(65) Start a Graphic Design Business
If you have been well trained in graphic design and possess extensive experience in the industry, you're probably wondering how you can make your skills and professional connections in the graphic design industry work for you. Starting your own company can be a lot of fun. It enables you a tremendous amount of creativity and gives you a greater amount of control over your life but at the same time, it can be difficult. For those with business experience, as well as advanced experience in graphic design, it is an easier undertaking. You should be well schooled in graphic design, web design and other art techniques however, if you do not have business experience, you may want to consider returning to school in order to take a few courses in a business program before you embark upon such an endeavor.
Many people start with a freelance business in order to build their resume, gain experience winning jobs and managing clients. If you are successful as a freelancer, you may decide to begin your own graphic design firm. Once you make that decision, there are several things you will need to do. For starters, you will need to complete the appropriate paperwork with the state in which you want to conduct business, which will include registering the name of the graphic design business and incorporating it. You will need to establish a tax identification number and establish the appropriate accounts. Once you've completed the legal aspect of things, you will be able to come up with a personality for your company. As a graphic design professional, you will have the good fortune of being able to design your own logo and collateral material.
Setting up your own graphic design business will be challenging. However, experience in the industry, combined with business experience, will help you to develop strategies for generating business and establishing a solid reputation. Additionally, managing your own firm will advance your career and help you get ahead quickly.
There are many ways to promote a graphic design business, including blogging, word-of-mouth, email newsletters and social networking. Many of these methods are inexpensive or free, and can lead to increased exposure for your business and new clients. Even when a design business is extremely busy, it is important to continue to market your work, and many of these approaches can become a part of your everyday workflow.
There are a lot of things that can turn an exciting new design project into a nightmare for a graphic design business. Many graphic design businesses have experienced these issues below, including myself. The best way to avoid stress and problems with clients is to educate yourself about what can go wrong ahead of time and take steps to protect your yourself.
Graphic Design Business Tips
Below are 3 common problems that can go wrong and while they may sound simple and the solutions are simple, thousands of designers fall victim to these pitfalls.
1. Clients Who Won’t Pay
We all want to get paid and there are several ways to protect yourself against not getting paid. The first big mistake is to not require a down payment. Many designers do the work on spec or let the clients pay at the end, which is a big mistake. There are a few ways you can bill clients, but I prefer to simply bill half upfront and half when done, or get the full amount upfront for smaller jobs.
You should also use invoicing software or fill out an invoice template and a contract and have them all signed by the client so you have the project and payment details in writing. This will give you more power if you have to actually use the law to get your money, but hopefully it will not come to that.
2. Endless Revisions
This is an easy one to forget. You may be a great designer, but its an inside joke in the design community that the client always picks the worst design so they may not pick the design you worked hardest on, which means lots of possible revisions.
Many clients can be very picky and detail oriented, which is fine because they want to be happy, but if you do not limit revisions your project could turn into a nightmare where you actually don’t make any money because you had to put in so many extra hours.
As an example, you could offer 3 initial concepts for a logo design and then 3 revision rounds once they have picked one of the initial concepts to move forward with. You should also specify the price for additional revision rounds in case they want more.
3. Poor Planning and Timing
If you don’t plan out a project to the last detail and set a time frame you will run into major issues as well. For example if you are doing a website you need to know EXACTLY how many pages you need to create, what each page will have on it and so on. Talk about this with the client and make sure they give you everything you need before you start and get it in writing.
Creating a wire frame can be really helpful. A wire frame is basically a quick outline of what a design or website will look like and what will go where. This way you don’t miss anything and wont run into spending more time adding missing items later, which could cost you money.
Many clients also have very tight deadlines so you need to be able to gauge how long a project will take you and you need to get this in writing as well. For example you could say the estimated time to complete the project will be 3 weeks, but it could take a week more depending on extra revisions and such. Its better to add a few days or more to your estimated project deadline to give yourself a buffer.