Oldies but goodies
Business cards are marketing essentials, being easy to hand out to anyone who may be a potential client or business associate. You should consider your target clients to determine whether a typical business card or one more original would be appropriate.
Also essential is branded stationery, such as letterheads, compliment slips, quotations, and invoices. You could extend this to your envelope design, which come in a range of sizes so that any recipient of your mailing knows where it came from, adding a professional touch. Do not be tempted to buy cheap on any of these products. Flimsy paper and thin card will create a poor impression, suggesting you and thereby your offerings are just as cheap.
Getting branding right first time
As a designer, you are expected to get your branding right first time. Your business logo needs to be clever or simple, ideally both, and it needs to reflect exactly what you are offering. Logo basics include utilizing no more than three colors and avoiding special textual effects, such as 3D or drop shadows, and making sure it is legible at thumbnail or smaller sizes. Your branding needs to be consistent across all your marketing tools, i.e. your stationery, your website, and any product tags or labels.
There are two different types of marketing – paid for and free. Both will be a case of trial and error to determine which works best for you. Most advertising is paid for and results vary, so you may prefer to start using free channels, namely social media. The best social media platforms for designers are ones that place a premium on photographs to showcase your designs. Therefore, you should definitely establish yourself on Pinterest and Instagram but also set up profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
You should consider a website an essential, even if it is only a basic setup with a digital portfolio. Showcasing the projects you have worked on allows someone who is thinking of hiring you to see examples of your work and help them make a decision about you. A blog is also a good idea as it gives a reader an insight into who you are.
Stay up to date
It is vital that you keep your finger on the pulse of what is hot and what is not. Attend industry events and design-related seminars, and always keep an eye out for opportunities to market yourself to other professionals in the same sector and related sectors.
Designers are expected to come up with new and exciting ways to market themselves, but this can take time and effort, which may not be practicable for someone just entering the market. Focus on the basics to get your marketing campaign off to a great start.