How to Cut Design Costs if You Are a Small Business
Discover the best tools and tips to cut costs and create quality graphic designs for your small business.
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Small business owners will agree that graphic design is last on the budget when starting a company. But to be visible and attract customers, good design and marketing are inevitable. Here is how to create great design for a small price.
Whether you need to sell your products or services online, step up your social media game, or create a memorable brand with professional design, there are ways not to break the bank, but still have a brand that looks high-quality, trendy and most importantly, recognizable.
As a marketer and employee at a graphic design firm, I have come across many cool websites, marketing tools, services and resources that taught me how to make design quickly and, well, good-looking.
In this article, I’ll share with you the ones that saved me many, many times when it comes to graphic design, landing pages and web design.
Awesome design tools for high-quality social media marketing
If you are running your business’s social media profiles, you know it can be difficult to post content the audience will care about, and still presents your product or service to them. A good option that will enhance your social media presence is using graphic design tools that are easy, intuitive and have plenty of templates for your SM posts.
If you still haven’t found out about Canva, the second you see the many templates and typography options you’ll see it’s around you all the time.
Regularly updated with pre-made templates for different social media platforms and print collaterals (as well as many other formats), Canva can be your go-to DIY design tool.
You can edit your designs with the use of free elements, backgrounds, upload your own photos or use stock photos from Canva, and combine fonts from their vast library.
With a Pro subscription, you can use many more of their assets, as well as more advanced tools and work on a project with multiple people at the same time.
As a non-designer, you probably don’t have a lot of knowledge of colors and how to combine them. Coolors’ color palette generator is a very useful tool that will pick out five colors that fit perfectly for you, and you can easily copy the codes and use them in tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and Canva.
You can lock a color, for example, your brand color, and generate colors that go well with it to create posts for social media. All of this with just a press of the space button.
Here is another tool for the Photoshop illiterate: one that tells you what is the color of the picture so you can cover certain elements or make a bigger frame for it to fit a certain dimension.
You just need to hover with your mouse over a part of the picture, and it gives you the RGB and HEX code of that color and shade.
Icons can easily be found and often are royalty-free (with giving credit to the designer, of course), but icon pack can be scattered and hard to pair up. This can jeopardize the consistency of your design, so icon packs such as the ones on Flaticon are a great way to spruce up your web design or social media posts.
Free illustrations that are customizable based on color, and come in five different styles? We’ve got them!
The free illustration gallery at ManyPixels has more than 2.000 illustrations coming in multiple variations and is still growing by the week. It costs nothing and they can be used on landing pages, blog posts, newsletters, social media graphics and more assets suitable for small business marketing.
There are plenty of stock photo libraries, but Unsplash has a very particular aesthetic: contemporary, conceptual and fitting for a younger audience. The photos are free to use, but you need to credit the author.
The good thing about them is that they are usually enough to post on themselves, without too much tweaking or filters.
Affordable brand identity design
Brand identity is incredibly important in making a first impression. Audiences expect a defined, consistent and relevant look tied to a strong brand. Logo design, colors, typography, elements, alternative logos, backgrounds and photography and illustration use are only some of the rules you need to decide on when designing your brand.
Branding consultancies and design agencies can be pretty expensive, albeit thorough and creative. But there are ways to get branding design without breaking the bank.
Unlimited graphic design
Unlimited or on-demand design services are monthly or yearly subscription-based platforms that can get you as many projects as you want, unlimited revisions, large scope of work and a dedicated designer that matches best to your requirements.
Some unlimited graphic design services are ManyPixels, Penji, Design Pickle, etc. They are very affordable, with prices ranging from 459 to 959 dollars a month, depending on your needs and the number of dedicated designers.
Anything from logo design, branding guidelines, web design, custom illustrations, presentations, social media ads, product packaging, banners, GIFs… All can be done and revised as many times as you need.
An unlimited design service is perfect because it’s cost-effective and the designated designer is managed and quality-checked by an experienced team leader, and you can expect a fast turnaround time of 1-2 business days based on the complexity of your request.
If you don’t need a design service in the long run and would like to have a one-time project or an outsourced designer on a short-term basis, freelancer platforms can be a great place to start looking.
Upwork, Fiverr, Behance and Dribbble are only some of the places where you can find vetted, experienced and talented designers, which work for hourly rates ranging from 20 dollars an hour all the way to more than a 100 (for industry leaders and brand designers).
However, time management and communication can be a bit of a hassle, and there are no unlimited revisions when working with freelancers.
Throwing a design competition is a cool solution that saves you money and gives up-and-coming designers recognition. For a certain reward, you can get hundreds of designers creating your brand identity on a platform like 99 Designs, for example. They pay fee money to the platform, and you are in charge of rewarding the winner.
Useful builders for small businesses websites
A professional website with a custom domain and web hosting can be very costly for a small business. But instead of a web design and development agency, you can adopt a DIY strategy and create your own website for an affordable price, with a website builder.
Shopify is the perfect destination for an ecommerce website. With dozens of integrations, features and a drag and drop builder, Shopify can help you create an online store and be seen by a global audience.
Its templates are mostly optimized for an ecommerce website, but they also offer great customer support, their own payments platform, payment in plenty of currencies and the ability for a custom domain.
Wix is a more intuitive and easy-to-use drag and drop builder, which, unlike Shopify, isn’t only limited to ecommerce. It has a much richer templates library and is by far the best website builder that supports WordPress business sites.
You can check out our comparison guide on Wix vs Shopify to see which one is better for you.
If you need a landing page rather than a website, Instapage is a perfect solution for you.
Landing pages have a huge impact on your conversion rates and SEO, and ultimately the success of your business. And this is where Instapage is really worth the investment. Instead of hiring a web developer and designer to create each one of these pages, you can easily create dozens of different variations with Instapage. It’s also a very useful tool in a/b testing.
You can choose one of over 200 templates available from Instablock manager, the platform’s page editor. Or you can create a completely custom landing page yourself.
Since the platform operates on a drag and drop model, landing pages and templates are easily customizable. When it comes to ease of use, Instapage is definitely one of the best landing page builders.
If you are only starting your business and cannot dedicate a lot of money to make your marketing and graphic design work, there are plenty of online tools and platforms that can help you create cheap solutions, and teach you how to design on your own.
If you need professional graphic design, still, a vetted and talented team of graphic designers will do much better and help you create anything, from the simplest things like business cards and presentations, all the way to unique and consistent brand identity or website design.
Check out the service and plans at ManyPixels, to discover all the things you can create for only 449 dollars a month.
Journalist turned content writer. Based in North Macedonia, aiming to be a digital nomad. Always loved to write, and found my perfect job writing about graphic design, art and creativity. A self-proclaimed film connoisseur, cook and nerd in disguise.