Business At A Glance
Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? Yes
If you’ve always pictured yourself as a commercial artist but yourdrawing style is closer to stick figures than Cézannes, then graphicdesign might be just the business for you. With the great softwareavailable today, you can conjure up logos, letterheads, brochures,product packaging and mail order catalogs–just about anything thatneeds a distinctive graphic ambience for the business client.
Graphicdesigners work on a freelance basis, creating materials for corporateclients, advertising agencies, public relations firms and publishers.But they do more than merely sketch designs–they often provide visualsolutions to specific problems like company identity crises or imagechanges. The advantages to this business are that, provided you have astrong design and color sense, you don’t need to be able to draw, youcan work full time or part time and you can do it at home.
Hours areflexible–so long as you meet clients at reasonable times and meet yourdeadlines, you can work ’til dawn and sleep ’til noon if you want to.You should have a good working knowledge of your design. A degree ingraphic design or fine arts is a plus but not necessary; ditto foron-the-job experience working in an ad agency or for graphic designers.In addition to all that creativity, you’ll need to have good listeningskills so you can understand what your clients want, plus a good senseof marketing to help them sell themselves through the projects theybring to you.
Your clients will be other businesses–ad agencies, publishingcompanies, small magazines, product manufacturers and others, fromstartups to old standbys who need a smart image to start with or asnappy redesign of their aged chestnut.
Find these firms by placing adsin trade publications like those read by ad agencies, mail ordercompanies and the giftware industry. Send direct-mail pieces to thesesame companies–let them see your work firsthand. Network in yourcommunity and keep your ear to the ground for hints of new businesses.When you hear of an opportunity, make an appointment to present yourportfolio and discuss how you can be of service.
You’ll need a high-end computer (most graphic designers use Macs) witha Zip or Jaz drive, a top-quality color printer, a scanner, a faxmachine and the software itself. Talk to graphic designers to find outwhat programs they use, then haunt computer superstores to see what’scomparable and what’s the newest on the market.