It’s one thing to do something and do it well, but are you missing out on long-term clients and regular work because you aren’t diversifying? Being able to offer more than one service to a client could be the difference between long-term commitment and turning out a solitary job. We sat down with freelance graphic designer Xander Campbell to pick his brain on the benefits of diversifying a design portfolio and how get started.
Hello Xander! Tell us a little bit about yourself—who are you and what do you do?
"I am a freelance Graphic Designer, born in the Western Isles. I studied in RGU in Aberdeen and currently live in Glasgow. What I specialise in is company branding and managing that brand from inception, launch, then continuously updating marketing materials. I fully immerse myself in the organisation and what the customer experiences/feels from first learning about the service to each returning visit."
The work you’ve done with brands like Pizza Hut, Exit Games and Iconic Fitness all feature multiple design disciplines, like brand development, animated videos, print marketing and social media set-up. Do you think these brands would have been as keen to work with you if your skill set had been more limited?
"I don’t think these clients would have worked with me if I didn’t cover a variety of disciplines. When I meet a client the second question is always, "Is this something you can do as well?"
"Over the years I’ve moved from saying “I will look into it” to “Yes I can.” It makes a massive difference in my self-confidence, in the work and in the client’s confidence. Because I offer more, I don’t have to sub-contract work out and then don’t have to charge as much to do so. What most of my clients are looking for is a face they can talk to directly rather than an online form. With online and print always updating, they know they are getting best of both worlds."
In your opinion, is there more long-term appeal for a freelancer that can work across a range of design disciplines?
"In my opinion, yes the bigger the range the better. I know freelancers that specialise in one field and are very comfortable doing that. I don’t have as many clients but what my clients want is a full launch and branded company.
"If you take Iconic Fitness as an example, I had a vision of where I wanted this brand to go, from the look of the website and social media to the feel of the gym and surroundings, down to the physical feeling, promotional materials and printed marketing. Because it’s one single vision throughout, my client is very happy when someone new recognises Iconic Fitness by an image or a feeling."
Would you recommend that other freelancers try to learn new skills or take courses in other areas of design to diversify their client offering?
"I would always recommend learning new skills. Not really for clients, but for yourself. I see myself as having a short attention span, not using the same programmes or offering the same things to each client. It’s always good to move to something else if you get writer’s block."
Is there any one particular skill you think should be on every freelance designer’s CV?
"This is difficult one. I don't think there is any one thing in particular that is a must. What I would suggest is a story. I have read many CVs sent to me and seen others, what I like to see is a story who are you and why are you who you are. Because clients need to trust you with their business, and you need to believe this is their baby and putting it into your hands. They want to know who you are. If a CV isn’t involved and you have the luxury to meet, take full advantage. They will want to know where you came from."
How do you go about taking a concept and threading it through a number of different formats? Is there a particular method you use?
"This by far is the hardest or most time consuming part of the job. I generally create all my files in CMYK as if it goes to print in RGB it can be too late and you annoy the printer but if meant to be RGB for web or screen at least I can take it down and reload it without being embarrassed. Also trusting codes—what it looks like on your computer won’t be the same in front of you printed."
Your online portfolio looks pretty sharp indeed. How do you go about showcasing such a range of different pieces effectively?
"It is something I am actually struggling with at the moment—keeping my work standing proud and my own style not standing over the clients. I intentionally kept the clients’ pages clean with a gallery display and no distractions or colours.
"The changes I will be making are all based on this idea. It’s a place I can display the work I do. I’ve had many reincarnations of websites and so try not to rely on gimmicks for display, as the clients work is my work."