How to make money as a designer: 4 pro tips

The Creativepool (opens in new tab) annual salary guide and survey provides a valuable glimpse at what it means to be working in today’s creative industry in the UK. Surveying more than 2,500 creative professionals, from junior designers to creative director (opens in new tab) level and above, it examines the key ranges of creative career benefits, levels of fulfilment and security.

It can also provide useful insights into how you can maximise your income as a designer. If you feel that you're not earning what you're really worth, follow these tips to give yourself a better chance of a better income in the future.

01. Look at regions of growth

The salary gap between creatives inside and outside London is decreasing, with a three per cent rise in salaries outside the capital. London-based roles still command higher salaries, but a higher cost of living may mean you have less disposable income than you would elsewhere. The South West, South Coast and South Wales creative communities are all booming, with a 10 per cent rise in the number of vacancies since this time last year.

02. Embrace new technologies

With digital salaries overtaking advertising and design salaries for the first time, it’s clear where the field of growth is. VR and AR skills are in demand, and command higher salaries and rates than typical digital design roles. Very few people can claim expertise in these fields yet, but by researching what skills you can add to your portfolio, you’ll be increasing your chances of employment and your overall value. 

03. Know your value

The Creativepool survey gives detailed breakdowns for average salaries across a range of fields and experience levels. Study these and recognise your personal worth. Particular fields, such as digital design and digital direction, command higher salaries than print and advertising. Identify yourself as junior, middleweight or senior, and recognise what salary bracket this demands. 

04. Go direct

In the past year, 46 per cent of new job placements were made by creatives approaching agencies and studios directly. You don’t have to wait for a job vacancy to appear – agencies and studios always want to hear from talented individuals. If you’re good enough and impress them enough they’ll make a role for you. 

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 256; buy it here (opens in new tab)!

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Tom Dennis is a journalist, editor and content director with more than a decade’s experience working on international magazines, newspapers, and websites. While Tom is an expert on all things tech, having previously edited sister Future sites T3 and Computer Arts and picked up a PPA award for being a 'Digital Native', he still has a soft spot for the printed word. Tom has since moved into digital content marketing.