If you enjoy drawing and creating aesthetically pleasing visual materials, a graphic design job might be the right career choice for you. Graphic designers use colors and elements of style to create pieces to use in business communication. This can be done through drawing and illustration or the use of special computer software. Whether you want to work part-time or full-time, you can create a solid business from graphic designs. You can always aspire to grow a services portfolio to include animations, video, etc. To get started:

Do a good research: You need to quickly research the current state and trends in the graphics designs business – software, client preferences, processes, contracts, potential markets, learning resources, etc. Discussing with some industry insiders on this will be very helpful. Some level of training is required to do this – know the level of training, apprenticeship or mentorship you need.

Go for necessary training: Many colleges offer programs to allow students to major or minor in graphic design. Occasionally you will even find some that offer associate degrees in this field. The most typical degree that is recommended for a graphic design career is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. Although a degree is not necessary, it will give you the training you need for running a successful business.

Know the tools and software you need: Graphic artists require specific software programs to run a graphic design business. You will need to have a computer with plenty of memory to handle heavy graphics and images. Software such as Adobe Photoshop, In-Design and Illustrator will also be required to do image editing and to create the materials in high resolution for printing services.

Choose a business structure: Here you need to figure out the structure you want to start with. How are you going to brand yourself and business? Will you run the business with your name as an individual or will you adopt a corporate business name? Each decision has its pros and cons, just think about your market, how you would like to be perceived, what you can afford – as an individual brand, or as a young company.

Establish a Portfolio: You could partner with other designs companies or even intern with one to get some hands on experience and grow your portfolio. Do some voluntary or low-cost service for organizations and clients within your reach. By so doing, you can develop a respectable portfolio.

Always improve how you generate revenue: Like in every service business, you have to find how you optimize your revenue generation. Figure out how to charge your clients appropriately (here there are so many ways you could approach this, but the most important thing here is to work out a system to effectively establish your rates up-front or over time so you don’t end up working for peanuts or find it difficult to ever raise your rates) and furthermore you should expand your streams of income within the business. (See video below)

You must actively prospect for business: If you’re just starting out and need clients right away, go out and find them. Cold calling works, follow up on leads and referrals. Be active and effective about this. However, the quality of your service delivery will add the much more valuable word-of-mouth referrals also. Remember to “try to clone your best clients”  – the ones who give you plenty of ongoing work, always pay on time, etc. Once you land a few of these types, figure out what characteristics they have in common and by all means, go after others like them.

Network and learn: There is a tremendous community of professionals who can support you in what you do. So start following people on Twitter, getting to know them on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media hang outs. There are other people out there in similar situations and they have a lot to offer. Also, be sure to get involved in the communities where you customers are. If you’re targeting a specific niche, what online forums do they use? Are there newsgroups that you should belong to? Are there regular meetups that you should be attending? Immerse yourself in the communities in which you operate and you’ll build up a really strong network – of partners, potential clients and referrals.

Be on the look out for resourceful conferences and other opportunities out there for you to keep on learning your craft. The important thing is to make time for yourself to develop your craft, to continue learning and to share what you learn with others.

Above all, always keep an open mind – quick to learn trends and new imaginations in your line of business. Persistence and the determination to succeed are the most important skills you bring to the table.

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