22 Ways To Make More Money As Freelance Designer [Explained]

Having a successful freelance career is an achievable dream, especially if you know what you’re doing.

There are many ways to make more money as a freelance designer, and we’re going to go over all of them in this article so that you can start putting things into action ASAP.

It’s important for everyone who wants to be a successful freelancer to understand the basics of running their own business—and that means it’s also important to learn how to make more money!

You’ve heard the old adage: “It takes money to make money.” Well, it’s true! So let’s talk about some ways you can increase your earnings without feeling like you’re doing something dishonest or unethical. We’ll also talk about what types of services might pay off best for each individual client.

How to Make Money as a Freelance Graphic Designer
Freelance design can be a lucrative career with many opportunities for growth and diversification.
Networking and building a strong online presence are crucial for finding clients and growing your business.
Offering specialized services and identifying niche markets can help set you apart from the competition.
Diversifying your income streams through passive income and creating digital products can supplement your client work.
Staying up to date with industry trends and continuing to learn and improve your skills is essential for success in the field.

1. Create A Brand For Yourself

Personality and visual style aside, some of the basic elements you should consider as you create a brand are:

Mission – why does your company exist?

Values – what do they stand for? What are their guiding principles?

Purpose – why do they exist, beyond success and money?

Niche – who is your target audience? Who is your ideal client? What makes them different from other clients/customers in their industry or market space.

Brand story – how did the company start, what challenges have they overcome, and who supports them. This can help give customers an idea about the history of the brand.

Vision – where do you want your business to go moving forward, both short-term and long-term. Your vision will help guide any future decisions you make about your branding efforts.

Voice – describing yourself in a way that’s consistent with your brand’s mission, purpose and values is key to establishing a voice that resonates with your audience or potential clients.

As a freelance web designer, improving your skills and staying up-to-date with the latest trends is essential for success. Our article on 22 expert tips to improve your web design freelancing career provides valuable insights from industry professionals to help you elevate your craft.

2. Write A Killer Proposal

A killer proposal has lots of information about your process and your skills. But most importantly, it gives potential clients a clear picture of what working with you will be like. After all, the best way to avoid bad clients is to scare them off before they even start working with you!

Use words they’ll love.

  • Say this: “I’m proposing I redesign your website to be clean and sophisticated, with a professional look and feel.”
  • Not this: “I’m proposing to overhaul your entire site in order to make it more professional and clean, so you can convey sophistication.”

Keep it short and sweet.

  • Say this: “Illustrations will enhance your content for better visual storytelling, which will increase engagement on the page.”
  • Not this: “Illustration is often used for visual storytelling purposes because it’s engaging, so people are more likely to stay on the page and read the content than if there were no illustrations present because illustrations make things interesting visually, unlike text that doesn’t really have much of a visual element other than font style or size. People like pretty things that’s why they have art museums!”

3. Don’t Be Afraid To Turn Away Work

  • Don’t be afraid to turn away work: You don’t need to take on every client who comes your way. If a project doesn’t pay enough or seems like it might not end well, it’s better to walk away and find something better. In the long run, this will help you earn more money than working on low-paying projects.
  • Don’t take on more than one client at a time: At least at the beginning of your freelancing career, you should only have one client at a time. This will allow you to focus 100% of your energy on doing great work that makes you proud and gets you paid.
  • Have a goal in mind when working: Your goal should be to finish projects as quickly as possible while still maintaining quality. The faster you can complete tasks while still exceeding expectations, the higher your hourly rate will be.
  • Work during peak hours: The best thing about being a freelancer is getting to set your own schedule, so make sure that the majority of your work is done during times when you are most productive and alert (and when rates are highest). It makes little sense to charge $50 an hour if it takes 5 hours because of constant breaks and distractions.

Starting a freelance web design business can be daunting, but having a solid foundation is key. Our guide on 19 rules for starting freelance web design covers important factors to consider, such as setting rates, creating a portfolio, and building a network.

4. Promote Your Business

One of the first things you need to do as a freelancer is to promote your business. You should make it as easy as possible for potential clients to find you, and one of the ways to do that is by creating a website or blog and talking about your services on social media (just don’t be annoying!).

You can also ask clients to write reviews of your work. That way, when you’re pitching your services to new clients, they’ll already have a good sense of who you are and what you can do for them.

Give potential customers a reason to choose you over anyone else — let them get to know the real you, not just what services you can provide.

5. Never Stop Learning

One of the best ways to make more money as a freelance designer is to increase your skillset, and the only way to do that is to keep learning. The world of design moves at a rapid pace and keeping up with new techniques, best practices, and trends is essential if you want to stay ahead of the game.

Not only that, but increasing your knowledge will allow you to be more efficient in your work and will give you an extra edge when it comes to pitching for projects.

  • Never stop learning. Design is constantly changing, and you have to keep up with the latest trends. I can’t say enough about how important this is. A good designer is always learning.
  • Keep your skills up to date by practicing as much as possible, even if it’s unpaid work. It’s better to do 10 unpaid projects than one paid project that you aren’t quite ready for; they’ll both help you gain experience and learn new skills, but the former will help build your portfolio much faster.
  • If you’re having a hard time getting clients because of a gap in your skillset, look for ways to fill that gap by taking an online course or building some practice projects on the side so that you feel confident enough to ask for work when it comes along.
  • Don’t be afraid of risk-taking! Some of our most creative breakthroughs come from mistakes we make along the way—so don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works best for you and your clients’ unique situations

6. Find What Works For You

It’s always good to explore what works for you. In fact, it’s important to do so. If something doesn’t work, don’t worry. Don’t give up. Just go back to the drawing board and try a new approach. Keep trying until you find something that works for you.

Now I know this may seem like an obvious tip, but trust me…a lot of people just don’t do this. They skip right over this step and then wonder why they aren’t getting traffic or sales or whatever it is they wanted in the first place.

7. Ask For Referrals And Testimonials

You should also ask clients for referrals. You can do this in a couple of ways. First, send your client a quick email like this: “I’m looking to expand my network. If you know anyone who needs any design work I’d love an introduction.” More often than not they won’t respond, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

Second, you can use your final deliverable as an opportunity to ask for referrals. After your project is complete, email your client and say something along the lines of, “Thank you so much for the opportunity! It was great working with you and I hope we get to do it again in the future! If you know anyone who needs a designer please feel free to forward them my portfolio or have them reach out! Also if you enjoyed the experience at all I would love a testimonial on LinkedIn or Google Reviews! Thanks again!”

Hiring a freelance web designer can be a great decision for individuals and businesses looking for high-quality, customized design work. Our article on why hiring a freelance web designer may help you outlines 15 compelling reasons why choosing a freelancer could benefit your project.

8. Become An Expert In Your Field

As a freelancer, in order to attract more clients, you must become an expert in your field. The best way to do that is to define your niche and be a leader in your field. You can’t be the best at everything so find something that you love and excel at it. By doing this you will have high-quality work and a satisfied clientele which will bring you to repeat business as well as referrals.

It’s important to know what your clients’ needs are, understand them, and deliver on them. You should also know what your competition offers and how you can go beyond their services to give your clients better value for money.

Finally, being aware of industry trends and staying on top of changes will help make sure that your skills remain relevant now and far into the future.

9. Keep Up With Change

It’s an ever-changing industry, and it can be hard to keep up. The best way to predict how you’ll make money in the future is actually to stay on top of developments now. If you spend some time anticipating what’s coming, you’ll be well equipped to adapt when it arrives.

Here are some tips for keeping up with change:

  • Follow other designers and thought leaders involved in your field. Get their thoughts on the important topics before they become important topics.
  • Ask clients questions about what they want from their design work in the next year or two; this will help you get a sense of how things are changing from their side as well.
  • Know where people are going next—what kind of projects do they have coming up? Will they need your services again soon?

10. Deliver Above And Beyond Expectations

It’s no secret that standing out from the crowd, especially in the freelance world, can be challenging. While you may possess a certain set of skills and deliver as promised (which is essential), to make more money it may also be necessary to go above and beyond what is expected. 

Not only does this help you distinguish yourself from your competition, but it increases the chances clients will not only continue working with you but will recommend you to others as well.

So how do you do that? How can you make sure that not only are the services or products delivered on time and as agreed upon, but they also exceed expectations? There are several ways—here are a few:

  • Establish a positive relationship with your client(s). This includes treating them with respect and making sure they understand that their needs come first. It means listening carefully so you know exactly what they want before beginning work, asking questions if something isn’t clear, providing regular updates throughout each project, and responding promptly to questions or concerns.
  • Focus on their needs—not yours—and overdeliver when possible. If there’s something extra you can add for no additional cost once a project has been completed, consider doing so. If there’s something else within reason (such as additional outreach) that would benefit them even further, suggest it. By going above and beyond what was originally asked of you at no additional cost to the client, they will appreciate your efforts while simultaneously receiving more value than paid for which is always a win-win situation in business

When it comes to freelance web design work, time management and productivity are crucial for maximizing earnings. Our guide on how to get the most out of your freelance web design work offers tips and strategies for boosting efficiency and profitability.

11. Sharpen Your Styles By Working On Personal Projects

You know how to do your job, but the work you do for clients can distract you from working on your own style and projects. Working on personal projects can help you develop a unique style and will allow you to learn new skills, try out new ideas, experiment with different software, and find inspiration.

Here are some ideas for personal projects:

  • Redesign the logo of a famous brand
  • Create a poster or billboard concept
  • Draw an illustration based on a favorite quote
  • Make up a fictional book or album covers

12. Get Active On Social Media

Social media is a huge part of the business world these days, and as a freelance designer, you can use it to your advantage.

Join groups in which other designers are active, both online and in real life. Attend workshops and get-togethers where you can network with professionals in your field. Establish relationships with people in your industry that might be able to help you find jobs or answer your questions later on.

It’s important that you don’t just go around spamming links to your portfolio at every chance — this will not endear you to anyone, anywhere. Rather than trying to sell yourself, try listening to others first and then share helpful information when appropriate.

Getting involved in social circles related to design also helps create an image for yourself as an expert who knows what they’re doing. This makes potential clients much more likely to hire you than if they believe you lack experience or expertise.

Use social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to promote your work by sharing blog posts on which you collaborated or projects of which you were particularly proud. You needn’t limit yourself just because there aren’t any immediate results — building a strong social media presence takes time but is definitely worth it!

As a freelance web designer, advertising your services is essential for attracting new clients and growing your business. Our article on where to advertise your freelance web design services lists 18 online platforms and communities where you can promote your skills and connect with potential customers.

13. Invest In Yourself As Much As Possible

In the design business, you are the main product. Investing in yourself means making your skills as a designer better, learning new things, and acquiring new skills. The more you know, you become more valuable to your clients and can charge more for your services.

You should always keep on learning and improving your skills. There are numerous ways to do so: from attending a conference on design or going to workshops (which can be expensive) down to reading blogs, books, or magazines that talk about design-related topics (for free!).

It is also important to invest in your client relationships. The better relationship you have with them the more work they will give you and refer their friends or associates to hire you.

14. Ask For A Higher Rate

You will get more money when you ask for more money. Sounds simple, right? But if it were that easy, why aren’t more freelancers doing it?

There are a number of reasons that freelancers decide to under-charge (and then continue to do so). Some fear they’ll lose clients if they try to negotiate. Others don’t want to appear greedy or overconfident. 

There are many factors at play when we set and maintain our rates, but there is one thing we know for sure: you will make more money as a freelancer when you charge what you’re worth and keep charging what you’re worth. You deserve it! You’ll be happier, too—and your clients will be happy because they’re getting top-notch work from someone who actually wants to do the job instead of resenting the amount of time you have to spend doing it.

Not sure how much money you should actually be making? Check out this post about defining your freelance rate—it offers great advice about how to figure out what yours should be based on your experience and market value.

15. Know Your Worth

You know the value of your work. You’ve been doing it for years and you’ve built up a decent portfolio to prove it. But how do you go from knowing that your work is good to actually getting paid what you’re worth? The most important step is to come across as confident in your price and your ability to deliver results, even if you don’t feel that way yet.

There are also practical steps you can take, like setting up a contract for every job (or at least having one ready to go), negotiating fastidiously, asking for referrals, and—the big one—always asking for more than you think they’ll pay. It’s worth it!

16. Have A Goal

Freelancing can be a challenge, and it’s not for everyone. If you’re having trouble making ends meet because of your rates or the type of work you do, then set some goals. Think about what kind of work you want to do in the short and long term, how much money you’d like to make, how many clients you’d like to have, and so on. You should also think about what your professional goal is (are you trying to own your own company one day?).

Set a timeline for your goals and write down everything. Then post them somewhere visible (I even taped my goals inside the back door of my fridge). It’s important to regularly review your goals so that adjustments can be made as needed. 

When I first started freelancing, I would tell people that I was working towards a goal: after X amount of time with X amount of money saved up doing this kind of work; I would shift gears into doing something else. This way they knew where my head was at and they understood why I had such strict rates. It’s always easier when others know where you’re going!

17. Work During Your Peak Hours

You may have the most important and exciting freelance design gig of your life, but if you are tired or unfocused, then it is not going to matter what the project is. You need to work when you are at your best, so be aware of your own body clock. If you’re wide awake from 8 pm until 3 am, then work during that time; don’t try to force yourself into an earlier routine. 

The hours themselves are less important than the results – if you can get more done in half the time by working in a certain way, then do it!

18. Negotiate Your Salary

It’s amazing how many people still don’t know that freelance gigs are a great way to make money. It’s also amazing how many people still can’t manage to negotiate their salary. The two go hand in hand (both good and bad), and it’s important you learn them both so you can put your finances in order.

Here are two ways I’ve helped others negotiate their salary:

  • Before they send out their first price, research the market and figure out what everyone else is getting paid for the same job. It will be a starting point for your negotiations. Then, after you get a few projects under your belt, repeat this process from step 3 on down so you’re always looking at the market from the same place.
  • Try to divide up any new projects into “low” and “high” risk tasks, where there is room for negotiation on average salaries but less room to negotiate hourly rates since these are higher-end jobs or more specialized work or may require extra hours beyond regular office hours.

19. Don’t Take On More Than One Client At A Time. 

It’s tempting to say yes to every job. I get it, but you have to think about all the other opportunities that could come your way if you took on fewer projects. Your time is valuable and it’s better spent on jobs that pay well and really interest you.

If you’re just starting out, don’t take on more than one client at a time. The same goes if you feel like a certain client might be tiring or draining your creativity. You’ll only end up doing half-assed work when you feel tired or drained, so taking on fewer clients will give you more time to do your best work for each individual client.

Saying no is hard at first, but once you start saying no and focus on what truly interests you and pays well, it gets easier and easier.

20. Diversify The Services You Offer

Nobody can survive solely on one stream of income. Diversifying the services you offer is a great way to build your business, increase your earning potential, and ensure that you are always in demand.

But before you expand your skillset, it’s important to understand why developing new skills is so essential.

Not only will this help you justify spending time, energy, and money on training yourself, but it will also provide a clear strategy for choosing which skills to learn and how to go about it.

21. Seek Out Opportunities For Passive Income

Many freelancers make their money in one-off hourly projects. For example, a client might ask for some logo design work and pay $50 per hour for the project. The freelancer’s hourly rate will determine how much money he makes from the job, but once it’s completed he has to start searching for another client to do more work if he wants to increase his income. This is known as active income.

It’s possible to use passive income as a way of supplementing your active income, because you can make money while doing something else entirely—like exercising on a treadmill or watching TV (both of which are highly recommended). 

There are several ways that you can earn passive income through your freelance business:

  • Sell royalty-free goods like photos or vector illustrations on stock sites.
  • Publish a book with your own photography and illustrations through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing or another self-publishing platform.
  • Write an eBook that highlights your knowledge of specific subjects and sell it online through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing or another self-publishing platform.
  • Create instructional videos using iMovie and publish them on YouTube earning ad revenue.

22. Expand Your Skillset

If you’re itching to get started and don’t know where to start, I’ve got some ideas.

  • What people are willing to pay for

The best way to research what people are willing to pay for it by going out there and asking them. I suggest finding a friend or coworker who’s experienced some success in the freelance design field; ask them how much they charge for their work and how much work they do.

If you find that your friend does as much work as you want but doesn’t want to charge much, then that could be something worth exploring. Or maybe you can take on some of their projects and get more experience, which will help build your reputation in the future when it comes time to offer up your services.

Either way, the key is asking questions: people will be happy to answer them if asked—and if not, just keep asking until someone does!

  • Start a blog or portfolio

One of the best ways I’ve discovered for getting clients is by posting my portfolios online at Freelance Design Network (FDN). You can post images of past jobs and/or work samples on FDN (with credits), along with descriptions of each project and information about yourself as a designer—but please do NOT include your email address or personal contact info in any posts unless absolutely necessary (if at all).

Trust me: really great designers don’t need or want clients contacting them via email over Instagram comments; we’re busy enough without having to deal with such trivial requests! There are plenty of other platforms out there that allow you to publish professional-quality content such as this one…so why not start now?

Final Thought

Hopefully, you’ll find these tips as useful and informative as I did. I bet a tiny percentage of freelancers can identify each of the twenty problems or pitfalls that were mentioned in this article. Now, it’s up to you to put into practice what was discussed above—adapt it to your own situation and needs, and ultimately improve upon the suggestions that we’ve put forward. 

If you play your cards right, there’s no reason why becoming a more effective freelance designer can’t happen for you. All you need is to do some homework on your own, take action and the opportunities will follow!

Further reading

5 Ways to Make Extra Money From Your Design Skills: This article offers practical tips for designers looking to monetize their skills beyond traditional client work, including selling digital products and creating online courses.

7 Ways to Earn Passive Income With Graphic Design: Passive income is a great way for designers to supplement their earnings without taking on extra projects. This article outlines various methods for generating passive income as a graphic designer.

How to Make Money as a Graphic Designer: 10 Ideas to Get You Started: If you’re looking to diversify your income streams as a graphic designer, this article offers 10 creative ideas for earning money through different channels, such as creating stock graphics and designing merchandise.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Key Differences Between Working As A Full-Time And Part-Time Worker?

As a full-time worker, you have more freedom than part-time workers. You can choose when to work, where to work, and how to do your work. You don’t have to worry about being pulled in a million different directions by bosses with certain expectations for you.

As a part-time worker, you’re employed by someone else. They call the shots and tell you what to do. You don’t get as much freedom in terms of choosing who, where, or how long you want to work for them.

What’s An Online Marketplace?

An online marketplace is a website where buyers and sellers can come to interact and conduct business. For example, Upwork is an online marketplace where buyers can post jobs that need to be done and sellers—which in this case are freelancers—can bid on those jobs. They typically involve escrow systems where the buyer deposits money into an account that’s held safely until the seller has completed the job and both parties are satisfied with the work.

I Am Considering Jumping Ship From My Full-Time Job And Going Freelance, How Do I Know If I Am Ready?

First off, it depends on what kind of experience you have. If you have a couple of years of experience then most people will tell you that it is not a bad idea to consider freelance as your next step. If you are fresh out of school and this is your first job, then we would say that you should really consider getting some real-world experience before going freelance. 

It’s a great way to learn the ropes and get some hands-on experience with real clients. The more experience you have, the better equipped you will be for the inevitable ups and downs of freelancing (and yes, there will be ups and downs). You need to have a realistic view of what it will take financially.

How Do You Find Clients?

The first thing to keep in mind is that clients are everywhere. The second thing to keep in mind is that they don’t know they need you yet. Your job is to identify their needs and then offer your services as a solution. And this will happen in unexpected ways and places.

For example, I once did a brochure project for a manufacturer that made components for cars. The owner of the company was at a birthday party and someone asked who designed his brochure and he said “this guy named Herman”.

Then that person contacted me and hired me to do some business cards for him, which led to more work from his friends who owned other businesses, etc… So it all started with one small project at a birthday party!

How Do I Make More Money Freelancing?

It would be great if you could get paid more just by doing the same work that you’re doing now. However, the best way to increase your income is to take on more clients who you can handle. In some cases, you might want to hire a virtual assistant who can help with scheduling and other aspects of running your freelance business.

How Much Do Freelance Designers Make?

The average salary for freelance graphic designers is $21 per hour, according to Indeed. Rates vary depending on the specific project, the level of experience, and other factors.

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