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How To Make Money As a Graphic Designer

Graphic designers have plenty of ways to earn money. This is even more true today because businesses value good graphics and design for their activities.

Designing things is now quite specialized. Not just anyone can use the latest technology and digital tools to apply design principles and elements. It takes special skills and know-how.

So, how can graphic designers make money? We’ll talk about various options. But first, let’s look at how much money graphic designers can earn. There are some interesting stats to discover, so keep reading.

How Much Do Graphic Designers Earn?

In 2020, there were about 254,100 graphic design jobs in the United States. On average, graphic designers in the U.S. make around $53,380 per year, which is about $25.66 per hour. This is actually higher than what most other jobs pay, where the median income is about $41,950.

However, some industries pay even more. For instance, if you work for the Federal Executive Branch, aerospace parts and products manufacturing, or software publishers, you could earn anywhere from $77,000 to $88,000 per year as a graphic designer.

But let me explain something. Even though some graphic designers have a steady job and earn a decent salary, many of them choose to work as freelancers. We’ll explain why in our section about freelance work.

In any case, whether you prefer a regular job or freelancing, we’ll cover all the different ways graphic designers can make money, so you’ll have lots of choices in your profession.

How Graphic Designers Can Earn Money: 9 Ways to Make Income

  • Be part of a design group.

This means you can apply for a job at a company and work in their design department.

It’s a good idea to try to work at a creative studio or design agency. This way, you can improve your skills, learn from a supervisor, and stay updated with the latest design tools.

If you can’t find a job at an agency and the company doesn’t have a dedicated design team, you might work with the marketing, advertising, or corporate promotions group.

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Wherever you work, your main responsibility is to help the company with its visual communication and design strategies.

When applying for graphic design jobs, there are certain things employers consider. LinkedIn listed 10 things they look for in graphic designers:

1. Experience – Have you worked with different clients and agencies before?

2. Portfolio – Have you done various design work for different industries?

3. Expertise – Do you share your knowledge through a blog or social media?

4. Testimonials – Do your clients and colleagues say good things about your work?

5. Expectations – Are you confident that you can produce high-quality work?

6. Accessibility – Are you easy to communicate with and reach when needed?

7. Rates – How much do you charge for your skills and experience?

8. Bigger picture – Can you handle larger projects and bigger goals?

9. Open to advice – Are you willing to give and receive suggestions?

10. Other skills – Can you write or manage people and projects?

Being a full-time employee has its benefits, like a stable income and employment perks. If you perform well, you can also move up in the company.

But why do many graphic designers choose to work as freelancers? We’ll learn more about that next.

  • Offering freelancing services

You can offer your own services as a freelancer. This means you work for yourself and have the freedom to:

1. Choose your own working hours.

2. Decide which clients or projects to take on.

3. Set your own prices.

4. Work from home.

Many graphic designers in the US are freelancers, and more than half of graphic designers worldwide work as full-time freelancers. Freelancing can be a good choice, especially during the pandemic when there is a higher demand for online design work.

However, there are some downsides. When you’re a freelancer, you have to handle everything yourself, including managing your finances, marketing your services, and finding clients. This can sometimes mean working long hours.

The income as a freelance graphic designer can vary. It depends on factors like your experience, the complexity of the work, and the deadlines. Typically, freelance graphic designers charge between $15 to $150 per hour, with an average of around $25 per hour.

To advertise your freelance services for free, you can use freelance platforms, career websites, job marketplaces, online design communities, and social media. This way, you can find clients and showcase your skills without spending money on advertising.

  • Becoming a Graphic Design Teacher

You can become a graphic design teacher in two ways: at a school or online. But you need the right education and experience for both options.

If you want to teach in a traditional school, you should follow these steps, according to Study.com:

1. Get a graphic design degree, at least a bachelor’s degree.

2. Obtain a teaching license, required in all 50 US states.

3. Gain design experience through internships and certifications.

4. Some colleges may require a Master’s degree.

Teaching might need early planning in your career, and it requires time and resources to achieve this goal. It’s a rewarding job that pays well. In 2019, graphic design teachers earned a median annual wage of $69,530.

The other option is to teach online. There are two approaches: providing e-tutoring or selling courses over the internet.

For instance, one online tutoring service charges around $45 for a 60-minute live graphic design lesson. The price can vary based on the tutor, location, and the type of lesson.

Selling courses online is usually done through platforms like Udemy, Skillshare, and Coursera. But, it’s essential to understand their terms since they take a significant portion of the earnings, and you receive a percentage.

Your income as an online instructor depends on factors like the course price, marketing efforts, competition, demand for graphic design courses, and course quality.

John Purcell, a course creator and instructor at Udemy, has made a substantial income, saying that earnings on these platforms vary widely, from none to quite a lot, and some even get rich.

To learn more about creating and selling online courses, you can read Eduard Klein’s blog, which contains real case studies and details about how much people are making in this endeavor.

  • Selling Digital Designs

If you want to make money by selling digital designs, you’ll need to embrace your inner entrepreneur. But what kind of digital design stuff can you sell? Here’s a simple list:

  • Design Templates: These are like ready-made designs for things like ebooks, e-cards, invitations, posters, and Facebook ads.
  • Custom Fonts: Create unique fonts and sell them on your own, through a reseller, or to a font company. You can even sell fonts on Etsy for around $100.
  • Logo Packages: Some people like having professionally designed logos, and you can use logo design software to make different ones quickly.
  • Branding Packages: This includes everything for a brand like the logo, fonts, colors, patterns, and other branding stuff. You can make good money, up to $4,000 or more for a full package.
  • WordPress Themes: Some designers who make and sell WordPress themes earn a lot, like six figures a year.
  • Web Design Templates: Designers have been making money from this for a while, with earnings ranging from $500 to $30,000 per month.
  • Keep in mind that these are just estimates, and your income can vary. It’s good to know what you might earn from selling your designs.
  • Once you know what to sell, you might wonder where to sell it. There are many websites where you can sell your designs, and you can find them online.
  • Sell Stuff You Can Touch

A lot of people want to buy things with their favorite brand’s logo on them, like T-shirts or hats. They do this to show their support on social media and at events.

You can sell these logo items online or at events. You can make good money because many folks are happy to pay for things with their favorite brands on them.

Selling things that you create with your graphic design skills can be a great way to make money. Here are some examples of what you can sell:

1. T-shirts

2. Stickers

3. Pins

4. Signs

5. Tumblers

6. Coloring books

7. Comics

8. Wall art

9. Stationery

10. Holiday cards

11. Invitations

12. Party decorations

13. Illustrated books

Shopify, a popular online selling platform, suggests these as the top 10 things you can sell without having to keep a lot of items in stock:

1. T-shirts for everyone

2. T-shirts for kids

3. Mugs

4. Hoodies with all-over prints

5. Yoga pants with all-over prints

6. Jewelry with engravings

7. Posters

8. Champion jackets

9. Tote bags

10. Fanny packs

Selling things online has become common, especially during the pandemic when many places were closed. You have two choices for selling your products: do it yourself or use an online selling platform.

If you want to do everything on your own, be prepared to handle many tasks. Besides creating your products, you’ll need to set up an online store, find a web hosting service, and handle packaging, shipping, and customer service.

The easier way is to use an online selling platform or a fulfillment service. They take care of most of the work, and you just need to manage your online store.

Make sure to read and understand the terms and conditions of the online selling platform you choose. Decide if you’re happy with earning a little with less effort or if you prefer to work harder for more money.

The good thing is, you can start a print-on-demand business without needing expensive equipment or a physical store. You only need a computer, graphic design skills, and an internet connection. With print-on-demand, customers can order small quantities and different designs without making a big commitment.

  • Become a Graphic Design Consultant

Being a graphic design consultant means you can work on your own as a freelancer or with a consulting company. Your job is to work with different clients like businesses, companies, organizations, or government agencies.

Your tasks could range from helping them with their messages and branding to carrying out graphic design projects and achieving visual communication goals.

This can be a full-time job, and it pays well. According to career experts at Zippia, the average yearly income for a graphic design consultant is about $63,270, which is like making $30.42 per hour.

To be a graphic design consultant, you typically need to have an education, like a bachelor’s degree or more, and some experience.

As a graphic design consultant, you can also share your knowledge with students who are just starting their careers. You can teach them about the latest trends in the industry, the different job opportunities available, and how to have a successful career.

Moreover, you can help students improve their skills by giving them feedback on their work and showing them where they can get better. It’s a good idea to let them work on real graphic design projects to gain experience and build their portfolio.

  • Social Media Graphic

Social media graphics are pictures and videos used on social media. They can be used for posts, profiles, stories, and ads.

Knowing about social media graphics is important because they help businesses connect with customers on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

As a graphic designer, your job is to make templates, use the right formats, and keep the branding consistent. You can set your prices for social media design projects, but it’s important to consider what clients need and what others charge for similar work.

  • Join Design Competitions

Wondering why you should join design competitions? Well, there are a few good reasons! First off, you get exposure and experience, which can be super helpful for your design journey. Plus, there’s the added bonus of prestige. And let’s not forget about the prize money!

There are loads of design contests out there, covering things like graphic design, logos, typography, packaging, and more. Some big-name competitions even offer hefty cash prizes:

1. Red Dot Design Awards: Prize – €10,000

2. International Poster and Graphic Design Competition of Chaumont: Prize – Up to €3,000

3. Joseph Binder Graphic Design and Illustration Competition: Prizes – €1,500 to €2,500

4. TDC Communication Design Competition: Prize – $1,000

Make sure to visit the organizer’s website for info on entry fees, eligibility, rules, and all the details you need.

  • Start a Blog and Make Money

Before you start making money from your blog, you need to learn how to start one. Here are some simple tips:

  1. Make a professional website – Make it look and feel like a pro.
  2. Don’t use a free website builder – It limits features and options, and you can’t have your own domain name.
  3. Get a real domain – Choose a good name that represents your business.
  4. Plan your posts – Be consistent in publishing to get online attention.
  5. Find great topics – Create fresh and interesting content to show you’re an authority.
  6. Hire help – If you’re not good at SEO or other blogging aspects, hire someone who is.
  7. Share your blog – Spread the word on social media so people know about it.

Now, there are six proven ways to make money from a blog:

  1. Sell ad space
  2. Do affiliate marketing
  3. Sell products on your site
  4. Offer paid memberships
  5. Have sponsored blog content
  6. Offer your services on your site

Conclusion

If you’re a smart and enthusiastic graphic designer, you’ll always find ways to make money. Even if the job market is competitive, there are many opportunities for graphic designers.

In a visual world, graphic designers bring design concepts to life. Individuals and businesses use the results for their visual communication needs.

Whether you work alone or in a team, being a graphic designer pays off well for the effort you put in.

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