Here I answer another round of your questions, focusing on my decision to specialise in logo design, what to name your freelance design studio, and career advice for recent graphic design graduates.
Aaron, of Aaron Russell, asks:
“What was behind your concious effort to focus on logo design as your niche within graphic design?”
As Seth Godin remarks, “Tell me again why you’re a generalist“. Seth’s article holds many of the reasons behind my choice to specialise in logo design projects, but the main reason is that I enjoy working on logos more than any other aspect of graphic design.
Sherif, of Design Interval, asks:
“Why did you start (in self-employment) by specifically approaching non-profit organisations?”
Good question. Prior to becoming self-employed I worked full-time for a cancer charity in Edinburgh. This meant a great deal of my design portfolio included work for a non-profit organisation. I drew upon this experience when approaching potential clients within the ‘third sector’ — it’s easier to find work similar to projects you’ve done in the past, and you need all the help you can get when starting out.
“I do not know what I should name my freelance design studio. Is it better to use my name, as you have done, or should I use a descriptive name? My long term goal is to have a studio where other people work with me. That is why I think using my personal name might not work.”
James Chartrand (of Men with Pens) wrote an article of relevance, “Are You in Personal Branding Prison?“. You might also be interested in a guest post on Remarkablogger, from Bob Younce (of The Writing Journey), “When You Are Your Blog’s Brand“.
Even though I initially set out with a generic business name, I’m happy that I’ve branded myself as David Airey.
There are pros and cons, and ultimately the decision must be a personal one, but would I change given another chance?
Questions to ask yourself include:
- Can the work continue when you’re not around, and how much does your presence affect client aquisition?
- Might you want to eventually sell your business, and how much will personal branding affect the price?
Marc, of Fowler Designs, asks:
“Do you have any advice for a student who has just graduated and is looking to begin their career at a small studio or advertising agency? How did you get started when just out of school?”
Don’t wait for studios or agencies to advertise. Instead, research the companies where you want to work and make the first move. More often than not, companies will fill vacancies without advertising in the press. If you do apply for an advertised position, the competition will be much more fierce than if you make a ‘cold call’.
My first job upon completion of studies was in advertising sales for The Scotsman, Scotland’s national newspaper. I took on the role for a variety of reasons, not least because sales experience helps in many situations, from job interviews to building a business. Working at The Scotsman put me back in touch with a fellow student from my graphic communications management (GCM) degree, and she, in turn, referred me to my future boss in the non-profit sector. The two jobs were completely unrelated, but one wouldn’t have followed the other if I never took that advertising sales role.
Do you have a question?
Quite a few of you have asked questions which I’ve yet to answer, but I’ve not forgotten, and will respond in the next rounds of Q&A. If you have any questions of your own, by all means leave them in the comment thread.