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Resourceful Designer podcast: Offering tips, tricks and advice for starting and growing your graphic or web design business.

Print Brokering, it's easy money.

Is print brokering part of your graphic design business strategy? If not, it should be. We spend hours upon hours putting our creative skills to use for our clients. But if at the end of a design project we simply hand the printer files over to our client then we're leaving money on the table. With the addition of print brokering to your services you not only increase your value to your clients, but you can also drastically increase your income.

In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I cover all parts of print brokering. Please listen to the episode for the full discussion.

It's not as scary as it sounds

Getting into print brokering isn't that daunting a task. You don't even need to know anything about the print industry. You only need to know how to set up a proper print file, which you should be doing already. Then, instead of handing those files over to your client, you send them to the printer on your client's behalf.

So what's the point?

Let me illustrate it for you with an example.

Let's say you design a 4-colour tri-fold brochure for your client. You spend several hours creating it until it's exactly what your client wanted. You send your client the final file along with your invoice, and you get paid a few hundred dollars. Good job!

Now let's say you've added print brokering to your services. Instead of sending the final file to your client, you contact two or three printers for quotes on printing the brochure. You then show those quotes to your client, decide together which is the best one, and send the file to the selected printer. Once the job is printed and delivered to your client, you send them an invoice for both the design and the printing. In return, you receive an invoice from the printer MINUS your commission for bringing them the job. Did you catch the keyword in that last sentence? Commission. That's right; you receive a commission for sending the job to the printer. Depending on the cost of the printing job that commission could be several hundred, or perhaps even thousands of dollars.

That's the point!

So, how do you start print brokering?

Contact local commercial printers.

The easiest thing to do is contact your local commercial printers and ask them if they have special deals for graphic designs which bring them work? Chances are they already do. If that's the case, you simply have to let them know who you are and start earning income from print jobs you send them.

If they don't have some plan already in place here's one you could suggest to them. Ask if they are willing to give you a flat discount on all print jobs you bring to them. 15% is a good place to start. Whenever you have a print job to broker, the printer would supply you a quote for the full printing price. This quote is what you share with your client. Then, once the print job is finished, the printer invoices you, including your 15% discount. Your client pays you the full price of the quote, and you, in turn, pay the printer the discounted invoice, keeping 15% of the printing price as your commission.

This way, your client is not being taken advantage of since they are paying the same price they would have if they went directly to the printer themselves. The benefit to them is you now handle that part of the job for them. The benefit to the printer is unlike their regular customers who doesn't understand printing files or printing, once they train you how to supply files to them the way they want them, they never have to worry about your jobs again. This means faster turnaround through their pre-press department which translates to more profit for them. Of course, the benefit to you is the added income you get from the print brokering.

Copy shops

Copy shops are a bit different. They don't have the same profit margins as print shops and can't offer the same discounts. However, most copy shops offer tiered pricing. Meaning the price per copy drops with the more copies ordered. A deal you could offer them is to pay a certain amount in advance. Like a retainer of $500 or $1000 for example, in exchange, they would charge you their lowest rate for copies you order regardless of the quantity. They simply deduct your copies from the “retainer” you've provided them.

Trade Printers

Trade printers are similar to commercial printers except they only deal with clients “in the trade” which includes graphic designers. Trade printers offer wholesale like pricing, so unlike the commercial printers mentioned above, you simply mark up their quotes by whatever margin you want to make before giving the price to your client.

Online Printers

Online printers such as ePrintFast offer low prices because they bulk print their jobs. Your business card order is printed on the same sheet as many other business card orders, lowering the cost for each of you. Even with shipping costs, the prices are great. That's how they offer prices that your local commercial printers can't compete with. You can make a good income by adding a hefty markup to their prices. Search online for similar printers near you.

Print brokering isn't just for paper

You can take your print brokering service beyond the printed page. Screen printed t-shirts, ball caps, coffee mugs, pens, pins, etc. You name it. If it can be printed on, you can make a profit from it.

Do you use print brokering to supplement your business?

I would love to know if you offer print brokering as part of your business. Let me know what they are by leaving a comment for this episode.

Resourceful Designer is one of the 12 best graphic design podcasts!

Resourceful Designer is #2 on a list of the 12 best graphic design podcasts put out by Creative Bloq. Here's what the article had to say.

Want to nail the business side of design? Hit up Mark Des Cotes for top advice

If you're interested in the business side of graphic design, Mark Des Cotes' Resourceful Designer is a must. With 48 episodes recorded so far, it's aimed at helping home based graphic designers and web designers streamline their business, with plenty of advice, tips and resources to help you get things right.

Each episode covers a specific theme, such as how to save money, dealing with deadlines and what to do when you mess up a a project and much more. And as well as the podcast, Resourceful Designer also has an in-depth blog plus a useful list of design resources.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Stacie

Why do we need a Pantone color book and which one should we buy? What's the difference between printing in 4 color and spot colors? And is it affordable for a client to print in more than 4 colors?

To find out what I told Stacie you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resources of the week

iloveimg.com offers an array of tools for compressing, resizing, cropping, and converting image files from other formats to JPG, or from JPG to png or gif. Modify all your images en masse in one place. It takes just a few clicks with their easy-to-use tools.
Everything your clients need for their image work is there, and it’s all free!

iloveimg not great for compressing images since they don’t give you much control over the quality of their compression. Instead, I suggest optimizilla.com. This online image optimizer uses a smart combination of the best optimization and lossy compression algorithms to shrink JPEG and PNG images to the minimum possible size while keeping the required level of quality. Again, completely free.

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I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com