learn graphic design by yourself: simple steps to get you started

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learning graphic design can be intimidating but it can be achieved like other skills out there, If you are wondering how you can be a graphic designer without going to school and attaining a degree in graphic design, here are some steps and marketing tips to be a graphic designer all by yourself.

You can take as much time as you want on each one of these steps until you feel comfortable before going on to the next because each one depends on the prior one in order to be successful. 

Steps to learn graphic design

step #1 – learning the fundamentals of graphic design.

the 1st step is to learn graphic design basics, this includes spacing, colors, typography, the placement of elements on the page, and understanding why you are doing all these different elements and why certain designs are good and certain designs are bad.

You want to make sure you understand the fundamentals of design before going on to use graphic design programs, Otherwise, there are many resources online such as courses and YouTube tutorials that explain the fundamentals of design, so you really understand each one of these elements and how to use them. 

step #2 – learn the programs.

This is usually the Adobe Creative Cloud, the suite of Adobe programs that includes Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator. e.t.c 

InDesign is specific to print design and layouts and brochures and sometimes packaging is also used in Adobe InDesign. 

Adobe Illustrator is a program that is used for logos and for illustrations that are primarily vector-based. This means when you scale it up really big, or you make it really small, it won’t lose its clarity. It won’t be pixelated, 

Photoshop is a tool that is very, very versatile and usually works with photos, but it is pixel-based, which means when you get bigger when you scale an image bigger in Photoshop, it will make it so that its pixels won’t be as legible. 

So you have to really choose which one is best for you, but understanding each one of these different programs is vital for you as a graphic designer. And you should take each one at a time. Start with Photoshop, then go to Illustrator, then go to InDesign. ofcourse thre are other softwares that you can research to know more about as well, such as Adobe Bridge Adobe XD e.t.c

There are many other types of programs out there, but you need to take one at a time and really understand the one you choose. 

The interfaces can be quite daunting sometimes but if you just take it step by step, find a good course on it, Find a good tutorial, Sometimes people even put out tutorials that can help you understand a program in five minutes,  you really want to get the basics and understand how to use the program. You don’t need to know every single button to get started. But you do need to understand the basics so that you don’t get lost when you start to use a program..

So make sure that you take the time and when you’re learning it, you go and apply it because otherwise you can get lost in these programs. And really, they’re very simple. They’re meant to help you as a designer to achieve your result. 

Step #3 – join Facebook groups and communities of designers.

This is a great source for other people who are experienced to help you and others that aren’t really so experienced to get started as a graphic designer. This is a forum where you can ask questions and get answers, Note that there are no stupid questions, every question is asked by a person who really wants to learn, and in most of these groups people want to help, here on this website I have created a forum for those who want to know everything about graphic design.

So make sure at this point that you join some of these Facebook groups (I am opening up a Facebook group for graphic design soon). There are hundreds of them, maybe even 1000s So find the ones that are right for you and get started. Start making some connections with other graphic designers as soon as possible. 

step #4 – start doing some practice projects.

Now that you understand the basics of design, and you understand the programs, you can get going with some sample projects. My favorite place to look for inspiration is Pinterest. They always have some awesome content. And you can categorize it per category such as logos. You can put all the designs that you love together. You can put all the other types of designs so that when you are practicing logos, you can go to your logo board and find one that you love. And then go to Illustrator and really dissect how it was created, maybe you can look up a tutorial on it and just stick with that one logo until you master it and achieve that result,  then practice it over and over until you feel comfortable.  So after that one, pick another type of design say a flyer then go and practice it. And so on and so forth.

But the point is that you are going through and duplicating exactly what other people have done already. You’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here. You’re just learning about design and actually applying it to a project. 

You ask yourself questions like, Why is something placed in a certain way? How did this designer achieve this? how do they put this together? Why did they use that color? What was the purpose of this placement there? really analyze each one,  you can spend a lot of time doing this, weeks or months until you really feel comfortable with the programs and as you apply the elements of design.

When you go outside try to look at different things,  TV ads, billboards, posters, newspapers, flyers, Look at what their designs are. You will start to build a sense of test of what the good designs are, hopefully, you will start following the trend. 

Note that everything has a reason for being placed in certain places. Typography (big fonts) being placed in some places and in other places small fonts, Make sure you’re looking at each of these elements all the time and you’ll start to have a really good eye for graphic design. 

Step #5 – decide on the area you’re most interested in working in.

This could be logos or it could be flyers or product design. Maybe in doing the practice projects, you had a specific one that you were more drawn to working on, or you really like motion graphics or something like that.

Then really focus on that and make up some sample company names and sample projects that you can do from scratch, then put together a bunch of them, start creating the designs, Keep doing this until you feel really confident, you can now take out some of the best and use them on your own portfolio for purposes of marketing your services to clients.

This is going to be the best way to get started in jobs faster. 

Now that you are a self-taught graphic designer here are a few marketing tips to market your new skill.

Marketing tips

Join Facebook communities where your target audience is and actually start interacting with them and find a few different people and offer your services at a very discounted rate or for free. 

This is going to start getting you into this industry and start giving you some practice actually working with clients and you’re going to then be able to build your portfolio as well. 

Now for this step, you may not have your own website yet however you can be showing what you’re doing and the different portfolio pieces that you have. 

You can show them in a PDF format. And it’s not a problem to say that you’re just starting out to these clients. They’re going to be totally understanding and be excited actually because they’re going to be getting a cheaper graphic designer, with these first clients, you got to treat them like gold because they will be the ones that tell other people and recommend you. 

Give them an incredible service and treat them with customer care and they will refer others to you.

These first clients can also give you some great testimonials that you can use on your website. And once you build your own Facebook page, you can also have them put a little testimonial. Even on LinkedIn. 

These first clients are your ambassadors. 

Build your own website.  A few tips here, when you are building a website, that top image that is on your home page, what is called the hero section needs to be captivating to your audience.

You got to show a really awesome design image and give them a few words that capture their attention, something that will communicate to your target audience. let’s say your target audience is ecommerce. You can tell them that you will boost their sales with your design or something of that nature that gets them hooked and you show a really great example of some design that you have done in this area. On the next section which would be the portfolio.

That will get them to scroll down and understand who you are and then convert, which means they will contact you for your services. You don’t want to show everything you’ve done all in your portfolio, you want to show specific pieces. five pieces is a good number because that will give diversity but it’ll also make sure you’re not overwhelming them. Because remember, they will remember you by your worst piece. So you don’t want to have anything bad in there. You just want some great work that showcases what you want to be working on because people will see that and then they will want to work with you, 

The way that you can actually get people to your website is by interacting in these groups in these Facebook communities and recommending them to check you out. Don’t be spamming people with just writing a link to your website. 

You want to be solving their problem that is how you market your services. People aren’t looking to buy something, they are looking for a solution to their problem. And that’s where you come in. 

That’s what is so cool about having a target audience that you understand and know so well because if you know why they need your service, you can tell them you are the solution. So make sure that you are communicating this in everything you do in your Facebook groups, Facebook page you have for your business, on your website, in your interactions. If you go to conventions, you are representing somebody who can solve problems. 

So these are the steps that you can do on your own without having to go to an art school or get a degree, you can start taking action right now. So make sure you follow each step so that you can really become a graphic designer that you want to be and really make some money, make some clients and make it a business for yourself. 

Here are some FAQs on learning graphic design by self

Can I learn graphic design on my own?

Yes, you can learn about graphic design all by yourself, using free and paid tutorials and courses both online and offline, you can always achieve your goal as a graphic designer. You can find these courses on platforms like youtube, Udemy paid courses and free Udemy courses on disc Udemy.

Can we learn graphic designing for free?

Yes, I personally have never gone to any creative graphic design school or bought any paid course but taught myself graphic design through free youtube videos, learning from friends, free paid courses and different blogs with tutorials among other things.

Can anyone learn graphics design?

Anyone can learn graphic design but the most important thing like in all other things is the passion, if you have much interest in graphic design, trust me you will learn it, its a matter of time.

What is the first thing to learn in graphic design?

The first thing to learn is the fundamentals of graphic design, then you can decide either to also learn graphic design theory, but this is optional, then learn graphic design softwares ofr programs, pratice to perfection.

Is Graphic Design in demand?

Graphic design is one of the on-demand opportunities, to realize this head to Fiverr and check out the popular categories which include website design, WordPress, logo design, and NFT art, all these are categories that fall under graphic design. I guess with only that example you now understand why graphic design is on demand.

Which design course is best?

There are So many courses out there in graphic design which are both paid and free, but I recommend you start with free courses on youtube in particular Gareth David studio channel, some disc Udemy free courses plus some PDF books.

How long will it take to learn graphic design?

There is no time frame to learn graphic design, the most important factor is to have passion, passion drives everything, and it will make you practice the tutorials you have watched almost every day and with this passion, you will find yourself mastering graphic design. To be honest I myself have never been to a graphic design school but I had and still have love for Art from my childhood, this is what made me acquire my first software, the Adobe creative suite CS2 from my cousin and installed it on my computer, started practicing with the tutorials I watched on youtube before I knew it I was creating fire using Adobe After effects. So have passion and thereafter practice on a regular basis.

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