Ask Siedah: Can I Be a Designer Without a Degree?

October 10, 2018
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Q: It is possible for someone to enter the field if they do not have a degree in that? If so, any tips?

The short answer is yes—absolutely. You can succeed in this field with no formal education. I started designing websites at the age of 11 years old and landed my first client at 13, and made thousands of dollars before attending college. It takes confidence, which could sound cliché, but it is patience, consistency, self-awareness, optimism, and self-confidence that will get you results.

Here are some tips which can help you.

Know Yourself

There are things we must do to be successful that aren’t in our comfort zone. Most creatives are introverts and aren’t very social people. If speaking to new people is very uncomfortable for you, than networking online might be the best form of marketing for you. Do you take rejection hard? If so, running your own business isn’t for you. My advice is not to let it get to you and to focus only on those who say yes.

Hone Your Skills

Be aware of your strengths and become a master at them. Create a portfolio that showcases your work, introduces yourself, and post some testimonials from clients you have worked with. Practice day in and day out so you can get better at your craft. Don’t settle for being mediocre.

Network

There are a number of ways to get your name out there:

  • Use social networking sites: Join Facebook groups or send DMs on Twitter. Introduce yourself and connect with 20-30 people on a daily basis.
  • Use design portfolio sites: Websites like Behance and Dribbble are great because people are specifically coming to these websites to find and view the work of creatives.
  • Email or call local businesses: Introduce yourself, let them know you’re in their area, and would like to meet for coffee or tea and discuss how you can benefit their business. This a great tactic for those who like one-on-one conversations or those looking to get into freelancing.
  • Attend professional networking events: Search for professional networking events in your area or in the field you want to work with most. Mingle with more than one person within a few hours. Don’t forget to bring business cards!

Deliver results

This advice is mainly for people looking to become freelancers, but delivering on your promises is the most important thing you can do as a designer. Referrals were huge for growing my clientele when I was freelancing, and it made for an easy in-take process. There wasn’t a need to prove myself when it came to referrals; they came to me knowing I could deliver results, yet they were just interested in if we were a good fit. When working for a client, going above and beyond can result in that client raving about you to other business owners.

I hope you find these tips useful. Get out there and be the best designer you can be!

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