It can be tough out there for a graphic designer.
An economy in recession unfortunately means that creative teams from all over the globe are being let go as companies look for quick ways to tighten up their belts.
And that means that there are now newly unemployed designers out there competing with you for projects and new clients.
But don’t fear, graphic designers! There’s no need to turn away from your dream career or start driving for Uber to make ends meet.
We’re here today to show you how you can set yourself apart from other designers in your area and start earning more doing what you love.
Whether it's a full-time position you’re looking for or just enough projects to pay those pesky bills, here is how you can start maximizing your earning potential as a professional graphic designer.
Keep your portfolio updated.
Design is such a visual medium that a good portfolio is often better than six solid inches of text in the skills section of your resume.
Your portfolio is the best way to communicate your skills and experience to your potential clients.
It can also showcase that unique personality of yours to potential clients or hiring managers who might find your spark to be exactly what they’re looking for in their company, both talent and culture-wise.
When you’re in search of new projects, a good portfolio will show potential clients what skills and abilities you have. A good high-quality and diverse portfolio can set you apart from others with a narrower skill set.
A good rule of thumb is to keep your portfolio updated with the work that best showcases your ability as an artist and designer.
Whether your expertise is logo design, 3D graphics, illustrations, or more, your portfolio should showcase it as best it can. It’s also a good idea to keep the pieces in your portfolio to your most impressive handful so that potential clients are not overwhelmed.
Keep it updated too! You never know when the opportunity to show it off to a potential client or hiring manager will arise, so keep it fresh and update it about once a month with your best work.
Networking and building relationships.
You know what they say. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
While that’s not always completely true in the creative field (to be a good graphic designer, it absolutely does matter what you know!), that old saying has a point.
Networking and fostering relationships are important in virtually every industry, but they can be especially beneficial for designers and other creatives. Think of networking like having a Disney World FastPass toward new gigs.
Not only do you get to meet tons of new people and potential clients in one or two events, but once they get to know you, those new people can easily recommend you to their contacts as well.
Some good places to rub elbows with your peers and meet new folks are conferences and trade shows, local meetups, and workshops and classes in your area.
If you’d like, it might also be helpful to join a professional organization, such as AIGI (The Professional Association for Design), The Graphic Artist’s Guild, or the International Association of Visual Artists.
Organizations such as those can provide plenty of opportunities for networking, skill-building, passing out business cards, and connecting with fellow designers.
And since social media is making it so easy to stay connected to your old classmates and professors after graduating, it could be helpful to do that too.
Sometimes just asking an old teacher or fellow alumni to put in a good word for you might just open up a door that you weren’t even aware of!
Embrace the robots.
We know, we know.
Those AI art generators are out to snap up your jobs and their arms are cold and soulless, so why ever should you embrace them?
If that’s what you’re worried about, then please don’t be. While AI art generators and logo generators are cool and all, there’s no way for them to truly compete with human intelligence. At least, not yet anyway.
AI doesn’t understand target audiences like a human does. It doesn’t understand brand identity, social media and design trends, or how to monitor competitors. It needs you to do that for it.
So, instead of resenting the robots, use them to your advantage. AI can be a very useful tool in your arsenal for ideating, inspiration, or churning out a quick mood board or two.
We get it.
Designing all day every day can be creatively draining. So, what’s the harm in using AI software to help inspire you and kickstart your creativity when you run into a wall while working on a difficult project?
And embracing technology doesn’t have to start and end with AI.
Keeping yourself up to date with new software updates and tools can keep your skills sharp and relevant in this rapidly changing digital landscape.
A quick subscription to software sites like Adobe or Procreate is an easy way to stay on top of updates and cool new product launches.
Be a jack of all trades.
There are many things a graphic designer can do to generate income besides creating marketing materials.
You’re an artist.
Get out there and art!
If painting, drawing, or sculptures are your thing, create some artwork to sell online or at your local art gallery for some extra cash.
Or, if you like working with groups of people, consider sharing your talents with others by teaching art or design classes part-time.
There are plenty of schools or studios looking for talented and patient artists to teach art and design to group classes. Many of them are willing to work around your schedule too, so it could be a convenient way to pick up a few classes a week to make some extra money.
And you’d have students of all ages, so if the idea of large groups of children makes your eye twitch, just know that there are plenty of adult and senior classes looking for teachers too!
If teaching isn’t for you but sharing your expertise is, then you might consider consulting as well.
If you have several years of experience and an impressive portfolio, companies would be more than happy to hire you as a graphic design consultant.
Graphic design consultants help companies with design strategy and use their skills to help analyze all visual communication and branding in order to help them find room for improvement.
Put a fair price on your work.
Sometimes the best way to maximize your earnings is to charge what your time is worth!
Research the market.
What are the going rates for your particular type of design service?
What are other designers charging? Are they charging per project? Per hour?
Create a detailed proposal when a potential client asks you for a quote.
Consider your level of expertise, your years of experience, the time it’s going to take you to complete a project to a client's satisfaction, and if you’re going to need to spend any money on additional software or supplies.
Don’t be shy about charging what you’re worth! Let your client take a good look at your portfolio, so they know exactly what kind of superstar they’re hiring and how much it’s going to cost upfront to get that superstar on their team.
You put a lot of hard work into your talent. Your time is valuable and so are your results!
<div class="c-blog_comp-cta cc-component-2"><div class="c-blog_comp-cta-left"><div class="c-blog_comp-cta-left-wrap"><img src="https://global-uploads.webflow.com/61cdf3c5e0b8155f19e0105b/63695243d096983691046ac3_Potential-Creative.png" loading="lazy" alt="" class="c-blog_comp-cta-left-img"></div></div><div class="c-blog_comp-cta-right cc-dark"><div class="c-blog_comp-content"><div class="c-text-wrapper cc-mb-32"><div class="c-title-4 cc-bold"><strong>Like to work as a freelancer with consistent income?</strong></div></div><div class="c-text-wrapper"><div class="c-text-2">Designity's collaborative model is designed to give you all of the perks of being a freelancer without the income instability.<br></div></div></div><div class="c-blog_comp-wrapper"><a href="http://designity.com/creatives" target="_blank" class="c-button w-button"><strong>Join Our Creative Community</strong></a></div></div></div>
If you want all of the freedom of freelancing without having to source clients, negotiate pay, and worry about slow months, then there is another option you should check out.
Designity can give you all of the freedom of freelancing plus the consistent workflow and steady income of a creative agency.
Designity is a fully-remote, creative service made up of US-based creative directors and creatives. We work with a wide variety of industries and we're always looking for talented designers to help companies in need with their marketing collateral, web design, mobile app design, and much more.
There’s no reason to be chained to a desk anymore. Set your own hours, work from wherever you want, and enjoy a steady workflow with steady pay. Our Creative Directors take care of managing the clients for you too, leaving you free to do what you love and make a great living doing it.
What’s your best strategy for maximizing your earnings?