As a designer, I have a lot of opinions on design, both as a user and as a creator of design content. And if you’re a designer, I’m sure you do as well. It’s part of our profession. What we think about design and the world around us greatly influences the choices we make and the ways in which we go about solving our clients’ problems.
Designers who have strong, interesting opinions about design not only have more prominence in the design community; they have more opportunities for truly inspiring and valuable work. Let’s explore some reason why your opinions about design should be shared far and wide with designers the world over.
When most designers hear the word “crowdsourcing,” they think of sleazy, backdoor sites that try to con inexperienced designers into doing free or vastly underpriced work. But I’m not talking about that kind of crowdsourcing.
I mean that designers can use social media platforms for a different kind of crowdsourcing, one that doesn’t ask for free work and that only adds to their career. The kind of crowdsourcing that gets you opinions, conversation, communication, and industry connections.
Your social media followers can often hook you up with the information you need to advance your career, market yourself properly, or meet that awesome client you’ve been dying to work for. The only thing they ask in return is an interesting stream of opinions and ideas from you which add value to their own lives and careers.
Controversial ideas get people talking, which in turn sparks creativity and helps us all grow as designers. Don’t be afraid to get vocal about things that are bothering you about the industry. Do you think designers are going about something all wrong? Tell them so, and then tell them what they can do differently.
When I write these sorts of posts about design, I try to point out a problem that I’ve noticed with a number of designers, as well as some simple fixes that will help them correct course. The feedback I’ve gotten has rarely been negative, even when I’m at my most strident and obnoxious.
Engage and challenge people, and you will be rewarded with notoriety (the good kind, of course).
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If you have something to say about the industry, you will generate interest in your work. Many people got to know designer Jessica Hische through her famous infographic “Should I Work For Free?” which went viral several years ago. I know I did.
The content was relevant and useful to me as a freelance designer (not to mention hilarious). This got me interested in her design work, and that’s when I discovered her talent for lettering.
The other side of the equation is actually being good at what you do. If you have great work to show off, people will take your opinions more seriously. If you say nice things, but don’t have the design chops to back it up, designers are going to dismiss you very quickly.
That’s right. Clients who want to hire you for design work will most certainly be checking out your blog or social media stream to get a feel for how you think and who you are as an individual. Depending on what they find, they’ll decide whether you’ll a good fit for their project and vice versa.
You never know who will stumble across your work or your words, decide that you are the best thing they’ve ever seen, and make you an offer for an insane amount of money for a dream gig with all the creative freedom you’ve ever wanted. Don’t think it can happen? Trust me, it can and does every day.
This is absolutely not a call to censor yourself, by the way. Notice I said that clients will evaluate you based on whether they think you’re a good fit for their project, and also whether their project is a good fit for you as an individual. If you censor what you say because you don’t want to “offend” anyone, you’re only hurting your chances to land that really amazing client you’ve always known you’d be a perfect match for.
Maybe that client was looking for someone with a little more “bite” to their content, and they’ve completely passed you over because they thought you were a little too tame. How sad would that be?
Don’t forget to share links to other blogs and tell people what you think about them. It’s not just all about you – other designers have things to say as well. There’s a reason the design community is called that: we’re all in this together, and we all need to be helping each other be as successful in our field as possible.
It can only result in a stronger industry for us all, as clients and businesses take note and give us the respect and rates we deserve as professionals.
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