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Resourceful Designer: Strategies for running a graphic design business

Offering resources to help streamline your home based graphic design and web design business so you can get back to what you do best… Designing!
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Resourceful Designer: Strategies for running a graphic design business
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Feb 27, 2023

Are you running or considering starting a graphic or web design business? If so, let me tell you, you’re in for a wild ride! The graphic and web design industries are filled with opportunities and challenges, and understanding what to expect can be the difference between success and failure. In this Resourceful Designer episode, I’ll look at some common challenges you will surely encounter.

Here are four of the most common challenges you may face.

Finding Clients.

Finding clients is one of the most challenging aspects of running a graphic or web design business. You may be a very talented designer with the most fantastic portfolio in the world, but that doesn’t do you any good if you can’t get work from clients.

To find clients, you’ll need to focus on networking and marketing to increase your chances of success. Attend as many networking events as possible, especially when your business is young. Ask friends and family to refer you to people who can benefit from your services. Reach out to potential clients via email, social media, and other platforms. Whatever it takes.

Clients can’t hire you if they don’t know who you are. This industry is all about connections and relationships. It’s not who you know that will help you succeed. It’s who knows you.

Another great way to find clients is to build relationships with other designers or people in the industry. Working with other designers allows you to exchange ideas and resources and can lead to referrals and more business opportunities.

Designer groups like the Resourceful Designer Community can help with this.

A good client of mine reached out when his church was looking for a logo. I was in the middle of several large projects and couldn’t take this on. But I knew that Ciera, a member of the Resourceful Designer Community, had shared several church branding projects she had designed. Thinking it was a perfect fit, I introduced her to my client, and now his church has a new logo they can be proud of.

This is just one example from the Resourceful Designer Community of how connecting with other designers can benefit you. Finding clients is challenging, but you can make the task more manageable if you put in the effort.

Staying Up-to-Date on Trends.

The graphic and web design industries are constantly changing and evolving. What worked yesterday may not work today, or there may be a new and better way of doing it. You’ll need to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and techniques to stay ahead.

Devote time to reading graphic and web design blogs, articles and publications. Listen to podcasts and watch courses and videos. Try to attend conferences and workshops if you can afford them. Follow design influencers on social media to keep up with what’s new in our field.

You’ll also want to stay abreast of the latest software and hardware developments. Tools and technologies are constantly changing. Take time to learn what’s out there and how to use them effectively in your business.

Staying up-to-date on trends will help you stay ahead of the competition and make you a more efficient designer. And allows you to provide your clients with the best possible work.

Managing Time and Money.

Time and money management are essential in the graphic and web design industry. You’ll need to learn to manage your time to ensure you complete projects on time and within budget. This means setting realistic expectations and deadlines and charging enough for the work you produce. Don’t undervalue yourself to land a client. You’ll only regret it. Communicating realistic deadlines, schedules, and fair pricing with your clients will help things move smoothly.

You’ll also need to budget for overhead costs like software, hardware, and marketing. And don’t forget the fees for design resources and subscriptions you may require. Everything from stock imagery to website hosting costs money and will eat your profit. Your monthly credit card bill shows you how much you need to make to cover the various expenses associated with running your business. You must learn how to price jobs accordingly to cover these expenses.

You’ll also need to manage your finances, both personally and professionally. Create a budget for yourself and your business, and track your income and expenses. You need to know how things stand if your design business income supports your business and personal expenses.

Being organized and staying on top of your finances will help you remain profitable and ensure the success of your business.

Finding Balance.

Running a business can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be stressful and time-consuming. To maintain a healthy work-life balance, you must be conscious of the time and energy you devote to each.

It’s so easy when working for yourself to lose track of time and put in 12 or more hours of work in a day. Yes, hustling is part of running a business, but doing it consistently will impede your health. Schedule regular breaks during the day and week. Take vacations. Making time for yourself will help you stay motivated and productive and can even help you think up new ideas and solutions. I can’t tell you how many times a winning idea came to me after stepping back from a project for a while.

You’ll also need to make sure you don’t neglect your personal relationships. Make time for family and friends, and continue to pursue your hobbies and interests. Your business will still be there when you get back.

Doing things besides design work will help you stay inspired and energized and can help you avoid burnout.

The Rewards Outweigh the Challenges.

Starting a graphic design business can be an exciting and rewarding experience but also challenging. Starting my design business is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Many designers have told me the same thing.

To increase your chances of success, you must be prepared for the hurdles you will encounter. Finding clients, staying up-to-date on trends, managing your time and money, and finding balance are all critical aspects of running a successful graphic or web design business. Being aware of these will help make your journey easier. If you’re prepared for the challenges of running your own business, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

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