I'm A Graphic Designer — & I Made $200K By Starting My Own Business

In our series Salary Stories, women with long-term career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It’s an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions, and job loss, with the hope it will give young women more insight into how to advocate for themselves — and maybe take a few risks along the way.
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Age: 34
Current Location: Miami, FL
Current Industry & Title: Freelance Graphic Designer
Starting Salary: $19,000 in 2007
Current Salary: $200,000
Number Of Years Employed: 16
Biggest Salary Jump: $125,000 ($75,000 to $200,000) in 2018 when I quit my job to become a freelancer.
Biggest Salary Drop: $25,000 ($100,000 to $75,000) in 2015
Biggest Salary Negotiation Regret: "I once scored an interview with one of the largest cable-shopping networks in the nation. It felt like the opportunity of a lifetime. But during the interview, they said they were 'concerned about my age,' literally warned me that people who worked for them in the past tended to leave feeling disgruntled, and asked me to take a $25k pay cut (at the time I was making $100k). I was so excited about the opportunity that I naively chose to ignore all of the red flags and accepted the job...and the pay cut. After just two years at the company, as many had apparently done before me, I walked away feeling disrespected, overworked, and disgruntled. I still harbor a chip on my shoulder about the entire experience to this day. My advice: No matter how great an opportunity seems, don’t ignore the red flags, and don’t just accept a huge pay cut unless you absolutely have to."
Best Salary-Related Advice: "While at the large shopping network, whenever I asked for a raise, I was met with a hard 'no.' I was told I had to be 'patient,' that I was 'too ambitious,' and that I probably wouldn’t be considered for a raise for another 'five-six years.' These words infuriated me. So after a couple of years of rejection, I finally snapped. I decided to stop relying on others to determine my worth - and go into business for myself as a freelancer. Don’t get me wrong: I was terrified at first. I wondered if my former employer was right. Was I too ambitious? Spoiler alert: They were wrong. My first full year in business, I cleared over $200k. So my advice — know your worth and don’t let others make you feel small. Sometimes if you really want something, you have to do it yourself."

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