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7 Ways to Generate New Client Leads or Freelance Work from Your Local Business Community

Local Small Business

As a freelance graphic designer, it’s just as vital to set up different sources for obtaining or generating new client leads as it is setting up your online portfolio or Linked In profile.  Too often graphic designers may look for larger clients via online resources or online job boards, when they can prospect for potential clients in their own neighborhood. The following are a few tips on how to jump start your marketing efforts.

1)      Join your local Chamber of Commerce and attend a few of their events in order to promote your services.

When you attend these events make sure you take your printed business card, that has vital information about your blog, website or online portfolio.  Get ready with a 15 second  “elevator speech” describing what services you offer.  Don’t be boring and answer the question, “What do you do for a living?” with a boring, “I’m a graphic designer”.  Try to phrase your answer with information that lets your potential client know how you can solve their problems.

2)      Set up your business information on Google Places or local online business directories.

Make sure you include as much information about your graphic design business.  If you are a graphic designer that works out of your home, set up a mailbox and use the address as your business address and communicate with your clients via your phone or online website or blog.  Take advantage of these free or low cost local directories

3)      Check out Craig list’s listings for your city.

Yes, your competition is probably doing the same thing but sometimes you’ll have the skill set or experience that your competition doesn’t have and thus you’ll get hired.  With a small investment of time on  a consistent basis, this habit may reap you a client or two that will be a source of additional business.

4)      Keep in touch with local related freelancers ( especially copywriters) that can refer you work.

Treat good referral freelance associates like gold, offering them either bartered services, (i.e. design their print collateral) or a fee for referring work.

5)      Ask if you can place your business cards, rack cards and other marketing material in local business stores.

Use this technique with related businesses or businesses you have developed a rapport with.  It’s possible your local favorite drycleaner could be the one who will be willing to post your business adverts!

6)      Obtain a local business directory from your local business chamber of commerce and mail promotional postcards to prospective clients in your community that could use your services.

Contact a local printing house that does not have an in house graphic designer and determine if they would refer work to you.  Be prepared to send some samples of your work or refer them to an online portfolio or website.

7)      Keep in touch with past clients and always reward your clients with a referral  fee , or generous discount, if they refer any business to you.

Make sure you view your past satisfied clients like gold, and don’t neglect them. These satisfied clients are a source for potential new business as they can vouch for your reliability and expertise!

Do you have any local business marketing ideas?

The Tax Man Cometh– Managing Your Finances as a Freelance Graphic Designer

Piggy Bank MoneyWhen  April 15th rolls around, there are many citizens (in the United States)that are probably breaking out in a cold sweat just about now, since April 15th represents the deadline for filing your income taxes.  If this syndrome occurs for the regular employee at a regular 9 to 5 job, you can bet your bottom dollar (pun intended) that  you might be developing additional symptoms , if you are a freelance graphic designer or independent contractor.   Why?  Simply, because independent contractors and/ or freelance graphic designers are indicative of a new and growing type of workforce that earn their money via clients, contracts, customers and assignments and other variable income and not a set weekly paycheck.

In fact, according to the Freelancers Union, an advocacy group for America’s independent work force, freelancers, part-timers, consultants and similar jobs constitute about 30% percent of the nation’s workforce.   And that number is likely to grow,  in the wake of new communication technologies and the down-sizing and right-sizing  that is occurring at  many corporations during this global economic downturn.  While these changes are creating  new opportunities or job descriptions for many people, managing your finances as a freelance graphic designer or independent contractor becomes doubly challenging and sometimes problematic.  And it is especially challenging when most of the financial books available at the bookstore or online at Amazon are geared for designers or others working at a traditional 9 to 5 job.

This was a problem I encountered in my own experience. Although I had always done freelance work, even as a fulltime employee, I wasn’t prepared for the financial management challenges ahead when I was laid off and fulltime freelance graphic design became my primary source of income.   There are a whole host of new financial activities, tasks and present and future budget planning that one needs to know as a freelance graphic designer and are rarely taught or I should mention these financial tasks are rarely addressed at design school.

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Juggling Work Tasks: The Ups and Downs Of Freelance Work

First the background story…

I have been plugging away at this internet thing for several months (maybe two years in other internet or online projects), and  believe me it requires consistency, consistency, consistency.  Funny thing,  but many of  those pricey internet marketing gurus don’t seem to prepare you for the day that all your hard work starts paying off and your blog starts gaining traction. Okay, I’m not talking rock star blog and visits; but, at least a consistent and growing flow of traffic (and I thank you).Man Juggling Work Tasks

Back a few years ago, I had gone through the labor of creating a static brochure type website, paid for the hosting and posted my content to the internet.  Results?  My website had very few visits,  it was way off the Information Highway so to speak, something like a billboard about a few miles off a desert highway!  Not the kind of way you want to start your internet marketing journey, by any means.  I didn’t realize the number one thing about developing a small business, especially graphic designers (besides the skill and/or product you have to offer)… is that you have to learn how to market it and generate traffic to your website.

I was ready to throw in the towel; however, I started reading and wading through quite a few  “How to Develop Your Blog” type of blogs in order to get a handle on the internet publishing  and marketing ropes.  And it seems some of that advice, at least the advice I have taken the time to implement,  is beginning to pay off.

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