How and Why To Start a Graphic Design Business
If you are an artistic person, you may have thought about selling your art or starting a business at some point. You might have thought that this is an unattainable goal, but you would be wrong. There are several resources out there to help you get started. You should never let your dreams stay dreams. Get yourself and your work out there in any way you can if you are serious about doing this. Here is a collection of tips covering both why you should start your design business and how to do it once you are ready to go.
Decide Your Specialty
While it is great to be well-versed in a variety of different styles and mediums, many successful businesses stick to a certain specialty instead. If your goal is to be as monetarily successful as possible, commercial graphic design is a great way to go. Graphic design is a bigger field than it has ever been before because of the prominence of online-only businesses and computers in general. Many large companies are constantly looking for freelance workers who can create logos, advertisements, or anything else for them without having to hire them on as permanent employees.
Hone Your Skills
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, and while there is no objectively perfect piece of art, people will be more likely to buy your art the better and more professional it looks. Practicing by yourself is a great way to improve, but other professionals can help you too. Local colleges or other services may offer art classes specific to what you want to learn. Do not disregard the knowledge of others because it could be useful to you. The best thing you can do is to draw, paint, or otherwise create as often as possible.
Before starting your business officially and legally, you can still begin building a brand. Use your personal social media platforms to advertise your services to your friends and family. Even if no one outside of your immediate circle is interested in buying from you, you can at least say that you have had customers if your best friend or a cousin purchases some of your work. Post some of your artwork and encourage people to share it on their profiles. If you get lucky, someone from a larger company or who has a larger platform will contact you.
Make it Official
Once you begin earning money regularly, it is time to start a real business. Take the proper steps to register your business's name and trademark your logo if you have one. You will need to begin paying taxes on your income if you meet the requirements, but that also means you can begin writing off your necessary purchases as business expenses. If you want to expand your business beyond yourself by hiring employees, you will need to apply for a federal tax ID number. Every jurisdiction has different regulations surrounding how to start a business, so look into the laws in your area.
Artists, especially those who operate online, are prone to theft because of how easy it is to save an image. Consider putting a personal watermark of your logo over any promotional artwork you post so people always know who created it. Regulations like ASC 606 help protect you and the businesses and customers you interact with from hostile business practices, so educate yourself on how to use them to your advantage. If you see someone using your artwork in an unauthorized manner, do not hesitate to ask that person to remove it.
Since graphic design is so reliant on computers, it should come as no surprise that people have developed software to help people design to the best of their abilities. Many people have one software that they prefer, but it can be helpful to have a surface-level understanding of several different programs. It could also be beneficial to invest in a high-quality drawing tablet. While the cheap ones will get the job done, more expensive tablets work much better and have more functions that could be useful to you in more complex artistic circumstances than you are used to.
Believe in Yourself
Everyone always has something or someone holding them back. This could be an overbearing parent, a struggle with anxiety, or a seemingly endless list of other responsibilities. If anything is telling you that your pursuits are not worth it, do not listen. Graphic design is a great field to enter because there is an ever-present demand. Make an appeal to logic when dealing with these obstacles. Show yourself and others how you have gotten plenty of customers and how lucrative your dream has turned out already. There are always a thousand reasons to not do something, so ignore them.
Know the Market
The market for graphic design is incredibly broad. It might seem restrictive at first if you primarily work for businesses, but you never know what strange requests a business will hurl at you. Experimental advertising campaigns sometimes call for some unorthodox pieces of art, and some companies rely on the strange or obscene as a staple of their brand. You can attempt to market yourself to a particular type of customer. This could corner you into a spot that is difficult to escape from, but it could also make customers with similar brands flock to you.
Be Your Own Boss
One of the huge positives that come with being a freelance artist is that the only people you answer to are yourself and your clients. You work whenever you want for as long as you want, which is a fantastic feeling, but it can come with some drawbacks. The biggest one is that you have to have a lot of self-discipline. You still need to schedule times for yourself to work, and you need to work hard because another drawback is the lack of a consistent source of income through either a salary or wage work.
Build an Audience
This point is especially relevant if you have managed to find your niche outside of the realm of corporate graphic design. If you create digital art for independent customers who simply want cool, interesting artwork, you will likely find it easier to cultivate an online following. People like seeing examples of amazing art, so if you post some of your art with watermarks as a promotion, people will begin to follow you to see more. The social media platforms you are on will begin to take notice and promote your pages to more people who may commission artwork.
If owning a freelance art business is not the end goal of your career, you can use it as a venue to make connections to new people. These can be the people within some of the companies you work with or connections with other artists you meet along the way. It's not what you know, it's who you know, and that sentiment rings true in the art world. Maybe, one day, you could be hired by a company looking for a salaried graphic designer or work with another artist on a much larger project than you are used to.
In a similar vein to being your own boss, your creative license is less likely to be hindered by your boss or other authoritative figures if you are a freelance artist. You will still have to adhere to the whims of your client, but there is no one constantly hovering over your shoulder making you feel annoyed or self-conscious. Creative license is one of the most coveted things by many artists, and the more creative license you are offered, the better your product will likely turn out. Just remember to stay true to the original vision of the client.
Follow Your Dreams
So many people spend their lives stuck in dead-end jobs that they despise. Using your talents and passions to make a living is a great way to avoid burnout. However, you have to be careful not to push yourself too far. Sometimes, when you let your passions control your livelihood, you start to lose the spark that made you enjoy your passions in the first place. You need to find a balance between work and passion that works for you. There is no set total of work time that someone can handle before he or she burns out, so listen to your body and your brain.
While graphic design for commercial purposes is not the only artistic career you could pursue, it is likely that it will be the most lucrative. However, you will have to work hard to get your name out there to make sure you have enough business to survive. You also have to keep in mind that success is not guaranteed. Success at any job comes with a lot of luck in addition to hard work and skill. Sometimes, you only have to be in the right place at the right time to catch your big break.