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Dribbble is one of the most popular places for designers to show their work. It is also a very popular place for designers to find inspiration. And, as such, dribbble has very high barriers to entry. It is hard to get there. You can create an account, but you need to get an invite Otherwise, you are not allowed to post. Without the invite, you can only like shots and follow other designers. This article will give you four tips, which I hope, will help you find your way in.
Master the fundamentals of design and your craft
My first tip is quite simple. Learn and master the fundamentals of design. Dribbble is a place where designers show only their best work. It is like a gallery. There is no space for anything less than great. You have to take your design skills to the highest level. Then, you have to progress even farther. On dribbble you can post your shot only once. Meaning, you can edit the text, but you can’t edit the shot. If you are not sure about some detail, you should not post it.
I know that this is article about getting invite on dribbble, not about building a portfolio there. However, that is the next step. When you get the invite, you have to show something. Before you do that, your design skills should be already developed, at least to some extend. So, take this “pre-dribbble” time as your opportunity to work on yourself as a designer.
Review and analyze your skills and your work. Find these weaker spots. Then, immerse yourself in reading the theory and practice. Do whatever you need to do in order to turn your weakness into strengths. Also, reach out to other designers and show them your work. Ask them for feedback. I would say, reach out to your role models and ask them. The higher you can go, the better. Only the very best can spot the smallest problems others might miss.
Fear, attachment and ego
If you are afraid of presenting your work, don’t be. Remember that this is your opportunity to learn and grow as a designer. Never take feedback personally. No matter how hard the feedback is, it is a feedback on your work, not you personally. I understand that you are attached to your work, that it is a part of you. It is like your child. I feel it the same way. However, this must not stop you from accepting even very harsh feedback and learning from it. The same is true for your ego.
Having too big ego can be as dangerous as having too small or no ego at all. It is okay to be proud of work, if it is really good. It is okay to pat yourself on the shoulder. Then, you have to look at your work from distance, detached from it. Suppress your ego for a moment. Take a look at your work and look for anything you could do better the next time. No detail is too small. You have to sweat even the smallest details. Be hard on yourself because this is what separates good from great.
Your work will never be perfect. There will always be something, that small thing, you could do better. Chasing perfection is okay. In a fact, chasing perfection is necessary for mastering anything and becoming great and it. Take a look at the top five people in any industry. Design, business, sport, whatever you want. What they all have in common is that drive for perfection. They never rest on laurels. Instead, they are constantly pushing themselves. I suggest you do the same.
So, no matter how good you think you are, keep learning. Then, practice what you’ve learned. Then, review your work and ask for feedback. Finally, repeat the process. Patience and persistence are the keys. If you want to become great designer, you will need both, in large doses. So, the first step? Go back to basics and master them.
Make good work, a lot of it
The second step is doing a lot of really good work. Dribbble is a place where designers present only their best pieces. In order to get dribbble invite, you must have something to show. You have to give people reason to give you their invite. There is only one way to do this. You have to do the work and design something. And, this has to be really good. It has to grab attention on the first sight, or in just a few seconds. Don’t rely on the second sight or chance. This may never happen.
You want to create something so good people will not want to do anything else than give you their invite, or get you in touch someone who can. This is also why following my first tip, mastering the basics, can be useful. Immersing yourself in learning and daily practice will inevitably lead to relatively big body of work. And, the more of a good work you can show, the bigger the chances someone will give you her dribbble invite. Also, you will have material for your portfolio.
Lastly, keep in mind that getting dribbble invite is not the end. It is actually only the first step. When you find someone who will give you her invite, you have to start working on your dribbble portfolio. This will be hard with nothing great to show. So, work on yourself, work on your skills and work on your portfolio. Remember that every piece you design is a reason for giving, or not giving, you the dribbble invite. Make a lot of good work. Stack the reasons in your favor, not the opposite.
Let’s assume you mastered the basics of design. You are also working hard on your skills and immersing yourself in practice. As a result, you have a lot of really good work to show. The third step is to show it. I know that you can’t publish your work on dribbble, yet. And, I’m not talking about showing your work there. What I am talking about is showing your work on social media you like. Do you like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or any other social network? Share it there.
Here is the thing. People will not discover your until you put it out there. This is something a lot of us neglect. We think that our work happens only in graphic editor. Or text editor if you like to design with code. This is not true. It is only one part of our work. The second part is posting our work on social media channels where people can find it. And, even this is not as simple as it may sound. Social media are full of noise, and bots. Posting once or twice is not enough.
In addition, some social media channels are a better fit for visual content, such as your shots, than others. Also, you need to post on channel that has active users (real people, not bots). In the best case, at least some of these people should be designers who already have portfolio on dribbble. In the end, these are the people who should discover your work.
What if you are not using any social media channel or network? Start with those popular among designers. There are designers who like to publish their work only on dribbble and / or Behance. However, there are others who share their work on social media as well. As far as I know, Instagram is very popular on design scene. So, you can start here. I also like Twitter a lot. It is my favorite social network. Instagram is close second. Another network, like Instagram, I like is Ello.
Anyway, what my favorite network is doesn’t matter. Find one, two or how many you want, you will find interesting and be active there. Just make sure that you are not the only designer there and you can share visuals. Other than that, the choice is at your hands. Lastly, share only your best work, nothing else. Think about that channel is your own dribbble or gallery. Show only your best.
This will look like a no-brainer. However, a lot of us, designers, believe that just doing the work and sharing is enough. We like to think that after they publish their work, someone will find them through it and offer them dribbble invite. Although this might happen, it is very unlikely. Such a situation is rather an edge case. In most cases, nobody will show up with an invite. It is like that saying: “If you build it, they will come.” This is not how the world really works.
In reality, doing the work and sharing it is only one part of the process. Another one is actually asking for it. If you want to get an invite, and start building your presence on dribbble, you have to go farther. First, you have to find someone who has an invite. Then, you have to connect with her and show her your best work, hopefully not only one piece. Finally, you must have the courage to ask for the invite. This is sometimes the hardest step, the asking part.
Remember, it is not job of that person to automatically offer you the invite. It doesn’t matter if she thinks you are looking for an invite or not. She may assume it and she may not. By the way, second-guessing what she thinks or none of your business. You have to ask for it explicitly. This job is only yours. It is like a race. You have to not only start it, and run it, but you have to also finish it. Are you nervous? Or, are you afraid of how will you look? Don’t be. Ask anyway, just don’t be pushy.
My very short story
This is how I got my dribbble invite. I connected with another designer on twitter, through #dribbbleinvite hashtag, or something similar. I showed him my best work. Then, I asked him about the invite. This whole conversation took only about a day and half. The next day, he send me a message about giving me his invite. To this day, I am grateful for this opportunity he gave me. I also follow his work. If you are reading this article, let me say it once again. Thank you very much.
Was this planned? No. Sure, I used the right hashtag and was willing to ask. However, I did the same thing many times before without success. In a fact, I usually didn’t get any reply at all. So, my final advice is this. Reach out and ask. Nobody will do it for you. If you “fail”, reach and ask again, and again and again. Sooner or later, you will find the right person.
Also, keep working on your skills. Reaching out and asking is not an excuse for not doing the work, for not designing. Use this period of asking to push your work to the next level. Getting on dribbble is just the beginning. You also have to have something to show. Empty portfolio on dribbble is just as useful as having no portfolio at all. So, do great work, reach out and ask. Then, repeat.
Connect with other designers
This is the last thing I want to quickly discuss with you. Don’t focus only on getting the dribbble invite. And, don’t focus only on sharing your work. Go beyond that. Use your work, design and social media to create relationships with other designers. Reach out to other designers and start a conversation with them. You can ask them about their work, favorite books or hobbies. Well, it might be better to introduce yourself first. Otherwise, it might look suspicious.
Anyway, stop trying to be interesting and try to be interested, at least for a moment. You can learn a lot just by talking with people and listening them. I mean really listening, not just waiting until you get the word. I know this might be harder on social media, but at least try it. Who knows, maybe some of the relationships you create this way will result in something much better than just dribbble invite. Maybe you will find a new friend, partner or job. Just try.
I just realized one thing. You don’t have to rely on social media and the Internet. What is a better way to get in touch with designers on dribbble than dribbble meetup? It doesn’t matter that you have not been invited yet. Go there and socialize. Find interesting people, talk about design and non-design stuff, ask for advice and tips, find new friends. Remember, dribbble is more than just a place to share gorgeous shots. It is also a community of passionate people. Become part of it.
Closing thoughts on dribbble and becoming a player
You reached the end of this article. I hope you found the tips we discussed useful. Aside from these tips, there is one thing I would like you to remember. Focus on the process and making steady progress. Although having some goal, such as getting on place like dribbble, can be a very good motivation, don’t do it only for that. Find something else, something deep inside you, that will help you keep going, even in those very tough times.
Getting on dribbble and becoming a player with large base of followers can be very motivating. I was chasing this goal as well. There are only two problems. The first one is that you have only little control over this goal. Sure, you can work as hard as you can and create the best work. You can push yourself to your limits with every pixel. However, you still need to find someone with invite and willingness to give it to you.
The second problem is, what happens next? Imagine that you will get the invite. Then, let’s say you will build a profile that will attract a lot of people to follow you. What’s your next goal? Chasing the likes and views with every published shot? Trying to get every shot you uploaded to the selection of most popular ones? Do you really want to pursue such a vanity goals like these? Is this the reason you do design? Or, do you have some bigger and more meaningful goal in mind?
Getting on dribbble and becoming a player is a very good way to get your work out. It is also a great place to connect with many great designers. However, you should not want to get on dribbble just for the sake of it. And, neither should you do design for this reason. Do design because you love it. Create great work. Then, use dribbble as a way to show it, not for the likes or views. Do it to inspire and move other designers.
Do you have any questions, recommendations, thoughts, advice or tip you would like to share with other readers of this blog, and me? Great! Please share it in a comment. Or, if you want to keep things more "private", feel free to contact me on twitter or send me a mail. I would love to hear from you.
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