Many freelance graphic designers dream of landing big contracts with big brands. Landing high-profile clients is challenging because your highly talented competition wants them just as bad as you do; but it's also true that with a bit of persistence and intelligent strategy, you can definitely help yourself become the next design superstar. The following 10 tips for landing work with big brands will help you get there.
1. Be bold Make sure the big brands know you exist, and don't sit around waiting for an offer or job ad to show up on Craigslist. Instead, go straight for the company you'd like to work for and develop some designs on spec to show them not just your design skills, but how they can be used to help the company. Offer to do a trial job, free of charge, to demonstrate your skills.
2. Connect Networking is imperative to bridging connections – oftentimes beneficial connections you never dreamed of. Get your name out there by making connections in your field, with your peers, with business associations, and through services such as LinkedIn. Join business networking groups, and be active in them. The more people you know, the sooner you'll rise to the top.
3. Know who to talk to When you make a pitch to a big brand, make sure you know the person you should be speaking with. All you have to do is call and ask. Many big brands outsource their work to agencies, who in turn outsource much of their work to freelancers; thus, it's often prudent to try to make a splash with agencies in order to secure big brand work.
4. Listen If your pitch is rejected, politely ask why – and listen to the answer. Don't let pride get in your way; instead, find out what it is that the big brands are seeking in a designer. You might be a short step away from making the A list.
5. Follow up Following up, even after a rejection, can help you earn those valuable contacts who in turn will make a pitch for you when the right project comes along. Don't be a nuisance, but definitely make sure big brands and agencies know you're there.
6. Research The more you know about the companies you'd like to work for, their past campaigns, and their customers, the better you can position yourself as the best designer for their next project.
7. Market Print business cards to hand to contacts and postcards to send to the marketing departments of big brands as well as their agencies. Brochures, flyers and an online portfolio will also help. If your ads are good enough to get noticed by marketing pros, they'll quickly see how your talents can benefit them as well.
8. Be on the lookout One mistake I often see is freelancers who try to land gigs with top brands today but never consider which brands might be on top tomorrow. Be on the lookout for up-and-comers who are poised to take their markets by storm. If you can get in on the ground floor, you can secure loyal and lucrative contracts for years to come.
9. Do pro bono Offer to help nonprofits with free graphic design services. Nonprofits often have major connections to big brands and other influential people; so not only will you benefit when they're asked who did their designs, they're going to be advocates for you whenever opportunity knocks.
10. Get press Write articles, interview with journalists, develop contests or do pro bono work to get free press for your company. When you're featured by independent third parties, your stock goes up, and big brands and their agencies will take notice. Then, they'll be contacting you – and you can charge top dollar.