3 Ways to Make a Side Income as a Developer

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Side Hustle

Just a warning for you dear reader, I’m going to sound like a scammy late-night infomercial in this article. I’m going to go delve into how I earn $10k in side income in about an hour or two a day and how you can do the same thing. I’m not writing this article to brag but solely because I want you to do the same and to not fall into the same thoughts I used to have about money.

I used to think that the only way I could make money was from my job. That thought has probably cost me tens of thousands of dollars of lost opportunity but there are many other ways to make money, especially as a developer.

With jobs, you make what I like to call “now money”. You exchange hours for dollars at a rate your employer determines. If you work a salaried job then you get a paycheck every week regardless if you worked more hours than the agreed-upon amount during that period.

In the past year alone I made over $10k on the side while working my normal job. I ended up spending about 165 hours of my free time making that money. It was difficult to do but I’m glad I did it. I’m not saying that to brag but to set realistic expectations for you. This isn’t going to be an article about how I clicked a button and made $10k in an hour while wearing my PJs.

Making a side income has been difficult for me up until this point. Making a side income usually happens in your free time, time that you aren’t working your normal 9-5 job. This is time that you usually use to hang out with your family, with your friends, do recreational activities such as playing video games.

Then I found that if I spend just an hour or two a day before I start my job, I can get many things done and still have time in the evening to spend with my friends and family. In this article, I’ll explain the things you can do to make around $10k of side income if you spend an hour or two a day for about a year.

Skillshare

Skillshare is a paid online learning platform that makes it easy for people who have never taught online before to get started. You won’t get rich quickly by submitting Skillshare classes, I had two 10-minute long classes on there for a while but I only made $5-10 a month off of them, but I still believe it is a great way to start making passive income.

It took me about 6 hours to create 1 10-minute long Skillshare class. Those 6 hours included everything from researching the topic I was creating a class on, writing the script, shooting the class, then editing it. If you were to dedicate 1 hour a day to creating a Skillshare class, you could create one every week. Over time those 6 hours would lessen as you got better at creating courses.

The more classes you submit the more you’ll build your audience on the platform, each class will build on each other, this is called the snowball effect. When you start your channel you’ll only have 1 class but that will build over time if you stay consistent with it. I think it’s possible to make $1k – $2k a month if you keep up with this for 6 months to a year.

If you’re struggling to come up with what you would teach, ask yourself, what thing do people ask me to do at my job that nobody else wants to touch that I enjoy doing? Or what things do people ask you for help on the most? I would start there.

Here are some great Skillshare classes about how to make Skillshare classes (it’s pretty meta)

If you want to check them out for free for 2 months, use this link to sign up for Skillshare. If you want to create Skillshare classes, I suggest taking some of the top ones to see what the best teachers on the platform are doing. Study why they are successful then you could do the same.

Before you start creating Skillshare classes I do have to warn you that I had two classes on their platform but they were removed by Skillshare. The reason why they were removed was that their production quality wasn’t up to Skillshare’s standards. So if you go down this path, I highly suggest learning how to create quality video content before you create your first class to not repeat the same mistake I made. I still think that Skillshare is a great platform to make a side income on, but be careful.

To mitigate the risk of Skillshare taking your class down, I suggest at the beginning and end of every class you make, promote an email list for your students to sign up for that notifies them when you create new classes and provides other content on the topic that your teaching. That way if Skillshare takes your class down, you still have an email list of people who were interested in your content.

Design Frame Solutions

Working as a freelance programmer for Design Frame Solutions (DFS) is a great source of “now money”. When you start a project you’re paid upfront, and then you get paid out at different phases of the project. You get to work on these projects on your time, there is no scheduled time that you have to work on these projects, you just have to be able to hit the project deadlines.

I’ve been working on DFS projects for a little over a year now and it’s nice to have a source of steady side income. Every project that I’ve worked on has been different.

The clients are aware that everyone works for DFS on a part-time basis so timelines are realistic. When I work on a DFS project I usually do it after I’m done with my day job, I work on it for an hour or two a day and I can usually hit the timeline without having to “crunch” to get it done.

Last year I made a little over $8k working for DFS. It is convenient to make that amount only working part-time during the evening and you can do the same.

Real Estate

I included real estate in this article because usually developers make a pretty good salary and they could afford to purchase assets such as real estate. Also if you can learn something as complicated as development, you can pick up real estate.

I “broke up” with my landlord about a year ago and I bought my own duplex. I rent out the other side so I’m only paying about half of the mortgage, which is far less than what I was paying living in an apartment.

If you’re living in an apartment and you know you want to stay in the area that you’re in for a while, I highly recommend buying a house or a multi-family unit like I did. Rent is usually everyone’s biggest monthly expense. If you can get it down by buying a duplex and renting out the other side to offset the cost of the mortgage, it’s like making a side income. When you’re living in an apartment you’re throwing away money every month, that money could be going towards your mortgage to pay off your home instead.

My plan is to buy a new property every other year and rent it out to someone. If I make more money from the tenant paying me rent than I pay on the mortgage then I’m happy.

There are a lot of pitfalls you have to be aware of when it comes to real estate but I think it’s a great long-term play.

I just went over the very basics of it here but if you want more info, I’d check out Meet Kevin and Graham Stephan on Youtube. Graham has a great getting started video here. Also, I recommend listening to this episode of the Bigger Pockets Podcast if you’re a beginner. In that episode, the hosts interview a guy who retired at 35 on a teacher’s salary through real estate which I found really inspiring. If you’re more into reading I suggest picking up The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller. It’s a 432-page book showing you exactly what to do start investing in real estate.

If you liked this article you can see more like this at richiekastl.com. There I go over things that I wish “past Richie” would have known, such as making a side income as a developer in an hour or two a day. If you have any questions or comments reach out to me on Twitter at @richiekastl. Thank you for reading.

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About Richie Kastl

Richie Kastl has been a front-end developer for over 10 years. If you like his articles you can see more like this at richiekastl.com. There he go over things that I wish "past Richie" would have known, such as how to finish a side-project or how to make a side income.

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