Jan 22, 2023

9 Income Streams in 2022: What I Learned

9 Income Streams in 2022: What I Learned
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If you prefer the original video version (Video is ~13 mins), you may watch it below.

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My revenue in 2022

My revenue in 2022 is my highest to-date: $106,241.95 (excluding taxes).

It's crazy to think that two years ago, my full-time job was my only source of income. It's a huge risk to rely on your full-time job as the only source of income, so I embarked on a quest to be financially independent someday. (Spoiler alert, I'm not there yet)

My 9 income streams in 2022

#1 and #2: Freelance UI/UX Design and Webflow Development

It's 53.8% of my total revenue in 2022. I've worked on 20 over projects including apps, websites, and admin tools. 90% of these projects are done solo. A few of them are worked together with other product designers to speed things up. I am the only one dealing with the client directly, and it's my responsibility to ensure that the work is high quality.

Being a designer that can do both design and development is a plus. You bring more value to your clients. You have the technical knowledge to ensure that your designs are feasible. Learning how to code is tough, if you’re not a fan of coding, consider learning no-code development using Webflow or Framer.

#3: YouTube Ad Revenue

It takes up 12.7% of my total income.

I've published 16 videos in 2022. I could have published more videos, but my busy schedule got in the way so I did not stick to an upload schedule. I want my videos to be useful to you, or to inspire you in some way. I can't simply upload for the sake of consistency, and that is why I try to make at least 2 videos a month but I didn't force myself to upload every week.

#4: Brand sponsorships

This is a new income stream and it was non-existent in 2021.

I've rejected over 50 brand deals and narrowed down to only 5 brand deals in 2022. When the size of your audience grows, you'll receive emails from brands who want to sponsor your content. As my commitment to you, I will only work with brands that I genuinely believe in and genuinely use.

#5: Full-time job

My full-time job constitutes of 10% of 2022's total revenue.

A lot has happened. I've quit 2 jobs when my side income exceeded my salary. I was officially self-employed starting August 2022. It was exciting and scary at the same time, and I've shared why I quit my high-paying job in another video.

#6: Donations

These are donations from people who have downloaded a free digital product from my website, and it constitutes a 5.8% of my total revenue in 2022.

#7: Paid Digital Products

This is my favorite income stream.

Currently, I have 2 paid digital products on my website, which is the Creative Freelancer Kit and the UI/UX Designer Resume Kit. It totals to 3% of my revenue in 2022. I'm really proud of this because it was non-existent in 2021.

When someone purchases a product from my site, there are 2 types of fees involved. One is a transaction fee from the store—I'm currently using Gumroad. Another one is a credit card processing fee, or the PayPal fee, depending on the customer’s payment method.

You can package your knowledge into a useful product and sell it online without having to pay a huge capital or bear huge risks. With lower costs, you are able to price your product at a reasonable amount so that you and your customers are both happy.

#8: Affiliate Income

It is 1.7% of my total revenue. Every time someone uses an affiliate link on my site to purchase a product, I get a small kickback from it. In 2022, my affiliate income is 12 times more than my affiliate income in 2021. Although my affiliate income is not a lot, I'm still pretty happy about it.

#9: Investments

I'll not share the figures as it's really tiny. Let's just assume it's 0 right now.

In 2022, my investments are mostly stagnant and I felt that it wasn't a good year for investments, but that's just my personal opinion (This is not investment advice). I've moved most of my money into low risk investments. I'm not a pro in investing, so I can't give you any investment advice.

I still believe this: ‘The best investment you can make is an investment in yourself.’

What I’ve learned

Here are 10 lessons I learned from building 9 income streams in 2022.

Lesson #1: Multiple side projects yield creativity.

I tend to get bored if I only focus on one thing at a time.

Some may argue that you'll lose focus if you do so, but research shows that taking a break to work on something else can help us avoid fixating on existing solutions, which is probably why I tend to overthink less when I have multiple projects in parallel.

Humans process images 60,000 times faster than words, so when I’m stuck on a project, I create moodboards to overcome creative block using a tool like Milanote. (Disclaimer: Milanote has sponsored a part of the video.)

My moodboard typically looks like this: a combination of images, colors, links, keywords, video.

All these are visually laid out to inspire and kickstart my design projects.

I also use Milanote to manage creative projects visually, write notes, create to-do lists, and make quick sketches so that all my ideas are in one place.

Lesson #2: Create an inspiring space for yourself.

Working in fancy cafes can get expensive. Going to the office seems like a distraction. Commute takes up a lot of time.

We don't need to leave our house to be inspired.

I designed my home office by showcasing the things that inspire me and the things that remind me why I do what I do, like figurines, plants, decorations, photos, and books.

Our digital space is important as well. You could personalize your desktop wallpaper, your phone wallpaper, add stickers to your wall or your laptop. You could customize your email inbox to be more pleasant to work with.

Lesson #3: Don’t rely on a single income.

I'd like to quote Daniel Vassallo: ‘Life is more random than it seems’.

One day, we may get laid off from our job. We can't predict the future. We all know that we shouldn't put all eggs in one basket, whether it's our wealth or our career.

This year, I encourage you to learn a new skill—Something that you enjoy doing, and generates income. Get good at that skill and turn it into a new income stream. Repeat the process.

That way, if you lose one source of income, you have multiple others.

Lesson #4: To grow your savings fast, work on freelance projects.

We all know that to accumulate wealth over time, you need to do three things. One, make money. Two, save money and three, invest money. Investments grow over the long term, but it takes time. And you have to have knowledge in the right investments so that you make a wiser choice. If you want to grow your income within a short period of time, freelancing is the best way. You gain experience when you work on freelance projects. You learn how to deal with clients, you learn how to manage your time and you earn money. My full-time job pays the bills, but hundred percent of my savings comes from my freelance income.

Lesson #5: Build tiny products on the side as soon as you can.

Let's assume you have a steady paycheck and you have freelance projects that help you grow your savings.

The next stage to bring yourself closer to financial independence, in my opinion, is to build tiny products on the side as soon as you can.

One of the solution is to teach what you know, publicly. When I encounter problems that I want to solve for other people, I build tiny products to solve those problems and sell them for extra income.

In the early stage, if you don't feel comfortable charging for something, give it for free first. Allow people the option to donate any amount they want. This will improve your confidence and help you identify opportunities on what to build next, and what problems you could solve for other people.

I started off with free digital products where people can pay any amount they want and slowly build paid products when I'm more comfortable. You can keep doing this until you eventually reduce exchanging time for money. That's when you have the freedom to choose how you want to spend your time and what projects you want to work on.

This is an example of my freelance income versus my YouTube revenue and my digital products’ income:

You can see that the freelance income fluctuates. When I have time to work on freelance projects, it increases; As soon as I stop exchanging my time for money, I have less income.

Digital products and other passive income like youTube ad revenue helps me to cover days where I don't have the energy to work on other projects or when I'm sick.

Based on this graph, I hope that you realize the importance of building things that you can sell multiple times instead of exchanging your time for money.

Lesson #6: When launching a product, it may be better to launch the MVP before you have a fully developed product.

The world is random—Things never go as planned. Don't wait. Just start.

You can wait 3 months or years to launch a product; Or launch the MVP into the world as soon as possible. Get feedback, iterate.

For example, the Creative Freelancer Kit I've built was not a 100% finished when I launched it, but if I waited until it's done to launch something, I wouldn't know what people think about it, and it would take forever.

Lesson #7: Lifestyle inflation is your worst enemy.

Allow me to share a quote by Naval Ravikant again.

My suggestion is to keep your expenses low and set a monthly expense limit that works for you. I don't track my expenses, but I make sure my monthly expense is below a certain amount. If you want to quit your job one day, start saving up your safety net that covers emergency funds and your lifestyle expenses.

Lesson #8: Reduce friction in our daily workflow

In today's world, we easily get distracted. It sucks, especially when our mind is in a flow state. So how do we get in the zone? How do we protect our focus and be more productive?

The solution to this is to reduce friction in our daily workflow. Pay attention to your process. Identify ways to save time.

For example, I often get back pain and eye strain and all sorts of issues when I sit at my desk, so I invested in an ergonomic setup. I got a monitor, a standing desk, a better chair. I upgraded my setup slowly, not all at once.

Another example is that I have my pencil and my notebook within my arm’s reach, so I don't need to look for it. If I have planned what I want to do tomorrow, I leave some of the browser tabs on so that when I wake up, I can get started right away. My coffee always gets cold, so I got a cup warmer on my desk to enjoy warm coffee all the time.

These are just some ideas for you to reduce friction in your daily workflow, and I hope it helps.

Lesson #9: Get clear about what you want in life.

Without a clear vision, you get easily distracted. It becomes difficult for you to deal with the ups and downs that you'll encounter along your path. Don't waste time chasing things that don't add value to you.

To manage your happiness, decide what amount of income is enough for you. It will never be enough if you don't decide.

For example, I've never been into climbing the corporate ladder, so I designed my life by outlining a roadmap for myself. Build skills, grow savings, build tiny products, teach what I know, grow my side income, and quit my job, and explore something I call solopreneurship.

Lesson #10: Take notes, or you are likely to forget them.

Make it a habit to organize your notes.

When you read a book, write down what you've learned. When you consume content online, be intentional. If you learn something, write it down, otherwise you won't remember them.

If you don't remember what you've learned, then why did you consume those content in the first place? If you're into organizing your knowledge, you can explore the concept of ‘Building a Second Brain’ by Tiago Forte.


I hope that this inspires you. Thank you for your attention!

Love, Rachel

Rachel How
Hey, I'm Rachel How 👋
Designer & Solopreneur. I'm passionate about solopreneurship, diversifying our income, UI/UX design and productivity. Currently building my 8th income stream and sharing the lessons learnt along the way.

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