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It is so important to be prepared with a graphic design elevator pitch because being a freelance graphic designer is about more than just making brands look good with your art.
It’s about how you sell yourself.
But talking about YOU – not just your services or your industry, can be a little…let’s just call it awkward.
That’s why it is necessary to be prepared with a graphic design elevator pitch. So when those moments come up, and it is time to talk about why you do what you do, and why you are the best fit for a certain project, you know exactly what you are going to say.
The right graphic design elevator pitch tells your story in a compelling way, highlights your experience and skills, and gives you the confidence to attract new clients in any setting––whether you are in a formal pitch meeting or just met casually.
Because first impressions are everything! In this article we will walk you through the ins and outs of the perfect graphic design elevator pitch––what it is, how to create one, and even give you some examples as a jumping off point.
Ready? Let’s go!
What exactly is a graphic design elevator pitch?
Think of your graphic design elevator pitch this way: What would you say to your dream client if you happened to find yourself riding the same elevator with them? You only get about 30 seconds to a minute to explain who you are, what you do, and why it matters.
Using short speeches, sometimes in actual elevators, to sell ideas has been a popular practice since at least the early 1900s, when Hollywood was hitting its stride and script writers were looking for their big break. But the actual phrase, “elevator pitch” wasn’t widely used until the 1970s, when Phillip Crosby published an executive self-help book entitled, “The Art of Getting Your Own Sweet Way.”
No matter where it originated from, having a graphic design elevator pitch at the ready is a smart move for any freelancer.
While a graphic design elevator pitch is a must-have in a job interview, there are plenty of other times you might find yourself ready to launch into your prepared speech.
Networking events are a great place to use it, for example, or if you happen to be introduced to someone who might be in need of your skills. A written version of your elevator pitch is also useful in proposal requests, and perhaps an expanded version should absolutely be on your LinkedIn profile.
Not every meeting lends itself to a graphic design elevator pitch––use your instincts to decide if selling yourself will come across as pushy at a party or non-business event. That said, whenever someone says, “Tell me about the work that you do?” you’re perfectly prepared pitch will certainly come in handy!
What every graphic design elevator pitch should include
Ready to create your graphic design elevator pitch? It may seem intimidating at first, but writing an elevator pitch is not that different from crafting a resume or the “about” section on your website.
Start with this basic framework, and be sure to inject plenty of your own personality to make it shine!
1. The heart of what you do
The point of a graphic design elevator pitch is to show off your skills. This is the most difficult part of putting together your pitch––explaining your work in as few words as possible.
Write out everything you want to say, and then start editing. Take out extra words or maybe skills that are a little more common or uninteresting. Drill down to the heart of what you are really interested in and what you are best at.
2. Your “why”
You certainly do not need to include your life history in a 30-second graphic design elevator pitch, but explaining your purpose is essential. Think about what led you to this point in your career, and then again, edit that down to the true why behind your work. Give a few compelling details to draw the listener in.
3. What sets you apart
Every graphic designer does some version of the same thing. So telling people that you “make great art that helps brands sell their products” is boring. What is it about you and your business that is really unique?
This might be an unusual skill you have, your perspective that gives your art personality, the niche industry you serve, high-profile clients you have worked with, results you have achieved, your education, or something totally different! If you aren’t sure what that special wow factor is for you, ask your friends, family, peers and even clients.
4. Where you see yourself in the future
Have you heard the phrase, “dress for the job you wish you had?” The same can be said about a graphic design elevator pitch––tell people what work you want to be doing.
Projecting this gives people an idea of the passion behind your work, what you will be most engaged with, and the types of clients they should introduce you to. It also helps you visualize yourself in these roles and always have a plan for growth.
Avoid making these mistakes in your graphic design elevator pitch
Every pitch can be improved. Many people make the same mistakes when delivering their graphic design elevator pitch. Luckily for you, you can learn from others so you don’t have these same errors in your own sales speech. Here are a few of the mistakes you should avoid if you don’t want your pitch to go straight to the trash:
Don’t dwell on your own name or the name of your company.
But wait––isn’t my graphic design elevator pitch about me? Yes…and no. While you are definitely trying to sell yourself, you don’t necessarily want it to sound like you are selling yourself. Instead, focus on the problems that you solve as a professional, and how that helps your clients present themselves well.
Don’t take too long.
When we say an elevator pitch should be 30-60 seconds, err closer to that 30 second mark. It may seem like you cannot possibly squeeze all of the things mentioned in the last section into that short of a time frame. The trick is to distill all of those ideas down to what you really want to say.
Not only does this make your pitch short enough to hold someone’s attention, it helps you really think about your business and learn to communicate what you are thinking and feeling in a way that is very clear.
Don’t use jargon.
There is no faster way to lose your audience than using words they don’t understand. Obviously, dropping kerning or skeuomorphism into an initial pitch is a mistake. But think deeper. Even more mainstream terms like “palette” or “brand identity” may be confusing if they aren’t used in the right context.
Don’t always make it the same.
Obviously, a graphic design elevator pitch is a prepared speech, or sometimes sentences written out to describe who you are and what you do. You should have a set template stored away somewhere that you can call on at a moment’s notice. However. The template doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be a rigid thing.
Be sure to leave room for adjusting to your audience. Drop in an example from their industry, or relate your work back to the way they do business in some way whenever you can. Your audience is always wondering, “What’s in it for me?”
3 Graphic design elevator pitch examples
While your graphic design elevator pitch needs to be totally original and reflect your personality, it always helps to see successful examples to get your own ideas flowing. Here are three to get you started:
I promise the Millo team didn’t ask me to include this here, but the opener right here on Millo.co is a great example of a concise elevator pitch:
“We’re here to help you thrive at freelancing. We publish articles, podcast episodes, guides, courses, and lots more to take your freelancing to the next level. Our mission is to help you achieve the 3 Fs in your life and work: FREEDOM, FLEXIBILITY & FULFILLMENT.”
In just three sentences, they have told you their mission, given specific examples, and even included a catchy tagline.
2. Just Creative
Jacob Cass started an open thread on his website where people post their graphic design elevator pitches. You can read them all for inspiration, but here is one of my favorites:
“I’m a husband, a dad, and a Pastor. I understand and love people more than technology, and I’d love to help you reach and understand people through technology.”
He uses a unique fact about himself to get me interested, and then talks about a niche––understanding people through technology. While I think a few more specifics to clarify what that looks like would be helpful, I wanted to know more, so in that sense, the pitch worked.
3. The Interview Guys
This is a longer format pitch, more of the kind of thing you’d say out loud instead of posting online. This site also provides a helpful PDF template with questions to ask yourself to help write your pitch:
“Hi, I’m Pam Tone and I’m a graphic designer. Did you know it takes the average person just two seconds to look at a company logo and decide if they like it? Did you know that a badly designed logo can do irreversible damage to a company brand and that most companies go through at least three to four versions in a single year before settling on their final design, costing both time and money? Having worked for over 10 years as a professional graphic designer specializing in brand identification means I’ve built my reputation on the longevity of my logo designs. I can say that not only are my clients happy with what I’ve done for them, but my designs have gone on to win national and international logo and branding awards. I have worked hand in hand with some of the biggest advertising agencies and companies and out of over 300 contracts, have had only one logo changed, and that was as a result of a merger, not poor design. I’d like to bring that award winning history to your company. Would you be willing to meet with me for 20 minutes to go over my portfolio and see how I can help make sure your logo properly reflects your brand?”
Start crafting your pitch today
If you don’t already have a graphic design elevator pitch, invest the time in yourself as soon as possible and create one. Firming up in your mind who you are, what you do, and what you stand for will help you set better goals, win over clients, and finally explain to your mom what your job is all about.
In all seriousness, though, you want to be ready for that big moment when it comes. Have a plan to sell yourself now, so that when the elevator doors open and that CEO you’ve dreamed of working with gets on, metaphorically or literally, you will be ready and waiting to make the most of it.
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