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If you have some graphic design skills and you want to know how to start a graphic design business, I have a few tips for you to get you up and running.
Eager to make money as a graphic designer? Let’s get started.
Keep in mind that the first stages of setting up your graphic design business will be hard.
Not hard because the industry is saturated but because the competition is rough out there, especially if no one knows you!
But hey, competition is all good! This means there’s demand in the field!
I encourage you to start, to settle down and persevere. The rest will follow!
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1. Know Your Skills
First of all, you need to understand your skills.
Take a few hours, write down what makes you passionate about design.
Passion plays a great role in every business. If you’re not passionate enough, you may run out of steam very quickly.
Passion and skills are often tied together.
Let me tell you that the graphic design business is super vast and you don’t want to offer every single type of graphic design service that exists under the sun.
You might opt for a few of them though.
Take the time you need to analyze what you love designing, what level of design will you be able to deliver and so on.
Because this will determine how much you will charge for your services.
2. Choose A Niche
Well, this one is a bit of a controversy. I will share my opinion on why you should choose a niche for your graphic design business and also why as a beginner, you shouldn’t choose a niche.
As an experienced graphic designer and owner of a digital agency, I know what I’m telling you here!
You’re the only one who should decide which path you want to take.
Why Should You Choose A Niche when you start a graphic design business
Well, if you want to contact enterprise clients, big corporates and have the earnest desire to make money with graphic design, then niching down will be very profitable.
Corporates are more keen to work with people that have experience in their industry.
Why is this?
Big enterprise clients have the budget to spend on graphic design needs. That’s what makes them very demanding.
Consequently, they are always on the lookout for someone who has already worked for another company in the same industry as them.
Let’s say you’ve reached out to a law firm, I can assure you the first question they’ll ask you is “Have you done this kind of job for another law firm?”
If you’ve never worked with another company in the same industry, they’ll see you as “unfit” for their project.
They will immediately think you won’t have the necessary knowledge or expertise to deal with their pain points and specific needs. Do you get my point?
Why Not Choose A Niche?
Well, if you’re looking to make money as a graphic designer, sometimes you have no choice but to take on every project that comes your way.
If you really need money, I won’t tell you to stick to a niche until you find a client in the aerospace industry for example. I get you!
So then you want to go a bit broad in your niche selection. At this stage, you might want to take on different projects from different industries to get the experience and the money of course.
Only after getting your hands on a few projects and feel a preference for a certain niche to work in, you can then start niching down and choose to offer your services to one or a few specific industries.
3. Build A Portfolio
A portfolio is one of the most essential assets in your hands as a burgeoning graphic designer. Without a portfolio, say goodbye to clients, projects and money.
I don’t have to tell you that your prospects will always want to see your past work.
Since every prospect has a different taste, they just won’t pay you to design something for them if they don’t know your design style.
Having a professional portfolio is, therefore, a good way to attract clients and close design deals.
Potential clients will definitely get in touch with you if they like what they see in your portfolio.
So, that’s why it’s important to have an amazing and updated portfolio.
Portfolio tips that will make you stand out as a graphic designer:
- Use Photoshop Mockups to showcase your artwork like a pro (Don’t just put a logo design on a black or white background and upload it your portfolio – clients will close their eyes)
- Upload your best works (Don’t just upload a bunch of random artworks but choose the best ones)
- Document your uploaded artworks. (Briefly explain the project, how you came up with the concept etc…many prospects will judge you on this)
Displaying your artwork online is a MUST if you want to make money as a graphic designer.
Get exposure, connections and obviously clients by showing off your skills. Try to get your artwork on a few platforms for graphic designers such as Behance and Dribbble.
When I first started with graphic design, almost my paid projects came from Behance!
4. Get Your Own Website
If you want to get serious about your graphic design business, getting your own website live is a must.
A portfolio on Behance won’t make the cut if you want to land big clients!
And if you want to serve big clients, you’ve gotta look professional.
Your own website will be your personal space to which you want to attract your potential clients.
Your own website is not about showcasing your artwork only but it’s, in fact, a strategic tool in your hands for business growth.
5. Take Inspiration From Experts
Moreover, another thing that will really help you as you’re starting out is to take inspiration from those on the high end…the experts!
By any means, I’m not saying you should copy their artwork.
But instead, see what they are doing, try to find where they are succeeding, don’t be afraid to reach out to them to ask questions…
If you’ve already chosen a specific design type, look for a few experts in the same area and analyze them at every angle.
You will see this will have a positive impact on your future graphic design business.
6. Equip Yourself
After, getting your mindset ready for the big plunge, you need to invest in your materials.
As a graphic designer, you will need a robust design system that won’t let you down in the middle of a serious project.
Before choosing your pieces of equipment it should be already clear enough what type of design services you want to provide.
You don’t want to spend money on stuff you won’t use! For e.x, let’s say you want to offer logo & brand identity design services, it’s unnecessary to purchase the Adobe Creative Suite.
Photoshop & Illustrator will be enough for this purpose!
As per your services, make a list of all the types of equipment you’ll need and please choose the best…I can’t stress enough on the importance of quality in graphic design tools.
7. Join Communities
There’s one stage in the life of every designer that is both good and bad: loneliness
It’s true that when you’re freelancing, you’ll have the tendency to isolate yourself from the rest of the world. But it’s not always a good thing in my opinion.
That’s why I encourage you to get involved in business network events, join a few communities of designers.
This is crucial for two reasons:
- Business networking can get you your first projects – meeting influencers in the industry has a lot of benefits. Why not taking advantage of it?
- Connecting with other like-minded people can inspire and lift you up when you’re stuck somewhere.
So, if you’re definitely serious about starting your freelance graphic design business and looking for ways to make money as a graphic designer, join facebook groups, online communities for designers or participate in forums around graphic design.
8. Set Up A Marketing Plan
Now it’s time to look for your first clients because no one will come find you. When you’ve just started, it’s your job to go get your clients.
Therefore, setting up a solid marketing plan should not be overlooked.
Nowadays, there are lots of channels that you can leverage to find your ideal clients. But first, you need to build your marketing strategy.
Developing a marketing strategy is what will bring you a consistent flow of projects and who says projects says money, right?
Ok, let’s wrap up the key points of this article on how to start a graphic design business and make money as a graphic designer:
- Know Your Skills – the first and most important step
- Choose A Niche – if you want to work with big clients, niching down to one or a few industries is a very good thing.
- Build A Portfolio – eyeballs on your artwork will surely open doors to opportunities, connections, and even collabs.
- Get Your Own Website – your online presence will be a strategic tool for the growth of your graphic design business.
- Take Inspiration From Experts – get inspired by what’s working and don’t try to reinvent the wheel.
- Equip Yourself – getting your hands on the best tools and software will have the best impact on your work.
- Join Communities – get yourself in the waters for more exposure and opportunities.
- Set Up A Marketing Plan – build a strategy on how you will market your services so as to get your pipeline filled with projects.
I really hope these few graphic design tips on how to start your graphic design business will be helpful. Would love to hear from you in the comment section below.
✅ If you’re serious about making a living from home, check out the amazing Work From Home Bundle below. Our readers are loving it…