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Adding Value Services to Your Desktop Publishing Business

written by: •edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 7/23/2009

Value added services such as printing, copywriting and distribution are a great way to add to your desktop publishing business' bottom line.

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    What are Value Added Services?

    You’ve probably heard of the term value added services before. It is used often in the telecommunications sector in reference to add-ons in addition to the core service offered by a company. The term, and the concept, also has a place in the lexicon of desktop publishers. Making money at desktop publishing isn’t, it turns out, always about designing great looking documents.

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    Printing Services

    The best example of a value added service that desktop publishers can offer is printing. And, no, that doesn’t mean that a desktop publisher has to learn how to operate a printing press. A better way of doing it is by establishing a relationship with a local printing company. In exchange for providing a printer with regular business, you will usually find that they are quite willing to provide a trade rate for jobs that they do for you.This rate is usually 10 to 15 percent under the rate they would charge their regular, non-trade customers (although sometimes you can get an even better rate). You will become the middle person between your client and the printer, and will mark up the job accordingly for your project management services.

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    Profiting from Print Services

    How much can this kind of value added service help a desktop publisher’s bottom line? Well, a good example is a relatively small design job that has a relatively large press run. If a desktop publisher chooses to stick to pure design work, and shies away from print management, a one page flyer or brochure might bring in anywhere from $25 to $200 (depending on the client, complexity of the job and the market). Yet that same job might entail a print run of several thousand (or tens of thousands) of brochures; the printing part of the job might run into the thousands of dollars.

    By managing the print side of the job and then adding it to your invoice (and adding your markup to the trade price), you can potentially add a hundred or more dollars in profit to your bottom line. A small job that puts $25 in your pocket can turn into a project that puts $250 into your pocket. The end client is still getting a fair (and competitive) price for the job, because they would not have gotten the trade rate if they had taken your design and dealt directly with the printer. You are entitled to mark up the job, because you are doing the legwork when it comes to having it printed (and don’t be fooled into thinking that there is not work involved with print project management).

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    Copywriting, Flyers, and Mail Services

    Value added services don’t have to stop at printing. Copywriting is another service that desktop publishers can add to their service offering. You’re not a copywriter, you say? Again, you don’t have to know how to write effective copy; you need to establish a business relationship with someone who does. Get a trade rate from a local copywriter, then mark it up 10 to 20 percent and add it to your invoice.

    Mailing services and door-to-door flyer distribution are two other potential areas that can be used to generate extra income for a desktop publisher.

    One cautionary note about value added services. As long as your end client pays on time and you have a good credit relationship with your suppliers (or good cash flow), it works well for everyone. Be aware, though, that if you run into a client who doesn’t end up paying, you are on the hook for the job with your supplier, and you will potentially lose a lot of money. Getting a deposit for the value added service, or ensuring that your client has a good payment record are especially crucial once you start boosting your bottom line in this way.