Why Do Some Graphic Designers Earn More Than Others?

Illustration by Cadabra Studio

Many people will agree that one of the most challenging questions during a job interview is “How much do you want to earn?” On the one hand, we are afraid to exaggerate the salary amount and miss a great job opportunity. On the other hand, we can undervalue our expertise.

We bet each of us knows less talented, intelligent, hardworking, and skillful people than we are but they get more money than we do. And we wonder how this could happen?

This article is an attempt to look at this question from a professional and psychological perspective, using a graphic design profession as an example (because Cadabra Studio is a design & development company). And in the second part of the article, we will give some practical tips on increasing your level of earnings as a graphic designer.

Professional Factors That Influence the Income Level

Several factors influence the income level of graphic designers. They aren’t new, but many designers don’t pay enough attention to them.

  • Working experience

The longer you work in the sphere, the more experience and money you get. Hourly rates of graphic designers grow according to experience. If you’re a newcomer, be ready to get a minimal salary. But the time flies quickly, so in a year your rate will be significantly higher.

  • Skill set

Here we mean hard skills and soft skills. You have to be always in the process of learning something new and practicing it. The competition is high, so it’s not enough to have a good imagination — you have to be skillful as well.

  • Level of English language

This point is crucial for non-English speaking designers. Professionals who regularly use English when working with clients earn on average $300 per month more than those who don’t.

  • The quality of the portfolio

Having a good portfolio is a must for every designer. Otherwise, how can employers check your works? If, for some reason, you don’t have a portfolio, start doing it right now.

Professional factors have a 50% impact on the income level. Another 50% belong to psychological ones. Let’s analyze them in detail.

Psychological Factors That Influence the Income Level

Psychological factors are more valuable than you may think. They influence job satisfaction levels, creativity, and motivation. So, what stops designers from earning more?

  • Fear of responsibility

Sometimes it may seem that if we ask for more money, we won’t be able to deal with responsibility. The truth is that we tend to underestimate the level of commitment. Your current level of responsibility may be even greater than you think. So, don’t be afraid of asking for more money. If you are confident in what you do and the results of your work are great, managers will approve your request without any hesitation.

  • Surrounding

They say our monthly income is the average of our 5 closest people. Therefore, if your friend’s salary is small, you will also ask for a lower wage.

  • Lack of self-confidence as a specialist

You may also know it as “Impostor syndrome”. It means that you underestimate your efforts and results, can’t accept compliments about your work, and refuse your contribution if your project is successful. To deal with it, write down all your personal and professional qualities. The list will show what you get money for.

  • Society’s attitude to graphic designer jobs

Graphic designers are visual communicators that shape the visual environment and actively influence people’s thinking and desires: they convey various ideas, values, and meanings to them. Unfortunately, some employers take it for granted and refuse to pay more.

You may find some of the listed factors familiar, and it’s okay. All you need is to keep on working and improving yourself to earn more. In the following passage, we’ll give you some hints.

Tips on How to Earn More as a Graphic Designer

There’s nothing more rewarding than getting money for design projects you’re passionate about. However, if you feel frustrated at least once with how much you get paid, you need to think about increasing your income. And here are some tips on how to do it.

  • Generate passive income

Create and sell templates for ebooks, posters, invitations, Pinterest graphics, Instagram stories, etc. This approach is one of the most profitable types of passive income for graphic designers.

  • Sell various packages

Top ideas are pre-made logos and customized branding packages. The first includes logos that are already set up as vectors, the second consists of a personalized logo, color scheme, fonts, patterns, and other similar items that help brands define themselves.

  • Create and sell printables

Printables or printable materials are digital products that don’t require any shipping. You could make printables for teachers, students, or travelers. Once customers purchase your printable, they automatically get a PDF version.

You may choose something else that doesn’t disturb you from the main job. The listed tips are small clues for you to consider if you feel that you can do more.

Final Words

A negative attitude to income transparency in modern society leads to a massive disparity between the earning level of different people with the same skills in the same location. However, if we dive into this question deeply, we’ll see the pitfalls some people face. These pitfalls have professional and psychological patterns.

Some people easily deal with them; others need more time and effort. And it’s okay. The main point here is to keep moving on the career path and analyze what stops you from doing that.

At Cadabra Studio, we appreciate every team member and pay special attention to mental health and professional development. We hope this article helps you to find answers even to more than one question.



We design complex things to be simple. And we do it with purpose cadabra.studio

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