How to Start Your Own Graphic Design Business: Step-by-Step

How to Start Your Own Graphic Design Business: Step-by-Step

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This article was contributed by Shawn from FeedFond.

Are you a burgeoning graphic designer eager to get your graphic design business off the ground? Follow our step-by-step guide and you’ll be up and running in no time!

Step 1: Consider your Level of Motivation

Designing Logo

Motivation and commitment are very important when it comes to creating your own successful business. So ask yourself: are you motivated enough? Are you fully committed?

If the answer is yes, you’ve already got one of the hardest parts done and dusted. Many people struggle with making their business a success because they lack the commitment and do not put all of their energy and determination behind it.

But if you’re thinking of starting your own graphic design business simply because you’ve landed some new clients lately, think again.

That should not be the only reason to devote your time and money towards a startup business. Because starting up a business is hard. You will struggle. And without proper motivation you may be tempted to throw in the towel when the going gets tough.

There will be times when things will be difficult. Clients will move to your competitors. There may be times when you struggle to find work. You won’t be making big bucks straight away.

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But it will be your motivation and urge to succeed that will keep you going. And if you’re not motivated enough, it won’t take you more than a few months for doubts to creep in.

However, if you’re highly self-motivated, this is all you need to move forward. If you have a passion for graphic design, this will take you a long way with your business.


Start Your Own Graphic Design Business Book

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In this brilliant book, industry experts and successful graphic designers share what they’ve learned and give you the motivation and priceless tips and tricks to help you reach success.

Start Your Own Graphic Design Business: Your Step-By-Step Guide to Success (StartUp Series)
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Entrepreneur Press (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 138 Pages - 05/01/2008 (Publication Date) - Entrepreneur Press (Publisher)


Step 2: Understand your Skills

Logo Design

Graphic design is a very broad industry. There are lots of avenues to explore. So if you want to start your own graphic design business, you need to understand your own skill level.

You’ll also need to figure out exactly what your prospective clients expect from a graphic designer. There’s a chance you’re not yet aware of all of the services that are in demand.

According to some of the leading graphic design companies, clients usually have the following requirements:

  1. Brand strategy
  2. Logo designing
  3. Web designing
  4. Social media designing
  5. Animation
  6. Typography
  7. Brochure designing
  8. Infographics
  9. Poster designing

According to a recent study, the current market for graphic design is worth $15 billion in the United States alone. Logo designing and branding takes up about $3 billion of that market on its own.

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So besides your passion, you also need to consider the current market size and trends. Assess your skills and determine how you can enhance your profitability by utilizing and expanding on those skills.

How to Teach Yourself Graphic Design

Becoming a graphic designer does not have to be done at school. In fact, if you follow the below steps, you will be well on your way to becoming a professional graphic designer.

  1. Understand the core principles of graphic design (see courses below)
  2. Ground yourself with the history of graphic design (this book is essential)
  3. Familiarize yourself with the graphic design process & solving problems creatively
  4. Consider advanced study & development (either online or at school)
  5. Learn from professional graphic designers
  6. Develop your proficiency, intuition, and flow (your process)
  7. Put together a portfolio and blog
  8. Participate in professional graphic design communities
  9. Diversify your skillset (enroll in more courses)
  10. Find work as a freelance graphic designer


Free Graphic Design Software Trials + Adobe Creative Cloud Discount

Logocore Adobe Discount

Adobe provides the industry-standard graphic design software

Adobe offers a subscription service called ‘Creative Cloud’ which gives you access to several powerful design applications including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and more.

If you’re just getting started, you should know that Adobe offers free trials as well as some generous student discounts.


Step 3: Develop your Skills in Different Areas  

Design on Computer

Are you an expert at logo and web design but have very little idea about infographics? Well in that case you need to consider spending some time studying the market.

These days, the demand for infographics is increasing dramatically. Graphic design companies are getting many more orders for infographics than they ever did before.

So you need to expand your horizon by enhancing your skills for these different services.

The aim of the game is to become a “one stop solution” for all the things your clients might ask for, but also have a specialization in a certain area, such as branding.


Step 4: Develop your Mission and Vision

Plan Design

By now you know what type of service you’re going to offer your clients. You have a good understanding of the graphic design industry.

But you cannot start just anywhere. Graphic design is a highly competitive industry. You’ll first need to work on your company mission, long term goals and your vision.

Once you’ve determined your primary mission, it’ll be much easier for you to develop your business strategy.

Start thinking about what would you like to achieve and how are you going to make it happen. Are you hoping to secure at least 10 clients within the first two quarters? Then you’ll need to assess how many people you need to reach out to.

Your marketing strategy is going to be dictated by your objectives. You’ll need to develop not only Plan A, but Plan B, C and even D in case your first attempt doesn’t yield the expected results.

Having short and long term goals is vital to assess your progress. You should check your progress regularly and measure how far you are from where you want to be.


Step 5: Identify Potential Clients


Determining your target market is one of the most important steps in starting your graphic design business. There are hundreds of different categories or segments you’ll need to consider.

Are you planning to offer your service to large and medium corporate companies or small local businesses?

Or will your clientele be young women who are trying to establish their business in fashion design?

Determine your target market first. Then determine whether your current skills are going to be enough to meet their needs.

Now you can develop your marketing plan and business model that will suit your target market best.


Step 6: Run a Competitive Analysis

Magnifying Glass

One thing is for sure, when you start your own graphic design business, it’s not going to be a walk in the park. Graphic design is a cut-throat industry with plenty of healthy competition.

So, before you start your own graphic design company, you should study the market carefully. Take a look at how other companies in the industry are running their business.

Pay close attention to what makes the most successful firms stand out from the rest. This will help you to understand what you’re going to be up against.

There are two benefits of studying your competition. One, so you can figure out how you can offer better services than your competitors. And two, so you can learn from their mistakes and success stories.

There is nothing wrong with adopting good practices that are successful for others in the industry. However, in order to ensure your sustainability, you should be innovative and think outside the box.

Take a look at what others are doing and try to offer something unique. This way, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition.


Step 7: Work on Pricing


As you’re well on your way to starting your very own graphic design company, make sure to do some industry analysis to find out what the going rate is.

Gather detailed information about how different services are being priced by other companies in the industry. Then, adopt the best pricing structure for your services. You might need to come in slightly lower at first in order to build up your clientele and get your name out there.

As a startup, you’ll need a solid plan to attract clients. Try and offer them the best deal but make sure that you don’t go in too cheap. You have to prove to your clients that you’re giving them the best deal and something that will add value.

Always remember, many clients will be willing to pay top dollars for a premium service. So divide your service quality into categories and provide clients what they’re willing to pay for.


Legal Contract

While you’re starting your graphic design venture, make sure that you have a talk with a lawyer. Learn about all the legal requirements associated with setting up a startup business such as business registration, insurance and so forth.

Talk about licensing, legal policies in your line of business as well as tax requirements. There will be copyright and trademark issues as well that you will need to discuss with your lawyer.

Depending on the size of your business, you should work on your privacy and refund policies, how to handle disputes and other legal issues. Your lawyer will be able to give you a clear understanding of all the legal factors involved.


Step 9: Look Out for the Right Professionals to Expand your Business


If you want to grow your business, you won’t be able to do everything all by yourself. At some point, you’ll need a helping hand.

Instead of dealing with two or three clients at a time, you may be handling 5 or even 10 clients at a time so keep an open mind about hiring some experts.

You’ll need to form your own team of experts to provide the best service to your target market. If you’re expanding your level of service, you’ll also need more manpower.

For example, you might be doing great with logo and web design but you’ve discovered there is a huge market for animations.

Besides expanding your own skills in that avenue, consider hiring someone who has the expert skill to work on projects that involve animation.

You may have to invest to nurture your team but in the long run, this will add to your net profit. So have a clear understanding of the experts you’ll need to expand your business.


Step 10: Get a Proper Workspace

Designer Workplace

The type of workspace you have for your business depends on your finances and client base. Lots of successful graphic designers started in the owner’s own home.

You can follow that path if you’re not willing to spend too much for an office space at first. However, make sure that your workstation is ideal for doing all of the projects required.

You should be safe from all interruptions and distraction. Then as your business grows, you may want to consider moving to a larger office space to accommodate your employees.

Having the right workspace is vital to ensure professionalism and to enhance productivity. Having a great space will also make a good impression on your clients.


Step 11: Get the Right Gear

designer gear

You’ll need a high configuration computer system, professional apps and top of the range software to offer the best service to your clients.

While some of the basic graphic design software is free of charge, most of the professional applications will have a one-off price or subscription cost.

Based on the type of services you’re going to offer, do some detailed research on the tools you’ll need to do the job.

Invest generously to develop your system so that you can offer a professional service to your clients. We can assure you that this will secure a good return on your investment in the long run.


Step 12: Have an Official Website

create a website

One of the most important steps in starting your own graphic design company is launching an official website.

This will serve two purposes for your business. First of all, it’ll be your point of contact so that your clients can find you online. Your clients will get in touch with you via your website to enquire about quotes and to place their orders.

And secondly, your website will be an online portfolio of all of the work you have done to date. Use this platform to showcase your best works and most important clients as this will build trust and your reputation in the industry.

This will allow your potential customers to have a clear understanding of your skills. So take some time to develop a well-designed website for your business.

Hire a reputed SEO company to promote your website online. Make sure that when people are looking out for a professional graphic designer on Google, your website appears among the top 10 search results.

Step 13: Design your Marketing Plan

marketing plan

Marketing is the heart of any business. No matter how good you are at what you do, your skills will useless if you’re unable to reach the people who can make use of those skills.

So make sure that you have a solid marketing plan and execute it carefully. You can go for both traditional and non-conventional marketing techniques here.

You can invest in billboards and brochures to get your name out there. Social media marketing should also be utilized to grow awareness amongst your target market.

Your marketing plan will depend on the type of customers you’re willing to serve.


Always remember, planning and execution is the key to success for any business venture. At the same time, you’ll need to put 100% commitment into your work.

Having a clear understanding of the market and potential competitors is vital to succeed in the industry. You’ll also need to focus on specific target markets.

Have a strong online presence and promote your official website through digital marketing. Be willing to hire experts to expand your business.

Be confident, consistent and patient throughout the endeavor. With time, you’ll gradually see your business start to grow and make an impact in the industry.

At the end of the day it is your mindset and perspective that will make all the difference. Stay positive throughout your journey and you will surely see success knocking your door.

Learn More

Start Your Own Graphic Design Business Book

Start Your Own Graphic Design Business: Your Step-By-Step Guide to Success (StartUp Series)
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Entrepreneur Press (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 138 Pages - 05/01/2008 (Publication Date) - Entrepreneur Press (Publisher)
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