November 19, 2023•6,894 words
Times are tough at the moment (cozzie livs), but as developers we've got a unique set of skills which are in high-demand, if you know where to look!
This post briefly outlines 50 side hustles you can use to bring in some extra cash as a developer
Engagement-based earnings are where you'll receive a share of revenue, based on the amount of time a user has spent on your site, profile or consuming your content. It's typically a small amount, at least for smaller sites or creators, but adds up over time, and anyone can enable this- so you've got nothing to lose.
- Brave - Pays you for the users who visit your site, profile or view your content while using the Brave browser. Funds are paid as BAT into your Uphold account, where they can then be withdrawn as USD, GBP or EUR to your bank account
- Flattr - Users who pay to use Flattr have their funds distributed among creators whose content the user has visited
I personally signed up for Brave Rewards a couple of years ago. And after verifying ownership of my domains + profiles, I've consistently been making a couple of quid a month - about £200+ so far (despite being a Firefox user!). It's not much, but for very little effort, it's worth it.
For more info on how this works, take a look at the webmonetization.org spec, a proposal which makes use of payment pointers via ILP to stream income from WM-enabled visitors, via the use of a simple
<link rel="monetization" href="your-pointer-here" /> tag.
2. API as a Service
Platforms like RapidAPI make it possible to earn passive income from your API.
After you've built and deployed a simple API, you're then able to import it into RapidAPI Hub, select usage and pricing plans, and hit publish. Your API can be as big or small as you desire.
If you're looking for inspiration for an easy first project, consider turning an open dataset into an API. And for beginners, RapidAPI have a video series on how to get started. Other ideas could include wrapping an existing package up as an API, adding features to another service (like OpenAI), or building an endpoint that does some simple calculations.
3. Issue Bounties
These are in-demand feature requests for open source projects. Users can put up "bounties" where they pledge a certain amount, which will then be paid to the first developer who gets that feature completed and merged.
- BOSS.dev - Feature requests and bug fixes to complete, with bounties ranging from $30 to $1000.
If you've got a presence on GitHub, or another platform, then enabling sponsorships is a rewarding way to bring in some money for your work.
Don't forget to enable the Sponsor button for your GitHub projects, by creating a
.github/FUNDING.yml. This works for a variety of platforms, as well as GitHub Sponsors
- GitHub Sponsors - A great option for developers however big or small. Zero fees, and low barrier to entry for supporters if they're already on GitHub
- Patreon - Allows for providing perks and exclusive content to your supporters. A good option if you've got a presence on other platforms beyond GitHub
- LibrePay - Aimed at those creating open source content
- Open Collective - Good option if you're collecting funding for a specific project, and are using proceeds to support that project (rather than personally)
- TideLift - Aimed more at those developing enterprise-grade open source projects, larger potential income but only for the biggest projects
- LFX - By the Linux Foundation
Sponsorship (specifically GitHub Sponsors) is one of my personal favorite methods, as since paying is optional, you're not preventing access to people who cannot afford it, and those who support you already know what they're getting up-front, so you'll never have disappointed customers.
You've probably been in the situation, where you've found a certain blog post, SO answer, GitHub repo or forum reply so helpful, that you've wished you could buy the author a beer to say thanks.
Platforms which enable these small, one-off payments are free to sign up for, and you've got nothing to lose by including a Tip button in your profile or at the end of a blog post.
Tip: Don't beg. Create something useful, and drop your Tip link at the bottom.
6. Corporate Funding
Many open source projects with a certain number of downloads / recurring users will start to be approached by companies wishing to sponsor the creators work, in return for their company logo + link being included near the top of the readme. Unlike sponsorship from individuals, these usually start at $100-500/month, rising the more usage your project sees.
There are coding competitions happening remotely all the time. These are usually sponsored by companies who pay out cash prizes to the winners.
- Summer of Code - Run by Google, you'll receive a contributor stipend ranging from $750 to $6000 upon successful acceptance, the amount depends on your country and project size
- CodeHeat - Run by FOSS Asia, 100 SGD every 2 weeks plus smaller prizes
- Devfolio Hackathons
When I was a student, I used to do a lot of hackathons (mostly in-person), and was often able to fund my Summers just by going to various events! It's also a great way of meeting people, learning new stuff, plus they're just a lot of fun!
8. Dependency Funding
If you've got a package (such as an NPM module), then enabling sponsorship in your config file will let users of your code help contribute financially.
- NPM Funding - You're probably familiar with running
npm fund, and seeing a list of the packages you're using which are looking for funding. The npm fund was added to make donating to the maintainers of the dependencies your project relies upon easier. If you maintain an NPM package, simply include the
fundingfield in your package.json, and users will be able to support you more easily.
- StackAid - Just install the StackAid GitHub app and link your Stripe account, and a share of funds donated by supporters who are either directly or indirectly using your project will be allocated to you each month
- GitHub Sponsors - Again GitHub Sponsors comes in again, as it lets users give to their most-used dependencies - although this is a manual process, and not automatic.
9. Reporting Issues
If you've got an eye for security, or enjoy finding bugs and exploits in applications, this one is for you. The most popular platform for this is HackerOne, where you can earn anywhere from $20 to $200,000 per responsibly disclosed bug.
Many other websites also offer a responsible disclosure policy directly, where they'll reward you for your work. If this is something which interests you, I maintain a list of 1000+ bounty programs at: https://bug-bounties.as93.net
I've personally had a lot of success with this approach, it's also a lot of fun - so I highly recommend it!
Other platforms to check out include:
- HackerOne - Number 1 platform, most bounties and good protection and payout rate
- Immunefi - Specifically for Web3
- Issue Hunt
10. Open-Core model
This is where the majority of your code is open source, but certain extensions or add-ons (specifically those aimed at enterprise customers) are licensed as proprietary.
Therefore, developers can freely use the software in other open source projects. However, companies have to pay for using enterprise-specific modules or integrations.
Bear in mind, this is often easier said than done. You'll need to be able to separate proprietary features, and large companies will often do anything (including disobeying license restrictions) to avoid paying.
11. Premium Packages
These are services that make it easy to offer premium / paid-for packages for common registries. It may be a good option, if you wish to distribute a premium version of an NPM module for example, or charge for specific package features.
- PrivJS - Distribute premium versions of your Node packages
- CodeShip - Private registry, where users need to pay to use your package
Adding the option for professional support plans to an open source project enables customers to pay for one-off or ongoing help and support with getting things up and running.
This can be enabled either via your own system, or using an existing sponsorship platforms, like Patreon and GitHub Sponsors, or with a dedicated service, such as Otechie which adds paid features + support via embedded an chat dialog. Tools like Calendly can enable clients to put time into your calendar, or for larger projects, investing in a dedicated customer support platform, like HelpScout may make this easier.
- Write the Docs is the go-to place for all things documentation.
- Season of Docs - Supported by Google, each year technical writers contribute to open source projects. Participating projects receive between $5,000 and $15,000 grant which is then distributed to contributors, usually via Open Collective.
- If you look around, there's also plenty of products looking for technical writers. Julia make a good list of companies who will pay you to write tech content
- Copyrighting also fits into this category. Services like scripted let you make money by proof-reading or editing others text content.
Even just documenting your own, and other developers repos is a good place to start.
A projects value increases massively if it's documented. Without docs, potential users, clients or developers won't know what it does, how to use it, how to build on top of it, or how to contribute.
I might be the only one, but I personally love writing docs. All my projects include thorough usage, developing and contributing documentation. And this has contributed to their success and adoption. I feel like there's no point spending hours building something awesome, if you don't put a tiny bit of time showing people how they can use it.
Before you skip past this one - I hate ads too. They're annoying, and often involve some form of tracking which compromises the privacy of your users. But, for open source projects, there are some other options which don't have these drawbacks.
This is a great option if you're maintaining a GitHub repo, website, blog or service that gets consistent traffic. Usually a minimum of about 10k users/month is required, but you'll get much better returns if you're getting 50k+ monthly users.
15. Selling your Code
I personally disagree with this approach, just because a lot of the code being sold is poorly re-skinned versions of open source software, and proper credit isn't always given to the original author. That said, some developers do manage to make it work, building out simple projects then selling them on.
- IndieMaker - Sell your entire project
- PieceX - Sell ready-to-go source code
- Codester - Aimed at PHP and Wordpress
16. Selling Content
This is a commonly suggested one, when you look at side hustles for developers. But for good reason - if you're able to create high-quality content, there is good money to be made. Especially if you have an in-depth knowledge of an emerging field.
Popular sites for selling content include:
- GumRoad - Code, courses, posts, art, design, media (10% fee)
- AppSumo - Code, apps, extensions, courses, templates, etc
This is a unique skill set. Either you're very good at writing engaging content, or you've got in-depth knowledge on a specific in-demand field. Otherwise if this is something that interests you, consider e-book publishing, where nothing is lost if your book is not a success.
- LeanPub - A platform for self-publishing technology / development e-books and courses, with a generous revenue model (you keep 70%)
- Amazon KDP - Publish to Amazon Kindle, and make it immediately available to millions of users world-wide (Amazon will take at lease 30% cut, likely more for small publishers)
- SmashWords and Draft2Digital - Distribute to other e-book sellers around the globe, so an easy way to start publishing. They take less commission that Amazon, but more than LeanPub.
Grants and corporate sponsorships are available in a number of fields, from open source, innovation, DeFi, AI, etc. They're usually paid to help you fund your living costs for a short period of time, while your working on something specific.
- GitHub Sponsors - Platform for individuals and organizations to financially support open source developers. Amount varies based on sponsorships.
- Google Summer of Code (GSoC) - Global program for student developers to contribute to open source projects, with stipends typically ranging from $1500 to $3300.
- Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) - Grants for open source software development, particularly for projects that align with Mozilla's mission.
- The Linux Foundation Grants - Offers various grants and fellowships for developers working on Linux Foundation projects.
- NumFOCUS Small Development Grants - Supports small projects in data science and scientific computing. Grant amounts vary ($285k split between all applicants).
- Apache Software Foundation Sponsorship - Financial support for Apache software projects, focusing on the Apache software ecosystem.
- Outreachy - Provides three-month internships for underrepresented groups in technology, with stipends typically around $5,500.
- Knight Foundation - Offers grants for tech projects that promote quality journalism. Grant amounts vary widely based on project scope.
- Prototype Fund - Supports open source prototypes with up to 47,500 euros over six months, focusing on software developers in Germany.
- The Sloan Foundation - Offers grants for open science community projects, especially those enhancing open source software in research.
- Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Open Source Software Projects - Focuses on supporting open source software essential to biomedical research. Funding amounts vary.
- Raspberry Pi Foundation - Provides grants for educational projects involving Raspberry Pi and computing education.
- GitCoin - A crowdfunding platform that funds open source projects, particularly in Ethereum and Web3. Funding varies based on community support.
- NLnet Foundation - Supports projects in Internet technology and network research. Grant amounts vary.
- Open Technology Fund - Supports projects developing open technologies that promote human rights and open societies. Funding varies.
19. Hosting Events
The events space is a lucrative industry, especially if you're able to put on a good event and land yourself a large sponsor. It's not for everyone, but here are 10 potential revenue streams that hosting events can bring:
- Ticket Sales: Generate revenue by charging an entry fee. Use platforms like Eventbrite, Meetup, or Ticketmaster for ticket management.
- Sponsorships: Secure financial contributions from tech companies in exchange for promotional opportunities at your event.
- Workshops and Training Sessions: Offer specialized, hands-on learning experiences on specific technologies or programming languages, charging a premium fee.
- Virtual Events: Organize and charge for webinars, online workshops, or virtual conferences using platforms like Zoom, WebEx, or Hopin.
- Hackathons: Host coding competitions with entry fees or find sponsors for covering costs and providing prize money.
- Networking Events: Charge for networking events targeting tech professionals, potentially attracting sponsorships from hiring companies.
- Speaking Engagements: Organize and charge for speaking events or panels, leveraging your expertise in a particular tech area.
- Corporate Training and Retreats: Provide event organizing services for companies' internal training or team-building events.
- Affiliate Marketing: Utilize affiliate marketing for tech products or services during your events for additional revenue.
- Product Launches: Partner with tech companies to host product launch events, offering your organizing services for a fee.
Your opinions are worth something, especially as a developer. There are researchers who will pay you money to take part in their study, survey or think tank. Typically good research opportunities are few and far between, OR will pay quite poorly.
21. Creating Courses
- Skillshare - Offers payment based on the number of minutes watched in your classes, along with referral bonuses.
- Coursera - Partner with institutions to offer courses; payments are typically based on revenue-sharing agreements.
- LinkedIn Learning - Instructors can create courses for professionals; compensation details are arranged with LinkedIn.
- Thinkific - Provides tools to create, market, and sell online courses, with various pricing plans including a free option.
- Kajabi - All-in-one platform for online courses, marketing, payments, and website building.
- Podia - Offers a platform for hosting courses, webinars, and digital downloads with direct sales to your audience.
- Pluralsight - Focused on tech and creative courses; pays instructors through royalties based on the popularity of their courses.
- MasterClass - High-quality, celebrity-led courses; instructors are typically established experts or celebrities in their field.
Email newsletters and subscription-based RSS feeds are slowly making a comeback, as popular social media channels are becoming more centralized and controlled.
This model works either by offering valuable insights into tech topics or news and building up a large (and hence valuable) subscriber base, or by charging a smaller number of users to receive your updates.
Popular platforms that offer this functionality inclide:
23. Member-only Sites
- MemberSpace - Enables you to paywall certain parts of your website, for members-only
- Patreon - Popular for setting up membership tiers with exclusive content and perks.
- Substack - Ideal for newsletters; offers the ability to have paid subscribers for exclusive content.
- Ghost - A professional publishing platform with built-in membership and subscription features.
- Podia - Enables the sale of memberships, online courses, and digital downloads.
- WordPress with MemberPress Plugin - A plugin for WP users to create membership sites.
- Wild Apricot - Membership management software that integrates with your website.
- Kajabi - Offers tools for creating online courses, membership sites, and more, with a focus on marketing.
- Mighty Networks - Build a community with memberships, subscriptions, and courses.
24. Guest Posts
There's also many companies which will pay you for quality posts shared to their platform. This both increases your visibility (helping you grow your network, and gain future work), as well as bringing in some short-term income.
If you're struggling to get accepted into any of these programs, start by writing your own posts and publishing them to popular dev-based social networks (like here on DEV.to!). This will build up your writing skills, and help you demonstrate your knowledge to potential companies.
For example, the following sites will pay for quality guest posts:
- Log Rocket
- Smashing Magazine
- CSS Tricks
- Premium Coding
- Android Authority
- Real Python
- Dart Creations
You may not realize it, but the skills and experience you've built up from your day job can be hugely valuable to many companies. Especially startups and small businesses who cannot yet afford a full-time expert. There's very high demand for professionals who can provide insights into the latest trends, tools, and best practices.
- The best way to get started at a decent rate, is through networking and word of mouth. But failing that there's always freelancing websites to help you build up experience.
- Keep a log of the experience you've gained, or build up a portfolio as you go, as this will help you get better gigs in the future.
- Be clear about your availability, terms, day-rate and the scope of work before getting started with any project.
- Never dismiss a potential contact. You'll be surprised who might re-connect with you even years down the line asking for consulting support.
Whatever your level, you're experience as a developer can really help others who are less experienced. Mentoring is a really rewarding way to help others while also bringing in some extra money.
- MentorCruise - Primarily long-term, with monthly rate paid, great for building up professional relationships (earn $50-$500/month per mentee)
- CodeMentor - Better for short-term, charged hourly-rate, great for tackling specific problems (earn $60-$300/hour)
With CompSci now being part of the national curriculum (at least in the UK and much or Eurpoe), there's an influx of students (from 11-18+) looking for tutors to help them gain coding skills and prepare for exams. Income can range from $15 to $150+ per hour, depending on level, experience and background.
- Super Prof - List your services, world-wide ($30-300/hour)
- The Profs - Verified tutors (income unknown)
- My Tutor - UK only, (£22-£55/hour)
- Tutor.com - US-based high-school tuition ($75-$100/hour)
28. Social Media
There's a big gap in the market waiting to be filled by genuinely good development-focused influencers on mainstream social media platforms.
Many social media platforms allow you to monetize content, where you'll usually be paid per view, with the amount varying depending on content category, region and reputation. But do note that you'll usually have to have a certain number of followers to be eligible, and you'll also be at the mercy "the algorithm".
- YouTube - Requires min of 1k subs + 4k watch hours/year
- X - Requires Twitter Blue subscription, no min following
- TikTok - Requires min of 10k followers + 100k views/month
- Instagram - Requires min of 10k followers
- Snap - 1k followers, 1k views/month, 10+ monthly posts
- Facebook - 10k followers or 600k video view minutes
- Twitch - 350 monthly paid subscribers
29. Brand Deals
Following on from the social media section above, once you've managed to break through past a few hundred subscribers, you'll likely also be able to start looking into brand deals, which can help bring in extra income. Again, these require a certain proven level of engagement from your audience, and you may also need to agree to the terms of the company offering the sponsorship.
A rapidly growing niche is dev streams, don't expect to instantly join the leaderboard, but it could be a great place to get started, especially if you already have streaming experience (e.g. with video games). Nick Taylor wrote a great article on Getting Started with Dev Streaming.
If you're able to pull this off, it's one of the best revenue models for open source projects. Your code remains 100% free and open source, users are still free to download and self-host it, but you also provide a paid-for / managed plan, where you host the app and take care of all the server management for a small recurring fee.
This model keeps with the open source ethos, while also making your application available to a broader variety of users.
Services like Stripe make accepting payments and adding subscription features to your app surprisingly easy.
32. Micro SaaS
If building a production-ready application from scratch sounds like a daunting task (because it is!), then another approach would be a Micro-SaaS app. These are smaller apps, which do one very specific task, for example:
- Automating repetitive and/or tedious tasks.
- Performing calculations that are currently calculated manually.
- Connecting disparate systems.
- Replacing Excel spreadsheet workarounds.
- Plugging in gaps of missing functionality in host ecosystems
- Enhancing reporting
Unlike SaaS apps, once an extension is built and published, there's usually very little ongoing management required. You may also find it easier for your project to pick up traction quickly if it's adding features for an already well-established site.
Although web extensions may seem like an out-dated, or fully-saturated market, there's still plenty which can be done, and these are great projects for newer developers.
Here's some ideas to get you started:
- WA Web Plus has had 2 million downloads (22k ratings), and it charges $12/month per user. Why not create something similar for the likes of Telegram, Threema, Wire, Messenger, etc?
- Runkeeper has 45 million users, but the UI is lacking in terms of how data is displayed. Why not create an extension which adds better reporting, filtering, and combining with related external data? (similar to how Elevate for Strava is, but for RunKeeper)
- Pick a website which provides an essential service, but has an overly impractical UI (maybe Microsoft Azure?), and create an extension to make navigating easier, surfacing key metrics, or provide a less ugly user experience
- Augment any existing website using AI. This is much easier than it sounds, your extension could make use of services like OpenAI's API to, for example summerize a webpage, or re-phrase selected content (for copy/pasting into homework!?)
- If you know of a website with high user count, yet a terrible UI, an easy extension idea could be apply CSS overides to re-style it. For example Amazon, Yahoo, Instagram are all high-traffic sites with huge room for design improvement (dark mode?!)
- Even simple stand-alone extension apps could have a lot of potential. Like a pomodoro timer, currency converter, IP address widget, or just a web app shortcut.
34. Publishing an App
Building a simple app or game, and making it available on platform app stores, gives you the ability to target millions of customers, with an easy monetization model. All mainstream app stores - Google Play, Apple App Store, Windows Store, Steam, etc offer support for paid apps, premium features and in-app purchases.
Keep in mind, there is usually a setup fee which needs to be paid before you can publish your first app, the app store will also take a cut of your revenue, and it's not uncommon for small creators to get downloads in the single or double figures.
35. Developing Websites for Small Businesses
Lots of small businesses are focused on working within their business and don’t have the time or expertise to build their website. As developers, this is something we're able to get done quite quickly, and if you're hosting their site too, you'll be able to charge a recurring payment.
Once you've got started in web design and development, and have served a few clients, you'll find it considerably easier to find future work, both through word of mouth and by showcasing your portfolio.
To be successful at this, you'll likely also need skills in design, communication and sales.
With the influx in new TLDs, the domain reseller market is seeing a second wave of popularity. Domain flipping involves registering domain names which could be valuable, then reselling them to a buyer wanting to use that name for a business or project.
Although this can be lucrative, it does involves high risk, and requires a good understanding of the market.
- Look into short or memorable domains, or those which might have high keyword potential (you can use tools like Use tools like Google Keyword Planner to help with this research)
- Park domains which you're not currently using, so you can receive a bit of ad-revenue in the meantime
- Look at recently expired domains, specifically those which were in use, as these will likely either receive traffic, or need to be re-registered by the original owner
- Consider registering names of popular websites but with a different extension
- A domain receiving traffic is much more valuable. So consider building out a website, app or landing page for the domain while you're holding it
37. User Testing
Companies who develop apps often need to get feedback from users. This is where user testing services come in. You spend 10-30 minutes trying out a given website or app, then either give feedback of fill in a survey, and get paid!
Although not specific to developers, with your tech background you'll find that you're uniquely positioned to get these done quickly and offer good feedback, enabling you to earn much faster than the average user. You'll also gain valuable insight into how the user testing process works, which will likely be useful to you when you come to commission testing on your own app.
- Try My UI - Averages on $10 per website or app test
- Userlytics - Earn between $5 and $50 depending on complexity and length of testing session
- User Testing - Pays via PayPal, requires screenshare and/or webcam access during test session. Earn about $10 / test, with longer or live sessions paying up to $50 for some tests
- TestingTime - Option for in-person or video call tests. Less regular, but longer testing sessions. Lower paying than alternatives, when you take account for the delay between sessions
- IntelliZoom - Earn between $2 and $10 per 10 minute study. Paid via PayPal with a 3-5 day delay
38. Micro Tasking
Less relevant to developers specifically, but if you're coming from a technical background, you'll likely find these gigs more lucrative than those without development skills.
- Amazon Mechanical Turk - Crowd sourcing marketplace for outsourcing virtual micro-tasks
- Sequence Works - Image annotation, data labeling and clasification
- App Jobber - Market research, go to the shops and take photos of specific product placements
- GigWalk - App-based micro-tasks on the go
- Take a look at GigWorker.com for more micro-tasking and gig-based jobs
Surveys tend to pay very poorly, although participants with certain skill sets (like software engineering) are in higher demand, so can earn a little more. Even still, this likely won't be a good option unless you have a lot of time on your hands, or use a currency that's much weaker than the USD.
These typically involve either testing out new products or services, and giving feedback - or answering questions to aid in market research campaigns.
40. Decentralized Nodes
This might not be for everyone, as proceeds are usually paid in crypto which is very volatile. But there are many Web3 projects which you can volunteer to run a node for (usually either on a Rasperry Pi, cloud server or spare laptop), which will pay you for either uptime, bandwidth, diskspace, compute, IP/proxy or some other compute resource.
As developers, managing infrastructure is something we're good at, so if you've got any spare resources lying around, you might be able to put them to work, and earn some extra cash while you sleep.
- Storj: Run a Storj node, for decentralized cloud computing
- Network3: AIoT layer 2 for training and validating models
- Flux: Decentralized infra
- Mysterium: P2P VPN node
Koii: Distributed cloud
Helium: Provide wireless connectivity for long-range IoT devices
Filecoin: It is a decentralized storage network that turns cloud storage into an algorithmic market. Users can rent out their spare storage space and earn Filecoin tokens.
Sia Network: This is a decentralized storage platform secured by blockchain technology. Sia stores and encrypts your files across a decentralized network. You earn Siacoins by renting out your unused hard drive space.
Crust Network: Similar to Filecoin and Sia, Crust supports multiple storage layer protocols such as IPFS, and provides storage interfaces for the application layer.
Arweave: A blockchain-based platform that offers data storage in a permanent and decentralized manner. By hosting data, users can earn rewards in the Arweave token.
BitTorrent: This platform tokenizes the world’s largest file-sharing protocol, enabling users to earn BTT for sharing files on the network.
HOLO: A peer-to-peer hosting platform for Holochain apps (hApps). Users who host hApps on their computers are rewarded with HOT tokens.
41. Other Web3 Methods
The crypto sector has many other ways of earning passive income, from PoS staking, holding interest-bearing digital assets, lending, yield farming, cloud mining, dividend-earning tokens, yield farming, trading, local / PoW minding, NFTs to name a few.
I shan't link to any specifics here, as it's a very high-risk industry so it's important you do your own research. But as technologists we're in a good position to be able to understand the fundamental concepts behind any given protocol or Web3 asset, and determine it's viability.
My advice would be to read the white paper, and if you cannot immediately understand it, then stay away from it! It's the wild west out there, and so unless the fundamentals of a project are solid you should be prepared to loose any money you invest into it.
42. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is notoriously un-lucrative for those just getting started, but I've included it here because as developers, there is some scope for automating a lot of the process. Also, the more niche of a service you are marketing, the higher the the commission paid usually is. So if you're embedded in a tech community, you may be in a good position to sell low-volume high-return services.
Again, if you've already got a following (social, blog, YouTube channel..) then affiliate marketing might make more sense, as the fractions of a penny you earn from each click are able to add up if you're getting a lot of clicks.
It's worth noting that you should probably not share an affiliate link, without disclosing that it's an affiliate link. And try to avoid advertising products that you have either have not used yourself, or would not recommend to a friend.
As an example, here are some of the services I have used nd have affiliate accounts with. I've never made any meaningful amount from any of them.
This involves building an application to wrap an existing service, while adding on a USP - either a technological one, customer support, UI, or additional features. If you're from a marketing or sales background, this might be for you. If you want to add on features, or automate the process then there will be a fair amount of up-front work, but you'll then be in a better position to collect revenue.
You can find service providers in most major industries which offer reseller programs.
Some examples include:
- Supermetrics: Marketing reporting, analytics, data integration, 20% recurring commission.
- Keap: CRM, sales and marketing automation, 20–30% recurring commissions.
- Klaviyo: Email and SMS marketing, 5–15% one-time payouts, 10–20% revenue shares.
- Drift: Live chat software, 20% revenue share.
- ActiveCampaign: Email marketing, CRM, 20–30% commission or discount model.
- HubSpot: CRM, inbound marketing, sales, 20% revenue share.
- Gorgias: Ecommerce helpdesk, 20% revenue share.
- Shopify: E-commerce platform, 20% commission, 10% for Shopify Plus.
- LiveChat: Customer service platform, live chat, 20% commission.
- GetResponse: Email marketing, online campaign management, 35% discount on sub-accounts, 35% recurring commission.
This doesn't relate to tech at all. But as programmers we're usually able to work from anywhere - so why not code from somewhere you're paid to be at?
You'll usually earn between $2,000 and $10,000 depending on the trial, then length, whether it's residential and specific circumstances.
Places like Flu Camp will pay you £4,000 for a 2-week stay in a comfortable hotel-like suite, while they test new treatments. Those who have a specific condition, like asthma might be able to earn more by participating in a more specialist trial - if you're in the UK you can search on the NIHR Be Part of Research website
Freelancing can vary depending on your skills, experience and the niche your operating in. Rates for some areas, like web development tend to be very low for new freelancers, yet the more experience and happy clients you have, the more you'll be able to charge.
Three of the main platforms for developer gig work are:
- Fiverr: Known for its diverse marketplace, Fiverr is great for developers who are just starting out in freelancing
- Upwork: Upwork caters to a wide range of professionals, but it's particularly beneficial for experienced developers. It offers the potential for long-term contracts and higher-paying jobs. The platform is suitable for those who prefer to work on more substantial projects.
- People per Hour: This platform is good for developers in the European market. It emphasizes local business connections and offers a good balance between short-term and long-term projects.
Both in-person and remove dev meetups and events are happening all the time around the globe. These events need speakers, and many will pay to get good talks. The amount paid varies hugely depending on the size, the audience, the topic, the speaker (you!) and other factors. Usually you'll have to start out by volunteering to do a talk at a small local tech meetup, then gradually work your way up.
47. Remote Tech Support
It's not the most glamorous role, but smaller companies often cannot afford to hire dedicated tech support full-time, therefore there's plenty of part-time gigs that you can pick up. The pay grade for these go up considerably if you've got cloud experience or certifications. Just take a look at any job board (e.g. WeWorkRemotley) and you'll see plenty of roles.
Note that you'll usually need to be available during certain hours, with the expectation that you can reply within a given period of time. Be sure this is something you can work around before applying.
Yes, it's not a side hustle - but hear me out...
If you're earning a modest $60k/year, and have $40k living costs, then after 5 years you could have $100k in savings. If you were to invest that in the S&P 500 which has an average return of 10 - 15%/year - you could be receiving upwards of an extra $1,000 / month in income from your investment, with that rising cumulatively the more you're able to save (of course, investments can go down as well as up). That's already a better return than many of the side hustles listed here!
Let's not forget, that as tough as things may seem at the moment, as developers, with even just a year or 2 of experience, we're in the very fortunate position to be well paid compared to the average earner.
If you're job isn't cutting it - switching companies is usually a sure way to jump up a salary band, and if you're not enjoying your current gig, it could be something worth considering.
Maybe after all of this, it's not a side hustle you're after, but just a better "main hustle"?
Despite what you might see on IndieHackers and Instagram - having a side hustle is not the bee all and end all. It's usually something which takes considerable amount of work, for very limited returns. So before jumping into anything here or elsewhere - take a step back, and think "Why am I doing this?". If you're doing it to build experience, learn new skills and have fun - that's great. If you're doing it to get rich quick - you'll likely be very disappointed.
Something else to note, is that as unfair as it may seem, those who already have a strong following or several successful open source projects will be in a much better position to take advantage of opportunities compared to those who are just starting out.
Therefore, in the short-term your time may be better spent bettering yourself as a developer. If you're not sure where to start with this, here are 5 key tips:
- Networks - Build out your networks, go to meetups, hackathons and dev events, join communities, make friends
- Open Source - Put your work out there, learn in public, create mini projects which interest you and don't be afraid to fail
- Experience - Get hands-on experience, apply for internships, offer your services as a freelance developer
- Fundamentals - Ensure you've got a solid understanding of computer science fundamentals, and the rest will be much easier
- Have fun! - You'll naturally do so much better in a field that you have a genuine passion for. If you're not enjoying what you're doing, take a step back, and consider if a different approach would work better for you
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Thank you for reading, Alicia 🥰