How much money do remote graphic designers make?

I am considering entering the graphic design to become a remote graphic designer. I like to be creative and I want to travel, so I figure this job would be a good fit for me. I am wondering though how much money a remote graphic designer tends to make, especially those who are just starting out? I know that graphic designers tend to get paid more in big metropolitan areas like New York or L.A., but what about those who are remote a traveling across the globe?

I suppose if you are good and reputable, people will deal with you, wherever you are. The key word phrase is “good and reputable”, however.

Are you?

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Definitely not yet lol. I am still very much a beginner and learning, but I learn quickly.

Globe-trotting graphic designers? Is that what you’re asking about?

There might be a few designers who have become industry celebrities, of sorts, who occasionally fly here and there to speak at various functions, but graphic design isn’t a field that requires much (if any) travel.

In addition, some designers and creative directors might work at companies with offices around the world. On occasion, they might travel some, but setting your sites on that sort of thing is a long shot. And it’s even a longer shot without a university degree and years of experience.

Graphic design isn’t a field to chose if the goal is to make piles of money and travel the world.

It sounds to me as though you are trying to run before you can walk.

Before anything, you need to learn the craft and don’t worry too much about locations and travel arrangements at this point. You are right to do your groundwork first, but I think you are looking in the wrong direction at the moment.

Get yourself a good education and a few years of experience under your belt first, then see where that takes you. I could never have planned the specific path my career has taken when I was starting out. Arm yourself with knowledge and experience and then create your opportunities. If you are tenacious (and good) enough, you’ll carve yourself some unexpected paths.

When you say ‘remote designer’, do you mean, one that will travel to where the work is, or one that works remotely from a location of their choice? The latter is becoming more of the norm.

If you are talking about the former, as B said, it is definitely not the norm. I only know one person who does that with any regularity these days. He is a very renowned VFX designer. Even for him, the travelling is becoming less and less frequent, as technology picks up the slack. He does most of his work from his Manhattan studio now for clients all over the world, who come to him because of his reputation. That, too, is not the norm. He has put a lot of effort into his career to get to that point. Plus, he is shockingly good at what he does. I’ve known him since we were kids and he has always been obsessively focussed.

Most of the other graphic designers I know are pretty much the same with regards travel. It is just not necessary, like it used to be. I used to live and work in London. Most of my clients were there. They still are and I haven’t lived there in 20 years. No need to.

When I first bailed the rat race and moved out to more bucolic surroundings, it was a struggle convincing the old guard, ‘bums-on-seats’ brigade that I didn’t need to travel four hours for a 20-minute meeting that we could easily do over the phone. Now – and especially since Covid and various lockdowns – clients don’t think twice about not meeting in person.

However, to get to this point, you have to earn your stripes and put in the hard yards. No shortcuts, or you’ll end up bottom-feeding, scratching around for a living in the crowd-source swamp.

A good living can still be had I think, though probably with less travel that you’d like, but you have climb towards the top of the heap first before you get near that. You’ll probably need to base yourself in one of the big cities for a few years. You may stay there, or you may get to choose your location later on. That’s not the important bit right now.

You have to have an unwavering passion (and talent) for design first and foremost. You’ll need it. The first few years are always hard. My first job paid a real hand-to-mouth wage. I remember constantly struggling to pay the bills for a few years. Things did get better after a few years. That’s just what you had to do to ‘make it’ – whatever that means. I imagine it’s much the same now, but more exaggerated because of the amount of uneducated hobbyists who think it’s an easy route to a cool career. Don’t be one of them, or it will never work out for you.

You need to know you have the tenacity and passion to see you through the tough parts. Worth it though, in my experience / opinion.

Good luck.

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Now why didn’t I think of this!

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Everything Sprout said.
In addition, it really depends on the sort of graphic design you plan to do. Branding and business cards will get you nowhere. Sprout’s example of the VFX designer is more like what you’d need, and you’d have to be remarkably good to call your own shots. Something very niche, done very well.

That’s not to say a designer never has to travel to a site location to meet with clients either. The top designers we work for fly all over the country to meet with clients, look at spaces, venues, take measurements, go to shop facilities to discuss their 3D real-world vision, review prototypes, look at progress on the ground and sometimes project manage on site. These are top notch Experiential designers, not the run of the mill “I’ll make you a logo for a dollar” types. Most never touch logos. Most have never coded a website. And it’s cut throat. Make a mistake, miss a deadline, go over budget? There’s always 4 or 5 people circling like vultures to take your chair and stapler and make it their own.

Let me get this straight. You are looking to launch a career as a graphic designer and want to know if, as a complete beginner with no education and no experience to speak of, you can make enough money to cover your salary, your benefits, your business’ profit, your overhead, and pay for you to travel the world? I just want to make sure I understand your question.