Industry Guide8 min read

How to Make More Money as a Designer

Unlock your earning potential: learn how to increase your value as a designer with skills like high-fidelity prototyping and discover additional income streams to boost your revenue.

Iulia Sorodoc
Iulia Sorodoc, Customer Success ManagerMay 10, 2023
3d image of a printer printing out money

As a designer, you have the potential to make a substantial amount of money by offering high-quality design services. However, in order to stand out from the crowd and command a higher rate, it's important to constantly improve your skills and offer unique value to your clients. In this article, we'll explore some ways to make more money as a designer, including the importance of high-fidelity prototyping, and other potential income streams.

TL;DR - How to make more money as a designer

Passive vs. active income for designers

In the competitive field of design, finding ways to maximize your income is crucial for a successful career. When it comes to earning money, designers can explore two primary avenues: passive income and active income. Before we dive into ways to make more money as a designer, let's first have a look at the differences between passive and active income for designers.

Passive income for designers

Passive income refers to the earnings generated with minimal ongoing effort on your part once the initial work is done. For designers, passive income opportunities can be a game-changer, allowing you to earn money even when you're not actively working on client projects. Here are a few passive income strategies that can boost your financial growth:

  1. Digital product sales: Create and sell digital assets like UI kits, icon sets, templates, or design resources on platforms like Gumroad or Creative Market. These products cater to other designers or individuals seeking ready-made design elements and can provide a steady income stream.
  2. Online courses and e-books: Leverage your expertise by creating online courses or writing e-books on design-related topics. Platforms like Udemy or Teachable allow you to reach a wide audience and earn passive income from your instructional content.
  3. Stock design assets: Consider contributing your design assets, such as illustrations, icons, or animations, to stock marketplaces like Shutterstock or Adobe Stock. Every time someone purchases your assets, you earn a royalty, creating a passive income stream.
screenshots of platforms gumroad and creative market
Platforms like Gumroad and Creative Market are a great way of boosting your passive income.

Active income for designers

Active income refers to the income earned through direct client work or active involvement in design projects. While active income requires ongoing effort and time investment, it often provides higher immediate returns. Here are a few strategies to increase your active income as a UX/UI designer:

  1. Freelancing and Contract Work: Offer your design services as a freelancer or take on contract work for agencies or businesses. This allows you to work directly with clients, negotiate your rates, and take on projects that align with your skills and interests.
  2. Upselling and Cross-selling: When working with clients, look for opportunities to upsell or cross-sell additional services. For example, if you've been hired for UI design, you could offer to create branding elements or provide UX research services. This not only increases your income but also strengthens your client relationships.
  3. Specialize in High-Demand Areas: Identify emerging trends and technologies in the design industry and specialize in those areas. This might include areas like mobile app design, voice user interfaces, or augmented reality experiences. By becoming an expert in a high-demand niche, you can command higher rates and attract clients seeking specialized skills.

Passive income provides a way to earn money consistently, even during periods of limited client work, while active income allows you to capitalize on your skills and expertise directly. By combining these strategies and constantly refining your design skills, you can pave the way for a successful and prosperous career as a designer while making more money along the way. Read on to learn more about additional strategies and opportunities to increase your income as a designer.

Ways to make more money as a designer

1. Increase your value with high-fidelity prototyping

One way to significantly enhance your value as a designer and command higher rates is by offering high-fidelity prototyping services. High-fidelity prototyping involves creating interactive, clickable models that closely simulate the user experience of the final product. Using tools like ProtoPie, designers can develop detailed, interactive prototypes that accurately represent the intended design.

The importance of high-fidelity prototyping cannot be overstated, as it brings numerous benefits to both clients and designers.

Firstly, it allows clients to visually and interactively experience the product before it goes into development. This early exposure empowers stakeholders to provide valuable feedback and insights, which can then be incorporated into the design to ensure optimal usability and functionality.

Moreover, high-fidelity prototyping enables designers to identify potential issues and challenges early in the design process. By presenting a realistic representation of the product's look and feel, designers can gather comprehensive feedback, spot usability hurdles, and refine the user experience. This iterative approach saves time and money by addressing potential problems before they become costly to fix during the development stage.

Additionally, high-fidelity prototypes facilitate better communication between designers and clients. By providing a tangible and interactive representation of the final product, designers can effectively communicate their design concepts, interactions, and user flows to clients and stakeholders. This shared understanding reduces the risk of misunderstandings, aligns expectations, and fosters a stronger collaborative relationship.

screenshot from behance website
Enhance your value as a designer and command higher rates by offering high-fidelity prototyping services.

The value that high-fidelity prototyping brings to the design process empowers designers to charge higher rates for their services. By positioning yourself as a designer who excels in high-fidelity prototyping, you can differentiate yourself from competitors and justify charging a premium for your expertise.

Discover ProtoPie’s free learning content designed to help you build your prototyping expertise.

To learn how to offer more value with high-fidelity prototypes in ProtoPie, check out this video by Jesse Showalter, UI/UX Strategist & Content Creator.

Offer More Value with High-Fidelity Prototypes in ProtoPie | Part 1

In the following sections, we will explore more ways to increase your income as a designer, building upon the foundation of high-quality design services and the added value of high-fidelity prototyping.

2. Increase your income with freelance work

Freelancing is a great way to earn extra money as a designer. You can offer your services to clients who need design work done on a project-by-project basis. Here are some websites that offer a variety of projects for designers to work on, from short-term to long-term contracts, and can be a great way to earn extra income.

  1. Upwork: A global freelancing platform that offers a wide range of design projects, from graphic design to web development.
  2. Fiverr: A freelance platform that offers design services starting at just $5, with opportunities to earn more for higher-level services.
  3. 99designs: A platform that connects designers with clients for projects such as logos, websites, and packaging design.
  4. Crowdspring: A marketplace for logo design, web design, and other creative services.
  5. DesignCrowd: A platform that allows clients to post design briefs and receive custom designs from freelance designers.
screenshots from crowdspring, fiverr, and upwork
Enhance your value as a designer and command higher rates by offering high-fidelity prototyping services.

3. Sell templates online

Selling templates online is a lucrative way for designers to generate income by leveraging their skills and expertise.

For example, platforms like Creative Market, Etsy, and Envato Market offer opportunities for designers to upload and sell website templates, landing page templates, brochure templates, flyer templates, presentation templates, social media templates, resume templates, and more.

By offering well-designed and customizable templates, you can tap into the demand for high-quality design resources and establish a profitable source of income through online template sales.

screenshots from platforms envato, etsy, and creative market
Selling templates online helps you to generate income by leveraging your skills and expertise.

4. Create and sell printable art

Selling printable art online is an excellent avenue for designers to monetize their creativity and design skills.

By creating digital art that can be downloaded and printed by customers, you can tap into a market of individuals seeking unique and visually appealing artwork to decorate their homes or offices.

Platforms like Etsy and Creative Market provide a perfect marketplace for you to showcase and sell your printable art, including wall art, posters, illustrations, digital paintings, typography art, and more.

5. Monetize your design skills in Social Media

Social media platforms have become a significant part of marketing strategies for businesses and individuals alike.

As a designer, you can offer your services to create visually appealing and engaging social media graphics, banners, advertisements, and content for brands, influencers, and organizations.

By crafting compelling visual elements that align with the brand's identity and target audience, you can help enhance their clients' social media presence and attract more followers and customers.

6. Start a design blog or YouTube channel

Starting a design blog or YouTube channel can be an excellent way for designers to showcase their expertise and insights while also monetizing their content.

With a growing following, you can explore different monetization strategies, including advertising revenue, sponsored content, or selling design-related courses.

Advertising revenue can be generated through platforms like Google AdSense, where you can display ads on your blog or YouTube channel and earn income based on the number of impressions or clicks. This approach requires consistently producing high-quality content that attracts a substantial audience.

Sponsored content is another monetization avenue, where you collaborate with brands or companies in the design industry to promote their products or services. By partnering with relevant sponsors, you can receive compensation for creating content that integrates or highlights the sponsor's offerings.

Whether through a blog or YouTube channel, you have the opportunity to establish yourself as an industry expert, connect with like-minded individuals, and monetize your content through various channels. It's important to consistently create valuable and engaging content, foster a strong community, and explore different monetization strategies to maximize the potential for financial success.

7. Participate in design contests

Participating in design contests can be an exciting and lucrative additional income stream for you as a designer. Platforms like 99designs and DesignCrowd offer you the opportunity to showcase your talent, compete against other designers, and potentially win cash prizes or secure client projects.

By submitting your work and impressing clients with your creativity and skill, you can not only earn financial rewards but also build your portfolio, expand your client base, and establish yourself as a reputable designer.

Design contests provide a platform for you to challenge yourself, gain valuable experience, and potentially forge long-term business relationships with satisfied clients. It's a chance to turn your passion and expertise into a profitable endeavor while gaining recognition in the design community.

8. Earn money by teaching online

If you have expertise in a particular design software or skill, you can earn money by teaching others online. You can also offer one-on-one coaching or mentoring to other designers who want to improve their skills.

Here are some resources for designers who want to make money teaching online:

  1. Udemy: A popular platform for creating and selling online courses on various topics, including design.
  2. Skillshare: An online learning community where instructors can create and share classes on design topics like branding, typography, and more.
  3. Teachable: A platform that allows you to create and sell your own online courses, including design courses.
  4. Coursera: A platform that partners with top universities and organizations to offer online courses on various design and tech topics.

By teaching online, designers can leverage their expertise to earn money while helping others learn valuable design skills. Whether you choose to create a course or offer one-on-one coaching, online learning platforms can be a great way to earn extra income as a designer.

screenshots from platforms teachable, udemy, and skillshare
By teaching online, you can leverage your expertise to earn money while helping others learn valuable design skills.

9. Offer design consultancy services

As an experienced designer, you can offer consultancy services to businesses seeking expert advice on design-related matters. This could include providing design audits, conducting usability tests, or advising on design strategy.

Unlock your potential: How high-fidelity prototyping can boost your income as a designer

In conclusion, as a designer, there are many ways to make more money beyond simply providing design services. By offering high-fidelity prototyping and exploring additional income streams like freelancing, selling digital products, teaching, and consultancy, you can increase your value as a designer and command a higher rate.

Start by mastering high-fidelity prototyping with ProtoPie! Get started for free.