Home Business Ideas Starting an Off-set-Printing Business / Desktop Publishing

Starting an Off-set-Printing Business / Desktop Publishing

by Ogbeifun Daniel

Starting an off-set printing business is one way of making in this present economic meltdown. There are so many opportunities to cash in when it comes to printing business and many folks are not yet aware of this business, so this means much more money for you.

The many believe of people is that starting an off-set printing business will require buying printing machines and gadgets.

This is not so true!

Anyone in Nigeria right now can go into printing business without necessarily buying any of the printing equipment for that matter. In fact, many of the printing jobs are not carried out by printing companies but by individual contractors who now go to the printing firms to get the job done.

This is known as desktop publishing.

Desktop publishing has turned the fortunes of many around; making them millionaires as they pick up government printing deals, publication of books of universities and lecturers, etc. the opportunities in starting an off-set printing business or desktop publishing is limitless as people are always in need of getting something printed.

Presently, I am going to show you all you need to start off and get rolling. I will leave nothing behind as I have a personal experience in this business.

What Do You Need To Starting an Off-set-Printing Business or Desktop Publishing

Actually, you don’t need any capital to start an off-set printing business or desktop publishing unless you want to open an office where clients can meet you in person.

This will increase your profits definitely.

If you happen to own a business centre or computer training school. Then you could include an off-set printing business to what you do already.

Even if you don’t have an office, you could discuss with a friend that has one to use his office as a place of contact with the arrangement that you would be giving him a percentage for each client. Some friends will not even bother with the percentage and just assist you.

You would need a business name for yourself. You would need to register your business name and it will cost you about N20, 000 to do it for yourself. A business name will give you a professional look.

However, if you don’t have a business name at the moment, you can still kick-start the business and get a business name for yourself when funds are available.

You need to be good with graphics or have someone that’s very good with graphics to design your book works for you. Good graphics will keep customers flooding your doorstep every day.

Get a complimentary card. This will give you a professional look and boost your corporate image as you get the word around that you are now into printing.

Finally, get a reliable and trustworthy printing press that would be doing your job for you. Create a good and reliable relationship with them.

Stages of Starting an Off-Set Printing Business In Nigeria

I will be running you through the various stages of starting an off-set printing business in Nigeria from the very initial stages of the design and type-setting of your work.

Design, Typesetting and Arrangement

The job starts when the client’s walks right into your office. Ask him questions and make sketches of the design.

Make a rough sketch if you are not into graphic designs or do the sketch in your system if you are into designs. You will also need to make a rough estimate of your cost for the job while the client is still right there in the office, especially for a book work. You will need to do this if you are just starting off but as you progress it becomes quite easy to estimate the cost even without writing it down in the presence of client.

You wouldn’t want to come to a loss after arriving at a contractual agreement with your client. However, if it’s a book work it must be arranged and paged into the right format or book size using either CorelDraw or Photoshop. Your designer will do this for you if you tell him what you want.

Colour Separation

After the design and book arrangement, you take the work for separation. Both coloured work and typed work must be separated.

The process is called colour separation.

There is the digital separation and colour separation. Colour separation is necessary for coloured jobs while ordinary separation should be used for your black and white jobs. Digital colour separation is quite expensive.

Aside the above mentioned separations, there is a new form of printing called Direct printing which doesn’t involve separations whatsoever. With this, you get the exact designs of your works in full HD. Frankly, this is on the very expensive side, and unless it’s a personal job or big contract you stick with digital or ordinary separations.

However, with direct printing, you wouldn’t need to do plating or lithographic work.

Plating / Lithographic Work

After the colour separation, you take the films to a lithographer who will do the plating. Plating is a delicate job and perhaps the most important part of the off-set printing business. Any mistake at this point will reflect on the finished job so you must pick a good lithographer.

Ensure that the lithographer arranges the numbering well. The type of plate used by the lithographer will depend on the size of your work and the type of plates you want to run.

Plates come in a variety of shapes but the most common are the following.

  1. Getsetner 201: this is the type of plate used for simple jobs that are not more than 9in × 13in in size.
  2. GTO: this is the type of plating used for any job that is not more than 12in ×17in (that’s A3) in size.
  3. Multilith: this plate is bigger than GTO. The main difference is that it is perforated with holes on two opposite ends to enable it fit into the printing machine that uses it.
  4. Kord 64: this is the crux of the printing business. It is used for printing jobs whose sizes are more than 12in × 17in but not more than 18in × 25in. Most large printing jobs are done using the cord and it produces a better end result than most other plates.

Getting The Papers For The Job

Having plated the film, you would need to get the papers to do the job. Book covers usually make use of hard paper of 180gm, 210gm or higher. It could be glossy or plain hard paper and they are usually 100 sheets or 200 sheets per ream. On the other hand, you use 60gm, 70gm, 80gm, etc for the inside book work depending on the quality of work you need. It is usually advised to use a minimum of 70gm if you know that you will add coloured work to your inside job. This type of paper used for the inside work comes in reams of 500 sheets.


Having brought your papers to the press, you need to pay for the impression, which is the number of copies you need of the job. It is usually in thousands. The amount you pay for 100 impressions is the same for 1000 impressions. Printing is paid for in impressions.

Cutting of Papers

After making payments, your reams of papers will be cut into the required sizes depending on the plates you brought to the printing press. You also pay for the cutting of the reams which is measured using a gauge from your plates.

Actual Printing

After the cutting, the off-set plates will now be mounted on the off-set machine and the operator will now run the required number of copies of the job. Coloured jobs are usually run depending on the number of colours required. Complete colour; which is 4; is run 4 times in the machine. It is left to dry up for some time before collecting for the finishing stages.

Laminating and Creasing of Back Covers

After running of your back cover in the press, you will need to laminate it. It beautifies the work though it’s not compulsory. Laminating the back cover of books cost money so only include it in the costing if the client needs it. After laminating, it will have to be creased. This also cost money and allows for proper aligning of the book work. You don’t need to know all these stuff but just mention it and it will be done for you.

Folding, Collating, Pinning and Binding

When the printed work leaves the operator, you have to take it for folding, collating, pinning and binding. You can ask the press to do it for you or ask a private contractor. Asking a private contractor is always better since the press might delay your job and that of the printing press is always more expensive compared to private contractors.

Take your bound job to the printing press for proper trimming into the right shape. This takes away the rough edges and makes it saleable and readable.

Usually, the whole process should not take more than 5 days if the money is readily available. Make it a principle to always collect 70% of the money meant for the job so you will not be left stranded and be forced to use your money.

That’s all you need know to get into starting an off-set printing business in Nigeria.

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