How to Start a Graphic Design Business

As a highly sensitive designer, you may be wondering how to start your own graphic design business. It can be difficult to take the plunge and strike out on your own, but with the right tools and resources, you can make it happen.

In this blog post, we'll discuss the steps you need to take to get your business off the ground. So read on for tips and advice from an experienced brand designer and business owner!


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  1. What is graphic design and what do graphic designers do?

  2. How to become a designer

  3. The skills you need to be a successful designer

  4. The tools you need to run your own business

  5. How to get started in your own graphic design business or branding studio

  6. How to start a graphic design business as a highly sensitive designer

  7. Action Steps




Before we go into the nitty-gritty of how to start a graphic design business, let's get some things straight–



First–What is graphic design and what do graphic designers do?

Graphic design is the process of visual communication and problem-solving through the use of graphic elements, such as typography, images, and graphic design software. Designers create graphic designs for a variety of purposes, such as advertising, web design, or print media.

A graphic designer typically works with a client to come up with a concept for a graphic design project, then creates the graphic elements needed to execute that concept. They may also be responsible for layout and pre-press production work.


Graphic design business vs. freelance

Before we go into how to start a graphic design business, it's very important to understand what makes a graphic design business different from freelancing. A graphic design business is its own entity, separate from the freelancer. This means that your business has a very specific audience and offering.

Freelancing, on the other hand, is working for yourself as an independent contractor. You may contract with various clients to do graphic design work, anything from making a website to creating illustration. Freelancing means your expertise is broad and you can work with whichever client that comes your way.

So which is better? The answer depends on your goals and needs. If you're looking to build a long-term sustainable business, then starting your own graphic design business is the way.


Graphic design business vs. branding studio

If you're looking to specialize in a particular area of graphic design, starting your own branding studio might be the way to go.

Graphic design companies focused on branding devote all their energy to one specific target audience and type of offer. This allows them to run a more efficient and streamlined business.

As the go-to expert in your field, you'll be able to build a successful business that stands out from other graphic design businesses.



How to become a designer

Design is a fascinating and rewarding career.

Before you understand how to start a graphic design business, you'll want to learn about the design softwares and how to use them (more on this below!). As you learn about the different ways you can design you'll also start building a portfolio of work for your design business with your unique style.

It's very important to also know about the history of design and the historic work that has been done before. Soak it all up so you can best serve clients later on!




The skills you need to be a successful designer

Graphic design is a fascinating and rewarding field, and with the right skills, you can be successful in no time. Here are a few skills you'll need to succeed in your graphic design business:


1. Strong communication skills.

Designers must be able to communicate their ideas effectively to clients and team members.

One of the most important skills for designers is strong communication skills. This means being able to articulate your ideas clearly and effectively to clients and team members. As a graphic designer, you'll likely be working with clients to come up with concepts and then creating the graphic elements needed to execute those concepts. It's important to be able to communicate well so that everyone is on the same page and the project runs smoothly.


2. Creativity and originality.

Designers need to be able to come up with fresh, new ideas.

This means learning about the history of graphic design, other OG designers, staying up-to-date on the latest software updates, and having a strong creative vision. It's important to be able to think outside the box and come up with designs that are original and eye-catching but that also have purpose for your client.


3. Technical proficiency.

Designers need to be skilled in graphic design software and other digital tools.

Designers need to be skilled in graphic design software and other digital tools. This includes software like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and any other Adobe program. It's also important to be familiar with common web design technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. As technology evolves, it's important for designers to keep up with the latest trends and tools so they can create designs that are modern and effective.

When Canva debuted as a new design platform, many designers were hesitant to use another program. However, the fact is that by comprehending how to utilize it, you not only pick up new skills but also have greater capacity to serve your clients by producing their templates within an application they find simple to use.


4. Attention to detail.

Designers need to be precise and meticulous in their work.

This means paying close attention to detail and making sure all the elements of their design are perfect. It's important to take the time to get things right, so the final product is high quality and looks great.


5. Problem-solving skills.

Designers need to know how to solve problems quickly and efficiently.

This means being able to think on your feet and come up with creative solutions when things don't go as planned. As a designer, you'll likely face many challenges and roadblocks throughout your career. It's important to have the problem-solving skills to overcome these challenges and continue producing quality work.

When running your graphic design business, you'll also face many challenges that are outside of your zone of expertise. For example, you may have to learn how to manage your finances, track business expenses, learn about social media platforms, market your business, and deal with customer service issues.




The tools you need to run your own business

When starting your own graphic design business, it's important to be prepared. Graphic designers and graphic design businesses need the right tools to create their graphic designs. Here are a few must-have tools for graphic designers:


1. Graphic design software.

Graphic designers use graphic design software to create logos, brochures, business cards, and other graphic elements. Popular graphic design software includes Adobe CC products like Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign and Canva.


2. A CRM platform.

Graphic designers need to manage client relationships, track projects, timing and more. A CRM platform is the best way to do that while staying organized. I use and highly recommend Dubsado, they make handling the admin side of running a business so much easier.


3. Digital files storage.

Designers need a secure place to store their graphic design files for safekeeping. This ensures that all of your hard work isn't lost in case something happens to your computer.

Many graphic design businesses use Google Drive for example, I have tried it before but I personally prefer to use Dropbox instead. With Dropbox you have all your files at your fingertips whenever you need them without taking a ton of space in your computer.


4. A graphic design portfolio website.

Designers must have a strong online presence to attract clients and show off their work. A design portfolio website is the best way to do that! You can create a quick one-page website with Squarespace, Semplice or ShowIt. I currently use Kajabi, but you could choose something simpler to start.

Make sure to snag your domain name, social media accounts and build a basic website that covers who you are, who you work with and what you offer.





How to get started in your own graphic design business or branding studio

Starting your own graphic design business can be a very rewarding experience, but it takes a lot of hard work and preparation. Here are a few tips to help you get started:


1. Have a design business plan.

When starting a design business, it's important to have a business plan in place. This document will outline your business goals, strategies for reaching those goals, how you'll find graphic design clients and how you plan to make money. Having a business plan is essential for any graphic design business, as it will help you stay organized and on track.


2. Establish yourself as an expert in your field through your online presence.

This will help you attract clients and stand out from the competition. Potential clients can find you easily, and it will also show that you're professional and credible.


3. Network with other professionals in the industry.

This will help you learn from their experiences, find potential clients for your graphic design business and build meaningful collaborations in the future.


4. Stay up-to-date on the latest design trends.

Understand what's going on out there in the world but also anchor through your philosophy and style in your own graphic design business.


5. Offer your clients superior experience and customer service.

Running a graphic design business is all about making good relationships. When you take care of your clients with compassion (not only it feels good, but...) it establishes deeper connections for word of mouth recommendations. This helps you stand out from your competitors and attract more clients.





How to start a graphic design business as a highly sensitive designer

A highly sensitive designer might want to focus on having a graphic design business or branding business rather than becoming a freelance graphic designer.

With a graphic design business you're able to best set your schedule, clientele and ways of working.

However, if you're a HSP and a creative like me, running your own business can feel overwhelming at times too. But not to worry! There are so many ways of doing and running business. Finding your unique way of operating simply takes a little bit of observation.

Before you start a graphic design business, learn more about yourself. What are the things that make you unique, your superpowers? Observe how your creativity flows, the times and settings of when you operate the best throughout the day. How can you use them to your advantage?

A highly sensitive graphic designer doesn't need to follow the norms or advices that the graphic design industry gurus make "standard". Follow what feels right for you and work within your zone of genius. This allows you to create a graphic design business that fits you first and is manageable for the long-term.




Now that you have some graphic design business tips under your belt, it’s time to start planning for the future!

Here are some action steps on how to start your graphic design business:


1. Research the graphic design industry you're interested in working on.

Becoming a business owner is all about making sure your strategy aligns with how you best operate in the world. The research will help you understand the market and what services to offer your clients within your graphic design business.


2. Establish your own business goals.

What do you want your graphic design business to achieve? Define these goals and make a plan to achieve them. Another thing to define upfront is your marketing plan and marketing strategy. Where do you need to be so people can find you? Add everything to a concise plan.

As your business grows, your goals will pivot and that's completely normal! Stick with your vision and adapt as you go.


3. Create a budget for your design business.

This will help you determine how much money you need to start your business and how much you can afford to spend on marketing and advertising. Make sure you have at least 6 months of savings in your bank account before starting your graphic design business! And while we're in the money topic–get your LLC and a business bank account to keep it separate from your personal money.


4. Choose the right graphic design software(s).

There are many different graphic design software programs available, so choose the one that best suits your needs and skills.


5. Create your graphic design portfolio and business website.

Whether you're thinking about starting a graphic design business or joining other freelance graphic designers, you'll need to showcase your work to get graphic design clients! For any design business, make sure you not only show your work but tell your story and how clients can work with you. Making it easy and straightforward is always the way to go!



Now is your turn! Create your own graphic design business.

So, there you have it. Everything you need to know about how to start a graphic design business.

Graphic design is all about telling a story and making an impression. It’s about understanding your audience and using the right visuals to communicate with them. If you want to run a successful graphic design business you need to be able to think outside the box, understand different cultures, and have an eye for detail.

You also need to be able to work independently and manage clients and internal business things simultaneously. But most importantly, you need to have a passion for design! If you’re interested in learning more or want to start building your own branding business, I have just the thing for you!

Sign up for the 5-Day Mini-Class For Highly Sensitive Designers: Build a Better Branding Business, where we will teach you everything you need to take your business to the next level without losing your soul.

See you there!




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