Wednesday, February 28, 2024

My graphics business in Nairobi took three years to break even

Robert Chege is a graphic designer, video creator and video editor and the founder of Robert Graphics Brand, an SME graphics business.

I got into the graphic design business right after graduating from Kenyatta University. I had studied theatre arts and film technology. I found myself spending much time on YouTube watching graphic design, animation and video editing.

I did not have any extra money to fund my interest in graphic design and so I had to do it the hard way. All I had was a laptop and the school library where I could access free internet.

My interest grew bit by bit as I developed my own creations from cartoon illustrations, event poster designs and logo designs. I posted my creations on social media.

People liked the creativity, consistency and the progress I portrayed and started making orders. Today, other than local brands, I also work on international platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork.

Graphic design and animation are not skills a person can learn in a week and earn in the next. It involves mastering of not less than half a dozen of sophisticated software such as Adobe illustrator, Adobe photoshop, Moho, After effects, Premiere pro and many others.

It took me almost three years to break even. During the learning period, I used to engage in other activities such as research writing to cater for food, rent and the rest.

One of the main challenges I faced during my learning period was unreliable internet connection and malware invasion when I visited suspicious websites to gather more information.

Learning and successfully getting into the graphic creation business have had a lot of challenges. There are clients who want their work done almost for free. Some people also ran away after work was delivered. Others took too long to pay.

One of the biggest money mistakes I have made so far is misappropriation. This is a problem I am still trying to fight every day. I once bought a violin only to realize that I needed time to learn how to play it. Such mistakes have taught me that not all opportunities are worth trying.

Buying a violin with an imagination of having millions of views on YouTube is a bad idea if you don’t know the amount of work you need to put in.  Lately I am taking much time to think through before I spend money on the things I think I need.

If I could go back in time and change something, I would focus on combining Graphic design, Animations and UI/UX design. This is a skill set that could have been a major revenue generator. It can be used in many ways and in different fields; from branding and advertising to program development.

I use the bank to save money for rainy days. But I do not put all my savings in banks. I believe that at my age, I am in the generation that will benefit from cryptocurrency and the Non-Fungible Tokens, and this is why I am saving a portion of my earnings in cryptocurrency.

Previously, I used to keep my money in my phone which didn’t work very well. I regularly found myself purchasing goods online on impulse.

There is a different kind of energy which comes with being a business owner no matter how small or big. The awareness that ‘this is mine, and I am doing this for me’! Besides, it’s easier to work over time when you have it in mind that you are building an empire for you and your generation.

Working as a self-employed freelancer, I can choose what time works best for me. I could be attending meetings and events during the day and work during the night. That’s a freedom which many of the employed people do not have.

I got Canada visit visa in Nairobi; it’s now revoked and I’ve been banned for 5yrs

I have learned that opportunities are the unsolved problems in society. If there is anything an individual can do better to ensure that society moves forward smoothly then that is an opportunity to create employment.

I have also come to believe that success only costs commitment, willingness to learn, and ability to embrace the good and the bad that comes with taking risks.

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