September 13, 2013

Who Follows Freelance Graphic Designers on Twitter?

This word cloud shows the job descriptions of people following the most popular freelance graphic designers, illustrators and web designers on Twitter. In August 2013 these creative professionals' followings roughly summed up to 680 000 people.

Who Follows Graphic Designers, Web Designers, and Illustrators on Twitter

An early position in the cloud means this professional category follows many of the creative professionals on the list.

For example, the early postion of “Graphic Designer” means that almost all the creative professionals on the list (89%) are followed by graphic designers to some extent.

Graphic designer Jan Marshall is an exception to this. Her following slants towards writers and people interested in literature (which is great since Jan specializes in book cover designs).

A large font means the professional category also makes up a high percentage of the following of relevant accounts.

For example, the late position but large font of “Comic Artist” indicates that there are few creatives on the list with a large chunk of comic artists in their Twitter followings. In fact, the one's on the list having exactly that are Cliff Chiang (an ex Disney Vertigo/DC Comics illustrator) and Noelle Stevenson (creator of the webcomic Nimona).

Another example, the early position but small font of “creative director” means that most of the creatives on the top list (16 of them to be exact) are indeed followed by creative directors. However, just a small proportion of their following consists of them.

What does this mean for what you should tweet (or blog) about?

To sum it up. The chunk of most freelance creative professionals' Twitter followings consists of fellow graphic designers, web designers and illustrators.

Whats's wrong with that? Nothing, not necessarily. It depends on your target group.

The content the top list people are publishing is perfect if your target group is other creative professionals. For example, when you sell Photoshop plugins, UI kits, or stock vector graphics their type of content attracts the right audience.

However, if your target group is buyers of freelance design services you need to tweet and blog about something different.

The big players often tweet about graphic design and freelance life in general. You might be tempted to do the same. And yes, if your Twitter following is massive as theirs you can “afford” to be general. For example, Jacob Cass has 63 000 followers. And, of course, in a such a big Twitter following there will be a tiny percentage of people actually commissioning design work. Probably enough to generate some leads for him personally.

However, if you are a small player – and chances are you are – you are better off publishing content geared specifically towards people actually buying design work.

In his blog post Brent Galloway, a freelance graphic designer with a budding, but excellent blog, puts his finger on this problem:

So where’s this major flaw that I’m just now noticing?! I’m attracting the wrong audience. It’s obvious that my content is geared to freelancers like myself […] My blog has grown dramatically over the past couple of months, but the truth is, I’ve put myself in a terrible situation […] My content is repelling potential clients, and attracting competition!  This is where I need to refocus my content strategy […] the new content will be geared towards client related topics. Topics that will educate and provide solutions for clients. Ultimately my goal with this change is to reach out to my ideal customers. Making connections with other freelancers makes me feel great, but sales from clients is what helps me live great.