You’ve probably found yourself endlessly scrolling through your social media feed, admiring works of established and aspiring fashion designers just like you – all seeking to make their mark in the industry. With all the developments in tech, coupled with the ever-evolving fashion industry, the influence of social media and online platforms has become increasingly significant.
But with a plethora of online platforms available, how do you choose the right ones to showcase your work and find the best opportunities?
In this article, I’ll let you know the best online platforms for fashion designers and guide you on how to leverage each platform strategically.
If you’re a beginner DIYing your fashion career and looking for a great place to start, or a seasoned pro who feels like they’re in a rut and in need of some upgrade, this guide is perfect for you!
A big disclaimer before I get started on anything – building your online presence is NOT a prerequisite to work in the fashion industry. Recognize that these social platforms are here to supplement you with finding opportunities and not DISTRACT you from them.
Let me tell you about the perks of building an online presence in the fashion industry.
Now, let’s explore the most recommended platforms and see which one fits your needs the best.
We can’t talk about professional networking without mentioning LinkedIn. This oldie but goodie not only serves as an excellent social platform to connect with industry peers, but also hosts tons of recruiters from fashion brands itching to find someone like you.
An optimized LinkedIn profile can boost visibility within the fashion industry, leading to exciting collaborations and career opportunities. If you want to learn some tips, here’s an interview with Aashika, a freelancer who’s had clients pouring in from Linkedin!
Linkedin is best for:
If you’re a freelance fashion designer, you’ve probably heard about Upwork. Upwork is one of the go-to freelancing platforms where users can connect and apply to job postings from clients all over the world.
What I find great about Upwork is it’s a one-stop-shop for all your work. You can showcase your portfolio, apply to jobs, set your rates, and receive reviews all in one place. Plus, with the added option to create a project catalog, clients can easily ‘shop’ for your unique services.
I’ve heard a lot of success stories on Upwork like Stayce who landed a 10K project on Upwork or Lucia, a textile designer who’s charging $60 an hour on Upwork. How amazing is that?
Upwork is best for:
Mostly used by graphic designers, Behance is a great place to showcase your portfolio online. The clean and user-friendly interface makes it easy for both the designers and clients to navigate their work. The best part – there’s no limit on the amount of projects you can include for free!
Behance is best for:
If you have the time and skills (…or budget), a customized website is the ultimate playground for those who want complete control over their platform. If you’re a designer with an eye for aesthetics and want to create a unique space that represents your fashion brand, personality, and creativity, building your customized website is a great choice.
A customized website is best for:
Pro-tip: I typically don’t recommend customized sites, especially when you’re getting started. I’ve seen too many fashion designers spend MONTHS building a website that, honestly, is meh. The user interface is confusing, it’s got too much content, and it just doesn’t look that professional. Sticking to a simple option like Behance, creating a PDF portfolio, or just having a few screenshots on your LinkedIn profile can be sufficient.
One of the biggest social media apps with over 2 billion users, Instagram has consistently been the go-to photo sharing platform online. If you have a flair for visual storytelling and want to connect with an engaged community, Instagram is a great place to showcase your latest designs, share your creative process, build a loyal following, and also find inspiration from other talented fashion designers just like you.
Instagram is best for:
Pro-tip: A lot of my FAST students have strategically leveraged Instagram to get more freelance clients. They don’t do it by regularly posting allllll the time and using the right hashtags (because you don’t have to!). Instead, they create a very niche profile that instantly shows brands who they are and what they do. It’s not always about quantity, but rather about being clear and specific on your offer. Alison (a freelance patternmaker who makes 75% more money freelancing than she did in her previous industry job) and Lucia (a freelance kidswear designer who charges $60/hour) are two great examples of very dialed in Instagram accounts.
If you want to create longer form content (like I do!), Youtube is an awesome social platform for fashion designers who love to dive deep into their creative process and share insightful content. With detailed design tutorials and fashion-related content, you can establish yourself as an authority in the fashion niche and attract potential customers, collaborators, and fellow fashion enthusiasts.
Youtube is best for:
Quick disclaimer: Let me set some realistic expectations. While social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube boast massive user bases, the truth is, the majority of people using these platforms aren’t actively seeking to hire fashion designers. It is NOT required to have a presence on either one!
But that also doesn’t mean social media apps have no value for fashion designers. Instead, consider them as an EXTENSION of your platform and build them out as you have EXTRA time. Link your work profiles and upload your work to build an engagement and showcase your creative process to a broader audience.
Before you dive into any of the social platforms I’ve mentioned above, it’s important to develop a clear understanding of your real life goals and priorities. Take the time to reflect on what you truly want to achieve as a fashion designer. Are you looking to launch your own fashion brand, collaborate with established designers, or secure freelance clients? Defining your objectives will help you navigate the multitudes of online platforms and focus on the ones that align best with your aspirations.
Avoid spreading yourself too thin by trying to manage presence across all possible sites simultaneously. Concentrate your efforts on one or two (max!) platforms where you feel most comfortable and confident about potential reach and engagement. Quality over quantity!
Remember, building your online presence should complement your overall career strategy, NOT overshadow it. Each platform serves a specific purpose, and it’s crucial to select those that complement your chosen path in the fashion industry. Whether you prioritize professional networking, showcasing your portfolio, or engaging with a broader audience – tailor your approach to suit your individual needs.
I know that these things take a lot of work to build. I’ve been there! And that’s why I created my Freelance Accelerator: from Surviving to Thriving (FAST), to support you step-by-step.
Know that you are not alone in this journey, and with the right tools, you can fast track your fashion career and achieve your goals!