Being a programmer is a great thing. Not only is work fun most of the time, but there are plenty of job openings around and most of them pay very well.
But there are times when a little extra money on the side is much appreciated. Be it because you are still in college or university, you want to start to work for yourself rather than for others, you have a child and want to spend more time with them, you still need to make some cash or you’re doing it just for the fun of it.
Here is the good thing: As a programmer, you have everything you need to increase the cash flow. Your brain, your laptop — that’s all you really need. Interested? Check out the following strategies and decide what fits best for you.
Start to Freelance
Let's start with the good news.
Freelancing can be a great thing. No (real) boss, a tremendous amount of projects to choose from, high daily rates for specialists, as many holidays as you want…the list goes on.
However, it requires a lot of discipline and effort to find clients and projects. The biggest advantage to me is that you can start freelancing next to your permanent job, be it in the evenings or on the weekends.
Platforms like Upwork or Fiverr seem to offer a lot of opportunities especially for doing things on the sidelines but be aware of the competition over there.
Additionally, rates are pretty low so I would only recommend this if you just want to dip your toes into the water for the first time or are satisfied with only a little bit of additional income.
A better strategy would be to work on your LinkedIn profile, contact recruiters and past clients from your network, go to conferences and meetups, and look out for platforms that match up remote workers with companies.
Participate in Coding Contests
Yes, this is a real thing. There are dedicated platforms that organize programming contests for real prize money.
One of the biggest is Topcoder with more than a million members and a lot of competitions. They have three main focus areas: design, data science, and development.
You would work on real projects initiated by more than 2000 companies or single matches against opponents. Fun is guaranteed, so is a fast learning curve.
If you like challenges, this might be something for you. However, there is competition and you cannot count on a steady flow of income so make this one a lower priority.
Start to Write
In my opinion, writing still is one of the best ways to reach a broad audience. There are plenty of opportunities for you to start writing and make money out of it:
- You can start your own blog and monetize with ad revenue.
- You can write books or ebooks and sell them online.
- You can write on platforms such as Medium and participate in their Partnership Programs.
- You can write guest posts for established sites like CSS-Tricks that will pay you a fixed amount if your article is accepted.
There is nothing wrong with trying things out and seeing how people react to what you write. I've been very successful on Medium.com and make several thousand dollars each month with my articles.
However, some things that you should consider are to choose a niche where you have a special interest in (keeps you motivated), to keep writing consistently (it takes time to get recognized), and to constantly improve your writing skills to deliver high-quality articles (people will thank you, there is more than enough low-quality stuff out there…).
Record and Sell Online Courses
Being able to teach people online is one of the best things that emerged over the last decade and will be around for at least another decade if not longer, in my opinion.
The benefits for both students and teachers are massive. Students can choose from a wide range of offerings and learn on their own schedule. Teachers reach 1000s or 100,000s of people with their content.
There are many platforms available for your courses to be published on. Udemy, for example, has round about 75 million visitors a month and anyone can join them.
Other platforms like Frontend Masters or Pluralsight are invite-only but if you have a reputation or a good network — why not?
However, there are a few things to consider when recording your courses:
- Invest in good gear: good microphone and webcam are a must!
- High-quality content is king. Competition is increasing steadily so you need to convince people that you can teach them valuable things.
- Practice speaking loud and clearly.
- Always rework your recordings.
- Create additional material like a GitHub project, presentations, coding examples …
And even if it seems appealing that once a course has been recorded and people start buying it, it will create passive income for you, that is only true to some extent. The best teachers constantly update their courses because technology changes all the time!
Start a Podcast
Many people don’t like it to be in front of a camera but are still experts in a field and would love to share their knowledge with others.
Podcasts are undoubtedly a great medium to do so. While they have been around for some time now, they have gained massively in popularity in the last four to five years, reaching millions of people that commute to work every day or listen to them before they go to bed.
Now, most podcasts are free to listen to so money is more of a side-effect. A lot of podcasts have sponsors for their episodes that pay with services or money. Many podcasters are on Patreon, a platform where people can pay them a monthly amount to support their work and unlock exclusive content.
But in order to be successful with a podcast, you should be able to articulate yourself well, invest in some good gear (microphone), and most importantly, have the endurance to constantly record episodes.
It’s not uncommon that people have to create weekly episodes for one or two years before they really see progress in terms of listeners.
So, it would be good if you are really passionate about this before doing it.
There is one last thing I want to tell you that is relevant for each of the above options:
Consistency is king.
No matter what you start — pursue it, stick with it. Most things won’t work overnight. It is hard work, you have to invest time and energy. 99% give up too early. Be among the 1% that are successful!
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