At the beginning stages of your graphic design career, you may be wondering, how do I get clients? What can I do to reach a larger audience who wants to use my services?
With today’s ever growing dependence on technology and the internet, it’s important that one makes some type of “mark”, if you will, in the online world, especially if you’re skilled in graphic design, web development, animation or anything else in the related field of design.
Now, I’m not talking about getting a Facebook or Twitter when I suggest that you make yourself visible online. I’m talking about joining online communities to swap not only ideas and resources but to also share feedback and contact information.
People are constantly on the web and with your visibility doubling in size; you subsequently double the potential of a client or collaborator finding you online.
With hundreds of sites geared towards those of us in the design field, it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that caters to your needs. But if you’re looking for a push to get you into action don’t worry because today I’m here to give you a shove off the “cliff of indecision” by sharing six sites that’ll surely help your online presence and give a boost to your career.
I know what you’re thinking; Flickr is geared towards photographers not designers so I don’t need to get one. I can happily tell you that you’re wrong, well at least to some aspect. Sure Flickr started out as a place to share photos but it’s so much more than that.
Flickr offers hundreds of groups to join including groups for those who create graphic designs for t-shirts while others are for those who create photo manipulations.
I’ve had a Flickr account since 2007 and a couple of my contacts are traditional/graphic artists and those who rely on their graphic design skills to create amazing images from their photographs.
The diversity that Flickr offers is amazing, from the many different groups to the age difference and occupations of the users. The groups offer a great way to get in touch with people as a lot of Flickr users have done meet ups in their local areas.
The groups even readily offer assistance and feedback if you have a question about purchasing equipment or pre and post-production workflow. Though I myself have never done any of the local meet ups, I’ve had the pleasure to be invited to various groups based on my work as well as meeting a wonderful group of fashion photographers, makeup artists and stylists based out in California that I’ve had the pleasure to collaborate with.
Hosting my images on Flickr even gave me the opportunity to have one of my photos purchased for a human rights case study law textbook, so I strongly recommend you check out Flickr if you haven’t done so already.
Flickr also allows for you to offer your work as strictly copyright protected or to license it under creative commons, the choice is yours.
Graphic designers, traditional artists, photographers and animators behold DeviantArt, the site specifically designed with you in mind. If you haven’t heard of this site you really should change that, this site has a huge following and it isn’t just for the budding artist.
Comic book artist Adam Hughes (DC, Marvel and Darkhorse Comics) and BioWare’s own associate art director Matt Rhodes (Dragon Age and Mass Effect) are even members of this ever growing community!
That’s right, even big time artists are using this site which shows you just how accessible this site truly is. DeviantArt isn’t just a place to put your work but just like Flickr it’s a community with hundreds of groups to choose from and join.
You can find tons of things on DeviantArt aside from beautiful artwork. The site offers a range of tutorials uploaded by its users, resources like brushes, Photoshop Actions and stock images as well as downloadable wallpaper for your desktop.
I particularly love the vast amount of textures available as well as the different tutorials people offer up in assistance. The site even allows you to capitalize on your talents by allowing you to offer your artwork as prints and if you have the time to spare you can accept commissions that seem to be a popular thing in the DeviantArt world.
And for those who want some security for their work, never fear, you are given the options to place watermarks on your work to deter people from stealing your images.
Now if you consider yourself more of an artist who enjoys creating conceptual work or wants to work for companies that let’s say create video games, then ConceptArt is the place for you.
This site is a great platform to showcase your conceptual artwork as well as receive feedback from your fellow artists. I love looking at this site; the talent on it is incredible and very inspiring.
The cool thing about this site is not only does it offer a forum for the community members but also as a section for upcoming events in the art world, an application to apply to The Art Department, a school for digital and traditional media, a section for upcoming workshops is also available as well as a chat room and a section where industry jobs in visual arts are listed.
It’s obvious that unlike the world for Flickr and DeviantArt, ConceptArt means business. A lot of the users have been commissioned by various companies to actually produce concept art for them for upcoming video game and PC titles along with comics.
There is a sketchbook section also available on the site that serves as your own personal sketchbook journal that acts a gallery of sorts. This allows people to see what you’ve been up to as well as leave comments on your work.
As you can see ConceptArt offers a lot to its members and really works in a way to help you get your name and talent out there for possible job opportunities.
That’s right Vimeo is another place where you can make yourself more visible online. Why not YouTube you may ask, well that’s simple, Vimeo is geared more for the creator in you.
Sure Vimeo isn’t going to be beneficial to you if you just create websites or posters but if you’re an animator you should think about getting one.
I just recently got one at the behest of colleagues and professors so I can’t really offer too much in personal use of the site. I did however get invited to submit one of my non-animated films to a film festival that had seen my work on Vimeo so it does show that people are looking and there is the possibility of gaining more coverage through the use of the site.
Vimeo does allow for you to set privacy to a select few or to those with the password and link for those of you who want to keep certain videos from the general public which is always helpful. You can also control whether your videos can be downloaded or embedded on to other sites.
If you’re like me and don’t need to constantly upload content or rely on Vimeo for whatever the occasion may be, I would suggest at least creating an account you can use later on if you get the need to. Even if you need to upload often, still get one, it’s a great way to share your animated work.
Another notable site that you should probably consider becoming a member of, especially if you’re a creative professional, is Behance.
Behance, if you haven’t heard of it, is a popular platform used by thousands of creatives to showcase their talents that range from self initiated projects to commissions.
Essentially the site works as an online portfolio, much like DeviantArt. The main difference however is unlike DeviantArt, Behance is created for the serious designer and design teams. The site features artists coming from all different types of creative artistic backgrounds including photographers, fashion designs, graphic designers and illustrators.
Easy to navigate, the site is user-friendly with everything laid out plainly for you so there is never the fear of getting confused and lost while using the site.
If none of the above descriptions of Behance encourage you to sign up how about this; Behance is one of the top leading platforms that cater to allowing you to not only showcase your work, but to also have it discovered.
Speaking of discovery, if you’re an amazing creative there is a chance you might be discovered by a client and consequently contacted and hired for a job. This is because Behance powers online galleries for several institutions including the School of Visual Arts and the Rhode Island School of Design.
Creative jobs and freelance opportunities are also provided via Behance and can be accessed through the “Jobs” menu located in the navigational menu of the site. If you would like to use Behance but want to fit it more to your taste then you’re in luck.
Behance ProSite allows you to do just that. Personal portfolios all fully customizable through ProSite allowing you to make your portfolio reflect your style, of course this comes at a price.
If you have a decent budget, but are not too skilled in building websites, I recommend you opting for ProSite as small things like customizable portfolios help you stand out in the Internet world.
Your Own Site
Last but certainly not least is the creation of your own site to increase visibility. Most people like knowing that they’re dealing with a real person and what better way to create contact with potential clients and collaborators than creating your own site?
Now, you don’t have to go buy your own domain name and get a host service. You can simply create yourself a blog via sites like WordPress, Blogspot and various other website builders.
Blogs, as you know are the new craze and people seem to be taken by them. Having your own site allows you to do something you can’t really do with the sites I listed above and that’s personalize.
Talking about a niche that you care about is a great way to get followers and readers. Instead of getting a portfolio on one site and a blog on another you can combine the two.
I just recently made a WordPress site that I’m using as a blog and a portfolio, this way I can share whatever I’m currently doing as well as show examples of work I have done throughout the years.
If you don’t have yourself some type of blog or portfolio I highly recommend you get yourself one. You don’t have to update it every day but once a week is a great place to start and a great way for people online to get to know you a little better.
Which is Your Favorite?
If you’re looking for other websites to increase your online presence, consider other popular sites like Dribbble, Coroflot and Lovely Package just to name a few.
Having an increased visible presence in the online world can be very helpful and can certainly improve your design career, especially if you’re an up and coming artist, designer or web developer. Just try it out and who knows you might just get an email or call from a potential client.
What website do you use to promote your work? Let us know in the comments below.This guest post is written by Gabrielle Gosha. She is a freelance graphic designer, photographer, filmmaker and animator. When not creating for clients or herself, she pens design articles for various sites. You can get in touch with her at her own Blog and also on Twitter.