As far as creative skills go, graphic design is in high demand.
Work marketplace Upwork recently released its projections for the most in-demand freelance skills in 2023, taking into account freelancer earnings and number of projects worked, among other metrics. Topping the list of in-demand creative skills was graphic design.
Good design is "so important for businesses who want to have a consistent and cohesive product and connect with their customers," says Margaret Lilani, vice president of talent solutions at Upwork. "Businesses are understanding this more and more and therefore they're looking for additional help and support from designers and creatives at a higher rate."
Here's what graphic design entails and how much freelancers and side hustlers stand to make.
'It is the art and practice of planning and projecting ideas'
Businesses hire graphic designers to create the look and feel of a website, a brochure, an app and so on. Designers use tools like Adobe Illustrator, Sketch and Canva.
"It is the art and practice of planning and projecting ideas and experiences with visual and textual context," says Lilani. "It's taking those ideas and translating them into something visual that can be consumed by the user or the buyer."
Many graphic designers have a bachelor's degree in the field but if you're keen to dive in, you won't necessarily need one. There are various courses you can take online through universities and sites like Udemy and LinkedIn to learn the skills needed to dive in. These can be tailored to specific needs, like user experience design, or more general courses which cover the basics of design software. Many employers simply look for proof of experience like internships or other projects to consider you.
The need for designers is 'giant'
Once you've gained some know-how and training, include your graphic design skills on sites like LinkedIn so employers can find you. You can also create profiles on sites like Fiverr and Upwork and look for one-off projects on job list sites like ZipRecruiter.
Depending on the platform through which you find the job, samples of your work might be included in your profile. Otherwise, look for ways to create an online portfolio to show potential employers.
Side hustle expert Kathy Kristof also recommends checking out sites like Awesomic and Skyword for other freelance opportunities. She describes the demand for graphic designers as "giant."
In terms of pay, rates will likely differ depending on your level of skill and the project. The median hourly wage for a graphic designer is about $24, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Graphic designers on Upwork charge as much as $145 per hour.
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