Fellow designer, I know that figuring out how to find your first or your next client can feel like a wild process! I’m here to show you that you can absolutely get new design clients, even if you’ve never worked with clients before. The key? Using passion projects to show examples of your design work.
Over the years that I’ve worked with graphic, brand, and web designers through my signature program and through my coaching services, I’ve seen over and over how designers get stuck in this process of thinking that they need to have worked with clients in the past in order to get clients in the here and now. In today’s post, we’re going to be talking about how passion projects can be that secret ingredient in the recipe that you use to get out in front of your ideal client so that you can generate the projects that you want to take on.
Using Passion Projects To Get New Clients
It’s important to note that this works for brand new designers, brand new freelancers, and established designers who are pivoting to reach a new ideal audience. So whether you’re just getting started or you’re a pro in the midst of a pivot, this method is for you.
One of the reasons why I love passion projects is because instead of being at the whims of your client, you get to be the client. Actually, your creativity is the client, which is even better! The opportunities are endless when you are designing for yourself.
When you’re working on a passion project, you get to create the brief, you get to figure out the color, the type, you get to figure out the medium that you’re working with. And you get to do that in a way that brings you joy and that sparks your creativity!
This is perfect for new designers and established designers alike because it constantly requires that we are thinking of new visual solutions. So whether you have been in business for years and you use passion projects as a way to sharpen your creativity, or you’re a brand new designer, and this is how you are breaking into the industry, I believe that passion projects are so incredibly valuable.
Show Off Your Passion Projects
So how do we use them to get out in front of new clients? Well, my favorite and arguably the simplest way to do that is to show your passion projects and treat them like they were in actual paying client. Incorporate them in the portfolio of your website, utilize them and highlight them on social platforms like Instagram, TikTok, or Pinterest. Be visual and be visible with the work that you’ve done. Whether this is for an imaginary brand that doesn’t actually exist, or you took inspiration from existing companies and created new, updated, visual brands. This is exactly what you can do and how you can showcase the work that you’ve done, even if it was just for you in order to generate the interest of a new client.
Try New Things
The reason why passion projects are such a fantastic way to get out in front of your ideal client is it shows what’s possible. What I mean by that is, a passion project gives you the ability to try new things from a design standpoint. It allows you to experiment a bit more, and it shows a potential client exactly what you can create without any of the traditional parameters that you might experience if you were working for an actual paying client.
This can be fantastic if you’re wanting to take on more projects that fit a very specific aesthetic or if you’re wanting to take on projects that kind of land within a specific niche or industry! I love using passion projects as a way to reach a slightly different audience! Maybe you will reach an audience you’ve never worked with before, or an audience that is attracted to this design style that you are pursuing.
You Don’t Have To Wait
Utilizing passion projects is such a fantastic way to show up and to capture the attention of people who might not see your work otherwise. The beautiful thing about this is you can get started today. You don’t need to wait for a client to hire you, and you don’t have to wait to create something that you’re proud to incorporate as a part of your portfolio. You get to actually take the reins and create something from scratch. Yes, it’s a passion project. Yes, it’s maybe an imaginary brand, but the design work that you did was real. The design work that you did was a tangible example of what you are capable of, your skills as a designer. That is what someone will hire you to do. Those are the skills that will attract you dream clients!
I want to encourage you that you can get started right where you are today! By leveraging passion projects, as that secret ingredient to captivate your ideal client’s attention, you get to showcase work that you love doing. You also get to highlight the exact specifications that have brought you joy in the past!
LEARN HOW PASSION PROJECTS CAN HELP GROW YOUR DESIGN BUSINESS
Friend, I encourage you to use passion projects to get clients. Try it out! This is something that I share frequently inside my program for graphic brand and web designers, the Brand Strategy School, especially for designers who are in their first couple months, or even their first year of business, and they’re slowly building that client roster. You have so much potential to utilize a passion project as an example of the packaging design, the visual identity work, the website design that you can create. What better way to generate interest for your services and to draw attention to your growing business than to highlight what you have enjoyed creating?
If this is the kind of action based design advice that you need in this season, as you grow your design business, then I encourage you to head on over to my free training for designers to keep the learning going. I’ve created an on demand, free masterclass, where I share how to triple your income as a designer while honoring your time and your energy. During this free class, you’re going learn how you can utilize brand strategy in order to exponentially increase your revenue as a designer, while taking on the ideal client projects that bring you the most joy.