5 Tips for Starting Your Own Virtual Design Business
Are you thinking of starting your own virtual design business? Are you curious whether you could strike out on your own or take an offline business online?
Maybe you’ve moved to a new city where the design options are limited. Maybe you’re a new parent who’s looking for a way to keep your design skills sharp while allowing for flexibility in your schedule. Or, maybe, you’re eager to find ways to expand your client base and portfolio into a niche area.
Grow Your Opportunities with a Virtual Design Businesa
How do I go about starting a virtual design business?
Explore your niche. Nail down your small business basics.
Whatever your reason, starting your own virtual design business is a great way to grow your client roster and work with amazing people from all over the globe. You’ll meet designers and professionals from all walks of life –– people you may not have had the chance to meet had you not taken your business online!
Plus, you’ll have the obvious perk of setting your own schedule and discovering the flexibility to work from your home office, the local coffee shop, or even from vacation. As a military spouse, I’ve been able to follow my husband without sacrificing my career. Building my design business online has given me the privilege of continuing to work seamlessly while moving across the country and honing in on my strongest design skills so that I can use those talents to help other designers.
But, you’re probably wondering, “How do I even go about starting a virtual design business?!”
Nail Down Your Niche
The design world has endless specialties starting as broad as residential v. commercial, narrowing into areas like kitchens and baths or high end hospitality, and then getting even more specific with designers who work only in particular rendering styles.
You may think by nailing down a niche that you could limit potential business, but, instead, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to grow as the go-to resource for a particular design need. And, by working virtually, you’re available to a wide network of clients and designers who may find themselves searching for your exact skill set.
Start Serious From the Beginning
What do I mean start serious? Start out as a legitimate business from the day one. Trust me, it’s easier to set up correctly at the beginning than to back track later. That means you’ll want to set up a website, an email address, a bank account, a small business credit card, and, yes, a system for tracking expenses, accounting, and taxes. I know you want to dive in and get started, but, if you tackle these now, you’ll save yourself headaches later!
Invest in Yourself and the People that Can Help You
You’ve probably heard the old saying: it takes money to make money. And, it’s true! You have to be willing to invest in starting your business to get the ball rolling. No, that doesn’t mean you necessarily need to drop $5,000 on a web designer or $20,000 on a career coach.
But, you should explore options to invest in the services and people that can help you build your business. That could mean looking into training to brush up on your technical design skills, hiring an accountant, spending money on online advertising, etc. Decide where you believe you’ll see the highest ROI and focus your dollars there.
Build Your Branding and Marketing Strategy
A great designer is only as great as the clients they can bring in –– and that’s why you need a branding and marketing strategy! We work in a visual world, so it’s no surprise that clients will make snap judgements based on our online presence. Make sure your branding fits your work. You want potential clients to get an idea of who you are and what you can do as soon as they find you on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or your website.
And, once you have awesome branding, put a marketing strategy into place that will get your business in front of potential clients. A few of the marketing tools to explore include social ads, SEO optimization, podcast guest spots, Pinterest advertising, and more.
Establish and Maintain Relationships with Peers and Clients
Just because we’re working virtually doesn’t mean that we’re working alone! Networking is even more important when you spend most of your days in front of your computer working remotely. Get to know your fellow virtual designers through Facebook groups and social media. Not only will you form an amazing support group, but you’ll also open roads for potential new business. Going back to finding your niche, it’s likely you’ll meet designers whose skills complement yours –– and you can refer business to each other when requests come in that are better suited for another designer.
Also, don’t forget the important role that clients can play in bringing in new business! When you’re working virtually and your happy clients share your work on their social media accounts, they’re exposing you to new audiences –– audiences that could need your services.
Eager to learn more about starting your own virtual design business, but still have more questions? Are you feeling ready to dive in, but need to brush up a bit on Home Designer Pro or Chief Architect before you launch? Let’s talk! I offer coaching services for designers and recently opened up NEW group trainings. Reach out to learn more or join my Facebook group, Presentation by Design, to connect with virtual designers, design assistants, rendering artists, and more.