The amount of money you can earn as a graphic designer varies. Many different factors determine what an employer or client pays you.
One significant factor affecting your pay rate is demand of skills. If your skill is specialized or is in high demand, then you know you can demand a higher salary. It is important that you keep current with new technology so you can better determine if you can earn money at what you do.
Another factor -- besides demand and specialty -- is talent. Of course you need to produce a product that clients or employers want and desire. However, it is more than that. You need to convince clients why your particular design works for a company, product, movie, commercial, website, etc.
Beyond demand and talent, you also need determination. You must have the attitude that you will never give up until you are employed in the field that you enjoy. This may mean sacrificing some things at first, but in the end you will be happy for succeeding.
Flexibility is another key factor that determines how much you will earn. It does not mean you need to accept design jobs that conflict with your interests. Exercising some flexibility can help you earn more revenue. For instance, perhaps you desire to take on smaller projects that large companies would never take the time to do. Likewise, maybe you want to work for a slightly lower rate if the client offers you bulk work.
You decide which job or projects to accept -- but don't be too choosy either. Remember why you are doing this, and do not continue to work for low rates because you want your clients to refer you to other people.
Another factor that will determine how much money you earn as a graphic designer is your overall experience. If you have been designing for several years, then you have perfected your craft far more than someone who has only been doing it for a few years.
Your experience is very valuable, but don't take your experience for granted. You will need to keep learning and willing to try new projects. Otherwise, other designers can surpass you in experience and cause you to lose clients or an important job.
During slow economic times -- or when you need to take a temporary job right out of college -- do not forget about your craft. Take time to keep learning during that period in your life when you think it may be impossible to find a job.
Speaking of using your talent and gaining experience, any avenue you can find to implement your skills is valuable. For instance, some graphic designers have developed their design skills creating flyers, free ad logos for companies, and so on.
Some graphic designers volunteer to work on advertising campaigns for non-profit organizations on a pro-bono basis. This experience, even if it is just temporary, will help add items to your portfolio.
Gaining experience in your down-time will also help you gain confidence that you are great at what you do. If you believe in yourself, you could make a salary ranging between $20,000 a year to $60,000 a year. Who knows? You could even make more than that.