Wonder what it takes to make a living designing logos? LogoLounge member and our friend Ian Paget of the Logo Geek Podcast has spent the last 10 years gaining experience to get to a point where he can design logos day to day. And now he’s decided to share some advice on how you can do the same!
Read an excerpt below and be sure to check out https://logogeek.uk/kickstarter and be one of the first to get you hands on a copy!
Building a reputation as a logo designer is something I’ve worked hard on, so in this section, I will share the methods I’ve used so far to position myself as an expert on logo design.
This has included social posting, writing, podcasting, video content, awards and juries, and social proof. Let’s discuss each of these.
Posting on social media is one form of marketing, but it will also help to position you as an expert.
There’s a long list of social platforms, each governed by its own set of rules, but the key to success with any platform is consistency. There are only so many hours in the day, so showing up on every platform frequently isn’t feasible for most.
My approach has been to pick one and to do it well. That way, I’ve been able to dedicate my time to learning everything there is to know about that one platform. Plus, I have the time and energy to post good content and show up consistently.
Think of a social platform as a fire. You’ll fail if you try to light ten fires at once. But if you dedicate all your time and energy to one, you’ll have a thriving fire burning. With this approach, once you do have a fire burning, all you need to do to keep it lit is throw fuel on it now and again, and that’s the same for social media.
Once you have built a thriving community of dedicated followers on one platform, you can step away to create success on a second platform. You’ll only need to check back on the previous one to keep the momentum going.
Early in my journey, I put considerable energy into building a following on Twitter, which at the time was one of the most popular social platforms.
As it’s a micro-blogging platform, allowing only a limited number of characters, it was a convenient platform to fit around a day job. I could post when it was convenient for me, be it when eating breakfast, when waiting for a train, or … and being entirely honest … when sitting on the toilet …
But what do you post?
You can continually create your own content, but you don’t need to.
I’ve kept a list of good blogs and resources around logo design, and when it comes to posting, I will share that content with my own. Although it’s not my content, I’ll become known for continually sharing interesting and valuable information and news about my area of expertise, even if I didn’t create that content.
Plenty of useful tools help you schedule your posting activity, which I’ll list at the back of this book.
You will, however, need more than just posting to grow a quality audience. It’s vital that you engage with others too.
If someone messages you, make sure to reply. Start discussions and get involved in those started by others. The more people you interact with, the more engaged your network will become. You will slowly establish a reputation for providing value.
Whatever your chosen platform, be sure to study and understand the ins and outs of the platform to make the most of it.
Writing is one of the best ways to share your knowledge and demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about.
If writing isn’t your strength, you might feel you’re not up to the task. That’s how I felt when I started, so I want to encourage you to try. I struggled with my writing in school and college, so I needed extra support, and once I finished school, I did very little reading or writing as it wasn’t something I enjoyed.
When I started working at a web design agency, as it was a small company, we were encouraged to write blog posts. Since I wrote a little daily, my writing skills gradually improved.
When I started my logo design business, I continued that trend of actively writing. As I was writing about a topic that interested me, I enjoyed it! Over the past ten years, my writing abilities have improved so much that I’ve been able to write this very book.
I used my blog initially as a way to document and share the lessons I was learning. Over time I also used it to answer questions, go behind the scenes of my design process and share my journey as a designer.
Contributing guest posts to other popular design or business websites will also contribute to reputation growth.
As you actively write and share your knowledge, you’ll become known for your writing and will build a reputation in the process.
Host a Podcast
Podcasting is another form of content creation, but rather than type what you know, you say what you know.
Unlike blogging, where it’s easy to hide behind the writing of others, with podcasting, people hear you, so they get to know, like and trust you in the process.
This could be a solo show, or you could co-host it with others. You could also invite guests to give more depth and perspective to your show.
I started a podcast in 2017 called the Logo Geek Podcast, although I didn’t intentionally do this to build a reputation. The primary reason for starting this was to help build my confidence, but growing my reputation was an incredible byproduct of those efforts.
I’ve had problems with anxiety since I was young, and have always struggled with public speaking, even in small groups.
In school, I did what I could to avoid these situations, but as I got older, it became a severe problem that held me back professionally.
I sought help and was offered a form of talking therapy called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which can help you manage problems by changing how you think and behave. In short, it requires you to face your fears.
Podcasting was my entry point. When I pressed that record button, it brought up all the fears and anxieties I faced in any public situation. But I could face them in a safe environment and control how far I took it.
At first, I did a few solo episodes, which are sadly no longer available. A few years later, I was a co-host on a friend’s show, SideGig. Then I decided to throw myself in at the deep end and start a show of my own. And so the Logo Geek Podcast was born.
While I made many mistakes and fumbled over my words, the beauty of audio is that you can cut out what you don’t like and re-record yourself as many times as needed.
As long as the final thing sounds good, that’s all that matters, and as you do more, you get better. It took a few years, but I now feel confident as a podcast host and enjoy it.
While my show has been successful and has bought me many personal benefits, including helping to build a reputation, I do feel that to get the most out of a show and to differentiate it from the sea of design podcasts, I would recommend creating content that’s targeted at your chosen audience.
For example, if you want to target people in the hospitality industry, you could create a series of episodes called ‘Hotel Branding Tips’, where you discuss ways that design and branding can be used to improve the overall experience within a hotel to attract more customers and increase profits.
Podcasting is a fantastic networking tool, so you could interview successful hotel owners to go behind the scenes of their story, and, as you have the chance to speak to them directly, they could eventually become a client.
Podcasts can be released in seasons, made up of as many episodes as you wish, or you could release an episode on a consistent date, such as weekly or monthly. My podcast started as seasons made up of ten episodes, and over time it has become a weekly show thanks to the support of sponsors, who help to fund the production of the show, enabling me to dedicate time to creating valuable content.
There are thousands of podcasts out there covering just about every interest you can think of. Many also feature guests and are actively looking for interesting people to be on their show.
I’ve made it a personal mission to get on as many shows as possible, no matter the topic. The main reason for this has been to support the goal of building up my confidence, but it has also allowed me to speak directly to new audiences who could potentially become followers or even clients.
Aside from the obvious networking benefits, this can also contribute to your SEO efforts. Most podcast hosts will create show notes for each episode, and on this page, they’ll also include links to your website and social media channels, so even if nobody listens, you at least get a backlink, which will help contribute to your ongoing marketing efforts.
If, like me, you’re not a confident speaker, being a guest on other podcasts can be a way to gradually build up the confidence to start a show of your own. If the opportunity comes up, go for it.
Video is, hands down, the easiest way to consume content.
Written content needs to be read carefully for the information to be absorbed. Audio content requires you to focus too, but ideal for situations where you’re on the move and can’t do much else, such as driving or walking.
With video, you can just sit back, watch and enjoy. Since you can make it so captivating, showing imagery and audio, people are much more likely to focus entirely on the content.
There are countless ways to share and watch video content. Almost every social channel allows you to share videos in some form, so there are ample opportunities to show your face and provide value.
Video platforms like YouTube are also search engines, so if you create helpful content, people will search, find, and consume it.
If you dare to get on camera, it’s an opportunity for people to get to know you, like you and trust you. The perfect way to build a reputation. But … if you’re an introvert like me, video is scary. At the time of writing this book, getting on camera still slightly terrifies me. I don’t feel comfortable on camera, so I haven’t yet leveraged its full potential.
That’s not to say I don’t try.
I’ve pushed myself to do the occasional Instagram live. I’ve also been a guest on a few video podcasts. In general, if I’m invited to contribute to something that requires me to be on camera, I’ll still do it.
I see the immense value in video content, so I will continue to throw myself into situations outside my comfort zone. I encourage you to do the same.
Awards & Juries
You can forever call yourself an award-winning designer if you win just one award. This not only makes you feel good, but it sounds impressive to clients too.
There are several credible industry awards, which I have listed at the back of this book, should you wish to enter them.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have won a gold in the International Visual Identity Awards and had my work featured in the Logo Lounge books several times. Not a lot compared to some designers I know, but it’s never really been my priority.
You need to be aware that most awards are businesses that profit off the back of designers’ need for gratification, and there becomes a point where it’s more about vanity. Although I’m sure some more significant awards will attract attention.
Most of us work in isolation, so, understandably, we want to hear that our designs are the best of the best, but most of the time, it’s money in someone else’s pocket. This is why I aim to be on the jury instead. This looks just as impressive as winning but also positions you as an industry leader. It’s something I do freely and thoroughly enjoy. In some cases, I have been invited to do this, and in others, I’ve volunteered.
I have been selected for juries because I have built a large social media following. Part of the agreement often requires me to write or post about the awards, so it’s free publicity for them. I get value from it, too, so it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Qualifications & Certifications
If you have a degree or certification, mention it throughout your website. This will help demonstrate your knowledge and provide an additional layer of trust.
I don’t personally have a formal design education, however, I have plenty of experience working within design teams, which can provide just as much trust. So in my content, I’ll mention my prior experience and name-drop the well-known companies I’ve designed for while in these positions.
Despite not having a degree, I actively work to earn certifications in areas relevant to logo design and branding, which I’ll mention on my website and in sales proposals.
If you’re buying a new computer, how do you decide which is the best? Most of us will read the reviews, or you may ask a friend. Ultimately, the actions and attitudes of the people around you will influence your decision. This is known as social proof, and we can leverage this as designers.
Imagine if a client was choosing between two designers with equally strong portfolios. One only displays a portfolio. The other also mentions that they’ve won awards, been featured in reputable publications, and have hundreds of reviews and social followers. Which would you choose? Which would you trust? Which will provide more value?
There may be no difference between the quality of service and the knowledge of the two designers, but there’s immediately perceived trust gained from social proof. That’s why I’ve made it an intentional part of my strategy.
We’ve already discussed many things that will impact social proof, for example, growing a large social following, winning awards, being on juries, being a podcast guest and gaining certifications.
But there’s more.
You could get mentioned or featured in books and magazines or in articles on high-profile websites such as Forbes and Entrepreneur.
An easy way to get featured in a logo book is to join Logo Lounge. Every year they select the best from the designs uploaded and include them in a book. I’ve been fortunate that my work has been featured in a few, and I’ve been on the jury too.
I’ve also been lucky enough to be featured in a few magazines, which has come from actively posting on Twitter. By posting and engaging on social media, your following will grow, and people in your industry will be drawn towards you. So when writers need an expert to contribute to a feature, they’ll probably reach out to you because you’re easy to find. This is how I got featured in Dot Net, Photoshop Creative and 99U and contributed articles to Creative Bloq.
I’ve also been lucky enough to have been mentioned in Forbes, Entrepreneur and AdWeek.
The AdWeek mention was thanks to a guest I interviewed on my podcast. They needed opinions on several logos, and as I was one of the people in his network with knowledge of logo design, I was invited to contribute.
The Forbes and Entrepreneur features were thanks to a fellow freelance writer that contributes to a lot of prominent websites. As he often needs tips and opinions for his articles, I’ve become part of his trusted network of experts.
This is why networking is so powerful!
Ultimately, your reputation will provide trust, which will determine the quality of the leads you attract, the volume of leads you convert, and the price you can charge. This is why I continue to work on building my reputation as a designer – and why you should too.