Start an online graphic design business in 2024 and succeed. Whether you’re a new graphic designer eager to explore your talents or a seasoned graphic designer looking for new avenues, the online realm is for you. In this blog post, I will unveil 11 ways to start an online graphic design business from the comfort of your own space.
Start a Graphic Design Business Online with no Money
1. Build an online presence
Years ago, the internet was not a buzz. The few who managed to get there quickly got attention in a matter of seconds. The algorithms were easy to hack.
Today, things are the opposite. Surviving online is just like establishing a brick-and-mortar business. You have five graphic designers on the same street.
Some are more established than others. Then, you are a newbie looking for a space among the five stars. That’s frightening.
To get any customer at all, you need to start. Before that, you must plan.
2. Plan your online presence
Building an online business is different from getting viral online. As said, today, things are different. I am not saying you cannot go viral. But delete that from your plans right now.
Since you are starting a graphic design business, visit a couple of websites and social media pages in the same category to see exactly what they do.
This is how to plan your online presence:
Choose your medium
I mentioned visiting websites and social media pages. This is not to copy but to have an idea of how they run the business.
It’s about learning from the big boys. Now that you know what is out there, you can make a clear choice.
Social media or website?
I could tell you which to choose, but I want you to make an informed decision that will help your business. So, let’s look at the pros and cons of both platforms.
Social media pros
- All you need is a free account in a few minutes
- There are millions of people already on these platforms
- You can make friends with people in your locality and outside which lets you appeal to both known and unknown customers
- You get to display your designs for free on your timeline to friends
- Platforms are user-friendly
- You can operate from your smartphones
- You can send direct messages to clients and reply to them instantly as well
- Their advertisements are effective and easy to follow e.g., Facebook ads
- No need to worry about platform maintenance or security
- You promote your physical business directly
- You reach people who know you easily
Social media cons
- You are limited when it comes to customizing your platform
- Because there’s a constant update of the timeline, you must post every second or minute
- YouTube videos must be engaging
- Recently, organic traffic is hard to generate on social media
- Absolutely no control over the platform
- Your business is not unique and official
- Website makes your business look official and unique
- URL is customizable
- Free to customize the website to your look
- Full control and access to the website
- Customers trust your business
- No need to publish every second or minute
- It is likely visitors will become customers
- Domain and hosting are not free (free domain and hosts listed at the end of the article)
- You have to pay for security
- Themes and templates are for sale (free themes are available but limited)
- It takes time to rank on search engines e.g., Google, Bing
- There’s no silver bullet to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) you must learn or hire SEO
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is costly
Now you can tell what to start with. If you are still in a dilemma, let me assist you.
My pick for the start
I’ll give you my pick and how I will go about it.
I will start with a website. Because it is official. Instead of people reaching me through Gmail or Yahoo mail, they would rather reach me through my official email e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org.
While reaping all the benefits of owning a website, I will go ahead and add my social media handles to my website.
If you are solely serving customers through the internet, and you picked a website, you should understand that it will take a while to promote it.
So, instead of waiting you should advertise the business on Google. That’s the SEM (Search Engine Marketing).
But this will cost you and may not yield the result you want especially if you are a beginner. In this case, you pay Google or Bing to advertise your business.
I prefer gaining organic traffic. To achieve that, you should create a subdomain or a directory on your domain, install WordPress, and start a blog.
What should you do on the blog? Teach graphic design.
While promoting your business with blog posts, you generate ad revenue from your blog and earn affiliate income on recommended products.
I said that in a second, but it takes at least 35 weeks to get organic traffic to your blog post. If you want to add blogging to your business, a couple of googling will get you there.
That’s my approach. But if you think that’s a lot of work, then stick with social media.
3. Start one at a time
Whichever approach you decide, pick one at a time. If you want to promote your business on social media, don’t open all social media accounts at the same time.
First, create an account where your audience is. Mostly, Facebook will be your first choice. So, create your Facebook account, add your contacts as friends, and start from there.
4. Set your online profile
After adding a couple of friends to your account, update your profile. You don’t have to spend one day doing this. Gradually, you can write a compelling description.
Next, create a Facebook business page. But hold on with that.
5. Get to graphic design
Design flyers, posters, brochures, book covers, banners, etc. and start sharing your content. Don’t just drop designs, make sure you add some text showing you are offering such services.
This puts the difference between you and those having fun on the platform.
6. Create a Facebook business page
Since this is a business, having a business page on Facebook is important. You can share this link on other platforms and your hardcopy designs.
The page lets you give detailed info about your business e.g., location, contact, business description, etc. You can also advertise your post on the page which makes you reach more people.
7. Create a Google Business profile
Building a Google profile for your business is the fastest way for people to find you online organically. Learn about how to create a professional Google profile and start one.
8. Add other platforms
After having enough info on your FB, continue with Instagram, Pinterest, and others. Remember to build one at a time.
If you are interested in YouTubing, learn about how to create a successful YouTube channel. This can promote your business and help you generate additional income with graphic design.
9. Be on WhatsApp
Display your designs on WhatsApp status. But that’s not the main reason I want you to install WhatsApp.
Whether your business is solely online or not, you will need this app to exchange files with clients.
Customers will send you texts, images, and samples.
10. Have a good customer service
Three days ago, I went to a provision shop nearby. I had to drag myself there. The shop owner is damn annoying so I only buy from her when I had no choice.
She bitterly complained to me about how her products are expiring because sales are slow. She is losing customers because her customer service is poor.
Quality customer service is not just about talking nicely to customers but responding and delivering on time.
11. Start with a free website
Do you like the idea of starting a graphic design business with a website but cannot afford it? That’s no problem. I’ll give you some cool stuff that’ll make that happen at the end of the post.
Free domain services for graphic design
Free domains always come with a long URL, the one you cannot customize to your liking.
But these free domains serve the same purpose. Here are the caveats:
- Domain names are none customizable
- You cannot host elsewhere
- You have limited control over your website interface and backend
- You cannot back up your website from the backend
- You cannot create an email account
Examples of free domains:
Blogger – blogger is a free domain provider owned by Google.
Website – https://www.blogger.com.
Creating a blogger account – sign in with Gmail. After signing in, you enter your blog name which looks like this: https://www.yourblogname.blogspot.com.
The longer your blog name the longer the URL.
Wix – allows you to create and publish a basic website without a cost. Upgrading to premium includes additional features.
Domains are offered by domain name registrars. When you host a website, you may get a free tld (top-level domain) for a year with some web hosts.
Our last free domain service providers are quite different from the aforementioned registrars.
Dot TK is the only top-level domain name registry that provides free domain names. .tk is the country code top-level domain for Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand in the South Pacific.
You can host .tk with any host or transfer to any host. It is the same as buying a domain name for example from Dynadot and hosting elsewhere but this time you don’t pay for the domain name.
This is what the domain name looks like, yourname.tk
Free hosting services for graphic design
Blogger, Wix, and other free domain services also provide a free hosting service. The difference is, that you cannot host their domain elsewhere.
For instance, you can only host yourblog.blogspot.com on blogger.com.
Also, the free domain offered by hosting companies that offer free domains for a year remains free within the period only when you keep your website on their server.
When you choose to move to another host, you need to transfer the domain, so that, the free offer will expire.
Now let’s talk about absolute free hosts.
I used Blogger and its alternatives, I used a free domain a year ago from hosts, and the one we are about to discuss.
This host gives you a free and paid hosting service. Though there are limitations to the free service, it is completely free.
This means you can buy a domain from a different registrar and host with them. They offer you a control panel just as premium.
You create an email address, activate https, backup your website files, etc.
I used a couple of these free hosting services and my favorite is AwardSpace.com. AwardSpace’s customer service is the best.
AwardSpace is a free web hosting provider with no ads unlike 000WebHost.
There are different plans offered, the basic plan is awesome. It was not expensive.
If you want to start with a website, you could buy a .com from Dynadot which offers affordable domain names and hosts AwardSpace’s basic plan.
Before wrapping up, this is not a free service but in terms of price, Slu Hosting is the best host on the internet. I think their package is meant for startups like you.
I talked a couple of friends into Slu Hosting because of their price. Besides that, their customer service is incredible because you just paid a penny.
Namecheap is cool but what I don’t like about their service is, they don’t give you a recurring bill. Meaning, that you wait until a month or so to the expiring date before finding out what to pay next.
There’s a price list displayed on their website, which was supposed to be the next bill, but they give you a different price higher than that.
I can’t tell if this is due to the harsh economic but it’s really bad for a startup business.
One thing I want to thank Namecheap for is, that when they gave me this bill which was not in my budget, I explained to them that I was financially handicapped and they created a coupon for me to pay the old price.
I’ve never seen anything like that before. Their service is cool per my 2-year experience.
Starting a graphic design business online in 2023 is simple and profitable since all the tools are made available to you.
Build your design portfolio on your website or social media page. Stay in touch with your clients, work hard, and exercise patience.