It was 3 years ago when I started to think about becoming a graphic designer. Well, that's what I am now. I did not go to design school because I preferred to use the vast amount of resources that the web offers and experiment with new techniques by myself. In this 3 article series I would like to share my experiences with all those that are approaching the graphic design world, and provide suggestions on how to find the best resources and how to avoid errors. Today we will talk about the difficulties and satisfactions that are behind the realization of a successful business
The three articles in this series:
#1 - Getting Started!
#2 - Marketing Yourself
#3 - Running your Own Business
Running Your Own Business
There are several cases of successful firms in the design market and hundreds of people inspired by their ideas. I can't tell you what to do in order to become successful with your business, but I can share my experience and the errors that I've made, in hopes that you might avoid the same pitfalls.
Let's start from the beginning: when is the right moment to launch a new business? It depends on two things.
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.
The best chance to run a successful business are when you have the right skills and knowledge, along with an original idea. If you also have a budget to invest, that's perfect!
Is The Market Busy?
Absolutely not. Every day I discover new sites and business ideas in this market, realized by creative people. So why should we consider the market busy, with no space for new adventures?
A bad approach I often see is: "this idea works, let's do the same!" I think someone can do something that already exist, if he's sure to make the same thing better. Competition is a natural feature of every market. The thing to avoid is: "if he's making money, I can make money doing the same things". These kind of business are destined to failure. The best way to create a durable business is to find a niche.
Take WeGraphics, for example, it's evident that it's not the first site that offers premium content
to subscribers. The majority of design services offer resources through premium subscriptions. After the success of psdtuts
, lot's of new sites started to offer premium content, like exclusive tutorials. The idea of a premium membership based income was something that inspired me too. At the same time I was attracted by the market of design resources. My thought was: there are tons of Photoshop tutorials online, but what I really need now are quality vectors, brushes and textures, because these resources can speed up my first clients' projects. I can find great resources from well-known sites that offer stock images and more, but cost $2000 for a yearly account. I don't have the budget for that. There are lots of freebies available, but the quality is generally low. There was an evident hole that a new business could have filled. The last question was? Would I pay 7$/month to get access to a library of top-quality design resources? Yes, so why shouldn't other graphic designers? This is how the project started. Today I am the first client of WeGraphics, since I use our design resources every day.
So Do You Really Want to Start a New Project?
Just start! The first question is: what do I need? Often the answer is: time. Time to study, to make experiences in the field and work on small projects in the beginning. Time to better understand how the market works. If you think you're ready, just find the best way to launch the project. Sometimes a good partner can represent the key to success. In my case, for example, even if I was able to create design resources and layouts in Photoshop, I had little knowledge of html/css. The opportunity to work with my current business partner, Piervincenzo
, the mind behind all of our technical stuff, showed me the potential of collaborating with other people. I decided to share my income with Piervincenzo, and since then I never regretted that decision.
My last piece of advise for young entrepreneurs: never make money your only objective. I have seen lots of projects born with money as the only aim. In most cases, even if there were great firms behind the idea, they failed. Try to make something that is not only profitable, but useful
. If your project is utilized and appreciated, you will certainly find a way to monetize it.
Now I'd like to hear you experiences? Are you going to launch a new project? Have you already had experiences with online business in the design market?