’s why I never ask a client if I can put my name on their project. Instead, I present the work with my name and sometimes logo already there. Should the client ask me to remove it, I’ll take it off without a fuss. But in my experience, there have been very few clients who have asked me to take it off.
My name or logo appears in small inconspicuous corners of the project for printed work—kind of like an artist's signature.
On a poster, I include it in the bottom corner. I try to include it on the back cover of a brochure, sometimes running vertically along the spine. If it’s a book or booklet, and I can’t put it on the back cover, I’ll try to include it on the inside front cover somewhere.
Over the years, I’ve included my name on
- brochures, flyers and rack cards
- books and booklets
- door hangers
- pocket folders
- event tickets
- stickers and decals
- Vehicle wraps
- Window signage
- and many more items I can’t think of right now.
I’ve even included my name and logo on trade show booths. I’ve designed several pop-up or roll-up banners as well as many backdrop walls for trade shows, and I’ve included my name and logo on the bottom right corner of all of them.
For websites, the obvious place is the footer, or sometimes on a separate bar below the footer. Divi makes this really easy.
Sometimes, when I do T-Shirts, I’ll have my screen printer add my logo to the sleeve with my client's permission. My screen printer is a great guy, and depending on the size of the order, he'll add my logo to the sleeve at no extra cost. Think about it. Everyone walking around wearing one of these shirts has my name displayed on their sleeve.
So whenever possible, I try to include my name on every printed piece I design.
Showcasing yourself via an ad.
I’m a bit surprised how well the following method works.
Have you ever designed something for a client that includes boxes for ads?
I've designed event programs, maps, placemats, pocket folders, magazine layouts, and more for clients. What all of these had in common were advertising spots the client could sell.
Take a program for a local theatre company, for example. The program contains information about the theatre company, the play their performing, the cast, perhaps upcoming plays, etc. The theatre company then sells the extra space in the program as ad spots to cover the printing costs.
The way these sort of projects work is the client has the program designed, and once all the pertinent information is in place, they are supplied with a PDF to see how much available space is left for ads.
When I present the client with this initial proof, I include an ad for my business in one of the spots. I tell them it's so they can show potential advertisers what an ad may look like. And you know what? 75% of the time, the client leaves my ad in the program. Of course, I’ll gladly remove my ad if they ask me to, but they rarely do. And not once have they ever asked me to pay for my ad spot.
Over the years, I’ve had ads show up for free in programs for theatre productions, sporting events, entertaining events, fairs and festivals and other things. In addition, I’ve had my ad appear on local maps, paper diner placemats, on the back of pocket folders that real estate agents and mortgage brokers hand out to their clients, and even in a couple of local business magazines. All because the initial project proof included my ad, and the client never asked me to remove it.
Funny story, one client actually apologized, saying they had oversold the allotted ad spots and asked if I would be willing to give up my spot to accommodate it. Of course, I said yes.
These were all free advertising opportunities gaining good exposure for my design business. All because I took the time to include an ad in the initial proof.
I designed a website for a local association that includes three ad spots on the home page. They planned to sell these ad spots to association members to promote their businesses.
When I designed the website, instead of leaving the three spots blank, I included my ad in one of them. That was in 2017, and even though I’m not a member of the association, my ad is still there. The other two ads have changed over the years, but they’ve never removed mine.
When given the opportunity, present the proof to your client with a “temporary” ad, and cross your fingers that they don’t remove it.
These are two great ways to get free advertising for your design business without spending anything.
Why it works.
The idea behind this is to get your name out there. If people don’t know about you, there’s zero chance they’ll hire you. By putting your name on as many things as you can, those who see it will take notice.
Imagine a new entrepreneur looking for a designer to help brand their new business. They remember seeing your name on a store poster, in an event program, on their kid’s dance recital t-shirt and in a local magazine. They’re going to think, wow, this person must be good since I see their name everywhere. A lot of people must trust him/her. That confidence, along with repeated recognition, is good enough for them to reach out and hire you for their project.
All because you included your name on everything you could.
I’ve been doing this ever since I started my design business, and I can tell you, it works. The more people who know about you, the more successful you will be. Isn’t that what you’re going for?
A side benefit of putting your name on everything is that the contact people you deal with at your clients may change.
Sally may retire, and Jason takes her place. Maybe Sally forgot to inform Jason who their designer is. Luckily for you, you’ve included your name on everything you’ve designed for that client, making it very easy for Jason to know who to contact.
That’s yet another reason to put your name on everything.
Resource of the week pixsy.com
This week’s resource of the week is a great tool for photographers and illustrators to keep track, or should I say, stay on top of who is using their images.
If you sell your images through any stock image platform, you’re often left wondering what people are doing with the images they purchase.
Pixsy.com allows you to discover where and how your images are being used online.
It’s also a great resource for battling image theft. Find out who is using your copyrighted material and use Pixsy’s tools to help you resolve the issues.
Best of all, you can start with their free plan and only upgrade if you need to take advantage of one of their premium features, such as issuing a takedown notice.
As I said, if you are a photographer or illustrator, you’ll want to bookmark Pixsy.com and take a stand in the battle over Copywrite theft.
I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form.
I want to help you.
Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org