Six years I’ve been doing this gig. Six years! At the time I just wanted to write and I signed up for Elance and Odesk thinking I would (eventually) get enough work in perpetuity and by word of mouth when I had a large enough list of clients. I didn’t consider other skills and at the time, didn’t really need them. Writing was all I thought I would have to do, but boy was I wrong. Running your own business means doing more than simply doing the work of the business – I knew that much at least. You need clients, and that means developing other skills to nurture the ones you have and attract more.
We’re in an age of a meteoric rise in entrepreneurialism. Everyone and their dragon is setting up a business. For some, it’s getting hard to stand out. But stand out we must if we are to succeed. For those of us who intend to survive and remain successful, it means learning skills we never thought we would need.
I hope to make this a series and I’ll cover the obvious ones (marketing, social media posting) in later posts. But in this one, I want to cover something I’ve spent quite a lot of time on in the last few months: graphic design.
Why I’m Learning Graphic Design
It’s partly out of a desire to make sure I make the most of my Photoshop subscription and partly trying to do something different, hopefully something different enough to stand out. Plus, with fingers in several pies including as a self-published author and now photography, it helps to have as broad a skill set as possible.
I write for and have written for clients in the past in related industries such as graphic design, video production, animation, and other visual mediums. What is clear is that people respond to visual media more than the written word. By actively using images in my written promotion, I’m maximising my chances of being noticed and able to reach out through other platforms that I’m only just starting to realise.
Plus, it’s fun. It’s a nice distraction from the work that I do and allows me to develop creativity in other areas. For example, instead of simply posting on social media for big announcements such as my recent domain name change, I’m creating visual posts like this. It was simple and got a few more likes and shares than it otherwise would have done had it been text only. It appeared on my Facebook page and on Instagram.
I’m certainly going to need it to promote my stock photography. Talking of which, if you head over to my photography page (but please don’t forget to come back), you’ll see I’ve designed banners for my two stock photo archives at Alamy and Twenty20, and one for Red Bubble too when I had the site (closed July 2019 due to much lower traffic than Smug Mug).
On Promoting eBooks
Earlier today I produced a sequence of four images to promote Dead Heat, this was designed to appear on Instagram with its mobile free swiping but I’ve posted them elsewhere too. They are not the first images for the book, but it’s probably my most ambitious yet even if career graphic designers might find them a little amateurish.
I intend to do something similar for Dead Lock when the winter comes around, and, of course, for The Christmas Goblin later in the year and any other books I may self-publish in the future.
It may not work for your business, but graphic design is a useful skill to develop in the modern world of web marketing.