How Blogging & Social Media can Catapult your Design Business

What is Social Media? The best way to define social media is to break it down in to its individual components – Media is an instrument on communication eg. newspaper or radio, so that would make social media a social instrument of communication. Being such a broad term, social media covers a large range of websites with one common link – you are able to connect with the website and interact with other visitors. Social bookmarking sites (Del.icio.us, Blinklist, Simpy) interact by tagging websites and searching through websites bookmarked by other people. Social news sites (Digg, Propeller, Reddit) interact by voting for articles and commenting on them. Social networking sites (Facebook, Hi5, Last.FM) interact by adding friends, commenting on profiles, joining groups and having discussions. Social photo and video sharing sites (YouTube, Flickr) interact by sharing photos or videos and commenting on user submissions. Wikis (Wikipedia, Wikia) interact by adding articles and editing existing articles. These websites are not the only social media websites because any website that invites the reader to interact with the site and with other visitors falls into the definition of social media today. Now that we have defined the subject at hand, let us apply it’s use to the business of design. Whether you are a student of design or a veteran in the field of graphic & web design and illustration or cartoons, there is bound to be a lesson or two to gleam from this clearcut and concise article. The focus of this article is to apply the principle of social media to improve, enhance your business by minimizing efforts and maximizing existing resources.

Create to Share

The primary principle of Social Media is sharing. We have all heard of ‘sharing is caring’ and the like but the Internet has redefined the concept of sharing to include information, knowledge and case studies that will make traditional modes of education seem antiquated. How can you use this principle to develop a strong fan base and loyal client following? When you as a designer create, you either have a pre-defined process that you follow methodically or you have an ad-hoc pattern of creation loosely based on untimed inspiration from any source around you. In either which case (Read our other articles on the Process of Creativity) you can choose to share with your fans and clients the method behind the madness that gave birth to your latest creation. What else can you share? Well, your entire portfolio for instance – not the manicured, pedicured version you showcase to impress people, but every single sketch that you ever scribbled or doodled on your way to being who you are today. Yes, it maybe information overkill, but the underlying brilliance behind the concept of sharing is the beauty of honesty. Let your fans and clients know who you are through your work and let them walk down the lane that you have taken to get here. Another thing that people love to hear is what you plan for the future i.e what spectacularly epic project you intend to undertake? Letting people in on your dreams and aspirations makes you more endearing and inspiring, not to mention an awesome person to follow on the Inter-webs. So to sum up our take on creating to share:

  • Share your Past – Works and Personal Story
  • Share your Present – Work in Progress and Design processes
  • Share your Future – Your dream project, ambitions and ‘bucket list

Communicate to Connect

What do we most care about in our own lives? What do we share with our loved ones? Neither of these questions can be answered without the process of communication. In our personal lives, every single action like a hug, an “I love you” or gesture like making breakfast in bed communicates our innermost emotions. Similarly in the cold world of business, it inspires trust and faith when you choose to share your thoughts and ideas with the people who wish to hear it – your fans and clients alike. You surely cannot share images of your cat giving birth to a bunch of kittens on your professional front! But take the concept and apply it to your chosen field. If you are a graphic designer, communicate your ideas on current trends or basic theories to your fan bas who would love to know what you think. Your fans will be enamored by your knowledge when you share tutorials on how to get things done and inspire them to grow beyond their current capabilities. Your clients might want to hear your opinions on the latest bleeding edge technologies, so they know where they must invest their time, money and efforts. As a side effect, you will also be letting them know that you are an expert in your field and that they can trust you when it comes to the long run and not just for an ad-hoc design solution. For freelancers, this is a boon and you may just end with a loyal customer base that would want to retain you as not just a designer but also a consultant. To summarize:

  • Share your Thoughts – Latest technology, trends and events
  • Share your Ideas – Application of Concepts – practical or theoretical
  • Share your Actions – Offer DIY tips and tutorials

Give to Get

The paradox of our Universe – the concept that makes Gods of mere mortals. Every religion on our planet preaches sacrifice, kindness and compassion as the highest virtues. Don’t be stumped by the philosophical connotations but know that this is a paradox that has proven true since the beginning of time. More importantly, before you decide to become the next messiah, let us learn to apply it in our endeavor to improve our design business, shall we? For years businesses have competed like the Cold War with opposite sides creating contraptions and concepts to beat each other behind closed curtains. Today the world of business is growing to be more open and transparent even to competitors. For example, giving away Design templates and Plugins can be viewed as a detrimental move as you lose commercial revenue, but you bring in more visitors to your shores which in turn leads to more fans. Still not convinced of the commercial ramifications? Well then how about companies finding your ‘Free For Download‘ product so impressive that they wish to buy it and brand it as their own? None of the scenarios mentioned above are far fetched and are genuine possibilities. While the fact remains that neither of them may happen instantaneously, the goodwill earned by such endeavors is also bound to bring in better clients and aficionados to your door. There is nothing to summarize in this section – It’s as simple as the title suggests – Give to Get!

As always, the ideas and concepts shared here are intended to be simple, direct and effective and we trust that you will apply them in your respective arenas and benefit tremendously! Yes, they will surely catapult your business to the next level whether you are a freelancer or a full-fledged studio! Share your experiences and feel free to comment if you have any insights to share or questions to ask.

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Ritesh Reddy

Dr. Ritesh Reddy, PhD aka Reddy2Go is a Creative Generalist, who uses the magic of the written word and the allure of the visual medium in conjunction with bleeding edge technology to creating communication collateral for the New Media. He believes in the power of the individual & inspires independence through the Freelance Firestarter. In the spirit of selflessly sharing knowledge with the community for the betterment of society, he does not charge any fee for the same.