Today, I’m going to tell you about one of the hottest rising trends out there – and why you should get in on this opportunity now.
I’m talking about the business of graphic design.
Let me warn you. There are naysayers. A top Internet “guru” recently proclaimed that graphic artists, webmasters, and designers are obsolete. He said online graphic design and website template stores like TemplateMonster.com, BoxedArt.com, and WebsiteTemplates.com have eliminated the need for online marketers to pay someone to “tinker” with the graphic design on their websites.
But despite these “one-stop” shops, there are STILL unlimited opportunities for freelance graphic artists, designers, and webmasters. (And when you become established in this market, you might consider offering your designs to the design/template stores, too.) You can make serious money working in this industry – and I’m going to show you everything you need to get started.
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It’s common for graphic designers to make $35,000, $45,000, or even $55,000 per year, working part-time. Some freelance designers and webmasters are making six figures per year! The secret to making big money in this business is to find a pool of qualified prospects and sell your services to them. Believe it or not… knowing how to do that is almost as important as the quality of your work.
Most of the graphic designers I’ve retained over the years believe the quality of their work is the only factor that generates business for them. Granted, quality workmanship and attention to detail often separates the amateurs from the pros. And no client wants sloppy work. But I’ve outsourced hundreds of graphic design and Web-development projects over the years, and I can tell you this: The graphic designers making the big bucks in this business often have marginal design skills… but exceptional marketing savvy.
What the Heck Is a Graphic Designer?
Graphic design is the art of arranging images and text to communicate a message. It may be applied in any media, including print, digital, motion pictures, animation, product decoration, packaging, and signs.
Those are just some of the hundreds of areas you could choose to specialize in. But I’m going to show you where the money and repeat business resides.
Graphic design and the World Wide Web (especially the direct-marketing side of it) are a natural fit. Business owners and direct marketers need graphic designers to develop print products like brochures, catalogs, magalogs, sales letters, multimedia presentations, and advertisements. There’s also a huge demand for graphic designers with Web-development, marketing, and e-mail marketing know-how.
How to Make Money as a Freelance Graphic Designer and Webmaster Guru
Most of the money in this business can be generated from four main markets. There are other markets and variations to the ones I’ve listed below – but, in my opinion, these are the most promising ones:
1. Small- to medium-sized businesses
According to InfoUSA.com, more than 2.5 million businesses are launched every year. Most of these start-ups need graphic design work, and especially graphic design with a Web component. They need designers to help with brochures, flyers, sales letters, posters, DVD covers, e-book covers, catalogs, landing pages, micro-sites, Web pages, etc. The average small- to medium-sized business website has about 30 pages.
You can find qualified prospects who would be interested in your services at websites like eLance.com, FreelanceDesigners, Project4Hire, Guru.com, and iFreelance.com. Business owners, entrepreneurs, and direct marketers come to these sites to find designers and webmasters.
Another way to attract qualified prospects is by purchasing targeted keyword ads on Google, Yahoo!, and MSN, and linking each ad to a powerful, persuasive website selling your services. (I also use some popular second-tier pay-per-click networks like 7Search, MIVA, Kanoodle, ABCSearch, and Mamma.com. Then, when a prospect is searching for a graphic designer/artist or freelance Web developer, your ad pops up.
Still another way to attract qualified prospects is to post your availability on freelance websites. Six of my favorite sites: Elance.com, CraigsList, Monster.com, WebmasterWorld, DICE.com, and WarriorForum.
You can reach qualified prospects through direct mail and FedEx, too. You simply secure a mailing list of names… and mail away! Three reputable mailing list brokers that can help you identify the best lists are CenturyList.com, USAData.com, and GoLeads.com.
2. Subcontracting work for ad agencies, entertainment companies, and Web-hosting companies
Advertising and direct-marketing agencies, entertainment production companies, and Web-hosting companies typically “outsource” graphic design and Web-development projects to freelancers. There are tremendous opportunities for those who are willing to do subcontract work.
- Gaming-software companies are always looking for graphic artists with programming skills.
- Ad agencies receive billions of dollars a year from clients to develop Web, direct-marketing (print and electronic), and e-mail promotions.
- Direct-marketing agencies produce billions of dollars in promotional pieces every year. They can handle only a portion of this work in-house.
- Web-hosting companies are usually not interested in graphic design and Web-development. They offer these services to their customers on a “value-added” basis. (Keep in mind that Web-hosting companies and Internet service providers are notoriously cheap.)
3. Direct-marketing companies, agencies, and related businesses
This may be the largest and most promising sector for securing graphic design and Web-development projects.
Direct-marketing companies, agencies, and related businesses (including pre-press services, printers, mail houses, and publishers) are constantly in need of graphic design and Web-development services. In fact, on HotJobs this morning, there were more than 3,500 job openings for graphic designers.
Granted, the majority of these opportunities are for in-house, on-site positions, but don’t discount those listings. Employers can often be persuaded to hire a freelancer instead (mostly because it saves them a bundle on overhead).
4. Government work
You start the process of securing government contract work by submitting your profile into the vendor network. It may take a little time to get yourself into the “inner sanctum,” but it’s worth it.
For instance, the General Services Administration (GSA) awards millions of dollars in contracts to small businesses every year. They have a new submission service called eOffer (eoffer.gsa.gov) that enables vendors of products and services to submit contract proposals via the Internet. If you have multiple disciplines (like Flash, PHP, Cold Fusion, Linux, and Java programming) in addition to Web-development and graphic design skills, you’ll be light years ahead of the pack.
How Can a NOVICE Learn Graphic Design or Web-Development Skills From the Ground Up?
My 17-year-old “whiz kid” son learned everything he knows about graphic design, Photoshop, Web development, programming, hacking, online gaming, and Flash… online! He’s read only one book on programming – the Linux Bible.
There are thousands of sites on the Internet that offer graphic design and Web-development tutorials. Three of my favorites are DesignTutorials.info, Abduzeedo.com, and grafx-design.com.
There are also several graphic design programs on the market that can get you designing on a “professional” level in no time. When your skills are up to snuff… start looking for work. Use the freelance and job websites I mentioned above or try a direct-mail campaign offering your services… and you will have your first paying gig very quickly.