How To Become a 100k Freelance Graphics Designer and Make Money Online

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Being a Graphics Designer can pay very well as a remote worker. Whether you do freelance or work your way up the corporate ladder.

We’ll discuss mostly freelance graphics design in this article, but will also touch on getting a full-time remote job with a company too.

Whichever path you choose for building your graphics design career, the potential to reach a 100k annual salary working remotely is very doable.

The pros (advantages) of making money online as a graphics designer are pretty clear, they include:

  • Graphics Freelancers can charge what they want based on their worth in the open market.
  • Whether you work freelance or not, you can operate 100% remotely.
  • You get to work in the comfort of your home and save tons of money on expenses relating to commuting, like car, gas, tires, brakes, etc.
  • Your home is not confined to one location at any given time. You can move someplace cheaper or better for your lifestyle and still keep your income without changing jobs or the gigs you are working on.

The cons (disadvantages) of making money online as a graphics designer is something you should also consider, they include:

  • As a freelancer, you’ll be responsible for finding your own leads and doing a bit of sales to close jobs for yourself. This can take up extra time when you are first starting out.
  • Working from home all the time could be a bit isolating, so you must balance your loneliness out by having a social life outside of work.
  • If a customer or client is unhappy with your work, you’ll have to accept that feedback and fix or make things the way the client sees things, even if you think it’s not the right decision.
  • You’ll have to buy your own design software, computer setup, etc. A remote full-time worker with a company won’t have to do this! They’ll get all the tools for the job provided for free.

How Much Money Can a Graphics Designer Make Online (Freelance or as a Full-Time Job)

Making money online as a freelance graphics designer (or working full-time as one) is based on one simple concept. You have to match your experience with the expectations you want for compensation.

If you are just starting out, you’ll have to accept the lower end rates for pay unless you are exceptionally talented. Let’s talk about how to maximize your earnings as you work your way up as a graphics designer.

Freelance Graphics Design

Working as a freelance designer, you’ll be open to all kinds of opportunities which will have different pay rates and budgets.

If you want to start your path to making over $100k per year you’ll need to get a rate of at least $100 dollars per hour with at least 1,000 billable hours per year. If you can get your rate up to $150 dollars per hour you’ll only need about 675 billable hours per year.

So as you can see, it’s totally doable to make over $100k per year. Here’s some further information about what the average rates per hour a freelance graphics designer can charge.

Freelance Graphics Designer Pricing Guide

According to this guide, you can charge a starting rate of anywhere from $25 to $150 per hour. 

For more specialized work where you can charge by the project (not per hour) the rates are the following:

  • Logo Design – $100 – $5,000
  • Web Design – $1,000 – $15,000
  • InfoGraphics – $100 – $2,000
  • eBook Design – $200 – $2,500
  • Business Cards – $100 – $2,500+
  • Illustrations – $90 – $465

To find out more about where these high dollar ranges came from, check out the below resources.

Freelancer.com – Graphic design rates for 2021

EkSposure.com – Graphic Design Pricing – How Much Do Designers Make?

Morganoverholt.com – Freelance graphic design rates: How much should you charge?

As you can see, freelance graphics design is very profitable and scalable. As one person, if you get too busy, you can also hire others and build up an agency if you want to.

Full Time Remote Job

To really profit from being a full-time worker as a remote graphics designer, you’ll follow a similar path as a freelancer. But, you’ll work your way up the corporate ladder as you gain more and more experience in your career path.

Making $100k per year with total benefits is totally doable if you check out the following chart from Payscale.

PayScale.com – Average Freelance Graphic Designer Hourly Pay

The average pay is around $30 dollars per hour. But, if you can grow into the upper range of the average you’ll see that $100k – $125k per year is totally possible as a full time remote graphics designer.

Some other additional ways to make the upper range of a salary is to:

  • Specialize in one vertical graphics design career path and move up from entry level to management.
  • Work Graphics Design and pivot over to a higher paying job role like a Visual Designer, UX Designer, Product Designer, etc.
  • Becoming an Art or Creative Director at a public company that can budget a six figure salary for you.

So as you can see, there are many career paths and different companies you can work for which provide lots of opportunities to grow your graphics design career to over $100k per year (without having to be a freelancer.)

You just have to research all the opportunities in the market.

I recommend you network with colleagues and people you work with and keep in contact with them on LinkedIn. As time passes and people move on to different companies, those connections will come in handy for getting and finding new job opportunities for graphics design.

4 Steps To Get Started As a Freelance Graphics Designer

To help launch your career as a freelancer or full-time remote worker in graphics design, let’s review some steps to help you get there.

Before you start any of these steps, it will help if you create a bio of yourself and gather some professional looking photos, a headshot photo of yourself is recommended.

First, Start a Blog and Set Up Social Media

Every graphics designer should have their own website and a few social media profiles to help promote their skills, work experience, and portfolio of work.

For a website, a blog is also essential so I highly recommend you self host your own WordPress website. It’s pretty easy to set up and the monthly expenses to host it are relatively cheap at around 5 bucks per month to get started. You can host a free blog on WordPress.com as a second option but it’s limited in what you can do.

On your WordPress site, you should create the following:

  • An about page where you can publish a headshot photo of yourself with a bio.
  • A portfolio page where you can share your most relevant projects for previous graphic design work.
  • It’s a good idea to publish blog articles relating to graphics design, this will help promote your website for SEO, so people can find you through Google Search. Also, it will allow you to promote your articles on social media.
  • Write case studies to share stories about how you helped clients grow their businesses with your graphic design work.
  • Have a contact form and link to any profiles you have online for social media.
  • Be sure to link to other areas of the web where people can contact you for work, such as a freelancer website like Fiverr and UpWork, if you are accepting work there. We talk more about freelancer sites in the next section.

Set Up Social Media

After your website is created, it’s a good idea to get on social media and create a profile on the following platforms.

  1. LinkedIn – This is mandatory for every professional at a minimum. You’ll be able to access everyone working for a small business or big company. This is great for prospecting full-time jobs or freelancing opportunities.
  2. Twitter – Being on Twitter is optional, but a great way to help connect with other designers in your industry.
  3. Pinterest – Pinterest is great for sharing pins, infographics, and images of your work. Plus it’s a visual search engine where people use keywords to find new images to save and look at.
  4. Instagram – Is a great way to post images of your work so you can promote your skills, style, and brand.

Step 2, Find Your First Clients With Freelancer Sites

You can jumpstart your career path for graphics design by starting on a gig platform like 99 Designs, Fiverr, UpWork, or advertising on Craigslist Gigs. To find a complete list of even more sites, check out this article by Wave Apps.

WaveApps.com: Freelance Graphic Design Websites

There’s a lot of competition out there for graphics design work so you’ll have to take on some entry level gigs to help build up your portfolio fast. With time however, you’ll get better paying gigs, more experience, and more advanced clients to work with.

When you go to apply for your first corporate graphics design job, it will also look good on your resume to have some work experience with previous freelance projects.

Step 3, Getting Your Own Clients Directly

Over time, if you decide to build out your freelance business into something more full time (instead of getting a job), your website will become your biggest marketing asset. In addition, your quality work and word of mouth referrals will drive all of your new incoming clients.

The best part is that you won’t have to pay a cut of your rate to a freelancing platform anymore.

Did you know that Fiverr takes almost a 20% cut on your rate? Yikes!

Step 4, Specialize Your Work, Raise Your Rates

Whether you go down the freelancing path or get a full time job, your compensation will go up over time as you specialize your graphic design skills in a niche or specific industry.

With time, you’ll move higher and higher and make over $100k per year just like we described earlier. Either by increasing your hourly rate, setting a higher price per project, or negotiating a higher salary if you work full time for a company.

Just be passionate about your work and the money will follow!

One Last Graphics Design Business Idea

There are many YouTubers, Small Business Owners, Bloggers, and people working in the Creator Economy who need templates for creating artwork for articles, videos, book covers, social media, and website pages.

You can research on Google to find new ways to make digital graphics and templates to resell to people who are in need.

One place I’ve seen these items for sale is on Etsy, so the market is somewhat established and has proven itself for making money.

If doing freelance work is not for you, this might be another avenue you can make money by using your graphic design skills.

Final Thoughts

When you have the talent for creating graphics and art, that is step one when it comes to making money online as a freelancer or getting a remote job.

The rest of the steps depend on how well you can promote your skills, communicate with others, and be a team player.

This will lead you into a project where a business finds the creative graphic design work valuable and will pay for it. Over time, the opportunities will get better, easier, and become more profitable as you gain more experience and a bigger portfolio.

I hope the steps in this article help you launch your dream of making money online as a graphics designer. Thanks for reading.