Can you make a living doing something you love to the core of your being? How to make money as a freelance graphic designer doesn’t have to be complicated or impossible. It does require creativity and a good head for business if you want to forge toward success, but there isn’t anything involved you can’t learn with a little effort and time.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average graphic designer makes $53,380 per year. Those who specialize in a niche may earn significantly more. Freelancers who are organized and productive will also make higher wages than those who are still learning the ropes.
If you’re ready to strike out on your own and start earning money today, you’ll find many different outlets for selling your work. Here are our favorites on how to make money as a freelance graphic designer.
1. Get on Gig Sites
If you’re trying to figure out how to make money as a freelance graphic designer, check out third-party job listing sites. In the early days of freelancing, you’ll spend a lot of time and energy finding new clients. Some of the gig websites are a good way to build a portfolio and find new clients. Try sites such as Fiverr, Elance and Upwork.
The competition on these platforms is fierce and the pay isn’t as high as you’d probably like to make, but you can bring in money fast when you want to jump into your new career as a freelance graphic designer.
2. Choose the Right Location
If you want to work with business clients, you need to think through the best location to tap into some of the larger companies. Sure, you can find a few clients by cold-calling or cold-emailing, but nothing beats walking into an office and leaving your brochure and meeting face-to-face with potential customers.
For example, in Columbus, Ohio, the average designer salary is $66,682, but the cost of living is fairly low. Seek out an area with businesses in the niche you wish to serve and where wages are high and housing and food costs comfortable.
3. Create Templates
Ramp up your design skills by creating and selling templates for WordPress and other platforms. People love to DIY with open source software, but their skills aren’t quite to the level of creating a custom design.
You can offer general or customized templates for business owners. Selling a template over and over creates a steady source of residual income. You could offer the same with logos, reusable graphics and icons.
4. Offer Workshops
What are your areas of specialized knowledge? Create an online workshop on Udemy or another platform and sell classes to the masses. When it comes to freelancing, you often must create streams of revenue.
How to make money as a freelance graphic designer? Think of your business like a shopping mall. You will have a few anchor stores, or big clients who contract with you for ongoing work. You’ll have some smaller stores where the income is less but steady, such as your templates and online classes. You will also have kiosks in your mall, which represent the one-time gigs or smaller work that isn’t steady or reliable.
To run a successful business and make money as a freelance graphic designer, you must figure out how to balance each store type.
5. Offer Consultations
The average business coach earns $83,602 per year. In addition to design work, you could offer your thoughts on things such as marketing or business productivity. Develop skills in some supporting areas so you can provide coaching and increase your revenue.
For businesses with an in-house design team, offer your services to improve their website, logo or marketing materials. You come in and offer suggestions for a fee and their designers do the actual artistic work.
6. Design Apps
Every year, more apps appear as people connect to the internet of things (IoT) and internet connection speeds improve. Adding app design to your offerings can help you on two levels.
First, you can design custom apps for small business owners. Second, you can design and sell apps on stores such as Google Play and Apple. Consider it yet another revenue stream that trickles in a little money with no additional work from you other than the initial design and some occasional updates.
7. Sell Your Art
Think outside the box on where to sell the items you design. Some designers create home decor or signs and sell them at local art festivals and online through sites such as Etsy. You could also attend a trade show matching what you sell and set up a booth in their exhibition area.
For example, if you design signs for small businesses, set up some samples of your work and an eye-catching display. Talk to business owners as they walk through and collect leads to contact after the event ends.
Pay attention to what others sell on Marketplace and in local classifieds. Can you put your own spin on things and make a decent income?
8. Dig Into Customized Branding
Branding is the buzzword for most businesses today. They need a way to stand out from competitors. If you are skilled in this area, you can sell branding packages and help businesses overhaul their look, message and identity.
Think about the services you can offer that create a positive impact for the company. Bundle them into one package and charge a hefty fee to remake the branding for small and mid-size businesses.
Do What You Love
One of the biggest benefits of working for yourself is the ability to choose the work you enjoy and lose the things you hate. Think about what you truly enjoy designing if you want to know how to make money as a freelance graphic designer. Do you love restoring and adding artistic embellishment to old furniture? Perhaps you enjoy designing websites.
Find the things you love and embrace them. It may take a little time to get your income where you’d like it to be, but with skill and determination, you’ll find your freelance graphic design business is a huge success.
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