Non-rockstar designers: how do you stay on top of marketing and selling game?

6 years ago from , Product, UX and UI Designer

I have been a UX/UI designer for over 7 years now. My portfolio lacks any glamorous and highly successful products. I am no Dribbble superstar either. I have worked on some projects that either got butchered in the development, or did not go on to become benchmark products in their domain. I have helped create a lot of MVPs that did not go on to become full-fledge products.

In last 2 years, I have finally started getting work on products that have the team and marketing push behind them to make them successful. However, the strength of my portfolio is so low, I am having a hard time convincing new and worthy clients of my skills. The focus is so much on the output that the strong process and context is lost when people only look at the screens of my previous work.

TL: DR; Sob story about how I haven’t had Unicorn clients as a UX/UI designer.

The question is - if you are not one of the top 1% designers whose products have millions of $ in funding and the marketing push to become top apps in their segments - how do you handle marketing and sales for your services which may be cost 60-70% of the top people?


  • David MirandaDavid Miranda, 6 years ago

    Drop everything and take 3-6 weeks to design something from scratch. Pay attention to every little detail. Treat it like an essay that will need to be edited and revised over and over before it flows. Show it to other people after 4 weeks and then incorporate their feedback. Then release it to the community for free.

    Whether it's an icon pack, a Sketch template, or a full static site design, people will love it if it's high quality and free and word will spread around about your talents. You have to put the time in upfront, however.

    Good luck!

    9 points
  • Ryan Martin, 6 years ago

    Demonstrating that you've learnt from why products/ projects 'failed' and how you've applied those learnings to your next piece of work is a valuable skill to demonstrate.

    As Rory said, use the visuals to tell a story.

    3 points
  • Josh Sanders, almost 6 years ago

    I'm a bit confused by this post. You claim to be a UX consultant, but your entire portfolio's project links just send visitors to other websites. There's no walkthrough of the design process, no explanation or insight given in regards to the specific design decisions you (and team?) made and why you made them.

    In your post, you state: "The focus is so much on the output that the strong process and context is lost when people only look at the screens of my previous work." Here in lies the problem... you've created your portfolio to do JUST THAT. You have put the emphasis on only showing (or linking to) final sites and images, and have provided little to no explanations of your work. How can a potential employer understand you as a designer if you offer them zero insight?

    Yes, the successfulness of past projects may factor in to certain potential job reviews, but design leads and managers care (should care) more about HOW and WHY your projects turned out the way they did, not about how much money they made or how much marketing budget they had behind them. What problems were you trying to address/ what outcomes were you striving to achieve with your designs? What was your role? And to reiterate...what design decisions were made, and more importantly... why?

    I will say that your Fisdom project (which is just a link to a medium article) is much closer in terms of offering insight to the design process and decisions of the project. However, this is the only project you've done this for. I would suggest offering visitors and potential employers the same overview and insights for all of your other projects, otherwise the people you want to work with/for have little understanding of you as a designer.

    I'll end on this note: you gotta get over this whole "i haven't had any unicorn clients, therefor my portfolio is weak" notion. The majority of the design industry is in this same bucket, and regardless of this, I still come across talented and inspiring designers and portfolios every day.

    1 point
    • , almost 6 years ago

      Thanks for this response, Josh. I was part of a collective until recently, so apart from Fisdom we wrote a lot of about other projects that could get us more visibility. Now I am revamping my site and writing case-studies for each of my projects.

      By the way, that sole Medium article got us quite bit of traction. It was featured on Sidebar newsletter and later syndicated by InVision on their blog, earning us quite a few leads. :)

      0 points
  • Rory Smyth, 6 years ago

    "…context is lost when people only look at the screens"

    So you're losing work because of visuals, not process?

    Regardless of how the product ends up on the store/web, you should be able to stand behind what you put in your portfolio. Show them the projects at the point where you you were happy with the quality of the visuals, not the end result that might have gotten messed up along the way.

    1 point
    • Sjors TimmerSjors Timmer, 6 years ago

      You can also search for 'ux portfolio process' and get some ideas on how you can show your working and thinking better to not only rely on the on screenshot of the perfect design you've made.

      0 points
      • Denis RojcykDenis Rojcyk, 6 years ago

        This is an interesting topic to debate. I would like to know whether clients read all these case studies. But since they must be going through a lot of them they might skip all the boring stuff and focus mainly on visuals.

        1 point