Rather than channelling the same methods that every Tom, Dick, and Harry utilize, lets look at a few unconventional (but highly effective) ways of getting your work noticed.

Showcase Your Work in Print

Web design is all about digital, but there’s something elegant about looking at a portfolio of work on high-quality paper. Thanks to the huge influx in digital devices over the last few years however, print is most definitely a dying industry.

The majority of your competitors will have shrugged off print as an ineffective means of attracting clients, but that in itself is a great reason to start using it.

Portfolio Booklet by Iara Grinspun

Portfolio Booklet by Iara Grinspun

The key to getting noticed is to stand out from your competition. You need to showcase your work in a way that very few people are doing, and print is a great way of doing it. There’s a reason why major brands have huge budgets set aside for print catalogues, flyers and promotional material – it’s a great way of getting noticed.

If you’re a web designer, design a simple portfolio booklet that showcases your skills. If you have never worked with print, it’s not a million miles away from digital, so don’t be scared to download a trial version of a print program like Adobe inDesign and start creating.

Look for new and changing businesses in your area (we cover that a bit further down the article) and send them a copy of your booklet with a cover letter explaining what you do and how you can help them.

To make an even bigger impact, arrange a meeting with a decision maker of a local business, slap on your best birthday outfit, and give them your printed portfolio in person!

Take Advantage of Bespoke Promotional Products

Novelty products are a great way to get your name in front of potential clients. Bespoke identity merchandise comes in all shapes and sizes, from personalised sweet tins to fridge magnets… you can even get shot glasses with your logo on them!

Whilst not the cheapest option, getting personalised products to send out is a cool way to get your work noticed; and it’s also not as expensive as you might think. Personalised sweet tins (little metal mint tins) cost between £0.95 (~$1.15) and £0.45 (~$0.60) each.

Personalized Chocolate Almond by Nate Braxton

These little novelty products are an excellent way to get your work noticed. Make sure you research and think about the people you might give them to and pick out a product that either represents your target market or represents your brand.

Send out a promotional product that is useful to the person you are sending it to. If your target clients are office dwellers, send them something that they can put on their desk and use, remembering to make your brand and logo clearly visible on the product.

That way, every time they walk into their office and sit at their desk, they’ll look at your useful product and think about you. Even if they don’t need your services straight away, theres a chance they might in the future, and you’ll be the first person they think of.

Scout Out New and Changing Businesses in Your Area

This step is absolutely key if you’re going to be sending out promotional products or print material. You need to make sure your target clients actually want to see your work, and who might actually need your services. If you’re a web designer, there’s no point sending your promotional material to Mrs Brown the housewife – she doesn’t want or need a website!

Established businesses in your area may be going through a change of management, or require an updated website, so be sure to take the initiative and contact them.

There are a lot of ‘mailing list’ services out there that do the hard work for you. These companies catalogue new businesses, using legitimate, public business databases and will compile a list for you.

Directory websites like Yell.com are also a great way for finding new local businesses. However, be careful not to use them as a marketing means, as that’s against their terms! You don’t want to go and spam 100 businesses with a generic product and a copied cover letter – personalise your approach to each business and carefully pick your targets.

Hit the Trade Shows

Trade shows are absolutely full of businesses looking for your services. If you can find shows that are specific to your niche, they are most definitely a great way of getting your work noticed.

However, other industry specific trade shows are also an excellent way to get people seeing your work as well, especially if they’re business related.

You don’t need to spend thousands renting a stand for the weekend. Simply order some nice keepsakes (as mentioned above) along with some eye-catching business cards, and get networking!

Look for businesses with stands that may want to use your services, approach them and tell them about how you can be of benefit to them. A lot of people at these trade shows will have a business, or be looking to start one, so they’re the prime contacts to speak to.

Again, it may be that they don’t need your services straight away, but if you have a nice little leave behind with your name and logo on them, they’re more likely to speak to you in the future. Don’t forget to show interest in their business, product or service as well!

Create Infographics

Infographics are a very effective means of grabbing attention. Just remember that they’re called “info” graphics. That means that they need to be graphics that portray information. Before designing one, make sure you’re clear on exactly what information you want to relay and how you want to communicate it. Make it something that people might want to share or be interested in.

Once you’ve got your infographic designed, pop it on your website and then rave about it wherever you go.

Approach Popular Social Media Figures

Social media is a HUGE. In comparison to other methods, social media is still relatively untouched from a marketing point of view. There’s been a massive increase in popularity for Instagram, opening the way for some really unconventional, but effective ways to get your work noticed.

One proven way is to approach popular social media figures and offer your services free in exchange for a shoutout.

instagram social media

There’s no point messaging Kim Kardashian, as you won’t get very far, but there are thousands of ‘non-celebrity’ Instagrammers with literally millions of followers all waiting to see your work!

A lot of these people are already making serious money from their Instagram accounts, and will jump at the chance of getting a personal website or some other service that will increase their online presence (and therefore their revenue).

Make Helpful Comments on Popular Websites

Making helpful comments on websites is an effective way to actually get people to look at your work. Look for sites that have users needing help, such as StackOverflow, and create a profile that includes your website and contact info and then get helping!

Make sure you’re actually helpful in what you write. In fact, forget that you’re even using it as a means to get your work noticed, and simply view it as a way of giving back to the community and sharing your knowledge. You’ll be surprised how many people click on your profile and view your work if you’re offering sound advice.

Give Away Freebies!

Everyone loves free stuff. Giving away some useful stuff for free is another great way to get people looking at your work. Take advantage of sites like Dribbble and Behance as platforms to make your resources freely available. Again, make sure your free stuff includes a link to your own work, but don’t force your link in a way that makes it obvious you’re trying to grab attention.

Be sure to make free stuff that is actually useful! Layered Photoshop files or Illustrator files of UI kits, templates and icons will likely get downloaded often.

You’ll pick up a lot of followers on your profile and then you can start showing off your portfolio work to them as well.

Don’t Underestimate Conventional Methods Too

There’s a reason why conventional methods are used by most creatives: they work! The unconventional methods mentioned in this article are great ways to get your work noticed, but don’t underestimate the importance of also having a strong digital portfolio, a good social presence, and just marketing the old fashioned way.

If you’re able to combine these unconventional methods along with the conventional ways, you’re very likely to get your work noticed.

Russ Clow

Written by Russ Clow

Russ Clow is a freelance website designer from the UK, with over 10 years experience in the industry. He has designed for major brands including Microsoft, Lenovo, Ticketmaster, Andrew Lloyd Webber and others. He has also worked for 2 design agencies in the past but currently freelances full time.