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Cover image for 6 Different Ways I Make Money as a Software Developer  -  You Can Too

6 Different Ways I Make Money as a Software Developer  -  You Can Too

sunilc_ profile image Sunil Kumar ・8 min read

I wanted to make money on the internet for years, but I didn't know how to get started.

Being a Software Developer is like a super power. The skill provides abundant opportunities to make money on the internet. You can literally change your life with this one skill. Although most of us learn how to code & build software as part of academia and then work in big MNCs, we still don't know the endless possibilities the skill offers.

In this article I'll share the 6 different ways I make money from and how can do it too.

  • Professional Developer
  • Freelancing
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Blogging
  • Info Products
  • Bootstrapping a SaaS Product

1. Professional Developer

This is the obvious choice everyone knows about. Software Developer is a lucrative job and you can make a lot of money if you stick with this for a long time. Software industry is surging and right now there's a huge demand for good software developers. So if you're a good developer, you can definitely be employed by one of the top paying companies like Google, Facebook, Atlassian etc.

This path is becoming less popular nowadays with the boom of creator economy. More people want to step away from the 9-5 rate race & want to have the freedom and start their own businesses even if they make less money initially.

But if you're okay with working for someone else throughout your career and lead a comfortable life, then this is definitely an option you should consider.

I'm currently working as a Team Lead myself in Startup in India and getting paid good salary. But I do not want to continue working for someone else forever. I want to build a business of my own and retire early. To achieve this in the long term I'm working on the below ideas to make money on the side. Let's discuss about each of them.

2. Freelancing

Getting started with freelancing is not easy. Everyone knows that. You know that some people are making hell lot of money through freelancing, charging thousand dollars to multiple clients building websites every month. But most people don't know how to get started with freelancing.

There are many platforms where you can start your freelancing journey:

  • Toptal
  • Freelancing .com
  • Upwork
  • Codementor
  • Hubstaff Talent
  • Fiverr etc

Start with small tasks. For example:

Write a Python script to scrape top 10 results from google dot com.

You can find such tasks on all the above platforms.

Remember that it's not easy to find your first task. I had given up on freelancing numerous times in the past after applying for countless jobs without getting any conversion. Finally in September 2019 Codementor helped me earn my first dollars through freelancing on the internet. If you want to get started with Codementor, here's an article for you.

Start slow. Once you gain the confidence to talk to people, convince them to give you tasks, try to scale your freelancing business. Try to find bigger projects which can span multiple months. I know this is not easy. But if you can do this, it can give you the flexibility & freedom you always wanted from your 9-5 job.

I have been making good money on the side from freelancing. I'm mainly active on Codementor & trying to get into Toptal now.

3. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is one of the easiest ways to make money on the internet. But without an audience or a social media following it can be difficult.

Here you basically earn a commission by selling someone else's product to people through your unique link. The thing I love about affiliate marketing is that you don't need to have a product of your own. You can sell the already proven and loved products & make a commission.

Companies like Gumroad are really revolutionising the creator economy with more and more people creating info products every single day. You can find these creators on social media channels like Twitter, Instagram etc. You can DM them and ask them if they're open to add you as an affiliate for their products. Once they add you, you get a unique link which you can then share with your audience and make sales.

But It's not as simple as it sounds. There are challenges with this business, just like with any other. To sell products to more people you need to have a good online presence, basically a list of people who follow you, trust you and want to buy products from you.

Building an online presence is a slow process and takes time. You need to consistently provide value for free for a long period of time to build a significant follower base. I have been growing my Twitter presence from the past 10 months. I had around 150 followers when I started. At the time of writing this articles I have 17.1k followers on my Twitter account.

I have made around 2.6k USD on Gumroad from the past 8 months, mainly promoting products on Twitter.

Screenshot 2021-04-16 at 7.01.49 PM.png

Right now I'm trying to scale this income by applying new strategies. Let's see where it takes me in the next couple of months.

4. Blogging

Blogging is another great way to make money on the internet. Many people think that blogs are dead and nobody reads articles anymore in a world where YouTube is famous. But that's not the case at all.

People do read articles and you can still try blogging if you're not comfortable with talking in front of a camera.

There are many ways to make money through blogging.

  • Medium partner program
  • Freelance writer
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Paid articles etc

Medium partner program is one of the popular platforms for beginners to start making money. Of course you will earn less in the beginning. But if you are consistent you can make a lot of money in the long run. Some of the top writers on Medium make more than 25k USD per month on Medium partner program. In fact the money you make per view is more than you make on YouTube!

You can see how Shelby was able to make money from Medium Partner Program without any prior experience in these videos:

I've started writing articles on Medium and have made very little money so far. But this is still the beginning & I'm happy with the way things are going. Here are my earning for the month of April 2021 so far.

Screenshot 2021-04-16 at 7.39.06 PM.png

5. Info Products

As mentioned earlier the creator economy is booming and more people are creating info products and making a living out it, every single day.

Basically you create info products like ebooks which can be as small as 10 pages to a couple of hundred pages or a video course etc.

Pick any niche you know something about and create an info product in that. You don't need to be an expert in the area to do this. You can research on the things you're not clear about. Basically people are willing to pay for anything which they can learn from or solves their problems.

For example so many people want to make money through freelancing but most of them struggle to find their first task. Having freelancing experience on my side, I can create a small ebook which covers how to get that first task and start making money. This information can be valuable to many people and they will pay for such a product.

The good thing about info products is that it's a one time effort to create the product and you can make money for life with minimal effort for occasional marketing.

For instance Daniel Vassallo has made around 350k USD from 2 of his products in around 2 years after quitting his job at Amazon.

There are so many successful people on Twitter who are killing it with their info products on Twitter. After getting inspired by Daniel's journey even I started building an audience and released my ebook for free in December 2020. These are the stats at the time of writing this article:

Downloads: 1639 copies

Revenue: 150.99 USD

developer-wisdom-stats.jpeg

Even though the ebook is available for free, so many people still decided to pay for it because they want to support my work and appreciate all the valuable free content I post on Twitter every single day.

6. Bootstrapping a SaaS Product

Bootstrapping SaaS products is another popular way to make money on the internet. Basically the idea here is to build a small product which solves a niche problem and sell it to users. This doesn't follow the typical startup path where the plan is to raise funds, build a team and scale it to a billion dollar company.

Here you mainly focus on keeping the team small. Typically between 1-5 people taking care of the complete product.

The main idea behind bootstrapping is to get the freedom from working for someone else and work on something you love.

Bootstrapping a business is typically not easy (at least for me it wasn't!). You need to find a niche problem, validate the idea, see if people are willing to pay for such a product, build an MVP and finally market it and make money.

Most people make the mistake of starting to build the product without validating the idea first. I made this mistake and built a product which I thought was cool and later realised that there was no demand for it. Do not make this mistake.

If you want to go this way, you should follow these people and see how they are building indie businesses online:

Arvid has a lot of resources on building bootstrapped businesses on his website.

I was also so inspired by Peiter's talk here that it made me build my first bootstrapped product Landr.

Resources:

Here's is a list of all the courses I bought in 2020 which have helped me make money on the internet.

Conclusion:

  • Internet is a great place to build businesses with Software Developer skills.
  • Build an online presence first. Having an online presence will help you see significant results.
  • Don't focus on too many ideas at once. Stick to a couple and scale them.
  • You will make peanuts in the beginning. Stick with it for a long time to make more money. Compounding is the best thing there is.
  • Know that it's not easy to build an online business. Everyone struggles. Only when you are persistent, you will be successful at it.

The article was originally published on my blog. You can find it here.

You can connect with me on twitter where I usually share my knowledge more frequently on AWS concepts, building SaaS products and becoming a better developer in general.

Discussion (19)

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leob profile image
leob • Edited

Apart from option 1 (working for a boss), I think that option number 2 (freelancing) is still the most reliable and "scalable" way to generate a steady revenue stream. All of the other options are nice but seem very marginal for any but a very small group of people who "made it" - who've managed to hit the jackpot with their blog or "digital product" - I think there can only be a small number of "winners" in those areas.

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bhupesh profile image
Bhupesh Varshney 👾

+1
All other options indirectly requires you to "grow" or "build" your audience which is what an average twitter user does all the time

Although I do like to build a SaaS one day, just for the sake of it 👀

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leob profile image
leob

Apart from freelancing, building a SaaS is the option that would appeal most to me ... as you said, the other options are more about social networking and getting followers than about building products ...

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sunilc_ profile image
Sunil Kumar Author • Edited

Agreed. Although making money through info products is easy well. But one needs to build a social presence for months/years before selling info products.

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leob profile image
leob

Right, so to be successful with info products you need a lot of patience and willingness to invest in building your "presence" - if you're not prepared or willing to go through that, then it's not going to be "easy" to earn money this way ... that's what I mean when I say that freelancing is the most obvious and straightforward way to make money as a dev, because it means doing what you like and what you're naturally good at. All of the other options are much more of a long shot and don't come naturally to most people.

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bhupesh profile image
Bhupesh Varshney 👾 • Edited

For people who may want to add adverts to their blog but want something less annoying then Google ads, checkout carbon ads or ethical ads. The money might be less but user experience is much better then google ads

Note: Both are these services are not for everyone especially if you have just started writing, they require at least 10k average monthly visits

So practically there is no way other than google ads
But

  • You can sign up as a Brave Creator
  • Add web-monetization to your blog
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asquare14 profile image
Atibhi Agrawal

Thanks for the lovely article ! May I know how you joined the medium partner program while being in India. I want to join too

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Sunil Kumar Author

So many people have asked me this question on Twitter :)

I basically have a company setup in US through Stripe Atlas. I was able to subscribe to Medium Partner Program through that Stripe account.

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asquare14 profile image
Atibhi Agrawal

Thank you 💕

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Daniel Diaz

Interesting article! thanks for sharing it.

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Sunil Kumar Author

You're welcome Daniel.

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efleurine profile image
Emmanuel

Thanks for the advises. I need this as I hope to scale earning more contracts remotely

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Sunil Kumar Author

You're welcome and all the very best 🙂

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COBaker

I think working as a freelancer is absolutely unnecessary here. There is a job that will be much better than a freelancer, it has a lot of disadvantages!

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Sole Garay

Just a heads up here! Even you can make money with Codementor, you can also make (and maybe more) with Arc, sister company of Codementor.
You can join Arc with the same Codementor account, take a look a it!
If you need any help, I'm here :)

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Sunil Kumar Author

That's awesome. I never tried on Arc. Would love to know more. How can I get in touch with you? 😀

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solegaray profile image
Sole Garay

Sure Sunil! Please write me directly to sole@arc.dev!

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Sunil Kumar Author

Cool. I'll get in touch with you ☺️

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solegaray profile image
Sole Garay

Hi Sunil!! didn't get your contact yet :)