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How much should you spend on promoting yourself as a freelancer?

In today's competitive creative marketplace, a strong skillset and a stunning portfolio simply aren't enough to guarantee your big break. Savvy self-promotion can be the difference between winning your dream design job or struggling to make ends meet.

We've already looked at how to get your name out there (opens in new tab) without breaking the bank, and how to monitor (opens in new tab) to your self-promo efforts. Here, we break down four tiers of spending and explain what you can get for your money…

01. £0–£50

There are lots of ways to promote yourself where the only cost is your time: contributing to blogs and forums, sharing tips with other designers, posting works in progress on Instagram (opens in new tab), self-publishing eBooks or videos.

You'll also find free services useful such as MailChimp (opens in new tab)'s email management service, WordPress (opens in new tab)/Medium (opens in new tab) blog hosting and visual social networks such as Pinterest (opens in new tab) and Tumblr (opens in new tab). Don't forget free ads to local businesses on Craigslist or Gumtree too.

02. £50–£150

You'll find many forms of printed promotion sitting in this price bracket, and if you get friendly with your local independent print shop or spend plenty of time comparing online prices you'll find that you can produce a lot of good quality printed promo material for a folded fifty or two.

This bracket is where you'll find paid advertising in business directories, local newspapers, local organisations' fundraising magazines and so on. It's also where you'll find small-scale leaflet distribution if you want to save your own shoe leather.

03. £150–£300

Costs start to rise if your promotional items are intricate, quirky or just extremely expensive to make, and they'll also rise if you're making physical products you intend to sell.

For actual products you've got two choices here. You can throw your lot in with a print-on-demand service and accept the higher selling prices and lower margins that inevitably result from the low-risk approach, or you can risk your own cash on getting the items made and hope you sell enough to recover your costs.

04. £300+

Inevitably, moving up the cost scale allows you to really stretch your creative muscles. For something really off the wall, you could hire a postabike (that's a bike with big posters on the back) to tour your target city.

The posters will set you back £150, and hiring the bike and rider comes in at £365 (alternative-advertising.co.uk). If you've got that sort of money, professional grade podcasting is also an option.

To give your project a pro feel you'll need editing software, a microphone and also a sound-proofed recording booth. Finally, proving the sky is the limit, you can hire a blimp for £350 a day (minimum hire two days). Helium canisters are £150 each.

The full version of this article first appeared inside Computer Arts issue 240 (opens in new tab), a self-promotion special. Get up to 55 per cent off a subscription to CA here (opens in new tab).

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The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began back in 2012. The current website team consists of six full-time members of staff: Editor Kerrie Hughes, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Deals Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Digital Arts and Design Editor Ian Dean, and Staff Writer Amelia Bamsey, as well as a roster of freelancers from around the world. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq.