My first project could have been my last.
When I was nearing the end of design school and beginning the interview process, I met with lots of people. Some of them had design jobs that they were looking to fill. Others were designers or marketers I admired and wanted to interview for my own learning.
One particular person I met with knew my family and knew of the family-owned business they ran. His challenge to me was before I try to work for anyone else – I needed to get the marketing and materials under control for my dad's business.
Well, this was a challenge. Bradham Brothers had never even had the need to advertise. The majority of the business came from word of mouth and this remains to be the case. The recommendation of a good hvac company from a neighbor is one hundred times as compelling as an ad in the local newspaper.
As you may or may not understand, working for yourself or for family members can be much harder than creating work, publicizing, changing things for anyone else.
Over the years, we've updated the Bradham Brothers logo, materials, and even the trucks. It's been fun to see the brand evolve. We took a big step up by working with an advertising agency and moving into digital marketing with a robust website. All of this has taken time. Like lots of time...I mean, decades.
So, if I had listened to the advice of that one well-meaning marketer, and gotten my family business "under control" before I moved on, I never would have had a design career!
Similarly, promoting myself and my business may always be a struggle for me, but I've never let it keep me from doing the work I want to do.
To the young designer who doesn't know how to promote themselves, the best thing to do may be to forget about yourself all together. Start making work for others, don't be afraid to get help with your self-promotion when you need it, and let your clients tell their neighbors about how good you are at what you do.