10 Steps to Become a Graphic Designer
There are several ways to kickoff as a graphic designer. One of them is by enrolling in a design school.
Otherwise, you can decide to leverage the vast array of limitless resources (like this one) available on the Internet.
That way, you get to experiment with all the latest tricks and techniques for yourself.
Also, you’ll have access to a vast community of other designers like yourself online, where you can share ideas and handle projects together.
Anyone looking to launch into the graphic design industry must consider some essential requirements.
They include: finding the most excellent resources, perfecting your skills quickly, and staying updated with the latest trends, while also being remarkably original and innovative.
Also, you must be ready to study hard throughout your career.
To help get your graphic design business/career started on the right foot, here are 10 top practical steps that’ll set you rolling.
They’ve been subdivided into three subsections; getting started, selling your brand, and running your own graphic design business successfully.
Top 10 Steps to Become a Graphic Designer
Starting-out in the design world is easy; once you can find quality resources and learn to apply the right techniques, you’re already on the right path.
The best graphic designs are often a combination of ingenuity and technique.
Once you have the interest, your passion will hasten things. Hence, your first lookout should be acquiring skills.
To do that, you’ll need to do a lot of studying!
- Study Graphic Design Books
The world of design is vast. There are various professional departments of graphic design, including illustration, web design, photoshop, frontend design, and several others.
The first thing you’ll need to do is identify your core interest.
When you have decided on what area you want to specialize in, the next step is finding relevant resources, and studying as much as you can.
Some great books to look out for include:
- Megg’s History of Graphic Design: This book offers solid insight and in-depth historical background on the subject matter.
It covers broader aspects of design, including Dutch, Russian, and Italian design. Further on, it highlights the saga of some of history’s most creative innovators, significant design innovations, and the breakthrough technologies that made them possible.
- Graphic design theory: Readings from the field: In this book, the most significant historical and contemporary design thinkers come together to give us invaluable knowledge.
The book is sub-organized into three sections. The first handles the evolution of design from the early 1900s.
The second covers the mid to late 20th century with respect to international design style, modernism, and postmodernism.
The third highlights relevant issues from the end of the last century, including new stands on eligibility, new media, and social responsibility while trying to map the future of the graphic design industry.
- Art as Experience: Since its first delivery at Harvard in 1932, this book has grown to gain international recognition as the most distinguished American work covering all the arts.
- How to Be a Graphic Designer without Losing Your Soul: This book offers insight into employment awareness.
Whether you want to start up as a freelancer, find and maintain clients, establish a firm, etc. this book is an excellent go-to resource.
- Color by Betty Edwards: A Course in Mastering the Art of Mixing Colors: This book teaches you the intricate secrets of color application in design.
You will be able to appreciate the psychology of color and how to apply them in your designs.
- Itten: The Elements of Color: A Treatise on the Color System of Johannes Itten: This book covers the specific color principles that every graphic designer should know.
- Thinking with Type: Typography and font are two different things entirely.
However, young designers often make the mistake of confusing one for the other or regarding both as the same.
This book understudies the science of typography in graphic design and tackles the most fundamental challenges faced by designers.
- Designing Logos – The Process of Creating Symbols That Endure: This book critically examines the entire process of logo creation.
2. Patronize Tutorial Sites
Now that your skills are beginning to get a pitch, there are several other great books and resources to look out for as well.
Another great avenue to up your skillset and get to interact with other professionals and rookies like yourself are community forums and sites.
Some excellent resource and tutorial sites include our Recommended Graphic Design Courses.
Marketing your Graphic Design Service (Selling your Brand)
After getting your skillset updated to a reasonable degree, the next thing you want to do is try out your service.
It is time to market yourself and land your first gig. To do that, you must set your graphic design business effectively to attract the right clients.
3. Leverage Graphic Designer Job Listing Sites
The web offers access to hundreds of freelance sites from where you can land easy graphic design jobs with the click of a button.
Indeed, finding graphic design clients on the web has never been easier.
Sites like Fiverr offer a vast marketing space for rookies like yourself. The clients you will find here are not the high-end top paying clients of your dreams.
However, they are an excellent start for entry-levels.
Also, you can get some really cool gigs at Upwork. This site is one of the world’s most popular entry-level job sites for freelancers.
On Upwork, you will doubtless find thousands of graphic design job opportunities.
Some other great sites to try out include:
Running Your Own Graphic Design Business Successfully
After you have positioned yourself strategically in the design world, it is now time to put your brand on the market map.
A straight-up way to do this is by running your own business and becoming your own boss.
4. Set the Pricing for your Business
In the beginning, you can quickly be tempted to try to compete with other freelancers that you will find online.
However, the smarter thing to do is not to be so picky. This way, you can get your business off the ground much quicker.
As you grow and continue to gain experience in the field, you can consider adjusting things gradually until you reach your ideal.
So that you do not get things confused, the best thing to do is to set your pricing strategy.
How would you charge your clients? By the hour? By the job? Or by the value of the job you’re delivering? Etc.
For starters, charging by the hour is probably the most common pricing method.
As you continue to gather experience and clients alongside, you can consider trying out other pricing methods and consequently settle for your most preferred.
Once you have established a convenient pricing strategy, you’re all set for business.
5. Improve your Branding
At this stage, it would be a good idea to improve your branding. One of the critical steps to take in this regard is to make a professional-looking logo for your business.
Also, you should consider creating an official website.
Additionally, you should give your business some social media presence by registering it on relevant platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
Registering your brand on popular job sites like Freelancer, Upwork, Fiverr, etc. is also a great idea.
This move gives your business a more professional look and makes it open to a wide range of clients quickly.
Also, try to stay updated with the latest trends, see what other brands are doing, pick what works for you, and don’t forget always to be innovative and original.
6. Develop a Working Graphic Design Business Plan
By now, you’re already a couple of giant steps on your way to becoming a graphic designer.
The next thing to do is define your business/brand even more strategically.
This way, it becomes easy to focus and set short targets and long term goals.
Also, it is an excellent way to attract and maintain the exact kinds of clients you want to work with ultimately.
Your business plan doesn’t have to be several leaves of paperwork. Instead, make it as simple as you can; that way, it’ll be easier to follow through.
Your comprehensive and straightforward graphic design business plan should answer the following questions:
- What kind of service will my graphic design business offer?
- Who is my ideal client?
- How much will my brand I charge?
- What are my business’s monthly revenue goals?
- How many clients/jobs must I complete monthly; so as to hit my monthly revenue target?
- What is my strategy for finding new design clients?
- What is my strategy for retaining my current design clients?
For any business that is to succeed (especially in the long run), communication is vital.
When you set up your business as a graphic designer, you automatically take on more than one office at once.
You become the graphic designer (of course), the account manager, the bookkeeper, the marketing manager, the PRO, the customer relations officer, etc.
It is a serious business. Hence, communication is vital.
You need to be fluid with regular communication between your business and your clients, and you must do so strategically and effectively.
Excellent communication can keep your clients happy and even attract more clients your way quickly.
Also, make friends, join community forums, and communicate with other graphic designers to learn more and share ideas.
8. Get Quality Graphic Design Certificates and Degrees
Typically, certificates in graphic design are targeted towards professionals who are already in the field or a very near discipline.
Candidates are characteristically in for in-depth knowledge on a specific skill set, for example; advertising design, animation, etc.
Certificates also offer an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with new design software.
Some quality certifications to go for include our Recommended Graphic Design Courses.
An associate degree allows prospective graphic designers the opportunity to focus mainly on the skills they need to get entry-level jobs without a Bachelor’s degree.
A comprehensive associate’s degree can be completed within two years.
Most of the very top paying clients would require this degree as a minimum qualification.
Meanwhile, it is a more expensive option and takes longer to complete.
Some quality recommendations include:
- National University (BA Degree in Digital Media Design)
- Full Sail University (BS Degree in Graphic Design)
This degree offers a great way to expand your craft. The increased expertise accompanied with this degree is attractive to first-rate high paying employers.
This certification is an excellent way to boost your earning potential quickly.
9. Work with First Rate Software and Hardware
Using quality software will help you deliver the best work. Added to that, using quality hardware will also give you an edge.
These two variables are essential prerequisites for top-notch graphic design.
Macintosh and other first-rate computers in that category offer excellent hardware for graphic design.
10. Get Certifications and Licensees
Some other assets that can set you on a higher pedestal above your competitors are professional licenses and certifications.
It is easy to get certified; it is even more accessible now than it ever was previously.
Adobe offers superior training and certification.
The program validates your expertise across a range of design-specific software programs.
Certifications and licenses can help improve your competency and pave the way to securing ideal and lucrative clients/jobs quickly.
Becoming a graphic designer is easy, especially if you follow through with a practical, effective, and structured plan.
Soon, you will find yourself creating amazing designs for the highest paying clients recurrently.
Getting a university education in the field might be one way to become a graphic designer.
However, today, the web and internet offer both an equivalent depth of knowledge as well as several tons of continuously updated information.
Also, you have access to a large community of highly skilled individuals to interact, share ideas, and learn from quickly.
This in-depth guide will help you grow your skillset rapidly into a marketable and very lucrative business as you make your mark alongside some of history’s most profound designers of all time!