One Designer’s “Marketing Mix”

Heather ParlatoI’ve been in business for myself exclusively for 3 years, and each year I’ve tried a different mix of marketing strategy and industry participation for my promotional efforts. Here are 3 new things I’m trying this year.

1) Daily blogging: I started a blog when I launched my business, but I’d only update it a couple times per month. At the time, I hadn’t seen the benefit or the fun in merging my personal and professional life, but as time passed, I decided to start writing more often and put myself out there. I created an editorial schedule that allowed me to write for a different topic every day, which made it easier than thinking everything up from scratch.

After about 6 months, I took a step back to see how it was working. I love how it’s shaped up, but it’s time consuming. I noticed that I get more hits on personal posts than design-related ones, so I decided to take a lesson from that. After reworking and simplifying, I have a manageable schedule that I really like, and I’m getting more interaction from readers than before.

2) Co-working: On the heels of attending the Creative Freelancer Conference in June, my colleague, Beth Goldfarb, and I decided to take up an invitation to participate in a group co-working space. Spending two days per week in a group setting allows for a change of scenery, meaningful interaction, idea sharing and relationship building with other independent creatives.

I’ve been co-working for 3 months now, and I think it’s still in the testing phase. While I really like the interaction and support, it does take time out of my day, limits my schedule, and sometimes leads to a drop in productivity. I definitely like it though, and I’m going to keep playing with it. I think I’d like to try doing it a little less frequently and mixing with a few different groups & locations.

3) Working with AIGA: I’ve been an off-and-on member of AIGA, the professional organization for design, and always enjoyed the resources they offer. After trying out a few small business organizations, I wanted to get back in a big way with the design community. I’ve been co-hosting mixers through for a couple years, so I decided to approach AIGA about becoming the co-chair of the event programming committee.

I’ve been working with AIGA about 4 months, and while the work is challenging, I’ve been able to tool my position to work with my schedule and produce great events with them. I’ve already met so many people that I wouldn’t have otherwise, I’m really enjoying how it’s broadening my LA-based landscape.

Have you joined any new professional organizations or mixed up your marketing activities this year with new adventures? I’d love to hear what others are trying and how it’s working for you.

BTW: If you missed the Creative Freelancer Conference, you can listen to short clips from each session here.

6 thoughts on “One Designer’s “Marketing Mix”

  1. Anna Belluz

    Thanks for that, Heather.
    I find it interesting that we are on the same path. I have also just started a blog, part reportage (on Canadian magazine design, etc.) and part comment (design in general plus leadership best practices for creatives).
    I think I will focus on the personal experience, and less of the simply posting news, as I find it hard enough to keep up with the goings-on of a very lack lustre industry (here in Canada).
    I am also considering a revamp of my CV. I am going to build something that can be handed to both new clients and potential full time gigs (which I won’t rule out, ever!).
    It will fill in the gaps of information by way of a chart-like interface. Very non-linear, and colourful. Hum, time to get going on that!
    Thanks again for sharing.

    1. heather parlato

      hey anna,

      i think one of the most interesting projects you can do is rethink & revamp your personal promotions. when i went into business for myself and was no longer bound to the portfolio + resume format, i started reworking how i presented myself and it literally kept evolving every few months. you can reorganize things into categories, or collect all kinds of relevant artifacts and make case-studies. sometimes there’s lingering press after one of your projects, if it was in the news, and you can showcase your work in a much more interactive and engaging way than if you just had to present the final products next to your resume. have a great time with it!

  2. Alisa Bonsignore

    It’s interesting that you say that you get more hits from personal posts than professional ones. I found the same thing — more hits for my cooking and training posts than work-related ones. And yet, without fail, every client or prospective client who checked out my site said, “I really love XYZ, but it really dilutes your professional message.” That’s why I started; it gives me an outlet to write about what I want to write about, but without taking away my “serious” edge. And maybe it’s different for writers than for designers because clients always expect their designers to be creative and inspired. For the sort of work I specialize in, clients tend to want me to be factual and serious. Posts about dabbling in the kitchen and going for runs might not fit with their perceptions of what a serious writer should be.

    1. heather parlato

      i haven’t really gotten client feedback about my balance of posts on the blog, but then, unless they get a direct link to it, i’m not sure how many of them go to the blog after all the other pages. i still own the url to my name as well, and i thought about starting a separate blog, but then i found some other design bloggers who were integrating everything and i liked that approach. it felt right for me.

      my original approach with blogging was to allow any page on my site to be a back door to the design services, so the more i write about, the farther that reach becomes. the unintended consequence is that i have returned to writing and composing posts, which i love [i was a french literature major in college]. then again, i’ve only been doing this format 6 months, we’ll see what people say as more of them find my blog and react to it.

  3. Mitch Tarr

    I have to agree with the personal post point. People still want to deal with other people and since you can’t meet EVERYONE you deal with face to face the words (and images of course) represent you. Be yourself. People like that and it makes you easier to trust you when it comes time to do a deal.

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