Starting a graphic design business takes more than knowing which colors and fonts work together. Even if you are incredibly talented, you will still need business insight if you’re going to get paying clients keeping the doors open. Fortunately, there’s more work for graphic designers than ever before thanks to digital marketing, but that doesn’t mean starting a graphic design business in 2020 will be a walk in the park. Read on to find out how you can set yourself up for a successful first year as a graphic designer.

Know Your End Goal

When you’re just starting as a graphic designer, the goal is relatively simple; get some money coming in and put food on the table. However, understanding the bigger picture will help you plan out your milestones. These are some questions you’re going to have to ask yourself.

When you know your end game, the steps you need to take will be more apparent, and you will be able to develop a more substantial business plan. - How To Start As A Graphic Designer in 2020 (And Land Your First Project!) - 123RF Blog
Image by rawpixel, 123RF.

Do you plan to go it alone as a single freelancer until retirement? Or do you want to build a large agency you can later offload for a tidy sum and travel the world with the proceeds? When you know your end game, the steps you need to take will be more apparent, and you will be able to develop a more substantial business plan. There are plenty of pros and cons to both decisions. But whatever your end goal is, with hard work and some smarts you’ll be able to place yourself in the world of graphic designing.

Position Yourself and Know Your Demographic

You are going to be a tiny fish in a huge ocean, so you will need to position yourself strategically. - How To Start As A Graphic Designer in 2020 (And Land Your First Project!) - 123RF Blog
Image by kantver, 123RF.

You are going to be a tiny fish in a huge ocean, so you will need to position yourself strategically. Want to attract those all-important first clients? Here are three hot points you’ll need to establish:

  • what type of service you will be providing
  • your delivery methods
  • who your target demographic is

When you know who you want to market your design services to, you will have an easier time coming up with a unique offer that provides value.

Maintain a work-life balance

If you’re stepping out on your own, it can be hard to separate work from your everyday life. It seems that there’s something in the business always demanding your attention, and you can find yourself working at all hours. It’s essential to define clear boundaries from the beginning, so you don’t get overworked, stressed, and frustrated about never having time for yourself. 

It seems that there's something in the business always demanding your attention, and you can find yourself working at all hours. - How To Start As A Graphic Designer in 2020 (And Land Your First Project!) - 123RF Blog
Image by Maksim Kostenko, 123RF.

Remember, when you are running your own business, you will only have about 1/3 of your business hours to be creative. The rest of your time will be tied up with the minutiae of keeping the business running.

Get professional business coaching

Creative types can often struggle with the more analytical business side of things. If you’re planning to start a graphic design business in 2020 and have no business experience, then a business coach might be the way to a successful start. 

If you're planning to start a graphic design business in 2020 and have no business experience, then a business coach might be the way to a successful start. - How To Start As A Graphic Designer in 2020 (And Land Your First Project!) - 123RF Blog
Image by Wavebreak Media Ltd, 123RF.

A business coach will be able to provide guidance and advice on all the non-creative aspects of a business, such as marketing, accounting, sales, and legal, and help you become more efficient at keeping it all afloat.

Really fresh at photo editing?

We know it can be confusing for some when faced with an abundance of software tools and jargon that goes right over your head. It’s totally okay to aspire to be a graphic designer, but don’t know how to start yet. That’s why a free online tool like Pixlr X is focused on taking away the manual steps and hard work so you can edit with ease, minus the hassle. Pixlr’s A.I. integrated tools will help you modify your images with effects like cutouts to crops and auto-exposure.

We know it can be confusing for some when faced with an abundance of software tools and jargon that goes right over your head. It’s totally okay to aspire to be a graphic designer, but don’t know how to start yet. - How To Start As A Graphic Designer in 2020 (And Land Your First Project!) - 123RF Blog
Image by luckybusiness, 123RF.

As the saying goes, there’s no time like the present. Is 2020 going to be the year you finally realize your dreams by starting as a graphic designer? Nothing worthwhile is ever easy but building a successful business and forging your own path can provide immense job satisfaction. Use the above tips to help smooth out the ride and never stop learning.