“Good design speaks for itself, but it doesn't always speak for you.”
We have many platforms online to share our design work. Is sharing really self promotion though? You can get your work out there in a controlled space like a personal website, or in more social arenas like LoveDsgn or Dribbble, but how many viewers remember who you are? They see and love your design—maybe even like or +1 it—and then move on.
It takes time and regularity to build up a reputation in peoples memory. Keeping a consistency across profiles is an often overlooked virtue. Avatars are more memorable than names. Use more than one or change it too often and you’ve created a new profile; you’re back to anonymity. You need the same profile across multiple sites to become recognisable. Once established, iterate on what works and leave behind what doesn’t.
This is the basics of self promotion we all learn when starting out online. It’s about creating a face—a brand, if you like—that represents you.
Design speaks for itself
Good design speaks for itself, but it doesn’t always speak for you.
It may catch the eye and serve the client but it doesn’t help promote you personally. The accompanying profile may permeate the viewer’s mind after multiple exposures but on the majority of websites you’re lost in a vast ocean of talent. Sites that allow user-submitted content have designers in their thousands (millions if you count Twitter et al). Curated galleries offer more promotion, but most of these hold small value when featured design is shipped in and out with the “daily inspire” post.
Getting your own work out there is easy. It’s even easier to find incredibly good design from others on the web. Finding an interesting designer however, is much harder. Good design is not enough. You need ideas, opinions, enthusiasm and advice to offer.
I want you to speak to me, not your design.
I advocate a strong Twitter presence and personal design blog alongside your portfolio. (There’s no point running a Tumblr blog if no one associates it with you.) Build up a set of core profiles to output your creative ideas. Use other websites to draw viewers back to your main profile.
Self promotion is not about pushing an ego onto others, it’s simply about making yourself visible and accessible.
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I asked a couple of xheight authors to share their thoughts on self promotion:
I would say self-promotion doesn’t have to be this formal, structured plan. I think it’s how you incorporate your passions into your daily life. I’m promoting myself on Twitter, out in public, networking, on forums, and my involvement within the design community. Sure, handing out my business card is a traditional form of self-promotion but what about my conversation with that person 10 minutes before I do that?
Self promotion is all about balance and character. It’s about being able to identify and better yourself as a person. It allows others to to know who you are as a person on a deeper more personal level, rather than just what you can do. This is important.
The common theme here is promote yourself not your design, we can already see that.
Please tell us what you think. Leave a comment below.
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Update: 16th July, 2011 – I’ve written a follow up article entitled The Social Designer on my personal blog.