The Designer’s Guide To

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A guide to help designers utilise social networks for help, exposure and to gain new new work. Advice provided by international industry professionals, edited and curated by Richard Baird.

Be selective

There is a fine line between getting yourself exposure and imposing yourself. If you’ve got something to shout about, tweet it, mail it, post it through the relevant channels but try to be selective in what you want showcase, know the difference between an average piece of work and something of note.

And if you get no reply, no mention, negative feedback or knocked back be even more selective the next time.

Provided by @marcus_maccabe

Asking for help and advice

When asking for advice on sites such as Dribbble and Forrst be sure to respond to each comment and show a bit appreciation for the time another designer has taken out of their day to help you along. If it’s a particularly good tip that sent you in a new direction or improves your work, show them your gratitude and credit them in your post .

Provided by @richbaird

Developing online relationships

Graphic design social networks are like any other social networks; if you’re new and trying to make a name for yourself, you can’t just pop up on the scene, announce your presence, and expect that a flurry of friend requests, helpful critiques, gallery spots, or freelance gigs will land on your e-doorstep. Much like how it works in “The Real World,” fostering these online relationships takes time, effort, and patience. Spend the time to comment on others’ work, offer helpful suggestions/critiques of your own, make informative posts, contribute to group discussions, and heed the advice of well-respected senior members. And no matter what, be cordial — especially when receiving criticism no one likes a grumpy and defensive newcomer.

Also, during this time, it’s crucial that you become a sponge and absorb everything you possibly can — advice from senior members, tips, tricks, new techniques, etc. — and apply all this gained knowledge to your own work.

If you’re actively participating AND visibly evolving as a designer, not only will people begin to notice and accept you into the community, but they will also begin to respect you. And respect goes a long way.

Provided by AtomicVibe


Commenting can be a good way of building up good relationships with fellow designers, when commenting spend a bit of time considering your post, make sure that it is clear, concise and grammatically correct. Avoid any unnecessary criticism and be constructive at all times.

Provided by @richbaird

Share you appreciation

When using social networks such as Dribbble and Forrst consider it as an opportunity to be inspired and not as an ego boost. If you genuinely like a piece of work show your appreciation, don’t expect anything in return, if this remains the standard then the likes and follows you receive back will be genuine opinions of your work.

Provided by @ben_bate

Dribbble Rebounds

When rebounding other people’s work but sure to make it clear who the original designer is, it’s easy for people to miss this small detail and perceive it as your own work.

Suggested by @brianplemons


When you are presenting your work on-line for feedback or just as a portfolio piece consider the way you present your work. Is the design clear? Has it been well spaced within the shot window? Have you given it a suitable description? Each of these will influence whether people choose to offer advice or not.

Suggested by @PollenLondon

The importance of your Dribbble debut shot

After you’ve finally scored that invite to Dribbble and have become a player, it’s very important to think of what you want to share as your first shot.

This is what will give you a truckload of exposure, so present what you consider to be your very best work as your first shot, to get a good start and build up some followers right away.

“Thanks for the invite xoxo”-shots are fine and it’s a very nice gesture, but unless it’s presented as something mind blowing and very creative, it will just end up in the never-ending pile together with the other “Thank you”-debuts.

Also, consider your timing for posting on Dribbble. 4 in the morning when only the Australians are awake, might not be the best time to let your work get picked up by the tide of incoming shots and disappear unnoticed in the flow of shots.

Dribbble is one of the best social media platforms out there when it comes to getting exposure and potentially get drafted for both employment and freelance work, so it’s good to start out tactical, since it will be hard to get noticed after your debut, as there are literally thousands and thousands of people posting work there every day.

Provided by @growcase

Share the work of others

Mix self-promotional activities with the sharing of inspirational content. Avoid the saturated and hunt out undiscovered and under shared gems. Look for old articles that still have relevance and that reflect your own philosophies. Ask questions and foster discussions about the pieces that you post.

Provided by @richbaird

Be considerate

The web is an open place. This, of course, isn’t news to you. You’ve always been careful to be kind and considerate online, keeping in mind that anything you post may be seen by a potential client. With your personal brand you must always remember: having integrity and being polite is the number one step to building your good name. Don’t tarnish your reputation with tactless remarks.

Provided by @e_known

The beauty of social networking

Years ago “networking” involved cold calling, conferences, events, lugging around portfolios, referrals, and so many other tactics that took an enormous amount of effort with little results. Now, with the likes of twitter, facebook, youtube, dribbble, behance, and other online communities the opportunity to connect with other designers and potential clients has never been easier.

Remember even simple things like writing a 140 character update in twitter requires consistency, substance, and effort. What I mean by that is if you want to take full advantage of networking tools you have to include them into your daily routine and aim to provide something unique, engaging, educational, or something funny and charming. There are plenty of tools to help you with just that such as Buffer app to schedule your tweets & facebook updates or Klout to gauge your social network involvement and user engagement, or twoolr to provide you with analytical data from your twitter account.

Personally, I would say these sites are essential to anyone who wants to take social networking seriously. Buffer and Klout alone has helped me pay more attention to my own followers, engage with them more, and spread out my tweets throughout the day. Other sites catered specifically for designers like behance, dribbble, forrst, and even deviantart take much more effort than the likes of twitter and facebook, and because of this it’s wise to consider which ones would be most effective for you, because trying to consistently contribute to all of them is extremely challenging and eats away at the time you could be designing.

Provided by @HeyRui

Be patient

Twitter followers don’t increase drastically overnight, it takes time. If you are brooding over your lack of followers don’t do two things:

1. Follow everyone you can find and hope they follow you back.
2. Tweet like mad hoping it will bring you lots of twitter friends.

You should:

1. Continue to follow the people who are significant to your field or your interests.
2. Be active in the community and take part in meaningful point driven conversations.

I appreciate Twitter much more now that I focus less on quantity and more on quality.

Provided by @matthewcarleton

Take care when sharing work on-line

Though websites like Dribbble and Forrst are good at providing unique tools to showcase your work, you must remember to do it in moderation. To a potential client, if you are seen to be constantly posting your work on sharing websites (presumably for useful criticism/feedback) they may perceive you as having less confidence and needing constant advice, it may also lead to concerns over the privacy of the project they are considering you for.

I love Dribbble, and Forrst; I use them all the time, after all they are extremely useful. Just be aware, it can be hard to remove something entirely from the web and can remain available for all to see, including potential clients.

Provided by @Jakexf



If you are a designer and have any advice you would like to add to this article, please submit your contribution as a comment below and remember to include your Twitter ID so I can credit your tip.


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