graphic designer looking at images on computer

How to Start a Graphic Designer Business From Home

Small businesses need a graphic designer that is a super creative, crafty, and pinning savvy specialist to take their marketing campaign to the next level. Most importantly, they need a specialist without breaking their budget.

From bloggers to manufacturers, we are all embracing the power of social media marketing, and we are looking to post the best jaw-dropping-green-envy pin we can design to kick out the competition.

There are more than 1 billion users spending hours scrolling through beautiful images, watching videos, and engaging in random conversations about the latest post they found on Instagram or sharing the pin from that DIY project they saved in their Pinterest board. Small businesses want to use Instagram or Pinterest to promote their services and products, but most of the time, they don’t have time to design THE post of their dreams.

Truth is: Small businesses need social media graphic designers.

person taking a painting
Photo by Jure u0160iriu0107 on

Start your own business.

If you have that sense of style that develops a great look, you spot the aesthetic in almost every single post you scroll on Instagram, and you are detail-oriented, then Social Media Graphic Designer might be your thing!

According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for a Social Media Graphic Designer in the United States is $47,275 a year (Glassdoor places it at $45,667). However, the demand is growing, pushing the salary range between $32,000 to $56,000 with hourly rates varying from $17 to $34 depending on the complexity of the project AND the experience of the designer.

Get the Basics

You only need a computer and software. Start with Canva for free (you can upgrade to premium for a small fee later, after 60 days that you manage to create an outstanding portfolio). Then, Photoshop to offer your clients more complicated graphics. Lastly, WordPress as a showcase of your portfolio

5 ideas to start your business

  1. Create Templates for Pinterest pins, create custom-branded pin style for other small businesses and bloggers.
  2. Design pins for bloggers and influencers using their branded colors. Become an integral part of your clients’ publishing process and help them stand out in the crowd and get more eyes to their site.
  3. Design and print on canvas motivation / inspirational quotes, frame them, and sell them on Etsy.
  4. Create logos and business templates for small businesses, local shops, and organizations.
  5. Design Facebook and LinkedIn covers, we all need to leave a good impression to our visitors.

Start with a business plan.

Solve a problem, define your niche, describe your vision, compare and contrast, plan your operations, design a digital marketing plan. Launch your business!

1.     Solve a problem

Every business needs to solve a problem that its customers face. You must explain what the problem is and how your product or service solves it.

  • What are its benefits, features, and unique selling proposition?
  • Are you targeting a customer base your competitors are ignoring?
  • Does it have some other characteristic that gives it a competitive edge?

Describe the pricing, fee, subscription, or leasing structure of your product or service. Include prices from competitors in your spreadsheet and compare them.

  • Are you on the low end, mid-range, or high end?
  • How will that pricing strategy help you attract customers?
  • What is your projected profit margin?

2.     Define your niche

Finding a niche doesn’t necessarily mean you hit the jackpot. Make a simple internet search to get an idea and pay attention to other businesses that do what you want to do. Bread baking is already a niche market, so you have to carefully review your competition and build up your brand to succeed.

  • Describe the most important features. What is unique about it?
  • Describe the most important benefits. What does it do for the customer?

3.     Describe your vision

Your business vision will guide your operations, manufacture, policies, and overall strategy. The business vision describes where you wish to go and how you plan to do it.

The vision statement reflects your values and the purpose of the business, it is a powerful tool for personal motivation and success.

The words that you use have a more significant impact on your life that you may realize. When writing down your business vision, avoid uncertainty in your language, use decisive action words in the present indicates that decision has been made. Making this simple shift in vocabulary propels you to action an achieve your goals.

Writing a business vision that resonates with your personal values provides the foundation for success, the rest is hard work and love.

4.     Compare and contrast

List key companies that compete with you and review if they do it across all the topics, or just for specific products. Are they your competition for particular customers? Or in some geographic regions?

Put into practice your ELA classes on compare and contrast assignments!

5.     Plan your operations

A successful business requires more than excellent paper planning, it requires action and contingency plans to answer almost every possible scenario out there.  Try to anticipate your customer’s need and explain any after-sale services like

  • How will you produce your product or deliver your service? Describe your production methods, the equipment you’ll use, and how much it will cost to produce what you sell.
  • How will you maintain consistency? Describe the quality control procedures you’ll use.

a.     Startup Costs

Compile a list of all the software and apps you will need, the best computers for a graphic designer, and discover financial options you never knew you had with organizations like Fundera.

b.     Protect your Assets

Consult your CPA for the best way to separate your business and protect your assets. Usually, a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) is enough.

6.     Digital Marketing.

If you want to start your business as a graphic designer you should carefully research website providers for your company, check out GoDaddySquarespaceWordPress, or Wix and check which one fits your needs and budget.

No matter what website provider you choose, focus on your social media marketing with Instagram perfect pictures, Facebook groups, and Reddit communities to access to the local market. Make sure you set up a Google My Business profile to appear on searches and local businesses on Google Maps.

a.   Networking

Join Facebook Groups and start finding clients, don’t be pushy and pay attention to the rules of each group. Usually, they have “Instagram Tuesday” or “Share your Pinterest Thursday”. Use the right social media channel will generate leads and sales without breaking your budget. Don’t forget to add a call-to-action button to redirect the customer to your website!

Food for Thought.

You should read Bethanny Carl’s comprehensive guide to help you become a successful freelancer. She points out some traits that do not go hand-in-hand with freelancing, like having trouble being a self-starter, not accepting feedback or criticism from your peers, and most of all if you need a safety net.

Furthermore, Bethanny highlights the “traps” every newbie freelancer falls into:

  • Don’t accept every project, be selective, and take those which you can show your skills.
  • Don’t price too low, or too high.
  • Always follow-up, even if they said no, leave the door open for future projects.
  • Get a signed contract BEFORE starting the project or delivering samples.
  • Outsource administrative chores, focus on what you have to do.
  • Create a routine, be consistent, and don’t give up.

From Freelancing to Business Owner

When you reach the moment where you are working on multiple projects at the same time, you are in need of a virtual assistant to help you schedule meetings, do some bookkeeping, and maybe outsource other graphic designers because you can’t keep up with your projects and customer engagements, then think about taking the next step and start growing your freelance career into a stable, profitable business.

Send me an email if you want to know more about how to start a business.

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