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Jacci Howard Bear

Start a Desktop Publishing Business With $20?

By February 5, 2013

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I have the utmost respect for our former About.com Entrepreneurs Guide Scott Allen. But his idea of what it takes to start a desktop publishing business doesn't quite cut it with me. Several years ago Scott put together a nice list of Business Ideas on a Budget that describes 10 business opportunities that could be started with as little as $20. Number 7 on the list, Desktop Publishing:

"If you've got a good design sense, are extremely familiar with your word processor, and already have a laser or high-quality inkjet printer, you can get into desktop publishing. Create a really great-looking portfolio for yourself and go door-to-door. Spend the $20 on: Some high-quality paper to create your samples on."

I don't want to dash your dreams or discourage you from making a little extra spending money but it's going to take a lot more than $20 (even adjusted for inflation, etc.) worth of paper and some design sense to really make a go of this. First off, a word processor? Oh please no! I'm not saying you can't get started on a fairly tight budget, but $20 is really pushing it if you haven't already invested a fair amount in your hardware. You could save a lot on software by going with free desktop publishing software. You'll need to invest quite a bit of time as well -- just developing a decent portfolio is going to use up a lot of time and good chunk of that $20 worth of paper. I won't even touch the door-to-door bit. Maybe that could work for some people but it's not a method I'd recommend unless you really do have a lot of time and shoe leather to spare.

You could do an abbreviated version of these 10 steps to starting a desktop publishing business but even a part-time biz is going to take quite a bit of time and more than a few bucks to get the ball rolling. To be fair, Scott does say, "It's unlikely any of these will make you a living in the first few months, but they all have the potential to grow into full-time businesses." That is true.

In your opinion, what's the bare minimum it would take to get a part-time desktop publishing business up and running? Have you done it? Are you doing it?

Comments
February 11, 2009 at 6:22 pm
(1) Brandydka says:

Having worked in the printing business for over 25 years, I can tell you anyone that brings something to a printer created in word processing software is in for a big surprise. Unless of course you print a copy out to be run on a copier. As a Graphic artist and freelance designer I can tell you that while desktop publishing with free software is good for “copier printing” taking your work to a print shop can be a nightmare for all involved unless you know what you are doing.

March 21, 2013 at 1:11 pm
(2) JIm Q says:

After investing a lot of money in my business, I still wish I could afford some of the most basic necessities. I couldn’t imagine trying to do page layout in a word processor program. Not being connected on line at the home office, I use Microsoft Word at the library to gather notes—including images that cannot be “placed” with any level of precision—as I do so effortlessly in InDesign. I’m not knocking Microsoft Word – it’s a great program—for what it is. But Word is by no means a page layout program. Of course your best bet is to invest in professional software such as Adobe CS (#). But if you can’t afford to do that, you could probably get by with some of the less expensive—or even free software packages that are available. Just be sure to convert everything to PDF before sending it to a printer.

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