Tips for Graphic Designers Starting Out in Indianapolis

I recently met some recent Ball State graduates at a meetup in Broad Ripple, which led me to write this post on the current state of graphic design from my perspective and how to get noticed online:

Types of Design Work You Could Do

  • Design book covers – people are self-publishing more (as ebooks and print-on-demand paperbacks), but they still need graphic design for the cover and possibly for the layout of the books themselves. Ebook platforms like for the Kindle simply use HTML so if you know that, you’re halfway more helpful than the average person. I have some resources for that here.
  • Design custom Facebook pages and Twitter backgrounds – business owners usually know they need to be on Facebook, but don’t always know how or what to makes an effective design. Learning a little bit more about how to get people to click on the like button will help you sell the service. Remember to ‘sell the hole‘, which means to sell the value, not the product.
  • Design materials to match a website design or vice versa – web designers don’t often make print materials and print graphic designers don’t always make web sites, so there is some opportunity to make a business’ brand match by filling in the gap on either side of that equation.
  • Freelance – through sites like Elance, Odesk, Crowdspring, or Vworker. You could also offer your services on Craigslist or Backpage. Some web design and app design firms also hire freelancers for project. Kurtis Beavers has done freelance work for Silver Square (web design) and Expected Behavior (app design), among others, and would be a good example for you.

Web Design and WordPress Resources

  • Web design websites for best-practices in design: Smashing Magazine and A List Apart.
  • About the business of web design: Get free advice on this forum at Webmaster World.
  • Free WordPress blog: – they have paid versions, but sub-domain versions are free.
  • WordPress Support: – here you will find many resources about all things WordPress.
  • How to get started making custom WordPress themes: this Web Designer Wall article gives good direction for WordPress newbies.
  • Other popular web platforms: Joomla, Drupal, and Sharepoint.

Indianapolis Web and Graphic Design Firms

  • Alpha Graphics – Carmel – they do traditional print and web graphics as well as social media graphics and social media marketing and SEO.
  • SpinWeb – Keystone at the Crossing – web design and content marketing.
  • Small Box Web – Broad Ripple – web design and online marketing.
  • Slingshot SEO – Keystone at the Crossing – seo consulting.
  • DK New Media – Downtown Indianapolis – all things new media.
  • List of 70 Indianapolis-Area Web Design Firms.

Indianapolis Meetups

  • Verge Indy – “The hottest startup event in the Midwest”.
  • Indianapolis Marketing – Learn Marketing Strategies Tools and Best Practices for Promoting Your Business Online and Off.
  • WordPress Indianapolis – Learn best practices, ask questions, and get answers on WordPress in Indianapolis.

Web Hosts and Free Blogging Platforms

Ways to Promote Your Portfolio Online

  • Pinterest – invite-only, but very popular and growing.
  • Twitter – post pictures in addition to text tweets.
  • Flickr – be social here – treat it like a social network.
  • Dribbble – a Pinterest for designers.
  • Your own blog (SEE above for free blogging tools).
  • Youtube – use software like Jing to show the world what you can do – remember to put a link back to your blog or portfolio in the description. It will turn into a hyperlink and help you with SEO.
  • Vimeo – Anything you post to Youtube, also post here – it won’t hurt you and can only help.
  • Facebook Pages – post pictures on your wall/newsfeed/timeline – it won’t help with SEO, but ‘go where the people are’.

Lean Methodologies: Product and Customer Development

Websites to Follow

  • Ramit Sethi – I Will Teach You to Be Rich – advice on freelancing, job interviewing, and saving for retirement while you’re young.
  • Michael Hyatt – advice on the publishing industry and how to build a platform to promote your business and services online.
  • Chris Brogan – advice on social media and how to build a platform.

Please let me know if you have any questions. I’d be happy to help.