Earn more income by learning new design skills

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The design world is constantly changing which means you need to keep up to date with what’s happening in the industry. Learning new skills can be both fun and a challenge, with the added bonus of increasing your earning potential.

Improve your knowledge of the software you already use

One of the simplest ways to boost your income is to brush up your knowledge of software that you already use. Design software is updated regularly, and with each new update comes more efficient ways of doing things. Some of these shortcuts, especially the option to automate repetitive tasks can save you time, and leave you free to work on other projects.

Some of the design skills you could learn

1.    Learn how to use 3D design software
3D software doesn’t have to be expensive or overly complicated, but it can create new services you can offer to clients. I personally use a software called Cheetah 3D which is under 100 dollars. You don’t have to know all the intricacies of the software, but just enough to do the things you need.

For example, once you know how to create basic shapes you can easily show a client what a piece of package design could look like. You could design Point of Sale or even an exhibition and show the client how it would look from several viewpoints. Not as many designers have these skills, so you can potentially charge more for these services too. If you are designing a client’s exhibition stand it’s also likely you will also get the associated work such as creating flyer designs for the show.

2.    Expand your knowledge of web design
Even if your work is mostly print design, nowadays you don’t need to be a coding genius to put together a website. Learn the basics of WordPress, use a theme as a starting point and you can achieve a lot. Once you feel comfortable with your skills let your existing clients know what you can do. You can also offer the service to new clients too.

3.    Get training in UI design skills
Everything is moving towards apps and mobile, so UI is potentially a gold mine. Many clients will not yet have apps designed, either because they haven’t considered it or they don’t know where to start. If they already trust you, there is potential for you to also sell them work in this area.

4.    Brush up your illustration skills
Some design projects may require simple illustrations which you can’t source from stock libraries. Why not polish up your illustration skills and do them yourself? I have done this in the past and more than doubled my earnings for the project.

5.    Typography
If you’re working as a designer you probably have a decent grasp of typography, but does your work stand out? Maybe you could learn how to create hand drawn typography to again add a touch of originality to your work and get you noticed.

Learn skills complementary to design

As well as increasing your design knowledge, there are a lot of skills that can complement that training. One of the biggest difficulties for designers is making their work stand out from the crowd. Why should a client pick you?
You are always going to get a sector of the market that is looking for the cheapest job possible. This is not the area you want to cater to. You want a client to spot your work and think wow, that’s just what I want, or that’s different.

1.    Improve your artskills/learn printmaking
The ability to draw or create interesting images are going to differentiate your work from designers who always use stock imagery.

2.    Learn how to create videos and animations
Not only are animation and video a great addition to your list of services, but they are also an interesting way for you to sell yourself. You can make a simple showreel or create a video biography to promote your work. Animation has also become so much easier in the last few years. Adobe now makes an animation software called Character Animator. You create a character illustration and then move it like you would a puppet, with automatic lip sync. It’s simple to use, but could definitely wow a client.

3.    Develop Copywriting Skills
There have been so many times over the years when I have been waiting for clients to write copy. If you have good copywriting skills you can offer to write it for them for a fee. Copywriting skills can also be of great benefit for you to market yourself through your website, blog and social media.

4.    Expand your Social Media/Digital Marketing knowledge
Not only can Social media help you promote yourself and win more business, but it can also be good for your clients. If you know the type of imagery or video that works, you can create them for clients. If you wanted to take it further you could charge clients to manage the whole campaign and either do the work yourself or subcontract it out.

Where can you learn new design and complementary skills?

LEARN IN PERSON:
Your Local Adult Education Classes
Most local Councils run adult education classes in the evenings and weekends. As well as leisure activities you will often find art/illustration and web design classes.

Local workshops with artists and designers
Often you can find workshops in your local area offered by other artists and designers. Not only are they a place to learn new skills, but also to meet like minded people.

Meet-ups – Talks with Designers and Entrepreneurs
If you live anywhere near a city you will probably find a meet-up with other designers and entrepreneurs. These may include talks and workshops where you can learn new skills.

Shillington Education (London/Manchester)
If you want to learn graphic design quickly from scratch Shillington Education offer 3 month intensive graphic design courses.

Central St Martins, London
Central St Martins Art College offers short courses in art and design (in London and online).

General Assembly
General Assembly offers courses in London and around the world (plus online) in UX design, web development and digital marketing.

LEARN ONLINE
Skillshare
What I love about Skillshare is that you pay a monthly fee, currently $12 month and then have access to all of their premium video courses. There are so many design related skills you can learn, the list is almost endless. One of my favourite teachers for learning design software is Daniel Scott. You will also find some very well known teachers on Skillshare, such as Gary Vaynerchuk (social media) and Jessica Hische (Letterer and Illustrator).

Udemy
Udemy is another great source of video courses where you can learn all aspects of design and associated skills. Udemy works a little different to Skillshare in that you pay for individual courses rather than a monthly fee.

Future Learn
Most of the courses on Future Learn are free. At the time of writing there were courses such as User Experience (UX) and Game Design and Development and Digital marketing.

Creative Live
Creative Live has a whole host of creative courses. The interesting thing about Creative Live is that you can watch live streams of the classes for free. If you miss the class you wanted you can purchases it after the event. Classes start from five dollars to nearly three hundred.

Use your new skills for side projects

There are also opportunities to sell your designs online.
You could:

  • Create and sell t-shirt designs, canvases or notepads
  • Create and sell graphics and illustrations on stock libraries
  • Create and sell your own typeface
  • Create and design templates

So next time you have a little spare time on your hands, why not brush up your design skills and improve your future earning potential.

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