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Become a Graphic Designer!
Overview and How to Get Started
The graphics field just broke wide open with recent advancements in the field of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors. Like digital cameras made near-professionals out of people that could barely focus a manual camera, these graphics applications have cracked the field of graphics design wide-open for anyone with an interest.
For many of the books I’ve written, I created the covers myself in a program called, Paint Shop Pro, an old program on my old Windows notebook computer. I am not an expert by any means, but, if I put a couple hours into creating a cover, I can usually get something decent enough to use. I have never taken any classes or tutorials, I just learned over the years by hacking out what I needed.
At the top of this post, you can see a couple covers I’ve done.
Not bad, right? As I said, I’m no expert, and I was still able to crank out books like these. The two meditation books are doing well too!
So, these books have sold, but I could have paid someone $100-300 per cover and sell even more books. The cover is one major area that can be optimized to help sell more books. Authors are coming to realize this. Recently I’ve been switching my self-made covers over to paid. The difference in sales has been substantial! I now see the need for professionally made book covers.
A big reason the graphics design business is booming, is because ebooks are booming. If you haven’t noticed, there are over a million ebooks on Amazon. These million ebooks account for more sales of books at Amazon than traditional paperback books. Amazing, right? If you have any interest in the field of graphics design, I suggest you consider creating book covers for authors that cannot do them on their own.
I think, conservatively guessing, it would take you about five days of full-time effort to learn from scratch how to do a decent cover. A couple weeks at the most.
Get a video tutorial series to get you started, or better yet, find someone locally that is excellent with computer graphics and pay that person to tutor you personally for a week. I’ve found this the absolute best way to learn because I can ask the person questions and get feedback immediately.
Get started by acquiring some skills. You’ll need to get to the point where you can offer to do covers, or other graphics, for people that need them and that they are willing to pay for. There is a big difference between my knowledge of graphics, and someone that can be paid for it. The difference is about a week of intense training. I just don’t have the time or inclination to do it myself, to tell you the truth. But, if you do, get started by figuring out which is the best graphics program for you to move forward as fast as possible.
Hint: if you want to be creating covers as fast as possible, don’t start with “Adobe Photoshop.” Photoshop is a complicated program made for professionals, by professionals. It is extremely detailed, full-featured, and not intuitive in the least. I wouldn’t suggest beginning with Photoshop unless you are sure you want to be a great graphics designer and need to use the best tool possible. The cost is something else to consider. You’ll spend about $20 per month to buy the rights to use Photoshop CS6 and over $49 per month to use their full suite of creative applications. Maybe try another program like Paint Shop Pro first, knowing you’ll need to relearn the techniques to apply with Photoshop later if you’re serious about making designing graphics a career.
1. Learning graphics design provides you with a skill you can use from any country in the world with internet, or even without.
2. Set your own hours, prices, terms.
3. Learn as you go, and you choose what to focus on and when. Use self guided learning through free tutorials at YouTube, or a paid course through an online school.
4. Does not require expensive setup – your computer can be a basic MacBook Air, Dell PC, whatever you have is likely good enough and you won’t need to upgrade if you have a late-model computer to work with.
1. If you’re not visually inclined – it will be a long, tough road!
2. Competition – there are many people getting into this, however, there are many people that need good graphics, and the number is growing all the time. There is no end in sight.
You might start with this link. This site has old versions of Paint Shop Pro you can download for your windows computer – Click Here. If you have Mac you can use the free GIMP program.
Here is a great intro video for Adobe’s InDesign CS6 program. He goes over the main tools. It really is easy once you pick up the basics. Watch this video to see whether you think you might be interested enough to learn graphics. Click Here.
Here is another CS6 tutorial covering 10 basics. Click Here.
There are many free online tutorials like this one, and the couple I’ve mentioned above. There are hundreds. If you wanted to create your own training program by searching them out on your own, you could save a lot of money. Or, you could try an online paid course like these:
The Graphic Design School – Click Here.
Lynda.com – Learn Adobe CS6 – all programs. Click Here.
When you are ready, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. It is an auto-responder that will email you back with a list of graphic designers and people that will format your raw ebook so it can be converted to other popular e-reader formats. See if you can get on this list, it refers a lot of business to graphic designers.
This is something I think many more people should consider. There is a real need for good book cover designers on the planet. I know, I’ve looked for hours to find someone decent. Finally I found someone. He is in the Philippines, and he is charging me just $75 per cover. That’s a great price. That’s where the cover on my last four books came from. The guy is phenomenal, responsive, fairly priced, and is a great communicator. You need to do the same to become a great graphics designer – but, it’s not rocket science, you can learn it!
Have a look at some of the best ebook covers I’ve seen. Click here to see covers by Carl Graves. He charges more than $300 each for custom designed covers.
How to Create Your Business Blog for Graphics Design
So, what would your business blog website look like if you were going to start a business online for graphics design?
Start with WordPress. Use a portfolio design or magazine theme design for your theme. Something very smooth, very sharp. Professional. Verdana font is almost always best for readability and you’ll be seeing exactly what your visitors see when you create the page. Using different fonts, sometimes the browser resorts to a backup font like Times New Roman or something as hideous. Get your hosting account by clicking at BlueHost over there on bottom right side of the sidebar on this page. They are great for new blogs and you can install WordPress in one-click.
Your business blog for starting a graphics design business should have a photo of you on the front page, and another one of you and your family on the ABOUT page. You should tell a lot about yourself. People are buying YOU and your skills. Working online with someone they find through a search online, they are initially cautious. You know how it is. Be open, be straight with everyone. Have a list of your typical terms and conditions on your website so there can be no question when payment is due.
You should charge 33% to 50% upfront. Then one or two payments to complete the job to make your customer feel safe. To make you feel safe too. You don’t know who you’re dealing with either – right?
Add examples to a “Portfolio” page on your site. If you haven’t done anything for pay yet, create some on your own just for show. Show what you can do with graphics so someone has an easier time of hiring you.
You can list yourself at LinkedIn.com, freelance.com, odesk.com, Mark’s List and in the comments section of great posts that show up high in the search engines for “top graphics designers.” Often times blog site authors will allow the comment because it contributes to their site. I often let others do this on a post I did like this at one of my business blogs.