To Be or Not To Be
To be, or not to be? The age old question that Shakespeare posed is so eloquent for the use of social media in today’s design world. Of course, you can do the bare minimum with a website portfolio and nothing that speaks of your knowledge, or you can really make yourself stand out using your voice to let the world know you have chops.
There are the design firms and freelancers that have a web presence, and keep it at that. They do not go out of their way to openly give advice, or explain what they feel on particular subjects or why. You just do not know what they are thinking. When it comes time to justify the amount of money a designer demands for doing work, if they have not established themselves as an authority in the field, they may find it difficult to accomplish this.
When it comes to being an authority, certain names ring out. My favorite is Sagmeister & Walsh. Besides books and TED talks, they have also established themselves in the field on their website with lists upon lists of answers to all kinds of design questions we have all wanted to know on their philosophy of design. Stephan Sagmeister is world renown, but he doesn’t let it go to his head. When a well-known designer is an inspiration to others, and can help emerging designers succeed by sharing their experiences, it is a true testament of what kind of designer they are.
What are you made of?
Are you going to be just the one that goes after the big paying jobs? Are you going to be the one that that just brags about your big paying jobs you’ve gotten? Or, are you going to be the one that students want to be when they get out of school, because you have given useful, informative advice to pass on to future generations of designers? You would be pretty cool, wouldn’t you? And, it might help you land those big paying jobs if you share what you know.
I just began my blog a few weeks ago, but I am willing to put myself out there to benefit others. I am altruistic. You might become more of an expert than me some day if you take my advice, but I am happily establishing my credibility by sharing what I know. There is a world of social media outlets out there. Pick one of your choosing and let everyone know that you know your stuff.
When you only shout out what you are selling, what you are doing, saying,”Look at my work! Look at me!”, no one wants to listen to that exclusively. However, if you invite potential clients, or other designers to ask you questions, get their feedback, begin developing a relationship with people, they usually remember this and turn to you when they need design work, or recommend you to others. A big ear is better than a large mouth for any business, especially ours.
Most design related social media, displays beautiful examples of work people created, tells you what designers to follow or shows you bad examples of work. There are designers talking about bad client experiences, and some talking about how much to charge for things. I searched all over this evening, and I was confused as to why there is not so much enthusiasm about addressing and openly communicating online with potential clients about our work. We post things online to each other in our profession about beauty and typography, that only another designer would understand. We are kind of an enigma to people looking for a designer. This is probably the reason people still feel justified in asking us to do work for just the exposure. They don’t understand or respect the magnitude of the research that is needed, the skills required, the time involved. I have had clients tell me, “This should only take an hour or so.” They really have no idea how long it will take. They don’t do design. They do not really know what we do. Some people look at our portfolios to decide on a designer. Some people think the $5 logo sites are sufficient to create something that is going to represent the business they have invested thousands of dollars in. They do not understand that what we do required years of education to learn it. It is not a cake walk and it can’t be replicated with online applications. By inviting open communication with people online, we get to educate them in what we do, and why we do it and answer their questions. It establishes us as an authority. We need to stop talking shop to each other online and start listening to people that do not design, to clear up the misperceptions they have.
Sure, there are always going to be people that disagree with you, or do not like what you say or do. But, by taking control and addressing situations in your court, you have more control over the conversations and the resolution of any issues.
Giving you the time of day.
I get it. You have client work to do. You may have family commitments or other time restraints that keep you from jumping in. In the time so far, and I am not done, to write this blog, I have only taken my dogs out to pee twice, and that is not bad.
Twitter is only 140 characters. 140! We spend a great deal of time online reading things. If you read a great design article, at least post a link to it. At least, it shows that you are aware of design trends going on.
The more time you spend on social media, the more of a payoff it is. You will know for sure, by the response you are getting. Again, find whatever is comfortable for you, but make your presence known.
If you have feedback on what I have said this week, please leave me a comment.