The significance of freelancing graphic designing scenario

From 2011 to 2016, the total revenue of the global freelance graphic design market grew at an annual rate of 2.3% to a value of $57 billion. It is a colossal number indicating some very crucial facts.

  • Money talks and freelance graphic design is clearly more than just a viable source of income.
  • As the world becomes more interconnected and tech-savvy, talented designers from every corner (from developed to emerging markets) are joining the online freelancing frenzy.
  • Competition is also heating up in proportion to the opportunity.

Even though the market is getting saturated, it is clear that freelance graphic designers are in demand. Moreover, if you are good at it with a proven track record, you should be able to earn good money while genuinely enjoying your job.

Assess your design knowledge and expertise

The online freelance design market is increasing every day. It is incredibly competitive, and clients expect the best results within budget constraints. You need to be blunt with yourself and honestly evaluate your current design skills. After all, your entire freelancing career will depend on this.

We interacted with DesignBold in-house designers and from their feedback, made a list of must-have skills for any freelancing graphic designer:

  1. Technical Skills
    • Fluent working knowledge of Adobe design software. (Creative Suite, Photoshop, Flash, Illustrator, InDesign)
    • Proficiency in one or more alternative design software. For example, Gimp, Inkscape, CorelDraw, and others.
    • Experience in online design software like DesignBold in conjunction with Adobe and others.
    • Knowledge of at least entry level web designing, HTML, CSS, and WordPress or other content management systems.
    • Accurate knowledge of creating graphic designs for both online and print media.
    • Adequate skill in photography, to create original images for your projects.
  2. Online Skills
    • Knowledge of social media for marketing and client reach.
    • Excellent writing skills to create engaging content to impress clients.
    • Email marketing campaigns, including optimizing click-through rates.
    • The fundamental principles of sales, connectivity, and marketing.

For a successful freelancing career, you need to have a balance of all the skills mentioned above. Ask yourself sincerely, and if you feel that you lack certain aspects, then it is better to fine-tune those first. There are many authentic online and offline courses that can teach these skills while providing certifications and industry contacts.

Understand that as a freelancer you are going to compete against thousands of talented graphic designers from everywhere. So, jumping in without adequate skills or the motivation to improve further, you are less likely to make a sufficient income.

Now let’s start with some of the best and latest ways to make significant money as a freelance graphic designer. Here is the list of all the money making ways we will discuss in this article with actual proven examples.


1. Create an online portfolio to showcase your designs

Building an online portfolio is possibly the most crucial step you can take in your graphic design career. It is the first line of contact or reference, a client will have with your work. Therefore, a well-made portfolio can lend instant credibility to your skills as a graphic designer. In the case of online portfolios or resumes, the first impression may be the last impression to a potential client.

Things to include in your portfolio:

A unique logo and tagline: Make sure the logo is simply awesome. A standout slogan adds an initial insight into your work expertise or attitude in front of prospective clients. It is essential that you do not take them both (logo and tagline) lightly as your visitors will view it the first time they land on your portfolio.

For example, check out the portfolio homepage of Hugo MiguelIt instantly draws your attention with the out-of-the-box use of the logo and tagline.

Hugo Miguel Sousa’s portfolio site, featuring unique logo and tagline

About me section: Arguably the second most essential part of your design portfolio, after the actual contents of the portfolio. It is the section that tells your story and design experience to establish a professional as well as an emotional connection with new clients. It is going to be one of the most frequently visited sections of your online portfolio. Therefore, it is better to invest some of your time to create the best one.

For example, Joe Payton portrays himself as a caricature in his “About Me” page. With his remarkable graphic design skills, he makes the page more interesting and increases the chance of the viewers staying on the page, resulting in more projects.

About Me Page. Credits: Mr. Joe Payton

Check out another unique example. The Doodlemachine homepage also serves as an about me page, combining humor and relevant information to keep readers interested. With such an excellent landing page, you can be more confident of securing design projects.

The services you provide: There are various aspects to designing, and you might be good at multiple features or a niche specialist in a particular type. Whatever the case may be, create a dedicated page mentioning all the design tasks you can deliver as a service.

For example, check out the services page below. You can include all the skills that you are confident about. Do not bluff or mention the skills in which you are a novice.

Credit: Array Themes

Portfolio Section: The previous sections condition the visitors to develop a positive perception towards your professional skills. All of that leads the most important part, the project portfolio.

If you are a beginner with limited work experience, then add an attractive “coming soon” page. It would be better than not having a portfolio page at all. For example, the coming soon page below itself indicates some design skills.

Create a coming soon page, if you are still adding projects to your portfolio. Credits: PixelWorkBiz

If you are a design professional with proven results, then do not hesitate to display your track record in their full glory on your portfolio page. Have a look at the portfolio page below that showcases earlier works and the corresponding clients.

JoomlArt
Project Portfolio. Credits: JoomlArt
Pro tip: Creating an online portfolio is not very difficult nowadays. You have many online services like PortfolioBox, where you can create your online portfolio for a low subscription fee. You can also use premium pre-designed templates for open source free CMS like WordPress and Joomla. For a start, you can have a look at Meteor Portfolio Theme (WordPress) & Ja-Jason Designer Portfolio (Joomla)

2. Start writing while earning money

In your portfolio website, create a blog section and start writing articles on designing. The materials can range from design tutorials, hidden tricks, design experiences to more or less anything related to graphic design. At the same time, look out for guest blogging opportunities on popular design websites.

Financial benefits of writing:

  • You can create a loyal following of your design articles. With quality content, you will see a consistent increase in the number of readers. In due time, your followers may become paying customers.
  • Both self and guest blogging add to your online and social presence, thereby building credibility for your freelancing career.
  • With increasing traffic, you also can monetize your blog by using advertising from Google, Yahoo, and even affiliate marketing.
  • You can eventually add paid exclusive member features, from premium content like tutorials to closed chat rooms and forums.
  • As your design blog gets popular, companies will connect with you for paid advertising.

With time and increase in website traffic, a quality blog can open up multiple economic avenues.

Check out the website of Mr. Cup’s Graphic Exchange. Founded by French designer Fabien Barral, known under the pseudonym Mr. Cup, this blog features his experiences as a designer in the international market.

Credits: Mr. Cup’s Graphic Exchange

3. Become an online graphic design instructor

There are thousands of people looking for quality online courses to learn the tips and tricks of graphic design, with some even willing to pay. Targeting that segment of users can provide a steady flow of money. You can do so in two ways:

Create an excellent design class on your website/blog:

The primary benefit of this approach is that you are in complete control of the infrastructure and the revenue generated from it. However, the drawback is you are solely responsible for handling every aspect – website design, membership module, payment gateways, customer support and much more. It is not impossible but may be time-consuming or strenuous.

Use hosted online services to create and manage design courses:

In the market, there are currently many online aggregators of various courses including graphic design tutorials. These aggregators take care of all the aspects of managing and promoting the online class. They provide

  • Free hosting for your video, audio, and other course files
  • Customer support for your students
  • Payment processing handled by the aggregator
  • Optimized course landing pages
  • Mobile access to your courses
  • Global marketplace to promote classes or connect with students

All you need to worry about is creating the best tutorial possible. The success of these companies depends on the popularity of the courses designed by experts like you. Therefore, they have a robust system to support you all the way. In return, you will pay a percentage of your earnings to the company.

The three most popular course aggregators are Udemy, Skillshare, and Lyndaa.com.

Skillshare provides subscription to users and part of revenue to instructors
Udemy offers more flexibility regarding fixing the prices of your design courses

Many real-life stories will motivate you. For example, take the case of Dr. Chad Neuman, who is currently at the #8 spot on the list of bestselling Udemy instructors with a total of 197,590 students for his Photoshop tutorials. That is thousands of dollars every month. With time, the right attitude and sufficient expertise, you can do the same.


4. Write and sell premium e-books on design

It is a well-observed fact that e-books are great tools for gathering leads. People from different professions are selling premium quality e-books generating a handsome revenue every month.

So, as a trained graphic designer it makes sense for you to have a collection of high-quality e-books for sale. You already have the skills to create beautiful and informative e-books without needing outside help.

There are plenty of cases where designers have succeeded this way. Sacha Greif reported an income of $40,000 for his latest e-book over a period of a few months, while Nathan Berry said that his last book made him over $28,000 in the first day alone!

Credits: Sacha

Popular e-books can also be sold as a paperback or hardcover editions with the potential to generate more revenue.


5. Join online design competitions & freelance directories

Design contest websites have existed for some time, and many designers are using them to create significant supplementary income. If you are a beginner freelancer, then design contests are an ideal option to improve your skills, exposing yourself to designers from all over the world while building your portfolio.

The top design contest websites at present are CrowdSpringDesignCrowd & 99Designs. Check out some of the highest earning designers at DesignCrowd.

Credits: DesignCrowd Top Earning Designers

You can also register at freelance directories with your profile and quote the price for your work. Here, users will directly contact you for design assignments if they find your portfolio, ratings and price quote suitable. In this regard, 99designs and Fiverr are currently the most popular. For example, Fiverr provides freelancing for a wide variety of graphic design specialties.

Credits: Fiverr

6. Sell design elements instead of finished projects

Earlier in the second point, we talked about various ways to use your blog to generate revenue. Another sure shot way to earn money is to sell your self-created design elements directly to users. For this, you can use either your own website or existing design markets.

What can you sell?

  • Graphic design templates
  • Photoshop layers
  • Adobe effects
  • Typographies
  • Photoshop mockups
  • Vectors, icons, and borders
  • Infographics

And much more. Good quality design elements are always in demand as they are essential for many to complete design projects. These design elements make the task more comfortable for the users.

You can sell your creations directly on your personal website by creating an all-access membership site (paid subscription) and also as individual digital products (per use or download).

With so many e-commerce website templates available (for WordPress and Joomla) and online shopping website makers like Shopify, creating your store online should only take a few hours.

For example, have a look at the blog of Oliver Dale. Oliver sells his creations and also creates a targeted marketplace for blog readers. Users can subscribe or make individual purchases.

Credits: Photonify

There are also dedicated and big online digital marketplaces for you to sell your designs. You just need to register, create your account and upload the product files. The platform handles the rest.

These marketplaces are vast with millions of consumers looking for suitable products for their assignments. The best-known brand in this regard is Envato.

Credits: Envato Elements & Graphicriver

Some designers have earned millions by selling their work on Envato. For example, meet Sevenstyles from Australia, a power elite Envato contributor with more than $1,000,000 in sales!

Credits: Envato Power Sellers

7. Licensing your designs

If you successfully execute all the steps mentioned above, you will be well on your way to a freelance graphic design career. Your client base, along with your credibility should be growing steadily on the internet.

With this, you should naturally have higher earnings and room to be more selective with your projects. It indeed won’t be easy, but it will ultimately be worthwhile.

Your graphic design practice and your personal brand will continue to attract more customers, and this is the perfect time to go for the ultimate prize – Licensing your design creations. If carried out correctly, then you may secure a steady source of passive income without additional effort.

Licensinf graphics designbold

In this approach, you allow various companies to use your graphic designs on their products for a specified royalty. The contract terms would stipulate the time frame and extent of permitted use. Depending on your brand’s popularity and negotiating skills, you can charge around 10%, or perhaps even more, of the total sales of products using the license.

Licensing your designs can be tricky, but these two articles can help you get started: How to Start Licensing Your ArtWhat to Charge for Art Licensing.

Conclusion

In this article, we covered all the possible ways for a graphic designer to make more money. As with most things worth pursuing in life, success will not come overnight. It will take much hard work, time and determination. However, in the end, it will be worth everything you put into it.

And don’t forget that DesignBold can play a crucial role in your graphic design projects. Using this online image editor, you can save significant time while improving the quality of your work. You will also have access to more than 40 millions design elements, including photographs, vectors, icons, typography and preconfigured templates.

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