Getting Started in the Graphic and Web Design Industry

When I was first starting design school I always wondered how I was going to introduce myself to the design world. The go-getter in me wanted to throw myself out there after my first couple of school projects, but the business orientated side of me kept telling me to hold off for the right time. But when was the right time and what was the right approach? These questions, and more were cooped up in my head for months (driving me crazy)! I have to say, if someone told me that I would co-own a design creative with one of my best friends at the age of 25, I’d call their bluff and smack ’em right upside the head! However, beyond my own belief, here I am now writing this post in hopes of sharing few quick tips on marketing yourself as a designer, networking in the industry, and the greatest business tip of all time!

Common Sense is Good Sense

While studying business at university, my father was always the first person I would turn to for advice. Heck, I still get awesome tips from my old man! But the one piece of advice that stood out for me was to always use common sense. I know this sounds like it’s a given in the business world and even in everyday life, but trust me – it works. When meeting with a prospective client and they are promising you a boat load of money for an hour of work on your end, does that really make sense to you? What if a client is always dodging a contract signing but is hounding you to get the work done ASAP? In my experience in any industry, it’s always a smart idea to ask yourself, “Does this make sense to me?”

Keep Calm and Carry On

You know that feeling when you just wrapped up a really great client meeting? It feels good, doesn’t it? You just want to run back to the office and start hammering out designs left right and center. Or what if you just received a call from a prospective client, telling you that you didn’t win the proposal? You kind of feel like you want to run over to said clients office and give their head a shake! In my opinion, It’s always a good idea to step outside of the hot seat every now and then. If things are heating up quickly, whether good or bad, sometimes you just have to keep calm and carry on.

I went to a marketing seminar a couple of years ago and one of the main presentations was titled “Keep Calm and Carry On”. The speaker was a Marketing Director at one of the largest law firms in the United States and he told a very telling story. It was about how he once arrived at work only to find out that his firm lost a major account, because of an accidental email that was floating around. Obviously his first reaction was to freak out, start sweating bullets and start firing people on the spot. But he took a different (more calm) approach. Instead, he casually called a department meeting and got low down. He then sat back and analyzed what he just heard, called the client and resolved the issue just like that. It was that easy, and mostly because he just kept his cool and didn’t freak out.

So the next time you land a massive project, or get some news from a client – whether good or bad – remember to keep calm. Sure it may be exciting (or depressing) in the moment but always step aside and take a deep breath. You’ll thank yourself, avoid an unnecessary sweat-a-thon, and save yourself the stress of getting too worked up.

To Test the Waters, or Dive Right In?

I’ll be honest… I wasn’t too sure how I was going to introduce myself to the local design community here in Halifax. As a student, should you tread slowly and surely and wait for the right time, or do I just dive right in? I guess that’s really up to you. If you think your ready to make your work (and your brand) open to the public, then do it!  Going through school I wasn’t handed any student positions or internships, but that didn’t stop my from walking into every agency with my head up and my resume in hand. After a couple months of pestering a few unsure agencies I was finally offered a part-time job and I was still in school! I learnt a lot from that job and it made me realize that I wanted to start my own company. If it weren’t for my constant networking, emailing, phoning and meet-and-greets, I would probably still be unsure of which path to take.