5 essential rules of self-promotion

Adrian Shaughnessy offers advice on how to make an indelible mark on the design industry.


Self-promotion is one of the trickiest and most elusive skills a designer must acquire. Like learning to ride a bicycle, you have to do it to find out how it's done. It's also something that can't be avoided. As soon as designers emerge from education, they have to be able to promote themselves to prospective employers.

Later, as they enter the freelance world or the world of studio ownership, they have to be able to promote their services to prospective clients. None of this is easy, and for many designers, it's as painful as falling off a bicycle.

It's hardly surprising that self-promotion is problematical. Design schools don't teach it, and few established designers talk about it in public. To make matters worse, we're surrounded by thousands of other designers all frantically self-promoting.

For many of us, promoting ourselves feels like shouting into a wind tunnel. The whole process of self-promotion is made even more difficult by the realisation that clients mostly choose designers based on reputation and word of mouth. Yet there's no need for pessimism.