When first starting out in graphic design, you may have taken any client that came your way. In the early days, it’s about building up your clients and bringing in income. However, over time, you’ve probably come to realize some areas offer a better income than others. You may want to work smarter and not harder. Fortunately, there are many growth opportunities for your firm in 2022.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the national average graphic designer salary is about $53,380 a year. Experienced designers may make upwards of $93,440. Why do some make more than others? While hourly wages can vary based on experience, much of the difference is attributable to the types of work performed.
Choosing the areas that pay a little better helps ramp up your annual revenue. Whether you run a large firm with designers working for you, or you are a solopreneur, keep an eye on these growth opportunities in 2022.
1. Work With Larger Companies
Small businesses often hire freelance graphic designers, but they also have a much smaller budget than medium to large companies. If you connect with a bigger organization, they are likely to hire you for all their needs. You won’t waste time finding new clients, and can focus more of your energy on your current ones.
Larger companies may also have the budget to pay you what you’re worth. There is a lot of satisfaction in working with startups and helping them out, but there comes a time when your experience outpaces the needs of small brands. Allow other freelancers to work with the minnows while you go after the sharks.
2. Design Gift Cards
Think outside the box on the things you design. For example, a gift card design not only gives you something unique to create, but can also get your name out there as one of the top designers with creative abilities.
Studies show around 19% of consumers feel the gift card image and design sway their decision to purchase one card over another. You can make a big impact on your clients and encourage them to hire you for additional gigs.
Don’t be afraid to come up with a concept for your clients using foil or other special techniques. You’ll also have a new beautiful design to add to your portfolio and attract additional clients.
3. Avoid Third-Party Gig Sites
When you first started, you may have needed a few clients so you had samples to show others. However, now is the time to get away from third-party gig sites such as Fiverr and Upwork. You’ll compete with people of all skill levels, and many people hiring through there want to pay the bottom dollar.
If you want to demand more for your services, you must find new clients via cold calls and referrals from other clients. Don’t accept less pay than you deserve because you’re scared to think outside the box on how to seek new customers. Instead, do your own digital marketing, reach out to those you’ve designed for in the past, and circulate the word among family and friends that you need new clients.
If you must, you can always continue your gig work on these sites while you add in a few better-paying private clients. Reduce the amount of work you do for lower pay until you get to the level you want.
4. Add Services
What are some services you haven’t offered that pay well? Look at everything from designing book covers to creating product packaging. You may have started off designing logos, but maybe it doesn’t pay as well as you’d like.
Every few months, look at the services you offer and which ones might be removed and replaced with something that pays better. As with the gig situation above, if you need to continue service while you implement a new one, you can gradually reduce the work you do in an area that doesn’t pay as well.
Over time, offer only those services that pay at a level you’re willing to accept. Ideally, you’ll have the same workload but higher pay for your time.
5. Seek Out New Areas
Some areas of the country pay graphic designers better than other areas. Forbes reported graphic designers make the most in New York, followed by Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut. Expect higher pay from companies in urban areas versus rural. Simply adjusting your target audience to seek out brands in better-paying areas may automatically command higher pay for the same services.
If you serve clients in your local community, look to the next closest large city and see if you can expand. One of the best things about a graphic design firm is that you aren’t limited to companies in your location. With the internet, you can work with clients from all over the globe. Figure out who pays best and seek them out.
6. Lose Bad Clients
Every six months, look at your roster of clients. Do you have any who haven’t paid and are consistently late? Perhaps one of your clients takes up most of your time because they constantly need something or have a complaint? Even ones who pay well but eat up all your staff’s time may not be worth keeping.
Come up with your own ranking system and list out your clients from the best to the worst. Don’t let emotions get in the way. Think only about the bottom line, which is how much revenue they bring you versus how much time, effort, and money they cost you.
Let the bottom 10 to 20% go so you can make room for new, better paying, less time-consuming clients. It isn’t personal. You aren’t being mean. You just want to improve your company and take your design firm to the next level in 2022.
7. Generate Passive Income
Have you looked into ways your firm can generate passive income in 2022 and beyond? Passive income involves creating something once and then making money off it forever in the form of royalties.
For graphic designers, there are a number of things you can do to start bringing in passive money. Start with the photos you take. Can you add a few to each session not involving a specific product and sell them on royalty-free photo sites?
You could also create themes for WordPress sites, sell plugins, and create apps for business owners to help them with some graphic design needs you see that many of your clients have. You could come up with generic logos that are easily customized, sell illustrations, and even make videos any business owner could use.
8. Add Design Technologists
Do you have any experts available to work with technological firms? A design technologist easily commands over $80,000 per year. The person is a visual designer and helps corporations plan out design elements on a project or works on the creative end of things. One example would be a manufacturer seeking advice on packaging or the aesthetic qualities of their product.
When looking at what services to offer and which employees will add the most value to your firm, don’t be afraid to go for the ones that command higher pay.
9. Add Upsells
One of the best ways to generate more money is to sell more services to the clients you already have. What are some upsells you can add that might bring in more revenue? For example, if you make custom WordPress themes, can you offer installation services for an additional charge? Perhaps you can add some coding or tweak things a bit more?
Other upsells might be adding an extra color in a logo design, offering additional options outside of your normal two, allowing more revisions, or setting up an online workboard so multiple people can comment. Always weigh the aggravation factor against the potential increase in revenue. If more people give input, you’ll have more to contend with.
You could also offer website hosting for a fee, resell domain names, and add on marketing services, such as creating illustrations for social media and running them on the person’s pages.
10. Offer Workshops
You’ve probably noticed every expert has an online course. People tend to make more from selling their knowledge than the work they do. Is there something your firm specializes in that other designers might like to learn?
Think of what you could teach and sell the information to others. Online courses can offer passive income in that you create the videos and materials once and can resell them over and over again to a whole new batch of people.
You’ll also establish yourself as an expert in the topic and may find you get new clients simply by sharing some of your knowledge. Do be careful not to give up every trick you have, as you may create competition for yourself. However, there is a nice balance between being open and offering information to others and still protecting your proprietary rights.
Pay Attention to Trends
Technology and popular culture both bring new trends each year. Be aware of what changes and what people are into. You may not want to implement every new thing that comes along, but automating some of your efforts and tapping into what people want goes a long way toward ensuring your success as a graphic design firm.