What makes one brand stand out and become consumers’ primary choice? Is it the way its ambassadors communicate with relevant audiences and how they respond to customer complaints and queries, or perhaps the overall emotion and strong recall built around the brand?
The way we interact with brands is complex and layered, it engages all of our senses, and it often plays out on the subconscious level. Not only do we make purchases based on the aesthetics, functionality, and the story attached to the products and services, but we also crave to identify with certain groups, i.e. we want to buy things which represent wholesome lifestyles that fit our personal vision of who we are (or want to be).
Purchasing specific types of branded merchandise is a part of this picture. Just think about it: most of us love buying souvenirs when we visit a certain museum in a foreign country, and we don’t mind cashing out for a T-shirt of our favorite band when we go to their concert.
There’s something about owning branded materials that speaks on behalf of our status and values and even showcases our previous experiences. For instance, we love having mugs, notebooks, or ball pens from the conferences or other events we attended, as they speak volumes about what we care about and how we choose to spend our time.
Young graphic designer from Ohio, Brent Galloway (brentgalloway.me) is well aware of all of this. He chose to narrow down his professional focus to designing T-shirts and logos for brands and businesses, and this decision paid off nicely.
Why T-shirt Design
Galloway chose to focus on T-shirt designing guided by his own point of view and love towards the branded merch. He got involved in graphic design in his early-teens, and during that time – he was really into skateboards. Thanks to his subscription to the CCS skate catalog, every month – Galloway enjoyed flipping through its pages and daydreamed about all the cool products that he couldn’t afford at the time.
It wasn’t long before he started thinking about the behind machinery for all those eye-catching pieces of merchandise: who was responsible for designing them? What was the creative process for coming up with such compelling products? Why did he, as a consumer, feel the urge to buy them?
This was what sparked his interest in graphic design and defined his future career. Galloway was really onto something: he realized how people love wearing clothes that make them feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
It’s true: positive emotions we feel towards certain brands or individuals motivate us to make a purchase. We buy things to support independent artists, as an act of patronage. We do it to remember joyful experiences better: for instance, when we wear T-shirts bought on festivals or concerts – it’s like an instant time machine that launches us to the good times we had in the past. As humans, we tend to get sentimental and we treat things we own as the material extension of who we are.
How Personal Branding Helped Galloway’s Career
Having such a clear focus, Galloway attracted the attention of his target group, mostly consisting out of music bands and artists. So far, he has worked with renowned names from the music world, such as the Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, Memphis May Fire, Gavin DeGraw, etc.
In one of his blog posts, he explains the two main ways that enabled him to make a living as a graphic designer. First is by branding himself as someone who is an expert for a very specific area of graphic design – T-shirts, and then directly working with clients; the second is by selling his own T-shirt mockups and other original work on the Creative Market.
In another one of his posts, Galloway discusses whether or not freelance websites are really worth the time and effort, given the fact they typically take high fees and can be incredibly energy-consuming. Freelancers continuously bid on different projects and rarely get the opportunity to build long-lasting business relationships, as clients are interested in fast solutions and one-time projects. In this context, your clients aren’t really clients, but mere customers who are not likely to come back after they get delivered with what they need.
Galloway is not in favor of helping another company thrive if it hurts your own personal brand, which is basically what the global freelancing community does when signing up for various job platforms. More often than not, the unhealthy competition forces you to sell yourself short and lower the prices of your services, and that is what diminishes you as a working professional.
Instead, Galloway suggests building your own website and showcasing the quality of your work through
• Publishing case studies
• Sharing the process of your work in great detail
• Educating your site visitors through tutorials
• Sharing your experiences through blog posts or videos
As he wrote in the mentioned post,
Running a successful freelance graphic design business isn’t about landing as many projects as possible. It’s about landing the right project. The type of projects that excite you and can allow you to grow in the right direction. That should be the end goal at least. Creating content and building a brand around what you’re doing certainly takes more time and effort. But who said this was easy? Since when doing what you love for a living has been a breeze?
Galloway underlines a key thing here: you should treat your freelancing career as a personal business. You need to nurture it and invest quite an effort to put it to its own feet. It is not easy, but paths to lead to great success never are.
What Galloway Can Teach Us about Picking the Right Battles
What we love about Galloway is the fact he’s really transparent about his freelancing success and selflessly shares his ups and downs, which certainly helps the community of aspiring freelance graphic designers.
In 2014, he has started a blog called Your Freelance Career and gathered a great community around it. Building it from scratch, he managed to create a unique resource out of it. However, in 2017, he decided to sell the website. Today, it functions under a different name, Digital Freelancer, but it has the same goal – to support thriving freelancers to succeed at creating their businesses.
But, why did Galloway decide to give up the website?
He realized he couldn’t invest any more of his time into running that website as it turned him away from growing his personal brand. Although it helped him build a name for himself and connect to many great professionals, he decided to commit to maximizing his personal website as a business channel that will help him monetize his creativity in the best possible way.
He has already written a comprehensive guide (Start Your Freelance Career) and now, he continues to build his authority through blog posting on his personal website. We can all agree it’s much better to have a clear focus and go full speed ahead, as this approach can be much more rewarding in the long run, just like Galloway’s story proves.
We at Domain.me believe the best way to boost a freelance career is by launching a personal website, and are very proud Galloway put trust in .ME as his online home.
Are you also a graphic design artist? Or perhaps you’re a writing professional who can’t seem to get enough clients to turn his/her passion into stable income? We suggest you be patient and persistent, build your own website, and invest an effort in branding yourself. That is surely the best way to stand out and catch your potential clients’ and business partners’ attention.