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What Will Grow Your Reputation in 2012 as a Designer

Catalina Butnaru - Sunday, January 01, 2012 |

Good reputation is good business: it helps you find great clients and helps them find you. This article is a brief round-up of what will grow your reputation in 2012, starting with real examples. However, one should always keep an eye on what's gaining more weight in different environments. Learning to adapt is a designer's best strategy, so let's start with what's proved to be effective so far.


Write with Purpose

Bring your blog back to life and start by establishing a clear goal to achieve by the end of 2012 through writing. Jeffrey Zeldman suggests that a blog post can facilitate more work opportunities than a portfolio. With passion and "a thinking voice" one can turn blogging into a powerful tool to get the desired exposure, grab people's attention and position themselves better as designers.

Speaking of goals, popular designers like Jacob Cass and Brian Hoff are particularly aware of the importance of establishing specific objectives through their blogs. Here is Jacob talking about establishing clear goals and why that is important in building a personal brand through blogging and social media:

Jacob Cass at TEDxCMU: Building a Personal Brand

On the other hand, while clear goals can keep a blog focused, a passionate voice keeps the audience engaged. It's almost like having a mission statement: What are you trying to achieve through blogging? What are you most passionate about? Use the answers to these questions to connect writing with your skills and vision as a designer. A blog is the reflexive and social component of past experiences, documented ideas, solutions to projects, inspirations and topics you are passionate about. Be sure to turn blogging in your favor in 2012.

The Design Cubicle focuses on "client education and design awareness"

Add an App to Your Portfolio

In 2012, apps should be part of a designer's portfolio. With technology pushing digital experiences further, an app can be a designer's best piece and a worthwhile investment. Once complete, it can be released as open source or with a commercial license and turned into a great source of passive income. It's an excellent way to showcase your design skills and vision. Besides, once the 1 million users milestone is reached, it will be very helpful to associate your name with a popular app.

Instagram was App of The Year in 2011

Looking back to 2011's milestones in app design, one can think of Instagram and Path as the two most prominent app designs from last year. With millions of users active every day, the exposure received from designing and building an app is by far a designer's wildest dream. Make it come true this year by investing a few hours of work a day and learning how to code. Start by writing down stories in a project management app like Pivotal Tracker and discuss with a team of developers what's the best way to implement your idea. Getting involved in every stage of the process and being able to make more decisions along the way is highly rewarding.

You can start the year by learning how to code with Code Academy

Make A Design Podcast

A podcast is a remarkably effective inbound marketing tool, bringing you results before it gets in the top 10 list of the best designer podcasts... A podcast is a great opportunity to expose personality to your audience, but it can involve a significant amount of effort to come to this result. Especially video podcasts can take up a lot of time recording, editing and publishing episodes. For a quick start, check out The Podcasting Bible, but make sure you're not missing one of the most important things in podcasting, and that is - making it unique.

Think of a podcast as a product and find a strong unique selling proposition (USP) for it. In podcasting, USPs are a good reason for audiences to continue watching the show; and a key element to getting as much exposure as needed to make your own brand and studio grow. An original concept can take your audience from local to global in a matter of weeks.

BrightLounge is a video podcast where we travel around the world and talk with creative people and entrepreneurs

In podcasting, content and self-presentation are two important aspects that viewers experience first-hand. Everything else, such as content creation, video editing, designing an identity for the show and promoting it happen "behind the scenes". Although hidden from viewers, producing a podcast takes up a lot of time, so make sure you can commit to additional work before starting to webcast.

Support A Good Cause

Designers should be inspired by a cause and motivated to support good changes in the modern society. A cause, unlike a product, survives only on people's ability to adopt and take action on greater values than those they usually benefit from on a daily basis. A cause is often a blind spot in our busy lives, and an opportunity for you to make an impact in 2012.

Popular designers who supported a cause through design last year are Natalie Matsuki and Duane Kinsey of Logobird - organizers of the Japan Earthquake Tributes project and the Bruce Mau Design team, who participated in multiple projects for the greater good, such as The Bureau of Doing Something About It.

The Japan Earthquake Tributes

Build Great Connections, Not Just A Network

A designer doesn't need to talk to a million of people at once; he needs to speak with only a few, from the heart, and those people will talk to millions others for him. In 2012, what's better than growing an enormous follower base is making smarter connections, based on common interests. Google+ and other networking services like Quora and Geekli.st are powerful tools one can use to find more specific targets for more engaging conversions through social media.

A digital network is similar to an open space bent around the connections, topics and communities you're interested in online. Digital networks work on rules that may difficult to apply in actual life scenarios, but the connections made through such networks can be very powerful. Each good connection helps build more credit and grow your centricity score, an indicator services like Klout use to measure one's reputation online. Empowered by social media, a good reputation works as a form of social currency helping designers do more business and become more profitable.

If good reputation would be a badge, it would be very difficult to get. In this article we discussed what popular designers did to brand themselves effectively in 2011. Hopefully, now you can feel inspired and ready to rock in 2012. If you have a personal piece of advice on how designers can build a great reputation, you are welcome to share your thoughts with us!

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