The Top 6 Reasons You’re Not Getting High-Paying Clients

As a freelance designer, landing high-paying clients is critical to earning a competitive salary and scaling your business.

However, attracting premium clients isn’t a matter of luck—it comes down to demonstrating significant value through your brand, skills, work, and rates.

If your personal brand, design skills, or work doesn’t stand out as premium services in a client’s eyes, they won’t be willing to pay premium rates.

So, if you’re struggling to land your ideal clients or estimate how much to charge, check out these common reasons freelancers have trouble attracting or earning what they deserve from high-paying clients and what you can do to position yourself for success in your freelance business.

Reason #1. Your brand’s perceived value is low.

As a freelance designer, your personal brand is what sells your services to clients.

If your brand looks amateurish or low-quality, high-paying clients won’t take your services seriously or see the value in paying premium rates.

To attract your ideal clients, it’s important to establish a professional and polished brand that positions you as a top-tier provider worth your premium fees.

Here are some ways to boost your brand’s perceived value:
  • Build a professional website. A custom domain and polished website show potential clients you’re the real deal. Explain your design process, share your experience, and show off your best work.
  • Present yourself professionally on social media. Personal social media accounts make you look like a hobbyist. Create business profiles and share insights into your industry and work. Engage with your audience to start building trust and relationships.
  • Use a business email. An email like [email protected] makes you look unprofessional. An email address like [email protected] is much more credible and helps you stand out in a client’s inbox.
  • Have consistent branding. Use the same logo, color scheme, and overall style for your website, social media, business cards, invoices, and other collateral. This reinforces your brand and authority as a designer.

By positioning yourself as a professional, polished brand, you’ll appear more qualified to high-paying clients and have an easier time attracting your ideal projects.

Reason #2. The quality of your design is average.

The quality and uniqueness of your design work is a key factor in landing high-paying clients. 

If your designs look like generic templates or everything else out there, clients won’t see the value in paying higher rates for your services over other designers.

To stand out and attract your ideal clients, it’s essential to strengthen your skills and develop a distinctive style.

Here are some Pro tips to strengthen your skills and stand out:
  • Developing your own aesthetic and style. What designs or styles interest you? What makes your work unique? Refine a distinctive style and set of skills through your project selections and personal projects. Highlight what sets your work apart in your portfolio.
  • Getting inspired by designer portfolios you admire. Analyze what you like about industry leaders’ work. How can you achieve a similar caliber of creativity or design? Study their use of color, typography, images, and other elements. Try recreating pieces you like as exercises.
  • Continuously practicing and gathering feedback. Set aside time each day to practice new techniques or work on side projects. Request feedback from other designers or mentors and incorporate their constructive criticism into your process.

By showcasing increasingly more polished and original work, positioning yourself as a skilled designer who stays on the cutting-edge of trends, and continuously refining your skills, you’ll have a better chance of attracting clients who will pay higher rates for your premium design services.

Reason #3. Your work does not solve a real problem.

The purpose and substance of your design work is also one of the keys to attracting high-paying clients.

If your designs only focus on aesthetics rather than solving problems or meeting key needs, clients won’t see the value in your services.

To demonstrate premium value, it’s essential to understand clients’ challenges in depth and craft solutions that provide significant, tangible impact.

Here are a few ways to do it:
  • Identifying clients’ key pain points and needs. What problems do your target clients need help solving? What goals do they need to achieve? How can design specifically alleviate their pain or meet important needs? Gaining a deep understanding of their challenges will allow you to craft solutions that provide significant value.
  • Incorporating strategy and content, not just aesthetics. Include user research, competitor analysis, and content creation as part of your process. The more insight and substance you can provide, the more useful your work will be. Higher-paying clients will appreciate this additional effort and insight.
  • Getting client input early and often. Work closely with clients to fully grasp their objectives and obstacles. This leads to designs that solve actual problems and exceed expectations. Making clients part of the process also results in a superior final product and demonstrates your investment in their success.

By focusing on solving real problems and delivering work with substance and purpose, you’ll build a reputation for effecting change and your clients will be happy to pay a premium for your valuable design services.

Reason #4. You’re not articulating the value of your work.

If you can’t effectively communicate the purpose, strategy, and results of your design work, high-paying clients won’t understand why they should pay premium rates for your services.

To convey the value you provide and attract your ideal clients, get in the habit of clearly articulating the benefits of your process and work.

Here are some ways to effectively articulating your value:
  • Explain your design process. Communicate how your process leads to innovative strategies and solutions. For example, describe how user research informs your work, how you analyze competitors, or how you collaborate with clients to achieve their goals.
  • Quantify results and impact. Go beyond generic statements about client satisfaction and share specific, measurable impacts and results of your work. For example, note how your designs led to a X% increase in conversions or saved clients time/money.
  • Share client testimonials or case studies. Include endorsements from happy clients or in-depth case studies of projects you’ve delivered impact and value. This social proof helps prospects see your potential value.
  • Confidently communicate your fees. If you’re shy about your rates, clients won’t recognize your experience and the return on their investment. Explain the superior service and results they’ll receive to justify your fees.

While your design work may speak for itself, you need to be an effective communicator to convey your value to clients.

By clearly explaining your process, quantifying your impact, sharing social proof, and confidently stating your fees, you’ll paint a compelling picture of the return-on-investment clients can expect from your services.

With a reputation for delivering meaningful results and articulating your premium value, you’ll attract more of your ideal high-paying clients.

Reason #5. You’re not easy to find online for clients.

If prospective clients can’t easily discover your services through search or online channels, they won’t be able to become actual clients.

To attract more high-paying clients, make sure you’re highly visible in the places your target clients are frequent.

Here are some tips to increase your online visibility:
  • Optimize your website for search. Use relevant keywords, page titles, and descriptions so you rank higher in Google for terms your target clients search for. The more visibility you gain, the more traffic and clients you’ll attract.
  • Share your work on design-focused platforms. Contribute and post your latest work on Behance, Dribbble, and other design community sites. This taps into established audiences of clients and prospects.
  • Grow your social media followers. Share updates, tips, and work samples on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other networks. Engage with and follow fellow designers and business connections to increase exposure to your brand and services.
  • Build relationships and get referrals. While online channels are important, word-of-mouth referrals can be very valuable. Develop genuine relationships with past and current clients and other colleagues or connections who can refer business your way.

In today’s digital world, if clients can’t find you online, they can’t become actual clients. 

While doing great work is essential, you need to combine that with online visibility and discoverability.

By optimizing your online presence—from your website to social media to industry platforms and networks—you’ll have more opportunities to get your services in front of your ideal high-paying clients.

Reason #6. You’re not charging enough for your services. 

If your rates are too low, high-paying clients won’t recognize the value you provide and you’ll struggle to earn a competitive salary as a freelancer.

Do research to determine the appropriate range for your experience and services so you can attract premium clients and grow your freelance business.”

Here are a few things you can do:
  • Evaluate industry standards. Research the typical rates for designers with your experience and expertise. View the rates of freelancers at a similar point in their career on sites like, or Aim for the mid to upper range as you develop your skills and portfolio.
  • Account for overheads. Factor in the costs of running your business to determine a sustainable rate, including the expenses of design software, equipment, and other tools; taxes; business insurance; and healthcare. Your rates need to cover your costs and generate a profit.
  • Focus on value, not fees. Explain the value of your services to prospective clients instead of leading with your fees. Communicate the experience, skills, time and effort their project will receive. When the value is clear, your rates will seem more reasonable.

While doing work you enjoy is important as a freelancer, earning a fair salary for your talents is essential.

By researching industry rates and determining the real costs of your services, you’ll gain the confidence to attract your ideal premium clients by showcasing the value you provide, not justifying your fees.

With this mindset, you’ll build a thriving freelance business and start earning what you deserve.


While breaking into premium client work can feel challenging, by focusing on demonstrating value through your brand, skills, work, and rates, you’ll put yourself on the path to success.

Believe in the value you offer, continue learning and improving, and don’t be afraid to reach for your ideal clients and fees.

As your confidence grows, you’ll start attracting more of the clients and earning the rates that will take your freelance business to the next level. Keep putting one foot in front of the other—you’ve got this!

Paul G.

Paul G.

Premium Brand Designer for High-Ticket Coaches, Influencers & Celebrities. Public Speaker, Brand Identity Design Coach. @pguetan
Paul G.

Paul G.

Premium Brand Designer for High-Ticket Coaches, Influencers & Celebrities. Public Speaker, Brand Identity Design Coach. @pguetan

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