If you came here wondering what business can graphic designers do? You are in the right place. Profitable graphic design business ideas are as diverse as individual designers themselves are.
Keep reading to find out the graphic design business ideas that you can start right away!
Graphic designers are the backbone of the creative economy that the internet has created. Without designers, we won’t have a lot of the tools we love and use today. And even if we did have them, they will be way too complicated to use and understand.
Design is not just making things pretty and aesthetic. Design is communication.
We communicate our values and what we want the end-user to understand through design. So therefore, designers are very much needed in almost any industry. Which is why I’m bringing you the most profitable graphic design small business ideas to start.
Table of contents
- Table of contents
- 1 Start a brand identity & design studio
- 2 Start a packaging design studio
- 3 Start a website design studio
- 4 Start a design blog
- 5 Sell digital products for creatives and other designers
- 6 Marketing & advertising design studio
- 7 Sell pre-made social media templates & other marketing templates
- 8 Start a printable business
- 9 Start a print on demand store
- 10 Coach other designers
- 11 Create a design course
- 12 Be a design educator & influencer
- 13 Become a graphic illustrator
- 14 Start a data visualization & infographic design business
- 15 Start a print and publication design studio
- 16 Start a paper and stationery design studio
- 17 Start a design podcast
- Do you need experience to start a graphic design business?
- What equipment do you need to start a graphic design business?
- How to start a graphic design business with no money
- The First steps: How do I start my own graphic design business?
- Concluding profitable graphic design business ideas to start
1 Start a brand identity & design studio
Brand design studio is one of the most exciting business idea for designers. The process of creating an entirely new brand from the scratch for business owners seems just as challenging as it is rewarding. You get to do this every time, take on fun projects and get rewarded handsomely for it.
On top of that, you can scale this business service pretty well as branding package services usually sell in the mid to high ticket range. How lucrative is that!
2 Start a packaging design studio
Start a business designing packaging materials for product-based brands. Packaging is one of the first things that consumers see with a product.
It’s safe to say that packaging influences consumers choices greatly, as a result, smart businesses owners take their packaging design seriously and we hire good designers to bring their visions to reality in their packaging.
Packaging designers are tasked with the responsibility of designing stand-out packaging that communicates and connects with the ideal buyers. And can we just for a minute talk about the seriously innovative and attractive packaging options available out there. My guess is that you’ll surely have a blast as a packaging designer. Enjoy!
3 Start a website design studio
No matter what you do or don’t do, you probably need a web presence online, maybe even two. As a result, web designers are very much in demand.
A company’s or personal web presence must reflect their brand values and personality. This makes web design an intentional process that most people want experts to take care of for them.
4 Start a design blog
Offering services is not the only kind of business models for designers, a content-based business might be the right business model for you if you also enjoy blogging & writing as a designer.
Start a design-focused blog or website to educate, connect, entertain and inform others in the design community.
Starting a design blog opens up avenue for lots of passive income later on.
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5 Sell digital products for creatives and other designers
Creatives and business owners love digital products. It gets them back their time, helps them level up their branding and online presence without overwhelm. You’ve probably used them before yourself whether free or paid.
So what can you sell as a graphic designer? To get ideas for digital products to sell, think of what you usually use yourself. For example: mock up, fonts, textures, photoshop elements, illustrations and more.
Use Podia to host, market and sell your digital products for other creatives and designers all in one place. It’s creator-friendly and you can sell unlimited downloads to your users without the tech struggles, starting from $39 per month.
6 Marketing & advertising design studio
My favorite design niche is design for marketing and advertising online. People in this niche are so creative.
Marketing design aids business growth, lead generation, shares, saves, clicks and the likes. Whenever I see marketing design well-done, I almost instantly want to save it for later and share with others.
Marketing and advertising design is of the nicest graphic design business ideas and niches to start your business in.
You will be designing materials such as social media posts, facebook ad creatives, blog post images, flyers, social media covers and other marketing materials that businesses need.
7 Sell pre-made social media templates & other marketing templates
If we’re talking about the hottest graphic design small business ideas right now, this will be number 1 on the list. Templates are simply where the money is right now.
With the advent of design tools like Canva, people want convenient solutions to branding their online presence without the design overwhelm.
Hence, the birth of easy to use, plug-and-play templates solutions for business owners and brands.
The best selling templates on Pinterest, Etsy and Creative market have thousands to tens of thousands of likes and reviews, thereby indicating a serious demand for these products.
People capitalized on this demand and have made templates for virtually any marketing use-case or niche.
But its not just social media templates that are popular right now. Ebook templates, course templates and more are also bought by business owners.
If you’ve good design skills, you can make a business out of creating templates for businesses. But don’t just create template that everybody else is selling. That will put your business at risk for obscurity.
The best way to go about this is to find a niche you can serve, that way you ensure that you‘re making something that people find a no-brainer to buy.
Ladies of real estate have a membership site with thousands of social media and listing templates for women in real estate.
Your social team make templates for social media specialists and they’re damn good at what they do.
8 Start a printable business
What are printables and why do I like them so much?
They are digital products that you can turn into physical products whenever you print them. I like them especially because you only have to create them once and can sell them multiple times for passive income.
People buy them because they are especially handy and useful when it comes to saving time and money, organizing, planning, decor and more. On top of that, printables are really fun and easy to create.
Printable ideas include planners, checklists, trackers, binders, recipe cards, gift cards, interior decoration and more.
You can design printables and make a lot of money doing this, even a full time income. Just ask Sarah who made $15 million selling printables online.
9 Start a print on demand store
I see print on demand stores as a nice way to eat your cake and have it. You get the perks of e-commerce without all its annoyances.
When you operate a print in demand store, you don’t have to buy and store any merchandise, nor package and ship them yourself. All you have to do is to create the designs you’ll be needing, upload them unto products and add them to your store.
I particularly put it here because your print on demand success is largely influenced by how appealing the products look to your ideal buyers. Generally, the better your designs are, the more appealing it becomes to your target audience.
But it’s not just appearance alone, you need to nail the right niche to target so your sales cab take off.
I love this one because it’s really cool, creative and expressive. If I had the skills to make this happen, I’ll absolutely jump on it.
The best part of print on demand is that you can just create your design once and sell them on multiple products. Mugs, stationery, stickers, phone cases, t shirts, leggings, pillow cases and more.
10 Coach other designers
If you consider yourself an expert and others know of this, I’m sure you would have been approached by others who want to learn from you – usually for free, ouch!
If you’re so good they can’t ignore you, maybe it’s time to start a business coaching and mentoring others to become better designers and turn those pick my brain requests to paid sessions $$!
11 Create a design course
All the design courses I’ve taken have been ah-mazing! So I recommend that all great designers teach their ‘sauce’ in form of an online course.
You can build a business out of creating courses that will help others master the tools and trade of design.
Design is so broad that there’s a slice in the pie for everyone so you can really focus on what you know how to do best and teach it instead of attempting to teach everything about design.
Specific design course niches I’ve come across include: a course to teach branding and color principles, logo design courses, courses to learn photoshop, illustrator or some other kind of tools, Canva design courses and so on.
With Podia, marketing and selling your design courses also won’t be a problem, thanks to its expansive library of beneficial features for course creators.
12 Be a design educator & influencer
Don’t be shy about your love for design. Let the world know by becoming a design educator and influencer online.
Because they share very valuable content, educators and influencers have the potential of building a massive audience online, which will then open up several monetization channels for them.
As a design educator and influencer, you can hold workshops, webinars, secure brand sponsorships and even get paid to speak at events. You can also monetize your business with your own products, membership sites and subscriptions. The possibilities are endless.
Host, market and sell everything you need to monetize your business as a a design educator and influencer via Podia’s all-in-one marketplace for creators, without the tech hassle.
13 Become a graphic illustrator
Graphic illustration combine art with design to produce illustrations for branding, prints, marketing, packaging, editorial and more. Illustration is the use of an image or a group of images/elements to describe an idea or concept.
Brands need illustration to tell their story and drive brand awareness. It works because it’s alive, narrative and engaging.
Graphic illustrator do work for all kinds of brands from tech to education, media, health brands and more so I can surely say that you’ll never be out of creative projects to work on. This is one of the most interesting graphic design business ideas to start in 2021.
14 Start a data visualization & infographic design business
Data visualization turns complex data and input into visual blocks or output. It simplifies data with visual storytelling.
Infographics are the visual representation of such data in form or charts, graphs, diagrams and more.
Infographic designers are the specialists (more like magicians) behind infographics. Infographics have experienced explosive growth in their use in business over the last few years thanks to their relevant benefits.
Businesses want to enjoy the benefits of infographics but since it’s often times complex to design, they need the help of expert designers experienced in the field.
A single infographic can cost about as much as about $5000 to design, sometimes even more depending on the complexity. This is a fair price for the decent ROIs that infographics can create for businesses.
If you enjoy visual datalization and you’re just as much right-brained as you’re left-brained, infographics design might just be one of the most perfect graphic design business ideas for you.
15 Start a print and publication design studio
Start a print and publication studio designing print media for companies. Print media is stuff that can be physically printed. Examples are magazines, billboards, posters, flyers, brochures, menus and more.
Print media requires creativity to be able to design not just elements that look good digitally but also look great and fit nicely when printed.
If you excel in this area, you can start your own small graphic design business doing this for brands.
16 Start a paper and stationery design studio
Start a business designing custom events stationery. The work that comes out of stationery studio is honestly so gorgeous I sometimes want some for myself too.
People want their events to be memorable. Beautifully designed invites and stationery adds just the right amount of charm.
Combine your love for stationery, elegant design and telling magical stories to start your stationery design studio. You can also design stationery to sell in your shop.
17 Start a design podcast
Do you love to learn and talk about design for hours and hours? Then you might be well suited for starting your very own design podcast.
When it comes to podcasts, there’s a flavor for everyone so just because there is quite a robust selection of design podcasts already doesn’t mean you can’t start your own and get a million views if you want.
Podcasts give a sense of community to its audience and teaches them new stuff, so people enjoy listening to them. You can start your podcast business and start monetizing your content.
One of my favorite design podcasts is called Just Branding by Jacob Cass and Matt Davies. It’s the podcast that teaches designers and entrepreneurs how to build a brand.
Do you need experience to start a graphic design business?
Want to start a graphic design business but think you lack enough experience in your opinion? Well guess what? Your target clients are even way less experienced than you are. That’s why they need your help in the first place.
Don’t let a lack of experience stop you from starting your design companies. All of the ideas below require varying levels of experience and skills to make it happen.
Something such as designing templates would not need as much skill as designing websites or complex infographics.
You can always work with clients that need what you can offer at that time. The more experience you have, the better the scope of work you can then take on.
You’ll need to start in order to gain experience anyways.
Before we go into some of the first things to do in order to start your own graphic design business, let’s look at these important topics first.
What equipment do you need to start a graphic design business?
Equipment needed for graphic designers will differ according to the kind of work they do. Illustrators will probably need some special kind of tools that design educators or course creators probably don’t need.
Here are some of the basic tools that mostly all graphic designers should have in their arsenal:
- A Laptop with sufficient processor
- Suitable software: Adobe illustrator, photoshop, inDesign, Canva and the likes
- Memory tools: hard drives, flash drives etc
- Smartphone: Did I even need to add this?
- Graphic tablet and stylus (optional)
- Printer (optional)
- CRM and Invoicing software: Dubsado, Honeybook.
How to start a graphic design business with no money
You are dead set on starting your own graphic design business but you don’t have money for anything, that may not be much of problem. Let’s look at some free alternatives of everything you need to start a graphic design business.
- Online education: Free courses on Youtube and Canva design school.
- Software: Canva – free version, Stencil.
Of course, I’m assuming you’ve already got the hardware – a laptop and smartphone you can use. But I’ll let you know when I finally find a free alternatives for you.
The First steps: How do I start my own graphic design business?
Now that you’ve decided to start your own graphic design business, you next task to figure out the steps on how to actually get started or the very first step at the least.
At the end of the day, business is a figure-it-out-as-you-go venture.
Here are six steps to take to make your dream graphic design business ideas a reality right away. Let’s go!
1 Decide on your niche and nail your offers
Your niche is the problem that you solve for a particular kind of client. We’ve just examined 17 of such niches earlier in this post, so it’s time to pick the most suitable niche for you.
The next step is to nail your offers. You need to come up with an irresistible, profitable packages to offer your clients but keep in mind that you’re not just selling services, you’re selling a solution.
So if you can frame your offers as a solution to an actual problem they have, you’ll be able charge higher for them.
2 Optimize your online presence
How will your customers find you? Mostly through your online presence. Choose a platform: Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook etc and optimize your presence for visibility and sales.
3 Build a basic website or contact page
You will need a basic website so people can easily get in touch with you. You can get a starter website or just a contact form page that people ought can fill for enquiries.
4 Market your new graphic design business online
If you don’t market your business online, customers can’t exactly find you. You need to be ready to create a fitting marketing strategy for your business. One simple marketing strategy for beginners is content marketing.
Content marketing is simply using content to attract, engage, convert and retain customers online. If you can figure out the kind of content that your audience might search for and start to create it, you’ve already conquered the first step to content marketing.
5 Get your first client
Once you’ve started implementing your content marketing strategy, then potential customers should start to find you.
Some of the traffic you get will later become leads. You should be able to convert some of those leads to clients. Then take the next step under once you get your first few clients.
6 Ask for reviews: use them to grow your business
Ask for reviews and use them to grow your business further. Never estimate the power of social proof to influence people’s purchasing decisions online.
Buying online is risky enough and many people look for social proof and glowing reviews to minimize the potential risk of purchase.
Concluding profitable graphic design business ideas to start
I hope this blog post helped you as an aspiring graphic design business owner.
Hopefully, you’re able to find the most suitable graphic design business ideas for you, as well as more info on how to get started. Find more profitable business ideas you can start right away.
Designers in the house, which idea would you like to get started with asap? Mine is definitely illustration and infographics design.
Got some questions for me? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or quickly get in touch here.