7 ways to make money as a developer

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Knowing how to code is a definite advantage in our modern life. Of course, one of the perks that most people care about when I talk about it is money. It's no secret that coding can pay off big. Let's talk about it.

How to make money when you know how to code? The easiest way is to get hired as a developer. It's easy because the market is in high demand for this type of profile. And, you know the law of supply and demand.

So, if you want job security and don't mind working for a supervisor, go for the full-time employee option. It’s paying well right now (supply and demand still).

But, since most of my readers are developers, they already know that you can earn money as a permanent developer. So, I imagine the question that I often receive must be understood: how to earn money other than by working a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for a boss when you are a developer? Or how to earn money in addition to your full-time job when you know how to code?

1. Become a freelancer

Becoming a freelance means setting up your own company and invoicing your clients directly, instead of letting a boss do it and take the bulk of the figure for him.

Well, freelancing can take many forms for a developer. It can be very similar to the employee experience: working at the client's premises to reinforce a development team that the client has formed himself. Finally, only the contract changes (and potentially the salary too) but that changes little of the employee situation and this activity will require a full time. Impossible to do it while being an employee of another company.

However, the freelancer can decide to break away from the employee model by not charging for hours, but for services. For example, coding and selling websites for companies that need them. And, instead of billing monthly for the hours you spent on the project, sell the project itself as a development service. This way the customer is not buying a person (or a person's time) but a service provided by a company, regardless of which human being provides that service, etc.

A small showcase site that cost 5,000 euros can easily be coded on evenings and weekends. You can also get organized with other freelancers to take advantage of each other's strengths / expertise and form your own team of people you want to work with.

It is also possible to step in for a specific functionality on a client's project. This is often called firefighter mode. In this case, the client typically wants you to work fast and well. It pays off.

If, despite the similarities with salaried work, you want to start freelancing, look here:

2. Sell themes for CMS

If you like the frontend development and want to go for the product approach rather than the service approach, you can develop and sell themes for WordPress, or for Ghost, or for any other CMS.

The good thing about the product approach is that the sale is repeatable. Once the theme is developed, you can sell it to 10,000 people, it won't cost you more time or energy. On the other hand, a product generally sells for less than a service.

Another advantage of themes for CMS: you can go at your own pace, there is no client deadline to respect. You occupy your evenings and weekends as you see fit.

Some useful links:

3. Sell plugins for CMS

If you don't like the frontend development, CMS still has plenty to keep you busy. Instead of coding themes, why not code plugins that will improve the experience of users of these CMS. Most CMS / platform allow you to sell the plugins you develop in one-time or subscription.

For example, many developers offer apps for the Shopify platform and live off the revenue generated!

To know more:

4. Code a SaaS application

This option is a level above the creation of plugins for CMS. You remain in the creation of utility tools, but you are completely independent of a specific platform.

A well-coded project can then bring you regular income without requiring a lot of time on your part. Even if there will be maintenance, it will not necessarily be useful to add a 1001 new features every four mornings.

Another thing: creating a SaaS application is fun. It is a side project that you will surely have a lot of fun coding. Will you be the next Netflix or the next Stripe?

I advise you to read Monica Lent's blog to continue learning more about the subject. She lives from her SaaS tools.

5. Start a blog

If you like to talk about your knowledge and share it, launch your blog! It's a great hobby, and you'll meet plenty of exciting people.

There are many ways to monetize a blog:

  • advertisement
  • paid content
  • affiliate marketing
  • guest posting

Moreover, you will build an audience. And, an audience is the basis for launching many other businesses:

  • sale of t-shirt for developers
  • sale of courses and trainings
  • influencer marketing (it started on blogs, not social media).
  • etc.

However, I'm not going to lie to you, blogging is a long-term investment. It will be almost impossible to make money from the first month of writing. But in the long run, a blog can pay off big and long.

Last advantage for the blog: it allows you to be independent of other web players and to sustain the income streams that you have managed to put in place.

To read to dig deeper into the subject:

6. Sell courses

We've already talked about it a bit, but a developer can also teach others to code. It is of course easier when we already have an audience that gives us credit. However, it is quite possible to sell courses online without having an audience beforehand.

For this, think of platforms like Pluralsight, tuto.com, Khan Academy, Linkedin Learning, Udemy, etc. These are video training platforms that have allowed hundreds of trainers (including developers) to experience the training they created.

The training can also take the form of an e-book or a book. And, even, a website that you would have created for the occasion.

If you would rather not depend on one platform to sell your training/book, and you already have an audience, read on.

7. Launch an e-commerce site

Why not actually sell products? You can create hundreds of objects about the world of code and development. Then you can sell them on your own online store.

On your store, you can also sell books, cheat sheets, or other training materials.

In fact, an e-commerce site potentially complements many of the options we discussed above. You can, for example, sell your WordPress themes directly on your own store!

On the other hand, the shop will surely be the least technical option of all. If you like to be dirty, apart from coding your store yourself, launching an e-commerce site is not the best idea.

Some tools to help you set up your e-commerce site:

These are not all the ways to make money as a developer, there are surely many more. On the other hand, these are the first seven that have come to mind and which seem to me to be relatively easily achievable.

I also noticed that I had already tested several of these activities and that I have good memories of them. In any case, I hope that you will find what you are looking for in this list, whether you want to increase, replace or diversify your sources of income. Good luck!

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