How to Start a Graphic Design Business

Last Updated on September 26, 2022 by HR Editorial Team

For many people, graphic design is a hobby. They may create posters for their local sports teams or make logos for their favorite bands. But the skills that make these projects successful can also be applied to start-up graphic design businesses. Here are the steps to get started on your own:

What Do Graphic Designers Do

As a graphic designer, you may be asked to design logos and other visual elements that help promote your client’s products or services. You’ll also create websites, social media posts, advertisements, and business brochures. The type of project you’re working on will determine how much time you spend on each step in the process:

  • Research, planning, and drafting ideas
  • Developing rough sketches
  • Creating digital artwork with software such as Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Fine-tuning details like colors and fonts
  • Producing final files like print documents or web pages
  • Sending those files out for printing or uploading them online

If your clients aren’t local (or don’t have their own offices), you may have to travel between clients’ locations—which can be an exciting perk!

Types of Graphic Design Businesses

There are various graphic design businesses, each with pros and cons. These include:

  • Freelance – A freelancer can choose which projects they take on and when. You’ll also have the freedom to set your prices, but you’ll have to market yourself and find clients on your own. As an independent contractor, you don’t get any benefits like paid vacation time or health insurance.
  • Agency – An agency is an in-house team that serves as a middleman between clients and freelance designers. Agencies typically manage multiple projects at once, so working there offers more stability than freelancing does; however, some agencies charge fees for services like sourcing talent or even just getting in touch with someone at the company where you want to work (this could be called “referral fees”). Agencies often require exclusive contracts from employees who work there full time (which means no other jobs), making it hard for these workers to pursue opportunities elsewhere after leaving their current position.

Create your unique brand and website

Your brand is the image you want people to associate with your business, and it’s essential to consider this before jumping into the design phase. You can start by asking yourself questions like:

  • Who are my clients, and what do they want?
  • What type of work am I going to focus on? (i.e., logos, banners, illustrations)
  • What style should my designs have? (minimalist, cartoonish, etc.)

Once you know what type of work you’ll be doing and who your target market is, think about how best to convey these things through your logo and website. For example, if most of your clients are small businesses looking for a fresh new look, consider using bold colors or strong typography to create a memorable brand identity.

Perfect your skills to be successful.

As you build your business, you’ll learn more about what works for you and doesn’t, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different mediums and styles. Also, don’t be scared to ask for help. If one client isn’t happy with their design project, don’t worry—it just means that next time you’ll do it better!

As a graphic designer working in a competitive field, the goal will always be to learn from other professionals while also making mistakes and improving upon them along the way. The best part? Even if something doesn’t go according to plan (or even when things do), there’s always plenty more ahead!

Start a portfolio to show off your best work.

Having a portfolio is essential if you want to show off your best work. A portfolio isn’t just a folder of JPEGs with your name on it; it’s an organized collection that reflects the type of projects you want to work on in the future.

With a portfolio, you can also demonstrate your professionalism and highlight any special skills or areas of expertise that make you stand out from other design professionals. This allows potential clients to see what kind of work they could expect from you, which is critical when making hiring decisions!

When deciding what goes into your portfolio, remember that this is not just a collection of images—it’s also an opportunity for prospective clients (and others who visit) to get an idea about who YOU are as a graphic designer. If there are specific qualities they’re looking for in their designers, then make sure those come across loud and clear by highlighting relevant experience as well as personal traits like personality traits like good communication skills or being friendly enough so people would be more likely to trust them with their business instead just throwing together some random examples without much thought behind why these may show off certain aspects better than others (such as showing off how well someone communicates).

Create your first brochures, business cards, and other marketing materials

As with any business, you’ll need to create various marketing materials. These include brochures, business cards, and other promotional materials.

The difference between graphic design and other types of work is that you have more control over what materials are used to promote your company and its services. These are great options for your portfolio if you’re an expert at designing websites, logos, or other design elements!

If not—or even if so—consider using image editing software (such as Photoshop or Illustrator) to help create designs that are easy to read and consistent with the brand image you want to project.

Regularly look for new clients.

You’re ready to start getting clients, but how? This can be the hardest step of all. The best way is to market yourself because you already know that you have a good portfolio and can produce great work. Even though marketing can be frustrating at times, it’s also essential to running a business—and getting your name out there will help build credibility for future clients.

Here are some tips:

  • Use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to share your designs with people who might need design work in their field (i.e., nonprofits or small businesses). You should also follow industry leaders to learn from them, which will inspire ideas for projects and spark new ideas for yours!
  • Create a website where visitors can see examples of what you do and contact information so they can get in touch with you directly. A portfolio site is also useful; it allows potential customers to see what kind of work has been done before, so they know what style best fits their needs.
  • Recommendations from current clients are essential when trying out new services/products because these people are usually more likely than anyone else to know whether or not something works well enough based on experience rather than just speculation based on hearsay alone.

Network for Potential Business Opportunities

Networking is the power of connecting with people who can help you achieve your goals. It’s a tool that will aid your success, especially when starting as a freelancer or entrepreneur. If you’re looking to build your graphic design business and meet new contacts, here are some tips on how to network effectively:

  • Find out where the most relevant people congregate. Look at industry events, networking groups, and even social media channels to see where professionals in your field are spending their time online. Then, join those conversations by commenting on posts or engaging with others online. This gives you an opportunity for professional growth and building personal relationships that might lead somewhere down the road (and who doesn’t love that?).
  • Join local and national organizations whose mission aligns with yours—or consider starting one of your own! These types of organizations offer many opportunities for networking through events such as conferences or happy hours; they also provide valuable mentorship programs where members can learn from one another’s experiences through sharing knowledge at workshops held during these events (which means no more boring presentations).

Benefits of Starting a Graphic Design Business

There are several benefits to starting a graphic design business. The first and most obvious is that you can work from home, which means flexible hours and no commute. You decide when to start and end your day, so you never have to worry about the manager peeking in on your computer or looking over your shoulder at work. If you’re self-employed, this also means that if something comes up with family or friends outside of working hours, it’s no problem for you to hop out for a while before getting back into things.

Another benefit is setting your schedule; as long as everything gets done on time by the deadline day (or whenever else), it doesn’t matter what time of day or night it was finished! This allows me personally more freedom during those times when I need extra time.

What are the most popular graphic design tools?

Graphics design is a field that relies on the latest and most excellent tools. New software and programs are developed yearly, making it difficult to decide which ones are worth investing in. Here’s a list of some of the most popular graphic design tools:

  • – Canva is an online definitive design tool that allows you to easily create social media graphics, slideshows, presentations, posters, video tutorials, and much more. You can also download your designs to print them out or share them on any device. Create beautiful images without having to learn complicated software.
  • Adobe Photoshop – A program used for photo editing, digital painting, and image manipulation.
  • Adobe Illustrator – A vector editor for creating logos, illustrations, or typography artworks.
  • Adobe InDesign – A page layout program that allows you to create brochures, flyers, and magazines easily. It also has features like e-mailing documents directly from within the application and exporting text into Microsoft Word documents (for example).
  • Adobe Premiere Pro – A video editing software that allows users to edit video clips together into one final product with ease. This tool can also be used by individuals who want to create advertisements through video recording their footage instead of hiring someone else to do it for them!
  • Adobe After Effects – This tool allows users who have some knowledge about animation techniques to tinker around with different effects such as motion blur or glow effects without having too much prior experience doing so beforehand!

What makes a great graphic designer

Great graphic designers are good communicators. They can clearly and concisely convey their ideas, often in a way that is easily understood by others. They also have a strong sense of design and can use it to communicate their message in the most effective way possible.

Great graphic designers are also excellent problem solvers who can turn a client’s vague idea into something solid and concrete (and beautiful). A great designer will work with you through every project phase—from sketching out ideas on paper to bringing them to life in Photoshop—and will be flexible throughout all stages so that your vision comes through exactly as you imagined it would.

A great graphic designer is good at working with clients because they know how important communication is during this process. Still, they’re also able to put themselves in your shoes as well: if there are things about your project goals or specifications that aren’t clear, they’ll find them out on their own before coming back with questions or concerns so that everyone involved is on the same page from day one!

A great graphic designer knows how essential teamwork is when creating beautiful work, but more than just being part of a fantastic team—they thrive within it!

Stay up to date with the latest design trend.

While getting your business off the ground, you should keep an eye on the latest design trends and techniques. This can help guide your work as a graphic designer and make sure that your work is relevant to what’s happening in the field.

  • Follow industry leaders: Learn from others through online resources, magazines, and books.
  • Stay open to new ideas: Don’t be afraid of trying something new! You might devise an excellent idea for a logo design or website layout that has never been done before—and then become known for being innovative in your field.


If you want to start a graphic design business, these steps will get you well on your way. You don’t have to be an expert in all of them at once, but if you follow the timeline we’ve set out here and keep working hard, you will see success down the road.