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How Much It Costs to Start a Graphic Design Business from Home (And How to Start One with No Money)

It costs approximately $2,000 to $10,000 to start a graphic design business. That said, a design business can be started on a shoestring budget depending on your skill set. Graphic design businesses can be operated from home and are primarily run online. They can even be operated part-time if you still have a full-time job, according to Entrepreneur.

In this article, we’ll cover:

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Graphic Design Business?

It costs $2,000 to $10,000 to start a graphic design business, according to Entrepreneur. CNBC estimates that you can start a graphic design business for less than $1,000.

Let’s break down the costs. Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Education: free or $3,000 – $30,000 for formal schooling
  • Portfolio: free with sites like Wix or $226+ for services like Squarespace
  • Professional business licence: fees vary by state
  • Computer suitable for graphic design: $775 – $4920+
  • Adobe Creative Cloud software: $33.99/month per user
  • Scanner-printer combo: $30+
  • Pantone Color Matching System (optional): $570
  • Drawing tablet (optional): $29 – $1,499
  • Total: $849 – $37,000+ (including optional items)

You may already have some of these items, which could bring down your startup cost to zero.

Business licenses are usually not required if you operate under your own name as a sole proprietor, according to the Houston Chronicle.

As for education, it’s possible to train yourself using learning resources like Lynda.com, which may be free with your local library membership.

You can also pursue a formal degree to learn the skills you need for graphic design. Here’s a guide to degree costs from U.S. College Search:

  • Community and technical colleges: $3,000 – $6,000
  • Four-year college or university: $20,000 – $30,000
  • Full Sail University (online or in-person): $80,500

That said, you don’t need a fancy degree to be a successful freelancer graphic designer. Here’s some advice: clients are more likely to be interested in a stellar portfolio then where your degree is from, according to NuSchool.

Home-Based Costs

Freelance graphic designers can choose to work from home and start their own business online. It can be done part-time, as well, while working a full-time job or other contracts.

Working from home cuts down on overhead costs, but it’s definitely not free. You may need to invest in:

  • Improved broadband internet
  • Desk and chair
  • Business supplies

Thankfully, the IRS allows small business owners to deduct many of the costs required to startup a company such as marketing their business. They will let you write off up to a maximum of $5,000 in the first year, according to the Small Business Administration.

Assets such as vehicles and property can’t be written off, but you can write off any value that decreases year by year (depreciation).

People also ask:

How Much Should I Charge as a Freelance Graphic Designer?

Graphic designers on low-cost platforms like Upwork and Elance charge as low as $20 to $30 per hour. This can be a good pricing guide for new graphic designers.

The Balance recommends raising your rate to $35 to $60 per hour after three to five years in business. After five to ten years of experience, you can charge $150 to $200 an hour.

Consider charging on the higher end of the scale if you live in an expensive city like New York or L.A.

The average rate for graphic design is $50 per hour, according to Design for Founders.

The NuSchool has a free hourly rate calculator that lets you customize your hourly rate based on the project and type of client.

How Much Should I Charge to Design a Website?

The average cost to build a basic website is $6,760, according to Website Builder Expert. This cost only covers the first year and pricing can vary wildly depending on the project. Web designers charge $5,000 to over $10,000 for custom projects..

Here’s the average breakdown:

  • Setup: $160
  • Design/building: $5,000
  • Content: $500
  • Client training: $600
  • Maintenance: $500 per year
  • Total: $6,760

This article goes in-depth on how much web designers charge to build websites and has tips on figuring out your hourly rate.

Graphic Design Business Ideas

When starting your own graphic design business, it’s important to decide on a specialty, whether that’s logo design or WordPress design, according to NuSchool. This will help you concentrate your learning and build your reputation in a particular niche.

Here are some graphic design business ideas:

  • Logos
  • Letterhead and envelopes
  • Brochures
  • Product packaging
  • Mail order catalogues
  • Business cards
  • Flyers
  • Folders
  • Print ads
  • Postcards
  • Booklets
  • Greeting cards and invitations
  • Social media pages
  • Web ads
  • Web graphic elements
  • Websites
  • Customized WordPress templates


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