Does interest in creative freelancing devalue the whole industry?


It’s not hard to find value in the evolution of things. Humans did a good job of it until we started being completely and wildly unsustainable.

Language, even though emojis and slang saturate culture, doesn’t necessarily devalue formal language and beautiful etymology.

Technology has allowed for the gig economy and freelancing to be evermore accepted and utilized.

The design industry sees its icons and trends and rule breakers over time. But, does interest in an industry actually devalue the whole industry over time?

Oversaturation: Does Interest Beget Downfall?

With freelancing sites like Fiverr and Upwork, combined with the millennial desire to travel while working, freelance remotely, etc., there’s been a sharp rise in the number of people wanting to be graphic designers.

But what this means for the industry isn’t just greater competition for jobs, but an oversaturation of the market in terms of who labels themselves a “professional designer” in the first place.

When a writing freelancer takes an Adobe Suite tutorial and therefore lists graphic design as an accompanying skill they have on their advertising portfolio or Issuu page:

  1. They’re not wrong. They might have a knack, some experience, or an interest in graphic design.
  2. But, they are not ‘professional’ in terms of education and theory, traditionally or not.

And the people without education, that were educated in something else but list themselves as a graphic designer as well, they know this. That’s why they charge less than a professional, experienced designer will want. It’s not exactly that they know their worth in the industry (and know it’s less than a professional)– but that they know they can land jobs with lower rates — the exact jobs you, the professionals, could be getting.

Further, they market themselves only as far as they can — as a general designer that can help with whatever they think the client needs. They convinced clients that they can fill the roles of specialists.

This Is Not An ‘Us versus Them’ Scenario

But this is not a platform for argument, for an us versus them battle. It is simply an observation of industry evolution.

With greater saturation and people calling themselves graphic designers, professional graphic designers face greater competition, the perceived value of a graphic designers by corporations decreases because expectations are skewed, and what started out as interest in being a graphic designer has ultimately changed the industry entirely.

But Change ≠ Loss of Value

Industries shift, all of them. All the time, forever.

What you can do as a freelancing designer however, is work harder to set yourself apart. I don’t care if you’ve done graphic design your whole life and have 2 degrees in it, or if you freelance another skill and have added basic graphic design to your list of skills.

The people that come out on top are the ones with future vision that can play the industry as much as it plays them. Build your portfolio keeping in mind that executives don’t want to pay a lot– show them the difference between a professional and an amateur.

Take risks in how you present yourself, change the way you designed your portfolio, change the way you pitch. Find the one thing you do greatly, and do it better than anyone else.

Forget about what anyone else is doing, and get noticed for it in branding magazines and digital design magazines. In short, do you, boldly. 

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