How You Can Attract the Work You Want

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Freelance Advice

How You Can Attract the Work You Want

A question that pops up once in a while from people who are freelancing or starting their own creative studios is “How do I attract the work I want?” Its something that I wondered too when I started out and the answer is pretty simple. 

Earlier this year I made the decision to add a couple of new services for my clients, branding & strategy. These were two things that I had done in the past but hadn’t really done much of either in a freelancing capacity. 

I worked as a branding designer at Focus Lab and did a couple of branding projects on my own and at my previous company. Unfortunately, I found myself burnt out from branding and decided not to offer it as a service when I started freelancing full time in the fall of 2016. And with strategy, I always included a bit of strategy and discovery with my projects but I never really thought to offer then as separate services.

So I found myself trying to figure out, how I should promote these services? Should I just post them on my website and hope someone comes to me for branding? No, that would be wishful thinking since I hadn’t worked on a branding project in a while and didn’t have current work to show. 

Thats when I realized “…wait, I don’t have current work to show?” If I wanted to sell branding as a service I needed to have samples of branding to show potential clients & partners.

Instead of just waiting for a branding project to land in my lap, I decided I would start creating some of my own branding projects. If I created my own projects, then I could not only create samples to share, but I could also create content as well— posts for Instagram, YouTube, my website and blog. 

A few years ago, I had created a system to help students create their own projects for their portfolios to help land them their first job outside of college. I called it the “Main Street” technique, in which students took a stroll down their local Main Street— where all the local businesses usually are located and not the big box stores— and have them find individual businesses that jumped out at them and use those businesses as jumping off points for projects. 

For my example, I didn’t go to my local Main Street but I did go to a strip mall near by and just walked along— getting my exercise in— and started taking notes of the businesses around the area. I took pictures and made notes on my phone and collected over a dozen local businesses that I could rebrand or create projects for on my own time— I should also mention here, that this was all for my own benefit and not to try and gain work from the business; which you could totally do that too. 

I decided that I would create one sample project for now, that way I could still do all of my freelance work that was coming in for Illustration and my content for social. The first business I decided to brand was called “Yo-Yo Frozen Yogurt”— some of you may recognize that name from Instagram or Dribbble. It was a shop that seemed to have been in the shopping center for over a decade and had never changed any of its branding or internal decor. I thought this would be an interesting brand to start with. 

 
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So I began working hard to come up with ideas for the frozen yogurt brand, working on and off. Eventually I decided to not only rebrand the shop but to also rename it as well. That way it was separated a bit more from the original brick and mortar business. I changed the name from “Yo-Yo” to just “FroYo”.

I ended up hitting a slow patch with work coming in and decided to spend a whole weekend on the branding.  When the weekend was over I had created a whole system for the brand including typography, colors, badges and mockups for the packaging. It was a blast to create and I felt invigorated to be finally going branding again. 

That same weekend, I began posting across social media the assets I had created— from the simple logo to the packaging mockups. 

The interesting thing? Within a week’s time I had 3 brand inquiries come in, two of which turned into actual projects that I’ve either finished or are currently working on now.

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Conclusion & Touch Points

Ok so lets wrap all of this up with a bow so that you can start getting those projects you want and start winning the work.

The best way to bring in the work you want is to create the work you want and share it on social media— Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Dribbble, LinkedIn and YouTube. 

The best way to do this is to create fun side projects showcasing the services you wish to add to your repertoire. Like what I did— if you want to do branding— you can create a branding project or even multiple ones that you can then use to generate content for social media and case studies on your website.

You’ll want to do more than just create a logo here and there, that is why we also create case studies. The social media content will draw the attention you want to you and to your website. People will then come to your site and see the case studies where you’ve talked about your process and how you created these brands from the initial sketches all the way to the final design itself. 

Its these case studies that will be what sells people on hiring you for their branding project. Process is king here. It’s not always just that you can create a well crafted logo but how you go about creating it.

If you do all these things then in time the projects you are looking for will begin to come in. The important thing to remember is that with these projects, you need to continuously create and share content of these projects. One project may get one or two other branding projects but those projects also need to be shared and documented on social and in case studies if you want more to come in.