If you’re not making as much money as you want or deserve, don’t be discouraged. There are many ways you can boost your earnings — and even double your income — if you employ the proper strategies. Sound too good to be true? It’s not! I spoke to eight people who were able to double their salaries by embracing past mistakes, learning new skills, making a career switch and more. Read how they did it, and find out how you can double your income, too.
He Turned His Side Hustle Into a Full-Time Business
Marc Andre, the founder of Vital Dollar, worked as an auditor from 2005 to 2008.
“At the end of 2008, I quit my job to dedicate more time to my own business, blogging, which had been a side hustle,” he said. “At the time I left my job, my salary was in the low $40,000s. In 2009, my income increased to over $60,000 and then every year from 2010 to 2018, my income has been over $100,000.”
Why This Worked
“At my old job, I was held back by a lack of opportunities,” said Andre. “I was taking on additional work outside of my job description to try to get more experience and make myself more valuable, but it wasn’t getting me anywhere. I was on a very small team — it was just me and my boss — so there weren’t a lot of advancement opportunities. When my boss was fired, they hired her replacement from outside the company without giving me any consideration. At that point, I knew I needed to do something different if I wanted to significantly increase my income.”
“Changing paths enabled me to more than double my income because I didn’t have to wait for someone else to give me an opportunity to prove myself,” he continued. “I didn’t have a set salary, so I was able to make whatever I could earn. The challenge and unlimited potential motivated me to work hard and improve my skills because I knew I would see the benefits in terms of more money.”
He Learned From Past Failures
Jon Bradshaw of Appointment.com said he never would have been able to double his income without learning the hard lessons he did when a previous business venture failed.
“While it sounds awful — and at the time, it was devastating to myself, my team and my family — it took that experience to push me to work harder to find a business problem that was in desperate need of an innovative solution,” he said. “While my previous business was in a traditional business segment, meaning it was something people wanted, I quickly realized that needs change and there were numerous other companies already doing the same thing.”
Why This Worked
“Those lessons led me to focus on the freelancer, startup founder and small business owner that didn’t seem to have the same number of choices for products and services that solved their issues,” said Bradshaw. “By developing an online invoice and payments company, and now, a rapidly growing calendar and time management platform and app, I have been able to deliver a solution that helps a larger part of the workforce for years to come, and that has more than doubled my income.”
He Took on More Responsibility To Build His Resume
Chris Browning, the founder and host of the personal finance podcast Popcorn Finance, started his full-time working career as a bookkeeper for a payroll department with a starting salary of just under $40,000.
“I was working for a school district, which is notorious for low salaries,” he said. “You are bound by a salary table which caps your maximum pay. I realized that I would never make more in my current position, so I started taking on more responsibility at work. One big task I took on was helping human resources with budget and labor issues. I also joined a professional organization for government accounts and became a member of their council to help organize the annual conference and bring in speakers. All of this helped increase my experience and boost my resume, making it easier for me to be hired for a new position, which increased my income by 50%.”
Why This Worked
“By keeping up those same habits and practices, I was able to grow in that new position and my salary grew with it,” said Browning, who now works as a senior analyst. “Over several years, my salary reached $80,000. I eventually obtained another position using my much stronger resume, bringing me to the $100,000 mark, a 150% increase from my starting salary.”
They Switched Companies
The founder of the Financial Mechanic blog began their career as a junior software engineer, making a starting salary of $65,000.
“The former job was a great environment for learning as a junior engineer, but the salary was lower than market value,” they said. “Although I stayed in the same career, I doubled my income by jumping companies.”
Why This Worked
“I applied to several companies at a higher level, negotiated my pay and received multiple offers,” said The Mechanic. “I leveraged the offers against each other, and ultimately came out with an offer that was double my former salary.”
They now work as a senior software engineer and make over $120,000.
He Expanded His Client Base
Before founding his own full-service marketing company, Hawke Media, Erik Huberman worked as the VP of marketing for a single brand making $100,000 a year.
“I was limited to one brand’s income, but I had the ability to run marketing for multiple brands,” he said. “I left to build an outsourced CMO and marketing team for companies.”
Why This Worked
“I was able to widen my scope on adding value,” said Huberman. “A single company can only afford to pay so much, but helping many companies — over 1,500 — I’m able to create value and get paid at a much larger scale.”
Huberman now makes over $20 million a year.
He Switched Career Paths From a Routine Worker to a Job That Required More Specialized Skills
Drew DuBoff was working at his campus dining hall part-time while going to college full time and was making about $200 a week.
“My former job was holding back my earning potential because I was doing a job that never would have provided a large salary, no matter how long I worked there or how many hours I worked during a week,” he said. “I was receiving $10.85 an hour — that’s after four years of working there. I was at the top of the pay scale, but it still wasn’t enough.”
DuBoff now works as a freelance writer, business owner and part-time virtual assistant.
“By changing paths, I was enabled to work for people who genuinely valued what I contributed,” he said. “Instead of being hired as a routine worker that performed a task anyone could be trained to do, I transitioned into being a knowledge worker that performed a task with specialized knowledge and a strategic disposition. You should add something unique so that others can’t do exactly what you offer. That’s what keeps you employed and companies paying you more than you would have ever dreamed.”
Why This Worked
Switching to a skilled job, like a virtual assistant, from a routine job, like a food service worker, has enabled DuBoff to charge more for his work.
“Now, I’m making a minimum of $4,000 a month — that’s after just a little over one year of being a virtual assistant,” he said. “I’m only working around 10 hours per week on client work, or 40 hours per month. That puts my hourly rate at roughly $100 per hour. From a monthly perspective, that’s a 500% increase, and from an hourly perspective, that’s a 920% increase.”
He Demonstrated His Value to His Employers
John, the co-founder of How To FIRE, increased his income more than five-fold over five years. He started out at a retail job making $17,000 per year. From there, he transitioned to an online retail position, making $40,000 per year. He then transitioned to a software engineering job making just shy of $70,000 per year. Now, three years later, he’s making over $100,000 per year.
“I didn’t understand my worth to the companies that I was working for until halfway through job two,” he said. “I began to understand how greatly I was impacting their earnings. Being in a position to prove your worth to a company has drastically increased my pay every year. I’m always looking to find ways to add additional value or reduce costs — which in turn makes me stand apart from my peers. Having a focused work ethic and knowing where I want to be has allowed me to apply myself in the areas that matter most.”
Why This Worked
“Once I started to realize how adding value to a company puts me in a position to show them my worth, I was never hesitant to ask for a raise,” said John. “It’s difficult to tell someone ‘no’ when you can prove to them exactly how much value you bring, or how much you’ve reduced their costs by.”
He Found a Job That Better Utilized His Skill Set
Allan Liwanag of The Practical Saver has an undergraduate degree in economics as well as an MBA with a specialty in statistical/budget analysis and project management, but when his business went under and he found himself $40,000 in debt, he took the first job he could get — a collection specialist for a healthcare company. The job paid $39,000 a year, and he was the sole breadwinner for his family.
“The job entailed calling delinquent account holders and requesting payments for the services provided to them by the healthcare company I worked for,” he said. “None of the training or technical concepts I learned from both of my degrees were used — but I had to take the job.”
Liwanag knew he’d be better off with a job that actually utilized his skills and education, so he kept applying to jobs that would be a better fit.
“After applying to over 435 jobs for a year and getting interviewed by 10 companies, I landed a job as a financial analyst at an aviation-related company in Maryland,” he said. “My starting salary was $64,000 per year. Since then, my income has [almost doubled]. Now, I’m making a little over $110,000, with a potential salary increase to $125,000 in the next three years. I would never have the opportunity of earning that salary in my old job.”
Why This Worked
“Because the job required in-depth knowledge of project management and budget analysis, the salary offer was way higher than what my last job paid,” said Liwanag. “I was fortunate to meet such requirements. My new job enables me to apply all the training I had in both undergraduate and graduate schools. My bosses have seen my work ethic, professionalism, and products and services I produce, and they have given me salary increases — plus bonuses — year after year. I have also joined several developmental and leadership programs that the company sponsored, which also contributed to both my professional development and the salary increase and bonuses I got.”
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Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.