The Secrets To Starting A Design Career: Tips From Top Designers

If you’re looking to break into the world of web design, it can be a bit overwhelming. There’s no way to know exactly what to expect or how to prepare for your first job in design. But one thing is for certain: if you’re serious about starting a career in this industry, there are some fundamental tips and guidelines you can follow to start things off on the right foot. 

We spoke with 10 successful designers about their best advice for those just beginning their journey into web design and came up with these 11 tips that will help new designers stand out from the pack.

The SECRET to Becoming a Successful Designer! – YouTube
Learn from experienced designers to kickstart your design career.
Seek inspiration from various sources to fuel your creativity.
Develop a strong portfolio showcasing your skills and versatility.
Network with industry professionals to gain insights and opportunities.
Stay updated on design trends and technologies to remain relevant.
Embrace challenges and continuously improve your design abilities.
Be open to feedback and constructive criticism for personal growth.
Cultivate effective communication skills to collaborate with clients.
Master design tools and software to execute your ideas effectively.
Be persistent, passionate, and proactive in pursuing your design career.

1. Create A Professional Portfolio

Your portfolio is your first impression, so you must put in the effort to make sure it shows your best work. A good portfolio will not only showcase your design skills but also show clients that you have an eye for detail and are dedicated to the craft of design. Here are some tips on how to create a great portfolio:

Create a personal website or blog where all of your work can be viewed in one place (example). This is especially helpful if you don’t have much experience yet – by having everything in one place, clients can see how far back and wide-ranging your skills go!

If possible, include links to examples of websites and apps created by people who inspire you (Example). You should also include links or screenshots from projects where other designers were involved (Example). 

This shows potential clients that you understand how teamwork works – which makes them more likely to hire someone like yourself!

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2. Develop Your Style

The best way to stand out from the crowd is to develop your unique style, so you don’t look like the competition. That doesn’t mean you should copy other designers, or copy their work in fact, you mustn’t do this! Instead, focus on what makes you different and show off those skills in your portfolio. 

Attend networking events where other designers gather; become a regular at local design fairs; get involved in the local design community. You’ll start seeing common themes and influences all around you the trick is finding ways to incorporate these into your work without blatantly copying them (or worse: being accused of stealing).

Developing your style also means trying new things and practicing being a good storyteller two things that can help build up a portfolio full of unique pieces that showcase who you are as a designer!

3. Attend Networking Events And Become A Regular At Local Design Fairs

A great way to meet new people is by getting involved in design fairs, which are held throughout the year. These events are a great opportunity for you to network and promote your work. You can also learn from other designers’ mistakes, as well as gain access to valuable business insights that can help you get ahead in your career.

Some of these events include:

The Designers Marketplace: An annual event held at The New York Hall Of Science that showcases emerging artists and designers from around New York City. It also includes workshops on marketing strategies, website development, and more!

Designer Day: A free event where visitors can shop for products created by local designers from around the world at their studio spaces or retail spaces (like Etsy).

If you’re new to the world of marketing research, our guide on A Beginner’s Guide to Marketing Research can help you navigate through the essentials and get started on the right foot.

4. Be Open To Criticism And Feedback

This is a key part of being a designer, and it’s a skill that can only be learned by doing. When you receive criticism or feedback from someone who knows more than you, do your best to stay calm, listen carefully and consider the merits of their input. 

You don’t have to agree with them on every point but if there are any points at all where they’re right (even ones where they’re wrong), make sure that you understand why they think so before dismissing what they say outright.

You also need to learn how to take criticism from clients without taking it personally and without letting it derail the project or create unnecessary tension between you two parties! Just remember: Your client may not always be right but if they want something done well enough that they’re willing to pay for it, then by all means give them what they want!

5. Practice Being A Good Storyteller

As a designer, you’ve got to be a good storyteller. This applies to your work and the process behind it, as well as anything else you want to talk about. Having a clear understanding of what makes a great story can help you communicate effectively and show off your talents.

Here are some tips for telling a good tale:

Know when to keep things simple and when it’s better just to leave them out altogether a good design should always be able to stand on its own without any words at all!

Make sure anyone listening can understand what they’re looking at without having seen any other parts of the project beforehand (if possible). 

It helps if there aren’t too many details in each image either; otherwise, it’d be tough for someone unfamiliar with the topic area being discussed right now the same goes for text blocks too!

6. Learn The Basics Of Business

You’ve done the work to get your business off the ground and you have a lot of great ideas. However, as you are no doubt aware, it takes more than just talent to make it in this world. Many other skills are necessary for success in design and entrepreneurship.

When it comes to being an entrepreneur, there is no one right way to do things because we all have our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to certain aspects of the business but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from others’ experiences!

This list contains some of the most important skills, anyone, starting in design (or any creative field) needs:

Curious about the data collection process in marketing research? Dive into our post detailing How I Collected the Data for My Marketing Research Project for a step-by-step breakdown.

7. Learn How To Take Risks

I have good news for you: risk is part of the design process. It’s a necessary evil, as they say (or, in this case, “good thing”). Risk is what makes us human and risk is what makes us designers. And don’t forget that if it wasn’t for all that risk-taking going on out there, we wouldn’t even have the internet to waste our time on!

In fact and I’m only telling you this because I love you I’m currently risking my career by writing this article because no one else has ever done anything quite like it before. 

And I could very well be fired from my job at any moment for being so bold as to suggest something like starting your own business or taking a class online or just wearing sweatpants instead of pants if it makes YOU feel more comfortable and confident in your day-to-day life…

8. Honesty Is The Best Policy

Honesty is the best policy. Honesty is important in all aspects of life, but for designers, it’s especially relevant because it has a direct impact on how you build trust with your clients and brand.

  • Being honest about what you can’t do as well as what you can do will give your clients confidence that they’re in good hands.
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question, tell them! It’s better than trying to guess or make something up just so they’ll like you more.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions if something is unclear you’re not going to be able to figure out their needs or deliver the best work if they aren’t being clear themselves!

9. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

This is a lesson that I learned the hard way. By working as a freelance designer for so many years, it was easy to get wrapped up in my head; I became very protective of my work and felt like it had to be perfect before anyone saw it. 

But after some time (and help from others), I realized that this type of thinking isn’t helpful at all in fact, it can hinder growth!

The best thing you can do for your career is open to criticism and corrections about your work because these are opportunities for improvement. It may seem scary at first but trust me it will pay off in the long run! 

Be willing to make mistakes because they help us learn more than our successes ever could alone. And lastly, don’t feel afraid to try something new or go outside of your comfort zone because this is how we grow our skillset!

10. Build Relationships With Friends And Family Who Support Your Endeavors

Building a support network is one of the most important things you can do to help build a successful design career. 

The people in your life who love and care about you will be there for you as you go through the ups and downs of starting, whether it’s helping keep your spirits up when things are tough or sharing new opportunities with them (and vice versa). 

Friends and family members are great sources of inspiration and motivation, too: they’ll want to see you succeed as much as anyone else does!

If there’s one piece of advice I could give that applies universally across all aspects of business and life, it would be this: surround yourself with positive people. It doesn’t matter how talented or skilled someone is if their attitude stinks; negativity has no place in any workplace environment.

Mastering effective phone interviews is crucial for gathering valuable insights. Explore our guide on The Most Effective Way to Conduct Interviews on the Phone to refine your interview techniques.

Take Advantage Of Every Opportunity.

This one is pretty simple. You never know where opportunities are going to come from and you have to be ready to jump on them when they do. There’s no way of knowing what might happen next, so always keep an open mind.

Don’t be afraid of failure! If you’re not failing regularly, then it’s probably not worth doing in the first place at least for your personal growth and development as a designer. 

If you’re always trying new things and taking risks with your work, there will inevitably be some failures along the way (it’s just science). 

But don’t let that deter you from continuing down that path; rather than giving up after a failed project or idea, ask yourself why it didn’t work out and what lessons can be learned from it moving forward?

Different marketing research methods offer unique perspectives. Learn about these diverse approaches in our article on 16 Types of Marketing Research and Why You Need Them, and discover how they can inform your design career strategies.


If you’re looking to break into a design career, you may have many questions. If so, don’t worry we have some answers that might help! In this article, we looked at the advice of some top designers in the industry and compiled their best tips for how to start your design career. 

We covered everything from how to decide what kind of designer you want to be, how to build a portfolio and get noticed, and how to grow in your role once you’ve landed that first job. 

Hopefully, this guide has helped demystify the process of finding work as professional designers; however, each situation will be unique depending on where you’re located geographically or your specific interests within this field. 

No matter what path lies ahead of them though, all new designers should keep these recommendations in mind when launching their careers.

Further Reading

Explore these additional resources to enhance your knowledge in graphic design and related fields:

8 Simple Tips on How to Get Started as a Graphic Designer: Discover valuable insights and tips for beginning your graphic design journey effectively.

Tips, Secrets, and Insights from Leading Fashion Designers: Delve into the world of fashion design and gain inspiration from the advice shared by renowned fashion designers.

How to Be a Good Graphic Designer: Career Development Advice: Explore career development tips and strategies to excel as a graphic designer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Best Way To Make A Portfolio?

There are two ways to start a designer portfolio: build it yourself or find an existing one.

If you’re building your own, use free tools like Canva and Visme that allow you to create beautiful designs for social media and websites. You can also check out more information about what types of projects matter in design in this blog post from Michael Schmidt, along with tips on how to make the most of them.

How Do You Get Started In Design?

Many designers advise starting with freelance work before trying to get hired as an employee at a company or agency (if at all possible). This allows you to build your skills outside of working hours and test every aspect of being self-employed before making the jump into full-time employment. 

Asking around locally is likely your best bet here there are plenty of start-ups who need help with branding or web development but don’t want anything too formal right now.

What Is The Best Way To Start A Design Career?

There are many different paths designers take, but most will agree that you should get experience directing people through a problem-solving process and understanding how to analyze data. 

If you can do these things, then you will be able to add value more easily in any role as an individual contributor or leader at any company. The best way for most people is through internships or entry-level positions at companies that provide opportunities for growth and learning.

What Are The Best Ways To Build A Portfolio When Starting?

Your portfolio must reflect your skills and interests so people can see what type of work excites you most! You’ll also want it to be presented well with clear navigation between projects with minimal distraction (like social media links). 

It’s helpful if every piece has some kind of narrative even if it’s just “I made this over winter break!”, which shows self-motivation and passion for craftsmanship even in your downtime.

What Do You Do To Stay Motivated?

I love to run, so I usually try to do that every day. It helps me clear my head and get in the zone for work.

How Do You Stay On Top Of Trends In Your Industry?

I’m a lifelong student of design I keep up with the latest trends by reading blogs, magazines, and books. Everything from how colors are used in branding or typography can spark an idea for a new piece of work!

How Is It Possible To Manage Your Time While Working With Clients Around The Clock? 

When starting as a freelancer or entrepreneur, it can be hard not knowing what’s going on behind closed doors at all times during those first few years. 

Fortunately, there are tools available now that weren’t around when I started! One example is Basecamp 3 which allows me (and my clients) access anywhere thanks to mobile apps so we’re always connected even if working remotely outside our offices’ walls.”

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