Starting a successful graphic design business goes beyond having the knowledge of being a good designer yourself; there are a lot more factors that surround the chances of getting started in this venture. First and foremost, you need to develop confidence in yourself, come up with a portfolio, setting up your price; there is a lot you will need to do to get started. However, this should not scare you; the benefits you can reap from graphic design business are worth the hard work.

At the outset, any job is exciting and any client is a chance to prove to yourself and your doubting Thomas that you ARE good enough to be a professional designer.

(And that’s okay. Food isn’t free.)

Soon enough, though, you’re going to get tired of working long hours for peanuts, dealing with a demanding client you can’t afford to ditch, and working on projects you really don’t enjoy.

In order to get those ideal clients and projects you’ll need to start a successful design business, you need a portfolio of your best work. Remember: quality, not quantity!

However, if you’re just starting out, stellar portfolio pieces can be hard to come by.

Set your pricing

This is easily one of the most challenging aspects of starting your own design business: determining what you’re going to charge.

And the catch is, it’s never resolved. 10-year veterans still fret over whether or not they’re charging enough, how to charge more, and if they’re selling themselves short.

Get to work!

The last hurdle is what we often call ‘freelancing fear.’ (Here’s what causes it and how to overcome it.)

As crazy as it sounds, once you’ve started your design business, it’s not uncommon to be afraid – or terrified – of those first projects or client calls.

But you’ve got to pick up the phone, and you’ve got to accept those projects despite the butterflies making a jumble of your stomach.

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Becoming a successful graphic designer business owner can be a great way of making a lifetime breakthrough. To achieve what you are working towards in this field, however, depends on a number of considerations that you will have to take on-board. You don’t have to go through a design school though; all you need is identifying the importance of your skills in the business. More importantly, you will need to ensure that your ideas are original and unique, and you are good to go.

First: How important are your own skills in your business? If you want to start a graphic design studio, for example, and you are the only graphic designer for the business, you can’t be successful if your background is made up of a few online Photoshop tutorials. Your friends might consider your work awesome, but this doesn’t mean that you’re a graphic designer, nor that you can match client needs.

Second: The idea. If you’re sure your idea is original, then you can start as soon as possible. In this case you might need a team of creatives that can support the idea. You will inevitably deal with another factor, money. A good graphic designer could start a design studio with a low budget, based on his skills. While a person with just an idea can’t realize it without a support staff, which costs money.

Regarding my experience, I started with no budget, and with no experience working on client projects. This is why I spent the first few months making errors and learning. The reason for why I didn’t wait was the opportunity I saw in the market for premium design resources. I couldn’t wait.

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Being a successful graphic designer is never as easy as many take it to be. Actually, for many, the opposite turns out to be more prevalent than the assumption. This field has its own challenges that its practitioners have to brace and learn the ways to handle them for them to make it in this business. Most of these challenges, however, are normal as in many other businesses, although they may have different magnitude to different people. As much as you may be prepared for success, you should as well be prepared for anything along the way.

Working as a Graphic Designer is not as glorified as many make it out to be. Sure we sit behind our fancy computer setups, sketching ‘pretty pictures’ in our Moleskin notebooks and can do business from the comforts of our own homes, but it can also be one of the most stressful, involving and cutting edge jobs out there.

As a designer you are constantly trying to improve. In this industry if you are standing still, you’re falling behind; you are constantly expanding your portfolio, your designs, your knowledge, your career and more.


Managing expectations. Not only do we expect the best from ourselves, but our clients do as well (with good reason). Convincing those in power that a winning concept cannot necessarily be immediately conjured out of thin air is a challenge.

The reality that everyone has an opinion on what looks good/right. A patient would never tell the doctor how to fix their broken bone… nor would a customer tell a mechanic how to fix their oil leak, but a business owner will definitely tell their designer that emerald green and yellow would be the best colors for their corporate identity.

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