Who says you need to be a business major to make it as a young entrepreneur?
Are you a visual learner? Do you instinctively know exactly what colors go together? Do font choices keep you up at night?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have a future as a graphic design entrepreneur.
Graphic design is needed in an enormous variety of fields, from advertising and marketing to fundraising and photo editing. Remember, just because something is easy for you doesn’t mean it comes naturally to everyone else. Not everyone has the same talent for combining graphics and text that you enjoy.
There’s a whole world of graphic design startups out there for young entrepreneurs like you with a gift for composition and style. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Most of these require little more than your computer and some free time.
1. T-SHIRT DESIGN
There are a million and one reasons why people would need t-shirts custom-made. Family reunions. Club events. Corporate team-building exercises. School field days. Podcast merch. And many more you can probably think of off the top of your head because you are a creative young entrepreneur.
Create your own sales website that shows off your incredible design talent. Use sites like TeePublic and CafePress to print mockups of your product (and help you price your t-shirts). Or go to a craft store and buy some heat-transfer paper and blank t-shirts, then make your own sample product at home.
2. COSTUME DESIGN
When your artistic bent skews hands-on, costume design may be the path for you. Does your school have a yearly theater production? There’s your foot in the door.
But costumes aren’t only for stage shows. Parents need costumes for their kids at Halloween, and they are willing to pay for handmade quality. Fans who frequent conventions such as San Diego Comic-Con crave unique cosplay they can show off. So what are you waiting for? Grab a needle and thread and open a bespoke costume shop on Etsy!
3. GREETING CARDS
This one’s a 2-for-1 idea because you can create both downloadable e-cards and paper cards. Start an online shop for free and show off your skill at crafting pithy phrases that work perfectly with a certain image. People need cards for pretty much every occasion you can think of, but they also like sending cute and funny little notes to friends and family. Greeting cards are a gold mine for graphic design young entrepreneurs.
Bonus: create a pack of all-occasion paper cards that customers can buy at a discounted rate. Include 2 birthday cards, 2 thank-you cards, 1-condolence card, and 1 get-well card so that they always have just the right card on hand.
4. COLORING BOOKS
There will always be children in the world, which means there will always be a need for coloring books. Why not profit from this need and delight the kindergarten set at the same time? After all, what is an entrepreneur but someone who fulfills a need?
If you’re hard-pressed for ideas to get you started, stick with the basics: the alphabet, cute animals, or holidays. Or use the platform to teach kids useful skills like brushing their teeth or getting along with others.
Caution: don’t use established characters or shows, as you may run into copyright issues.
Whenever you see something in Comic Sans, it breaks your heart. Garamond makes you smile. And you have a low-key crush on Lucida Handwriting.
You are a startup young entrepreneur. Now, imagine how many more are out there!
Have a few pre-made logos for your clients to browse in your online shop. Let them know that these logos can be tailored to fit their needs. Charge less for logos you’ve already designed. Remember to watermark them on your site to avoid people downloading them for free.
You can also offer to design custom logos for more money. Charge by the hour for your work. Have a form for clients to fill out that includes things like color schemes they like and any mascots or fonts they need to use.
Bonus: partner up with a font-creating entrepreneur friend.
7. STICKERS, MAGNETS, AND SIGNS
Businesses love to advertise, but you already knew that. Get in on the action by helping them with the swag they need for word-of-mouth advertising.
Small businesses may give out stickers and magnets to existing and potential customers for free. They may also need signs for shop windows, farmers’ markets, or other local events. Those things don’t just pop out of thin air. Someone has to make and print them. That someone should be you.
8. WEBSITE DESIGN
Just because you know the difference between a landing page and a checkout page doesn’t mean everyone does. With a little bit of coding know-how, you can create beautiful and easy-to-use web templates for your fellow young entrepreneurs. Or entrepreneurs of any generation!
People love things that are both simple and effective. Design a template that allows users to drag-and-drop pictures and logos. Make sure the directions are straightforward.
Bonus: team up with some of your font-creator and logo-creator friends for a one-stop business start-up shop.
9. BOOK COVER ILLUSTRATION
With major retail websites getting in on the print-on-demand (POD) and self-publishing business, you can make money designing book covers. With this idea, you can create a niche however specialized you want. Anime-style covers for YA romance. Line drawings for cookbooks. Whatever your style and interest, you can help authors sell books.
10. PACKAGE DESIGN
No customer wants their purchase to arrive in an old plastic bag. This is where you come in.
Your fellow young entrepreneurs who have products to sell need to keep their customers happy and coming back for more. Help them out by designing unique and beautiful packaging. From stickers and tissue paper to boxes and containers, you can be the one your peers turn to when they’re ready to ship their products.
Bonus: be the package designer who uses all recycled/recyclable materials to give your company that green edge.
These are just ten ideas you can use to get started in your graphic design business. But we at the Kantner Foundation know that for young entrepreneurs such as yourself, the sky’s the limit. Let us know what you come up with!
Are you a Florida-based young entrepreneur looking for a college scholarship? Click here to learn more about how the Kantner Foundation can help you!