Logo designer goes from zero to hero thanks to TikTok


James Barnard. Source: Supplied

Anyone who has ever used TikTok knows the power of the world’s most viral platform.

All it takes is one video to truly skyrocket a person’s visibility on the platform, and ultimately their business — if they’ve got one.

Such is the story of an Australia-based logo designer who is now urging freelancers and small businesses to harness the power of social media, after going off on TikTok with one of his videos.

James Barnard started his design career over thirteen years ago in London, before moving to Australia in 2021 and specialising in logo design. His award-winning work has been published on the cover of The Logo Lounge and he’s a live design tutor with Adobe, as well as an Adobe product ambassador.

But two years ago, it was a very different story for Barnard.

Turning adversity into opportunity

“In 2021 I made the mistake of listing my floor price for a logo design on my website, which led to me receiving only one lead in two months. I depleted most of my savings trying to stay afloat. That was until I started finding success on TikTok,” he said.

With those familiar with creative videos on the social media platform, it is fairly common for artists to create timelapse videos. These videos capture the complete process of a design — right from a blank screen or a page to the finished product.

That is exactly what he did. But it was really when James got in front of the camera that the views started rolling in.

A stitch video to the question “Tell me something that’s an absolute flex to a niche group but means absolutely nothing to the majority” hit more than 3 million views and saw his TikTok following skyrocket. Absolutely go off!

“Overnight my inbox went from receiving three to four leads a week, to something like 70 leads in a single day,” Barnard said.

“Over the course of the week the video went viral, I converted so many jobs that it had me booked out designing logos for three months solid. Since then, there has been at least a two-month waitlist to work with me.”

Producing more on-camera video content and expanding to Instagram, James went viral again in September 2022 with a video reaching 15 million views. This saw his Instagram following jump up by more than 100,000 followers in two weeks.


Give me an example of how your job has ruined everyday life for you. #stitchthis #questionoftheday #designtok

♬ original sound – James Barnard

James said social media is now responsible for more than 90% of his sales leads and last year for the first time, his business turned over six figures — a 65% increase year-over-year. That would make sense for he has over 301,000 followers on Instagram and over 139,600 on TikTok.

Uncertainty looms

But with the United States now staring down the barrel of a TikTok ban, James is concerned his financial success will be short-lived. Half of his followers and a large portion of his clients are from the US.

“In the 2022-2023 financial year, $32,000 of my income from logo design was from a US client that found me through TikTok. That’s just under 20% of my business.”

Despite the uncertainty, James is a major advocate for freelancers using social media to their advantage. He said one viral video is all it takes to transform your business.

“TikTok for business is a hugely untapped resource. There are real businesses out there looking to spend real money,” Barnard shared.

“People love to watch people work on TikTok and Instagram, and if you can give people a behind-the-scenes look at your process or working life, or grow them as a person by providing value in your
video content, then you’ll grow quickly.”

There are important lessons to learn from this story. First and foremost, all it takes is one video to tap into the potential of a market that is no longer bound by geographical restraints. The second is to remember that TikTok fame is fleeting.

While a viral video can expose you to a new set of audience, you have to constantly provide them with value to make them stick — which is exactly what James does. A look at his social media would reveal that he has constantly been producing content that provides a value addition to his followers which further helped him grow on the platform, ultimately contributing to the success of this logo design business.


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