How to stand out and get noticed as a designer

GUEST ARTICLE by Nicole Foster  – If you would like to write for Millo, contact me.

There are thousands of designers on the internet today in all types of fields. They range from web designers to print designers to graphic designers and more. They have different personalities, skill sets and mindsets. They are all designers, just like you, but they all have something different to offer.

So now you’re just starting up and you want to be just like them? That’s not the best way to approach your business. In the design profession, the best way to be recognized is to be unique and to stand out when compared to other designers. These easy tips will help you prove you are different in a market of thousands.

Diversify your portfolio

Look around at design portfolios similar to yours. You will notice that most designers use same style and techniques. Whether it is similar color schemes or similar design styles, we become accustom to comfortable styles. How can you stand out?

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  • Try something new – If you find yourself doing the same kinds of designs, do something new! One of the best ways to stand out is to show that you can do different types of projects. Look around on the internet and find tutorials that have a different style than what you’re used to and try it out. Instead of always creating a clean, modern layout, for example, try creating a grungy layout.
  • Flaunt it! – If you have created something for yourself or a client that is different from the rest of your designs, flaunt it! All clients have different ideas in mind, so when you show clients that you can do very different designs; they will be more likely to pick you over others.

Have a unique business card

Every design professional should carry around a business card. You never know when you might meet somebody that needs your services. With that in mind, here’s how to use that business card to your advantage:

  • Don’t use a premade template – You can use a boring premade template or you can create an exciting business card yourself. Both options are easy, but which one do you think will attract attention? The boring, unoriginal business card or the exciting business card created by you? The answer is the exciting business card because it shows your style to prospective clients and helps you stand out.
  • Design it with your personality – Your business card is a representation of you and your services, so design it with your personality. Design it with your tone of voice and with your creativity. If you show your personality to the prospective client, you become memorable in their minds and they will most likely pick you to lead their project.

Respond quickly to clients

Step into your clients shoes for a moment. Imagine you’re contacting a designer about your next project. You’re very excited to make your idea come to life and you’re hoping this designer can make it happen. Now imagine it is a few days later and you still haven’t heard from that designer. Your time is limited, so you decide this designer is never going to return your call and you contact another instead. The following tips will help you respond more quickly to client requests:

  • Get an email client for your desktop – I personally recommend Thunderbird from Mozilla. Thunderbird allows you to link your email account and promptly respond back to emails all from your desktop. Best of all, it’s free and easy to use.
  • Remember, quick responses go a long way – When you respond quickly to a client, it shows that you are interested and committed to that client’s idea. This will go a long way because the client will think of you when recommending designers to their friends and associates. Plus, it’s a good business habit to practice because it shows professionalism to your client.

Go the extra mile for your clients

This may sound tedious and not worth it, but it goes a long way. Clients love when somebody goes the extra mile for them. Whether it is giving a free service away or putting more effort into their project, it really shows a difference between you and other designers they could have hired. Here’s a couple of things you might consider doing:

  • Offer a free service – Suppose you’re designing a small business’ website that is just starting up. Go the extra mile and offer to design a free business card for them. Offering a small service for free leaves a great impression on a client. It shows that you care about the client and you want to help them as much as you can.
  • Send a holiday card – Whether it is through email or an actual letter, send your clients a card during major holidays. It shows that you’re still thinking of the client and it will remind them of you and your services. Be careful what you send them though. Make sure your holiday cards are general and never specific. You don’t want to end up sending a Christmas card to a client who celebrates Hanukah.

How do you stand out? Share your ideas.

What do you do to stand out from other designers? Share it in the comment section of this article and learn what others do.

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  1. Its treat to read this article. I am glad that someone is thinking infect working just like i am doing. My success is totally depends on my communication and connected with the client even in holiday seasons. I started as a freelancer from my home and within 3 years i established myself as a IT professional and launch my own IT company. Its all about communication and giving extra to the person who is dealing with you for his/her business. If you value their work, ideas etc and work exactly as per requirements then there is no way to loose client.
    I also wrote similar type of article few months and ago and would like to share here with you guys.


  2. Including a few business cards with anything you mail out to clients has proved useful for myself here and there. I find that my clients either hand them out to people who may have an interest in my services or they leave them lying around where someone could easily spot them.

  3. Thanks for these tips! I found them very helpful. I’ve bookmarked this page to remind myself of what I still need to do or update 🙂

  4. Thanks for the article. It can be really hard to find a good designer to simply do the job and do it well! I’ll bookmark this and pass it onto my friends too 🙂

    Keep writing, cheers!

  5. Good post, should be general knowledge for alot of designers though. it all depends on how you “package” it 😉

  6. Brilliant points, thanks so much. Especially for listing the simple things, those are always what we forget!

  7. Great tips, i agree all,

    but, sometimes i trap into small budget customer. How did i can tell my customer that value is more important than the money.

  8. Great article. I found myself agreeing with each point. It’s nice to be able to learn some simple techniques that make a big differece, especially when you’re new to design.

    I also liked the image used in the beginning. Now I’ll always strive to be that apple standing in a line of oranges. 🙂

  9. great advice! thanks alot for the post. Im redoing my whole site/identity right now so this is very helpful!

  10. Wow, this is a sweet looking blog. Guess that’s what’s expected from a graphic design blog…. very nice.

  11. I definitely agree with responding to clients in a timely manner. Sometimes when I get back to clients quickly, they act surprised, as if they thought it would take forever to hear from me. Little things like that can make a big difference!

  12. Great article, it’s simple stuff, but that’s so often what people forget. One thing we’ve found, is that being too unique, or too “high brow”(in some people’s eyes) can actively scare clients away.
    We’re a creative agency, but quite often I’ll speak to people who didn’t want to approach us with their business card job, or their website brief, because they thought it would be “below” us. You find yourself going “Nooo!” quite a lot. Frustrating stuff.

    1. @P4blo, It’s understandable not to agree with giving away a free service especially in times like these, but that is what makes it special.

      Nonetheless, alternatively, you could reduce the price for the client.

  13. excellent article. I’m a true believer of the quick reply. It lets the client know you’re sincerely interested in working and helping them. Plus, it creates a reputation of being efficient and precise.

    But i’m not sure about offering free services. I use to try this with first time client but then they came to expect something else free on the side. it was a real let down for them when i told them i’d have to charge them 🙁

    1. @Jordan G., That is a draw-back of offering a free service. I would only suggest giving away something free to on-going clients or clients that seem to know how designing works.

      Thanks for the compliment nonetheless. I’m glad you enjoyed the article (:

  14. Haha, victims of your own unique-ness. I never thought of that before, but hey, that means a lot of people have them.

  15. We have a really unique business card that people always play with when I give it out and I know they keep. Only problem is we get loads of enquiries for business card re-prints!!! Victims of our own unique-ness. We never turn business down but we would prefer brochures!

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