How I Increased My Freelance Income by $2,000 in One Month

The only reason I started looking for new avenues of income was to become debt free as quickly as possible. Adding to my resume and finding a better paying (and more satisfying) career was definitely a byproduct of buckling down to pay off all the debt I accumulated over the past few years.

In my recent monthly progress report, I announced that I increased my income from side gigs and freelance jobs by 40% but I didn’t go into much detail. Well, I got lots of emails and comments, asking how I was able to accomplish this. Here’s a quick breakdown.

Increased my freelance income by over $2,000 in June

Increased my freelance income by over $2,000 in June

Many of you are in this same position, where you have a full-time job but want to expand your network and increase your income in the process. Or maybe you’re looking to quit your day job and work for yourself as a full-time freelancer.

So I’m going to open up and share a few of my secrets, so hopefully you can increase your income to reach your financial goals quicker too.

1. Start with a motivating goal in mind

I had a goal in mind when I started increasing my income. I didn’t just want to “make more money” or “find a better job”. Yes, those are good reasons, but for me I needed a little more motivation than just the normal stuff. I wanted to be free from all my debt and feel more financially secure.

One of the best ways to do this, is to make more money! Increasing my income meant I could get out of debt faster, which meant I could do more of what I love; like traveling, spending time with family, writing and other things I’m passionate about.

When you don’t make enough money, or have too much debt, it’s like having weights around your ankles. You will get to where you wanna go, but it takes SO much more time and energy that when you do eventually get to your destination, you’re so physically and emotionally exhausted you can’t truly enjoy your victory.

I was determined not to let that happen to me. So I did anything and everything I could to use my time wisely, and build a solid freelancing career on the side. This is why having a motivating goal is the key to successfully achieving what you want.

2. Say “YES” to more opportunities

On top of creating a motivating goal, I said “YES” to every opportunity that crossed my path. Notice I didn’t say yes to every opportunity available in my field, just the ones that came my way.

After really narrowing down what I’m passionate about, I started looking for new jobs and opportunities I could say “Yes” to. Some of those opportunities didn’t pay any money at all, instead they paid me in connections, valuable contacts, education and experiences.

The latest career opportunity I said YES to.

The latest career opportunity I said YES to.

While I was still selective in what jobs I said “Yes” to, I wasn’t afraid to take on too much work or overload myself. I knew in the beginning, that putting a small sacrifice up-front would pay off big later – it’s what they call “paying your dues” and I wanted to make each due I paid really count!

I wasn’t doing any of these freelance jobs for the money, I was in it for the experience, for what I’ll get out of it, that’s more valuable than money. I know what you’re thinking. What’s more valuable than money? Well a lot of things actually:

  • Time
  • Happiness
  • Expert advice
  • Passion
  • Health
  • Experience
  • The list goes on

That’s the secret to increasing your income quickly; saying Yes” to the right opportunities, saying “No” to the wrong ones (and learning to tell the difference). You have to look past the dollar $igns to see the true value in new career opportunities because not every job comes with a paycheck, but the opportunity could still make you rich! Click to Tweet. 

3. Do your best work possible, no matter what

Whether the person who hired me is a new boss or new client, I treat them all with the same respect – no matter what they’re paying me. I submit my work on-time, I ask questions, I respond to emails quickly and just generally treat people, like real people.

I like to view every client as the perfect opportunity to create the best impression possible. Because you never know where one connection might lead and since we’re building our online (and offline) reputations everyday, I am very careful and intentional with my work and how it’s perceived.

That’s the best way to find more work, without spamming people with your resume; do the best job, no matter what and treat every paying customer/client with the same high standards. In turn they will recommend you to their colleagues, friends and family.

4. Use your day job to fund your passions

This is one of the best reasons to keeping your day job – you can do work on the side, on weekends and late into the night that really matters. Because you don’t have to worry about the money and you can use your day job to fund your dream job.

By doing this, you can be a little more reckless with the opportunities you take and can focus on what you want to learn instead of what you’ve got to earn.

This will bring more connections your way, help you build the right kind of reputation and you get so many job offers you’ll have to start saying “No” because there aren’t enough hours in the day (seriously that’s what is happening to me now).

Now, I challenge you to say “Yes” to one new job opportunity this week (just one). Do your best work, treat your new client with respect and don’t look at the salary or hourly rate. Instead, look at how this new opportunity can increase your happiness while propelling you into a better future and a more passionate career.

I know it’s scary, but you can start with something small – even if it’s a hobby. I started this blog and my freelance writing as a hobby, just because it’s something I love to do. And now it’s repaying me with extra spending money every month – but more importantly I’ve made valuable experiences and learned things that money can’t buy.

Are you ready to accept the challenge?

What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to say “Yes” to but didn’t think you could? How are you taking that next step?

Mid-Year Progress Report and New Goals for 2012
How I Plan to Get My Savings Back After Spending $6,000
About the author: Carrie Smith is the financial artist and editor behind Careful Cents. She helps creative entrepreneurs make a living with their creations, and reach financial freedom through systems and financial organization. She’s been featured in The Huffington Post, Glamour Magazine, Kiplinger Finance and several other business websites. In May 2013 she quit her full-time accounting job to pursue entrepreneurship and blogging. You can find her on Twitter or Instagram @carefulcents.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Bridget July 9, 2012, 10:48 am

    Great post! I’m starting to increase my income with freelancing but I’m nowhere near $2000.. yet =)

  • Brent Pittman July 9, 2012, 1:16 pm

    You are doing an awesome job! Keep on writing! When is your book coming out? 

    • Carrie Smith July 9, 2012, 1:55 pm

      Thanks @ontargetcoach:disqus If I could narrow down my topic, I would seriously consider doing an ebook. :) It’s in the works.

  • Julie @ The Family CEO July 9, 2012, 2:27 pm

    Carrie, you rock! I’m so impressed. I’m saying ‘yes’ to writing an ebook. There’s a lot to learn, but I’m loving the process and think it will benefit me in the long run. Thanks for sharing more details about your side income.

    • Carrie Smith July 9, 2012, 11:45 pm

      Thanks so much @035e60d0be8fb46a43f0df4309feb242:disqus I can’t wait to read your book and hear all about your experience! You are an inspiration to me as well. 

  • Sean @ One Smart Dollar July 9, 2012, 4:40 pm

    So how long until you quit the day job and making writing fulltime?  :-)

    • Carrie Smith July 9, 2012, 11:44 pm

      One day @OneSmartDollar:disqus one day! Or at least having a part-time day job and part-time writing gig. That would be ideal for me :)

  • LittleFrugalista July 9, 2012, 4:58 pm

    This is a great guide! I would love to make $2000 a month through freelancing…one day, one day :)

  • Karen July 9, 2012, 5:17 pm

    Love it, Carrie! Thanks for sharing your insight.

  • Modest Money July 9, 2012, 5:23 pm

    Very inspiring story Carrie.  I agree that it is crucial to keep your daytime job and not to just jump into trying to make money online full time.  That is just putting too much pressure on yourself and making money much more important than connections.  I like your saying yes strategy.  Too often we get picky about opportunities expecting them to be the perfect fit right off the bat.  Really though, if you put everything into it, it will lead to much better things.

    • Carrie Smith July 9, 2012, 11:44 pm

      Exactly, you definitely summed up what I was saying @modestmoney:disqus Money shouldn’t be the priority, although it tends to be since we need it to live. 

  • MyMoneyDesign July 9, 2012, 6:37 pm

    Holy cow, $2K in side-gig money this month?  That’s more than I’ve made blogging all year!  Way to go!  On the whole “say yes” thing, I’ve been practicing that with advertisers that visit my blog.  No matter what it is, I’ve been trying to find a compromise where we can work out a deal and be happy.  Obviously, I hope that these types of relationships will lead me to my own post about making $2K in a month! :)

    • Carrie Smith July 9, 2012, 11:42 pm

      Keep up what you’re doing @MyMoneyDesign:disqus and you will definitely be at the $2K per month mark! I’m still pretty selective with advertisers and what gets displayed on my site, but I charge a little higher price to those I say “yes” to. I don’t want cheap advertisers anyways!

  • Robb July 10, 2012, 2:34 am

    I enjoyed reading this, most people say they’d like to be their own boss but few really execute on that goal – looks like you are making progress to that, good work! :)

  • JordannK July 10, 2012, 9:55 am

    Great post! It’s definitely inspiring to see how much progress you’ve made on your freelancing career. It’s always seemed like such a pipe dream for me.  Maybe it’s not so unattainable after all.

    • Carrie Smith July 10, 2012, 11:19 pm

      I thought quitting my job was a pipe dream too @JordannK:disqus but now I’ve proven to myself that I might be cut out for it after all!

  • Guest July 10, 2012, 3:50 pm

    How are you accounting for you tax situation here? You are almost doubling your income on a monthly basis…. just wondering!

    • Carrie Smith July 11, 2012, 9:46 am

      My income isn’t consistently coming in this much every month @082bc80d581621d7b8cb7d40cb1979f6:disqus but like any accountant, I’m using financial/tax software to track my income. I make quarterly tax payments and save a portion of my income into a separate account for tax time!

  • Greg@ClubThrifty July 10, 2012, 10:01 pm


    These are really some fantastic tips – not just for writers – but for anybody who is looking to spend more time doing what they love.  Indeed, there are more valuable things than money out there.  For somebody who hopes to someday quit the day job that is funding their dream job, this is both inspiring and educational.  Thank you for sharing!

  • Jenna from Adaptu July 11, 2012, 4:25 pm

    What a great challenge.  I’m hoping to say yes to a new roommate this week, which will definitely help me with mortgage payments.  Can I just pretend him / her is a new client ;)

  • Budget & the Beach July 19, 2012, 5:01 pm

    Great post! Really gave me a lot of inspiration to look at all opportunities with fresh eyes, and be open to everything. $2000 is a lot to add each month! Good job! 

  • Andi Perullo July 27, 2012, 4:32 pm

    Great tips!

  • eemusings July 28, 2012, 1:53 am

    Fantastic! Congrats – so you’re part of Alexis’ social media/writing team now?

    • Carrie Smith July 29, 2012, 8:35 pm

      Thanks @0df233149609130dfcda1097b1521796:disqus and yes I’m part of Lexi’s team now :)

  • Plunged in Debt October 18, 2012, 8:35 am

    Wow congrats!! I hope to reach even half this level one day! I love writing/blogging and really hope I can start some freelancing stuff one day not only to help pay my debt off faster/help my family but to give me some ”me” time. Being a mom totally consumes you. I’m now a mom and would rather maintain ”Catherine” as part of my identity in whatever capacity I can. Great post!

    • Carrie Smith October 18, 2012, 9:01 am

      Writing and blogging is a great way for me to express myself and have a little “me” time. No doubt about it, being a mom is taxing and sometimes you just want some time to yourself. Good luck!

  • Jackie October 23, 2012, 12:39 pm

    I’m so juiced right now. I can’t wait to start my freelance career. I love writing and sharing my life experiences but, I must admit social media is my weak spot. You’re such an inspiration, as a mother of two nonverbal autistic boys earning income can be really tough but, I know my passion for writing and sharing knowledge will help me stay motivated.

  • Sandra Harriette June 8, 2013, 8:53 am

    I feel that this is a good follow up to your article about transitioning from an unpaid to a paid freelancer, and I am glad that I was on a similar train of thought in some of my endeavors.

  • R.Joyce Heard September 16, 2013, 10:38 am

    This was a great read. Very motivating with great tips as always.