Running your own design business can be a great way to support yourself, especially during uncertain times. But have you wondered what it actually costs to start a design business?
I’ve been running my own design business since 2011 and while the expenses are relatively low, I’ve made some big investments over the years to help grow my business.
When I began researching ideas for starting my own business, the cost of starting a business was a big concern for me. At the time I couldn’t invest a lot in overhead expenses so I started small.
I’m going to share the details about all of my monthly expenses so that you can see what it really costs to run your own design business.
Keep in mind this list doesn’t included one-time expenses such as hardware, office space and education.
1. Web Hosting
Your design business will hopefully have a website to show off your beautiful work and you’ll need to pay for hosting. Depending on the hosting company you choose,an average monthly plan is around $5-$12 per month. Avoid any free website hosting since it most likely is unreliable or it may be used to display ads by your host.
If you’re hosting a WordPress website consider using SiteGround as your host.
2. Email Marketing
If you plan to grow your business, you’ll want to start an email list as soon as possible. Email marketing is the most direct way to reach your subscribers with your latest offer. There are many different services for email marketing and the pricing can sometimes depend on the amount of subscribers you have.
If you want to use advanced methods for email marketing such as automations and sequences you’ll want to look at Convertkit which is $29 per month (there’s also a free plan if you have under 1,000 subscribers).
3. Social Media Scheduler
When things get busy with your business, you’ll want to create your social media content in batches. Using a social media scheduler helps do the work for you by publishing your posts on the exact day and time that you set. I use a social media scheduler for Pinterest called Tailwind($15 per month) and for many years I used Planoly($9 per month) to schedule posts on Instagram (I’ve since switched to Facebook Business Manager).
As a designer you’ll mainly use Adobe programs however Canva has become my new go to for creating templates that clients can edit. While there is a free account, the Pro account ($13 per month) allows you to use all of the pro features including creating a brand kit, access to tons of fonts and graphics and much more.
5. File Storage
You’ll need to be able to easily share your files with clients and also store all of the files that you’ll accumulate, some of which are really large and you don’t want to keep all of that on your computer. I use Dropbox($10 per month) and Google ($2 per month) for sharing and storing files for my business.
Most likely you’ll be using Adobe programs for design projects. With Adobe you can customize the plan by choosing only the programs you want. I pay around $33 a month for Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.
7. CRM Software
In order to run a design business, you’ll need a CRM to manage clients, contracts and billing. I’ve been using 17Hats ($15 per month) for years to run my business and it’s saved me so much time. Aside from design software, a CRM is one business expense I could not live without!
8. Stock Photography
Having beautiful stock photos at your fingertips is so helpful when it comes to growing your business. I’ve had subscriptions with Haute Stock($46 per month) and SC Stock Shop($47 per month) for years and they’ve been instrumental in helping my business.
Total Monthly Cost
The cost to run my business each month is around $234.00.
I mentioned earlier that over the years I’ve made some large investments in order to help grow my business. These include: brand photography, copywriting, MacBook Pro, Thrivecart ecommerce software and various other expenses (all over $500 each).
Knowing what your monthly expenses will be as a business owner helps you to plan ahead and know what you need to at least make each month in order to break even.
What do you think of this article? Do you have any questions for me? Ask me in the comments box below!
I help business owners save time and money by offering high-quality Canva and Showit templates. Stick with me for the best branding tips, website how-to's and business advice so we can grow our beautiful business together.