Building a brand is a fundamental part of marketing for every business. You should do the same thing for yourself.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a new designer, freelancer, or head of UX at a huge agency—you should view yourself as a business and craft your own personal brand that reflects your personality, communicates what you’re capable of, and establishes you as an expert.
One low-cost, high-leverage method to get your brand out there: content marketing. Content doesn’t just include blog posts—it’s also podcasts, videos, and infographics. And by sharing them, you’re providing value to people who will view you as an expert in your field and be more likely to remember your brand.
“You should view yourself as a business and craft your own personal brand.”
Some of the world’s biggest brands are now turning to content marketing to draw in potential customers, employing whole teams dedicated to writing captivating articles for readers and creating the best audiovisual content. This strengthens the trust between brand and consumer, which leads to sales later down the line.
Promoting your designs isn’t easy
Sharing your work on social media and on design sites is a great idea, but if you’re only doing that and expect clients and employers to start banging down your door, you might be waiting a while.
This is why so many designers write about their work in addition to just showing their work.
Write about your personal experiences. Or maybe your productivity. Perhaps even the way you lay out your desk.
Whatever you decide to write about, content marketing is a great way to build up an audience of your own. Content marketing helps you shape your personal brand and gain new design opportunities.
Getting started with a blog of your own
Crafting a brand with content marketing is a fantastic way to build a community.
When you start out, your audience may only be a handful of other designers, but if you carry on you’re likely to spread your reach and get noticed.
It’s now easier than ever to create your own personal blog. WordPress is a simple installation on your own domain. Medium helps you quickly publish stories and get a ton of people view them. Tumblr lets designers share their work with millions of other bloggers.
Craft content that’s unique to you
Before you start writing, ask yourself: why should anyone read my blog? People won’t just turn up. You’ll need to give them a reason.
Think about what makes you unique. Are you an outgoing person or an introvert? What are your likes and dislikes? What are you 10 times better at than everyone else? You can always find a unique angle that’ll keep people reading.
Also, consider the type of content you’ll create. Got experience on camera or with audio recording? Use it to your advantage and make something special.
The design community might be looking for another awesome timelapse. Or maybe there’s a demand for a new design podcast.
Think about what happens after they leave
Visitors should remember your personal brand after they’ve left your site. If you want to keep people coming back, consider building an email list so you can remind them that you’re still around—you can’t expect people to do that by themselves.
“Write content while you’re designing.”
By collecting the emails of visitors, you’re able to send out content digests every time you publish, whether that’s weekly or monthly. Maybe you could even put together a curated list of design articles from around the web.
Sending a consistent stream of content to a reader’s inbox makes them more likely to think of you in the future.
Documenting your process
Your portfolio is one of your most treasured assets. It’s what will help you land that big client you’ve been chasing.
Want another way to get more people viewing your portfolio? Write content while you’re designing. Write content about your design process.
Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a chore. Even it’s just a journal of your process, it’ll bring more readers in. It’ll boost your rankings in search engines, so you’ll get more organic traffic as a result. And who doesn’t love free traffic?
Your task is to create content that like-minded designers and potential clients want to read. Here’s some ideas:
- Digital nomad? Write about your recent travels and how that’s affected the way you design. What are the best, most inspiring destinations for designers? Where are the best places in the world to work remotely?
- Struggling to become a more productive designer? Others are too! Be honest and write about your experiments and how you’re trying to improve your output.
- Love a certain type of design? Focus on why you love that specific style so much. Consider rounding up top designs from the community. This is a great chance to reach out to fellow designers and establish yourself as a thought leader.
Whatever your situation, there’s always a story to be told. That’s the key to content marketing and leveling up your personal brand. Readers aren’t so keen on reading industry news when they visit your blog and portfolio.
What they care about is how you create your awesome work. What do you think about the latest trends? What’s going on behind the scenes? How did you get to where you are now? Make the most of documenting your process.
Give readers a peek behind the curtain
Whether you’re a freelancer or part of a design team within a company, it’s a great idea to give readers a behind the scenes peek at your design process.
Just like InVision’s Inside Design series, you can give customers and brand advocates a look at:
- Your workspace
- Your values
- What the future holds for you
Help readers understand what’s important to you as a designer. Let them know what kind of role design has in your life and/or company. What are you working on now, and how can you improve the way you do things?
“There’s nothing stopping you from crafting an amazing brand for yourself.”
Being honest about what’s not working so well can boost your personal brand. Life isn’t easy, and if you’re honest about the struggles you encounter, you’re sure to find support from readers in a similar position.
By publishing this kind of content to your blog, you start to add a human touch. Readers will feel more connected to you and you’ll build their trust even further. They’re far more likely to reach out either to compliment you or discuss opportunities.
Is it worth your time as a designer?
How do you build a personal brand and a buzz around your work? How do you attract new clients who are looking for designs like yours? How do you get enough people to look at your work to make it worth the effort?
Building a personal brand and crafting content could be the answer. Building a community of people who enjoy your content week after week gives you the opportunity to repeatedly showcase your work and become a leader in your field.
That, in turn, will generate more views on showcase sites. This means you’re more likely to land that next major client.
There’s nothing stopping you from crafting an amazing brand for yourself. Get out there and start promoting your work by building up your personal influence and sharing amazing content.
by Jake Peters
Jake is the CEO of HelpDocs, self-serve customer support software for teams. When he's not helping customers or writing code, you'll probably find him in the kitchen cooking something delicious.