Marketing was considered a gray, confusing area within design that I, as a student, just couldn’t understand. Professors had often mentioned to be a good designer one must also be a good marketer. Now, I understood that since most of my time may be spent creating design for a product, business or event, that I would need to be able to make my design marketable. It had to appeal to the masses and stimulate them in some way. Good design is measured by reaction and appeal but also subtlety; everyone had to love it but not be able to pick apart why they loved it. It must be effortless to absorb.
And all that is fine! It's great! What a wonderful philosophy for design! However, that's not exactly what I tackle daily. Yes, I do that when I'm working on my freelance projects or personal design projects, but when I don't have any more work to do, what am I left with? I initially thought having a website and social media presence was pretty much all one needed to have a business. I have business cards and a cool website and an Instagram! As far as I knew I was set.
Yet a lot of my business cards are still with me. And I get only so many likes on Instagram. And my website only got a few hits a month. In the back of my head, I just continued to tell myself that I'm starting off and success was not going to just drop in my lap. While that bit about success was very true, I wasn't exactly helping the situation. I didn't write the most descriptive comments in my posts, I didn't tag all I really should have tagged, I wasn't marketing myself.
And if I'm not marketing myself, how can I be responsible for the marketing of others? So, I gave myself a crash course in self marketing, trying everything I could to try and really get myself out there.
I want to give you all a few tips on SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, which is probably one of the easier tools to incorporate into your daily marketing:
Craft your business description. Saying you’re a web designer from Philly isn't say much about you. How many web designers are in Philadelphia? A lot I bet. It's important to let potential clients know what makes you so special.
Use every opportunity to use text: Having more images with words on them instead of actual text can bring you down. All those important words that are in the image are not searchable! Even if your client reviews look super nice in that fancy text on that cool background it's still way better to have all those searchable so people can actually find you online.
Custom name your web pages. Allowing the page to be yourwebsite.com/post/36858935289652 isn't doing anything for you. Choosing a short, descriptive title for your page boosts its relevancy! No one is searching for that long number, but they are searching for cool blog posts about SEO, am I right?
Internal linking is important. Don't be afraid to add a link on your page that links to another post of yours. It makes you more relevant with search engines while also providing more content for the potential client. Please don't go nuts and start linking everything right away, however. Do your best to use a link when you feel it's applicable
#Hashtags are your friend: Tag all your social media posts. Tag your blog posts. Whatever place gives you an area for tagging your content, tag away. Tags help you get noticed and connect you to users who may never have been able to find you by search engine alone.
Google My Business is an often overlooked but great tool. Can you believe I honestly thought there had to be some long, complicated process in order for Google to be able to showcase me as a business? It's insanely easy to setup and absolutely makes you more searchable!
Tag your images. Google's a robot and thus it cannot view the images on your website. However, it does "read" them through the alt attributes (kind of like the picture's profile). If your site is done through Squarespace, it's easy to rename your photos to something more relevant, like "Jazz Band Event Poster" instead of "Img_0511".
Basically, what SEO teaches us is that since (odds are) you have a presence online, people need to be able to search anything related to your business and be able to find you. I'm still a SEO novice but I can already see some improvement in my activity just from applying some of these tips.
Moving forward, it's still important to produce quality content for people to see, to keep them engaged in what you're doing. SEO helps in bringing them to your site or page but it's what's there that makes them stay. With that in mind, go be free and tag away and make yourselves marketable!