Practise what you preach as a design agency.

It’s common to feel a bit stuck in business sometimes – I’ve experienced it recently, and it can be difficult to see your way out of it. I often find that I get lost in the client work I’ve got on my desk, and when I look up from my screen, I realise that the pipeline has dried up because I’ve put off doing any form of our own marketing. I’m sure that sounds familiar…

On the wall of my studio, I have a list to help me focus. The first item on it is ‘nobody has heard of us’. We often overlook this point, don’t we? But it’s possibly the one thing we need to remember to get ourselves to focus again. By getting around the problem of visibility, other elements often fall into place from that.

The fear of visibility

If nobody knows you’re there, they can’t hire you. But the thought of showing ourselves online (or offline) can make us feel vulnerable. We’re told all our lives, aren’t we, not to show off, to blend in, to conform…but in business, you can’t afford to hide behind that. As hard as it is, getting in front of new people is essential. By hiding, we are simply trying to run a shop with the lights off. And people will pass us by.

To remind ourselves that ‘nobody has heard of us’, our minds can start to think of ways out of it. How can we make sure that people do get to know about us? How can we be visible…today…right now?

As designers, it’s strange that we spend our working days creating stuff that makes other people more visible – yet many of us are terrible at doing it for ourselves!

Research other designers

I first wrote ‘research competitors’ on the list, but that’s wrong. Thinking of other designers as our competitors can be a huge mistake – I’d like to think of them as ‘peers’ (though ‘collaborators’ would be better). Other designers are important to our success, whether we realise it or not. We’re all in the same boat.

Even if you are not in the position to speak to industry peers (I can strongly recommend you do), a really useful exercise is to have a good look at how they’re making themselves visible. What social channels do they use? Do they post every day? How often do they comment on other posts? How often do they blog? Do they have a mailing list? All of these can serve as inspiration and get the ideas flowing.

To take that a step further, reach out to them and ask! I can guarantee many of them will happily tell you what’s worked for them and give you some pointers.

Let your work speak for you.

I used to feel nervous about this – but a lot of my clients are happy for me to share some of the work I’ve done for them online. Sure, you can put it in your portfolio, but people might not get to see it unless you’re asked for it. Sharing it on social media or via a newsletter can really push it so that people can see firsthand what you do.

Some designers like to share images or stories of works-in-progress, another good way to share the value you give to your current clients. Something different like this can also make you stand out and get great feedback.

‘Consistency’ is a bit of a buzzword at the moment, but I think it’s essential to keep some momentum going. If you allow yourself to get too busy and stop being visible, people forget about you.

If the subject of visibility has been something you’ve struggled with as a designer, let me know. How did you get out of it?