How to start your own graphic design company

Graphic designers are in demand right now. A whole range of companies, from software developers to major TV advertisers, require their services.

As such, many designers are seeing the appeal of setting up their own companies. This way, they have control over their time and their clients, and they don’t have to answer to a boss.

But how exactly do you start a graphics design company? Let’s take a look.

Identify Your Clients

While setting up your own graphic design company sounds nice in practice, you won’t get very far unless you have clients. The first step, therefore, is to figure out who you’re going to sell to.

Initially, you’ll need to source clients from contacts that you’ve already made. But at the same time, you’ll want to post your services on one of the many freelance job sites out there. If you’re looking for basic work, you can always check out Upwork.

Set Your Prices

The next step is to figure out how you’re going to charge for your services. Some designers like to do it by the project, others by the hour, and some by the overall value that they deliver (using some sort of metric or endpoint).

The most common approach is to charge by the hour. The vast majority of freelancers offer rates between $40 and $140 per hour, depending on skill level, area of expertise, location and years of experience in the industry. You can also do it by the project. This approach is great if you feel particularly confident in your ability to deliver exactly what the client wants.

Give Your Business A Name

Once you’ve got your prices down and you know who your customers are, it’s time to give your business a name.

Don’t sweat the name of your enterprise too much – it really doesn’t matter. You can use your own name or you can just pluck something from your imagination. Just remember, the name that you choose should be legal (so it mustn’t infringe on any existing copyrights). It should also be memorable and shouldn’t limit the amount that you can charge for your services (unless you’re deliberately creating a budget offering). Your business name should also be an available web domain. Otherwise, your site’s URL won’t match your brand.

Build Website With Your Current Portfolio

Once all that’s done, you’ll need to build a website with your portfolio for people to see. As a graphic designer, your website isn’t a shop as such where people order your services. Instead, it’s more of a place they’ll go to check you out and make sure that you have the skills they want. For this reason, it’s critical to make their experience as enjoyable as possible. If you wanted, you could even make your homepage your portfolio so that people can immediately see the level of skill and type of work that you do.

Develop A Quick Business Plan

After you get your first few clients, the next step is to develop your business plan. This is the point at which you begin to think more strategically about your firm and what it can achieve.

In your plan, make a note of things like:

  • The industries you’ll target
  • The type of graphic design services you’ll offer
  • How much you’ll charge for various kinds of work
  • How much revenue or profit you’d like to make every month
  • Where you’ll go to find new clients
  • Your marketing strategy

For many graphic designers, having a business plan is invaluable. It helps keep them focused on their original goals and prevents them from straying off course.

Keep Communicating And Deliver Projects On Time

If there’s one thing clients want more than anything else, it’s regular communication. There’s nothing worse than paying somebody a large sum of money upfront, only for them to go silent for weeks at a time. Sure, you are working hard, but customers don’t know that. They expect updates.

You’ll also need to get projects done on time, no matter how much work it takes. Many designers fail at the first hurdle because they don’t understand this critical client requirement. They think that delays are acceptable. In a competitive industry like graphic design, they’re not.

Write Invoices And Collect Payments

Lastly, once all the work is done and the projects signed off, it’s time to write invoices and collect payment.

When writing invoices, do so professionally. Also, try if you can to include options in your digital invoices that allow clients to pay you immediately instead of waiting for a check in the post.

And that’s it: how to start your own graphics design company. Good luck.

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