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

Contrary to popular belief, print is not dead.

There was a time, not long ago, when graphic designers designed almost entirely for print. Sure there were trade show booths and vehicle graphics, but in their way, those are print as well.

As the internet became more and more popular, graphic designers started to encroach on a turf that was mostly populated by computer programmers. And before you knew it, a whole new industry was born–Web design.

Offering website design allowed graphic designers to help clients on two fronts—both digital design and print design.

But as time moved along and the world moved closer to being a “paperless society” (it still hasn’t reached what people predicted), more and more designers shifted away from print design to concentrate more on the digital side of the design industry.

Nowadays, it’s common to find designers who only design websites. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But contrary to popular belief, print is not dead. There is still a vast market out there for printed design. In fact, it’s become even more critical in today’s world.

With the popularity of websites, landing pages, social media, online advertising and everything else digital, printed material is still a very viable form of marketing. You can almost say that printed marketing can help a business stand out from its digital competition.

Not to mention, print can be a very lucrative part of your design business. Not only are you paid for your design work. But you can also earn a commission on the cost of the print run if you offer print brokering as a service. Sometimes, those print commissions can make you more than what you charge for the design itself.

You might charge a client $1,000 to design a brochure and then earn an additional $2,000 commission if the client opts for a large print run.

Print can play a good part in rounding out your design business.

Here are five reasons why you should offer print design.

1) Print is effective.

People are bombarded every day with digital advertising to the point where they become blind to it.

If you checked your social media accounts today, you were probably exposed to a minimum of a dozen ads. Can you name a single one of them?

Digital ads, although effective, are also considered digital noise by most people and can easily be lost among the other pixels on the screen. Printed material, however, stands out.

People trust print. The low cost of digital advertising allows anyone to start with minimal risk. Print, on the other hand, requires more significant thought and more investment. So when someone sees a printed marketing piece, they tend to trust it more than a digital equivalent. Tests run by MarketingSherpa show 82% of people trust print ads over digital ads when it comes to making a purchasing decision.

In addition to the trust factor, print regularly outperforms digital when marketing to a local audience. Posters, yard signs, banners, vehicle graphics are great ways to present your message out to a local audience. This is evident during election campaigns. But even outside of elections, print is an excellent way to reach your target audience. A printed brochure captures a person’s attention in a way that a website can’t.

Studies have also proven that it’s easier to recall information seen in print form than when viewed digitally.

So if you’re designing for local clients, why not include print design as part of your services. Your clients will see you as someone who does it all, print and digital. Plus, you could use print to promote your design business and stand out from your competition.

2) Print brings in big profits.

As mentioned above, you can make extra money by offering print brokering as a service. But even if you don’t, designing for print provides excellent income opportunities for designers.

There’s a particular belief among the public that most graphic designers offer both print and web services, but web designers don’t do print. Don’t limit yourself.

By offering both print design and website design, you expand your potential client pool and creates an additional revenue stream. Many smaller local businesses continue to use print design as their primary means of marketing.

3) Print allows you to upsell and cross-sell.

Offering both web and print allows you to upsell and cross-sell your services to your clients. This is especially useful when combined with the three-tier pricing strategy. This strategy involves presenting three prices to your clients. Each pricing tier is offering a higher degree of service.

Offering print design is a great way to supplement your tiers. A client looking for a website may choose a higher-priced package that includes a flyer and business card design. Or a client looking for a brochure may be willing to pay extra if you package the brochure with a landing page.

Upselling and cross-selling offer more options to your clients and extra income for you.

4) Designing for print is tangible.

Graphic design is known as a visual medium. As designers, we create things that are aesthetically pleasing as well as functional. But design is so much more where print is concerned.

Different paper stocks or printing methods can convey a meaning on their own. Some papers look and feel cheap, while others give a sense of quality and prestige.

Embossing, die-cutting, stamping, special coatings are all part of the print design process, which can increase the perceived value of a marketing piece.

The University of Oxford did a study that shows that consumers generally value physical goods more than digital goods. Meaning they are willing to pay more for something they can touch. Designers can use this to their advantage. Designing something that will be physical increases its perceived value allowing you to charge more for it.

5) It takes a different creative mindset to design for print.

When designing a website, the page automatically becomes longer to accommodate more content. Digital ads don’t require much copy because they link to a landing page with more information.

Print, however, requires advanced creative thinking. A piece of paper has fixed dimensions. A designer must be creative in the use of that limited space.

  • What’s the best way to include all the necessary information on a poster, a postcard, a billboard?
  • What are the best typefaces to use, and at what size?
  • How will colours interact with each other on paper?
  • How will folding the piece affect the design?

When designing for print, you must stretch your creativity and find the best way to create something that not only looks good but serves its purpose, all while conforming to the restrictions imposed by the medium and printing process.


If you are one of the countless new generations of designers specializing only in digital media, I hope this episode whet your appetite for print design enough to give it a try.

As someone who started in print, then moved to the web and now offers both, I can tell you designing for print is quite fulfilling in a creative way.

So believe me when I say, print is not dead.

Do you offer both print and web design?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Resource of the week Catchafire.org

Catchafire strengthens the social good sector by matching professionals who want to donate their time with nonprofits who need their skills.

If you are a new designer looking for a way to create meaningful work while building your design portfolio, Catchafire may be a great option for you. Check them out and see if there’s a design project you would like to volunteer your time on.

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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

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