Discover your design niche

Discover your design niche - student project

I graduated university 7 months ago with a double major in Graphic design and Photography. I still haven't developed a good portfolio that will get me a good full time work.I had been exploring and trying to figure out how m I going to build it and what I love to do most. So, i tried a few lessons and I tend to get bored of the project if I'm working on it for too long or i don't get any inspiration. This is one thing I find difficult to be inspired. However, if we talk about photography, planning out a photo shoot and prop making is always what excites me. After all that jazz, I always get so excited doing some editing for post production. And of course video editing and animations is another thing really excites me.


I had been always fascinated with art and drawings. I started making art since I was in primary school using my mother's used charcoal from when she finishes grilling. I love to get my hands dirty so i will grab her used charcoal mostly the small bits and use it for painting in to the paper. Sometimes, I will turn it in to powder form and use my brush to paint different shades and tones. I tried getting back to it and still enjoys it so much. I recently played around with procreate in my ipad for maybe half an hour for a quick doodle, i came up with the above eye image using the charcoal brush in the app. I didn't finish the hair line but just to see how brilliant the app is, wow! I was speechless. Anyway, it took me this long until I saw Lindsay Marsh lesson about "Discovering your Niche" I kinda had a bit of clarity. 


At first i had only my top 2 but then looking back to what i enjoyed most since I was just a kid, I now have my top 3:

1. Digital design and social media

2. UX/UI design

3. Pattern/illustration


Here is how I figured out my top 3 niche: Lindsay put together this action or game plan to start learning and developing the right skills to master my top three focal niches to eventually develop your speciality. Trust me, this really helped me a lot!

Is there any new software I need to learn? If so which ones? Create your list with the top in the list being first priority.

  • Photo Editing Program (Photoshop etc.) - I probably need some refresher and update my skills in using Photoshop
  • Wireframing Tools (Adobe Xd, Sketch etc.) 
  • Sketching and Drawing Apps (Procreate etc.) now that I have procreate and affinity designer installed in my ipad I probably need to practice more often
  • Art Mediums? (Drawing, sketching, painting, watercolor etc.) - I'd say digital drawing and vector illustrations would be very handy. I am not so good at patterns but its one thing i could learn too
  • Website Creation Apps (Webflow, Squarespace, Wordpress, Wix etc.) - I would love to learn wordpress along with Elementor-a page builder. I heard it a lot and I would like to try making projects with them. Also, I am intrigued by webflow!

Is there any design theory I need to brush up on? If so, what?
Color Theory

  • Photography and Photo Editing
  • Sketching, Drawing
  • Illustration
  • UX/UI Theory


I may need to do a few practice projects first before taking on client work, what will be my first practice project in this niche?
Example: Social Media Ad Campaign, Web Design Layout, Logo Design. Feel free to be as detailed as you like about this project. An example of this can be seen in my student project in the class.


Project 1___Social Media Ad Campaign__

Project 2___Web design or App design___


Project 3___Photo editing or maybe something to do with animation__



Fears, Hopes and Dreams about shifting to a new design focus/niche? 


(Example: digital design is new to me, and I fear I will not be able to learn all the software involved) not quite sure how I will need to present or even how to present a successful marketing campaign/add in portfolio?  I am also worried that it has been 7 months and i haven't even got a portfolio to apply for a job. I did an internship but to be honest that studio was too busy to even talk to an intern so i didn't learn anything. I am now worried that i don't have a real client project that i can practice dealing with real clients. All in all, I am worried that it may take another year before i can have a polished portfolio. 

I hope to switch in this design focus as my main income someday





 I dream that this will change my life for the better and I can ENJOY my job)

 and be able to work from home in my own studio with a stable income :)




Extra questions to think about during this process

 Do I need to present campaigns/ads in my portfolio that will show that it has been used and present data to prove that its successful? (i had been reading job ads for digital marketing and some require this and i do not know what could be the best way to approach it. how to test/run a Facebook ad when there is no real client?) 


Interested in going freelance? Or staying in-house at a company with this design focus?
Absolutely! freelance would be ideal but I don't mind working full time as in-house designer

What is your timeline in learning the new tools and skills required for some of these focuses?
(Example: Learn Wordpress by next April etc.)
i guess before everything gets back to normal. less than a year hopefully. The sooner the better

What are some general action items for me so I can start moving forward?
Take a class, connect with a mentor in a similar space, join social media groups of a similar focus, downloading the software I need to learn, buying a few books in this focus, creating some practice projects?
Take a class and get motivated. I tend to get bored of things when I've been doing it for too long so I should probably try to fix that and stay inspired.


A link to my Skillshare profile where you can find several of the class recommendations above.

Ana Samaniego

Lifestyle photographer