With all the time spent painstakingly completely projects in front of a computer, it’s easy to forget a designer’s work doesn’t always have to be digital. Billboards, storefronts, pamphlets, brochures, printed banners and even those wonderfully tacky restroom signs in themed restaurants—all are the work of professional designers. Although the online world is certainly fertile ground for getting new clients, designers can make good money working on offline projects, too.
But wait a moment—don’t those offline opportunities get snagged up by big agencies or an in-house design staff? Not necessarily. In fact, there’s probably plenty of business opportunities available right in a designer’s backyard. It’s just a matter of finding the right businesses to market your services to.
First, let’s consider what kind of offline material you can seek out.
What Kind of Work Can Designers Do Offline?
Design Banners for Special Events
Whether it’s the grand opening of a new business or a fundraiser for the local elementary school, there are plenty of opportunities to design banners or other signage for special events. Often times, small businesses are in need of banner printing for company picnics or team-building events.
These projects are typically pretty easy for even the least experienced designer. It may not be the most creative way to spend your time, but if you find a business that pays you well it may be time well spent.
Restaurant Logos and Menu Design
An often overlooked area of work is designing logos and menus for new local restaurants. Logo design is obviously one thing—usually the territory of graphic artists. Anyone familiar with essential elements of style could probably give it their best shot, but non-graphic designers should make sure their eyes aren’t bigger than their stomachs when it comes to taking on this kind of work.
Billboards and Store Signage
Offline advertising is still a very effective tool for struggling small businesses. After all, the web is cluttered with ad space, and an online following doesn’t always translate into real-world business. Billboards and printed banners are a great way for local businesses to get their name and location in front of people in their local area.
When designing a billboard ad or other type of print ad, one must remember to be eye-catching but not distracting. If all a passing driver has time to see is an outrageous or bizarre image, they may pass by without getting to read what the sign is actually for. Large, eye-catching text that succinctly explains the business, what it’s about, and where it’s located.
Store signage is another great opportunity for designers. Locally owned businesses like gift shops or bookstores are often in need of eye-catching storefront signage. Additionally, posters or other long-form signage is often requested by local libraries, opening you up to the possibility of getting a local government business connection. That’s a client relationship that could pay off in dividends.
How to Market Your Design Services Offline
Okay, so we’ve covered some basic types of projects designers can seek out in their local area. Now let’s consider just how you can get those projects in the first place.
Have an Effective Online Marketing Strategy
Just because you’re looking to take on local work, doesn’t mean your online presence should be non-existent. Make sure your portfolio is coming up in the top search results for your local area. This way, when a local business owner searches for designers in their area, your work is out there—front and center.
Make Strong Local Connections
Small business owners like giving work to other small business owners. When you patronize a business, consider leaving a card and asking them to call if they need any work done. Sometimes, being a successful freelance designer requires joining a local network of other independent businesses supporting each other.
Finally, consider taking out an ad in a local community paper, or putting your name in a local business registry. Remember, some business owners still prefer to find other local businesses to support, and that includes you!