Graphic design for small businesses
Read our complete guide to graphic design options for small businesses, including DIY options for those smaller tasks.
Ever stumbled on a website that just looked awful? Or been given a business card with a logo that seemed like it was made in Microsoft Paint? Good graphic design helps build trust with your customers and it's just as important for small businesses as it is for larger ones.
Fortunately, it's not as expensive or time-intensive as you might think to implement a few design changes that can have a big impact on your business, whether that's capturing a new audience, strengthening your brand or closing on sales.
Compare graphic design tools and services
How can I use graphic design in my business?
Well-designed content creates a sense of professionalism and helps take your business to the next level. When you need design work done depends on what stage you're at, but there are a few key instances when graphic design can help:
- Logo and branding design to establish your business's identity
- Web design so your customers have all the information they need
- Packaging design if you're selling a physical product
- Advertising design from social media to posters
- Communicate in style with newsletter designs and email header templates
Graphic design options for small businesses
You have two main options when it comes to fulfilling your design needs as a small business.
- Online tools allow you to create and customise your own designs with a variety of templates for social media posts, presentations, newsletters and infographics.
- Freelancer marketplaces connect you with skilled designers with transparent pricing options who will do all the designing for you.
Online graphic design tools
Don't have a design background? No problem. Online tools are designed to be easy-to-use and provide ready-made templates to help you create professional-looking designs.
Most use drag-and-drop technology, allow customisations and can produce a new design in as little as five minutes.
What are your options?
Depending on what you're working on, some tools are stronger than others. Canva and DesignBold are good all-rounders, but other tools specialise in different aspects of graphic design.
- Adobe Spark
To help you decide, we've compared three of the most popular options available below.
How much do online graphic design tools cost?
Many online tools offer a free plan for basic designs with fewer options to incorporate your brand.
For access to premium templates, stock images and the ability to use your brand's logo, fonts and colours, you could expect to pay from $14 per month.
Factors to consider when choosing the right graphic design tool
Look for tools or paid plans that include images. A tool that has easy access to stock images can save you a lot of time and money. Also, consider where its stock images are sourced from and whether it fits your brand's aesthetic.
Don't edit the templates too much. Remember that a designer was behind creating each template and has a better idea of what works than you do. Try not to stray too far from the original design.
Don't be hesitant to upgrade to the paid plan. While free always sounds good, you do get what you pay for when it comes to online tools. Many paid plans can save you money in the long run with access to a larger amount of templates, stock images and collaboration tools.
Experiment with different tools. Just because one tool works for one design doesn't mean it will for all, so it's a good idea to test out different tools to see which will suit your varied business needs. You might end up using one tool for social media posts and another for infographics.
- Ideal for quick tasks and small projects
- Templates help create graphics that look professional
- Default functions so you don't have to design every aspect
- Low cost with some free options
- Simple to go back and edit later on
- Popular templates can be overused and easy to spot
- Lack of full control means results may not be 100% on-brand
- Still a learning curve for less experienced computer users
- Fiddling with design might take longer than you expected
- The free and low-cost options are not as comprehensive as a professional design
An artist's eye is a difficult skill to learn overnight and for some parts of your business design, you might need a professional to step in. A graphic designer can also consider the aesthetics and psychology that go into a great design plus it might be worth paying someone for the time it will save you in the long run.
What are your options?
While there are several marketplaces available to help you connect with freelancers online, there are three clear platforms that dominate the Internet. We've picked out the key features of each to help you decide which is best for your business.
How much do freelancer marketplaces cost?
Most options allow you to post jobs for free and usually charge a processing fee from 3-5% on the total billed amount.
Factors to consider when choosing the right freelancer marketplace tool
Most of these marketplaces are very similar and some freelancers might even offer services on more than one. There are a few things you can take into account, though, to help you decide which is best for you.
The lowest price or the best quality. You can't have both, so consider whether you're just looking for a quick fix now or access to a pool of quality designers.
Ongoing projects vs one-off tasks. Upwork and Freelancer do a great job at managing freelancers through milestones and paying by the hour while Fiverr is more appropriate for one particular task.
Let them come to you or go to them. Decide if you prefer to search through all the options available or would like freelancers to bid for your work.
How much do you know about what you need? If you have a vague idea of what you're looking for but prefer to shop around, then Fiverr's packages and upsells could help you choose.
- Easily find quality designers by viewing profiles, samples and reviews
- Know the cost upfront
- Secured payment platform that protects buyers
- Quick turnaround possible; sometimes within a day
- Costs more than DIY options
- Turnaround could be up to two weeks for the best designers
- The time investment to vet the right option
- The cheapest options might not turn out to be to your liking
What are other graphic design options for business?
Online tools and freelancer marketplaces are great options for smaller projects with a quick turnaround. However, there are a few other options to consider that might suit your business needs more.
- Design contest sites like 99designs. A logo can cost anywhere from $399 to $1,799 and product packaging starts from $549.
- Design agencies. If you're looking to develop your entire brand with a full marketing strategy, then you could be looking at costs from $10,000 to $50,000.
- Do it yourself from scratch. For businesses that have the time and inclination to learn how to design for themselves, you can consider online training platforms like Lynda.com to learn how to use professional design software such as Photoshop.
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