3X Your Freelance Income With These 3 Foundational Practices

My main takeaways from 13 years of freelancing

U-Ming Lee
9 min readDec 1, 2020


Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.

I started freelancing and working-from-home 13 years ago when I found myself to be temperamentally unsuited to the corporate 9–5.

To adapt, I’ve had to develop a set of practices to level up my productivity as a freelancer.

Since so many people have been thrust, willingly or unwillingly, into WFH by the pandemic, I felt it would be timely to share the routine that has served me well for most of the past decade.

How I Felt When I Started Freelancing

There’s nothing wrong with feeling overwhelmed by freelancing when you start doing it for the very first time.

I cringe when I look back at how bad I was when I first started out freelancing in 2007.

I was terrible at time management. I would pull all-nighters to meet client deadlines. The haphazard preparation showed in the substandard quality of my work.

Then, when I found a second client who was willing to take a chance on me, offering me a higher hourly rate than my first client, I ghosted my first client.

Like I said, I was bad.

Freelance incomes are determined by effective billing rates and billable hours. I had terrible billing rates thanks to my poor work ethic. Sometimes, I even had to lean on my parents for pocket money after my savings from my office work ran out.

But I’ve improved. I don’t do all-nighters anymore. I live in a nicer part of town, in a two-bedroom apartment with other working families. I send money to my mum — my dad passed — every month.

It beats mooching off my parents and living in a building where fistfights were a not-uncommon way of settling disputes between neighbours.

I improved by implementing three foundational practices that have helped to 3X my freelance income.

I’ve called these practices “foundational” throughout this article because the simple act of turning these practices into habits has given me much more control over my life, allowing me to…



U-Ming Lee

I write about business, finance, and freelancing life. | How to contact me: