Dec 19, 2022

How I doubled my income in a year

How I doubled my income in a year
Reading Time:
5 minutes

Within the span of a year, I doubled my income.

In the process. I went from a full-time product designer to quitting my job as soon as my side income exceeds my paycheck. I'm no smarter than anyone and I'm not earning a US income. So how did all this happen? 

If you prefer the video version of this article (Video is 6 mins), you may watch it here. Otherwise, continue scrolling below :)


Before we proceed, here's a disclaimer: This video is not about how much money I make. It's about finding out what actions I took that led to this outcome, in hopes to inspire you. Because if I can do it, you can do it too. Everyone's situation is different. Strategize based on your circumstances. 

How I doubled my income (9 ways)

In 2021, I made approximately USD$50,000 excluding taxes. At this point, I was still working full-time as a product designer, and I had no idea what I want to do other than to be great at my job.

Lifestyle shifts

2021 is a year where I had some lifestyle shifts as a side effect of this pandemic. The pandemic led to more remote work, and as a result, I save time because I don't need to commute and I can sleep in longer. It leads me to feeling more energized in the morning.

Because of the pandemic, I also get to save money. I don't need to pay for toll and petrol. I save on food as well because the food in my neighborhood is simply cheaper than the food in my office.

Improved my skills

During the pandemic, I had lots of free time to be alone in my room to read, to learn new skills, and mostly through free resources like Google and YouTube. All these free time forced me to finally take the leap to work on side projects. Since I've got nothing to lose.

Increased my salary

At this point, I was still working full-time as a product designer.

As I spend more time improving my design skills and other soft skills, it led to a promotion, therefore a salary increase. 

Learned a new skill

Whatever skill we learn, it never goes to waste. So in this case, I picked up Webflow development and realized I kind of enjoy it despite it was super hard. I put my knowledge into action by building my own website as a pet project. It doubled as a portfolio. As my skills got better, I offered my clients more value since I could design and build websites for them using Webflow. Well, now there's also Framer.

The bigger the problem we solve, the higher the payoff, and that is usually the case. 

Increased Freelance Income

In 2021, I had no choice but to price my freelance services slightly below market rate, but then I slowly learned to increase my prices, even though my palms were sweating and my heart was racing.

When I did that, I also got international clients and secured a few retainer contracts, so my freelance income was finally stable and predictable. 

Started a YouTube channel

So I had a higher salary, higher side income, but I did not stop here. I continued to follow my curiosity and experimented by building more side projects.

Some didn't work out, but the one that actually worked out was this YouTube channel, thanks to you! I did not start this channel until May 2021. 

Increased Income Streams

As my hard work start to show some results, I increased my income streams, and I believe that the increase of income streams is a side effect of your knowledge, your skills, the side projects you build, and the problems you solve for other people. 

Over the span of six months in 2021, I built eight income streams. It's challenging, but it's possible.

Financial Minimalism

When our income grows, our monthly expenses can also increase. This is known as Lifestyle Inflation.

To prevent lifestyle inflation, I manage my money very carefully.

I tracked my finances on Notion and Google Sheets, kept my expenses super low, live below my means. I even donated and sold off the things that I no longer use. 

Optimized Systems

Because I'm everything everywhere, all at once, I'm forced to be highly efficient with my workflow and my time, so I only have Monday till Friday to get things done as I take most weekends off. I further optimize my systems to get better at this.

I have another video on this topic here. Alternatively, you can read the article here.

How to get ahead

The 9 things I mentioned just now are amazing, but there are times where I was so overwhelmed because I wear many different hats.

By day, I'm a full-time designer. At lunchtime, I film videos. At night, I'm a video editor for my own YouTube channel, and midnight, I am a freelance designer. I lost count of the times I'm down because I felt lost, lonely, and stressed out. But the key to getting ahead, in my opinion, are these three things. 

Step out of our comfort zone

First, we step out of our comfort zone. If I hadn't stepped out of my comfort zone and started a channel, I wouldn't be here. Imposter syndrome is like that annoying friend that calls you multiple times a day and won't shut up. 

Almost everyone experiences it, even the best of us, but I love this quote: If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you. 

So step out of your comfort zone more. Besides, what's the worst thing that could happen anyway? 

Leverage on our unfair advantages

A smart way to get ahead is to leverage on our unfair advantages. Our chances of success increase when we have a competitive age over other people, and it would be unfair to not talk about my unfair advantages.

For example, my unfair advantages are my former employer allowed me to work remotely. I don't have kids, which gives me more time to work on my things, and I'm fairly good at design, marketing, and writing. If I were to open a brick and mortar business selling ice cream, for example, chances are I'm going to fail because I have zero unfair advantage on that playing field.

Everyone has at least one unfair advantage - so do you!

I recommend that you list down your unfair advantages, it could be your strength or your circumstances, and use your unfair advantages to get ahead. 

Enjoy the journey

An important mindset to keep in mind is 'Journey before destination'. This is one of Ali Abdaal's favorite quotes.

Whenever we are busy chasing the next goal, it's important that we also enjoy the journey. If we don't enjoy the journey, chances are we need to make some changes or we're probably chasing the wrong goals.

Your hard work today may seem like it's getting you nowhere. It may feel lonely. Your imposter syndrome may kick in multiple times a day, but remember, it's just a phase. As cheesy as it may sound, if I can do this, you can do this too.

Hope this brings you value!

Thank you for reading :)

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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