6 Financially Rewarding Side Hustles for Software Engineers
Updated: Mar 26
Software engineers have a plethora of knowledge that can earn them money on the side. However, a tiny percentage of engineers know how to utilize their expertise to build a profitable side hustle without leaving their day job.
For a long time, I was like most developers who thought side hustle was not for them. I assumed it was a lot of effort with little ROI. I also believed my experience was not worth sharing and certainly not something people would pay to learn.
But I was pleasantly surprised when I finally started my first side hustle in 2020. I attracted nearly a million views and made more than ten thousand dollars from just one platform in a year.
Now I am confident that any software engineer can start a passion project and earn from it.
Hence, this post is for people who would like to earn on the side by sharing their software engineering knowledge. It does not matter whether you are a student, an experienced programmer with a full-time job, or a freelancer. Irrespective of your experience level, you can use the given opportunities list to earn money.
You are reading this article on Medium. So, you are already aware of the platform. But do you know that anyone can write on Medium? Literally anyone. Just create a free account in Medium, and you are all set to start writing articles.
Medium is the most effortless platform to get started as a writer. There are no strict guidelines on style or format to publish an article. Feel free to use your creativity to the maximum. The platform also has an excellent help page to get you started as a writer.
Medium already has a huge reader base. It also has a great domain authority in Google. Hence, as a writer, you do not have to do any external marketing to attract readers. All you need to do is be part of the Medium Partner Program and focus on creating valuable content using your software engineering experience.
I started writing on Medium in August 2020. I had no prior experience in publishing articles. I have reached almost a million readers in one year, garnered 6K+ followers, and earned more than 18K USD from my articles. The best part is my articles make me money even when I am sleeping.
If you want to become a writer on Medium and need some help to get started, please feel free to reach out to me. I will be glad to help.
You don't need prior writing experience to write on this platform.
You don't need to be a paid subscriber of Medium to write here.
Software engineering and technology-related articles have a significant following on the platform.
The audience is knowledgeable, and comments are often encouraging for the writers.
Writing on Medium opens up more freelance opportunities on other platforms.
You need to have at least 100 followers to apply for the Partner Program.
From the second half of 2021, Medium has introduced an approval process to be part of the Partner Program even after you reach the minimum required follower count.
Writers from only certain countries are currently allowed to enroll for payment. There are workarounds to this limitation, though.
Currently, enrollment in the Partner Program is only available in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States
Educative.io is a training platform that provides self-paced text-based software engineering courses. The courses are highly interactive due to the inline code editors, terminal commands, web applications embedded within the lessons, etc.
The platform is looking for authors who can write in-depth courses to increase its product inventory. They pay for each course that is added to the platform. If you are a developer and have work experience in a particular programming language, you can create Educative courses.
You don't need to be an expert to write for the platform. You can pick a concept of the programming language and build an in-depth course. It does not have to cover the entire programming language. They also have the option of mini-courses that you can create with less than 25 lessons.
Educative's author acquisition team reached out to me to build courses for them. They found me through my Medium articles and LinkedIn profile. I am currently working with their team to develop my first course for the platform.
You can repurpose your technical articles from Medium (or any other platform) for relevant parts of your course.
If you are camera shy, then it is the right platform as the courses are text-based.
You don't have to spend a lot of time making videos for the courses.
The platform has excellent editor and widget support to create professional courses.
Great support from the platform team during each stage of course creation.
You don't need to market your course. Educative takes care of it.
The platform team takes multiple weeks to review the course outline before they provide feedback.
Courses need around 70% of interactive content (hands-on code assignments / widgets / assessments). It might be hard to build a course around architecture and design concepts with this restriction.
Once the course is accepted, the platform owns your published content.
Udemy.com is a video-based training platform. It provides self-paced courses and certifications on almost any topic you can think of, including software engineering.
Udemy is well-known across the software engineering community. A large number of enterprises have tie-ups with it for providing training for their employees. Hence, any course created on the platform has high visibility and thus a chance of making more money.
You can join Udemy as an instructor and create your courses. There 'Get started' page has all the details you will need to build your first course. If you wonder what good trending topics to create a course on, then take a look at their Marketplace Insights tool.
Suppose you aren't comfortable talking to the camera while teaching; you can always record the course without being on the screen. There are many successful courses on Udemy that are audio and slide-based. So, pick a topic that you are most passionate about and create your first online course.
If you need some help with getting started, go through this excellent course on Udemy (affiliated link). It will motivate you to use your existing technical knowledge and teach you how to create valuable online courses to earn money even while you are sleeping.
You have complete freedom of choosing your course topic and how you want to structure it.
You own your content even after publishing it on Udemy.
You don't have to market your content. Udemy does that for you.
Udemy's Teaching Center provides a good amount of resources to help you build your courses.
Excellent support from Udemy's Instructor Support Team during course building.
You can repurpose your technical articles from Medium (or any other platform) for relevant parts of your course.
Udemy already has a massive list of content on the platform. The competition for your course might be high due to it.
If you are not comfortable making videos, it will be challenging to build courses for Udemy.
Hiretheauthor is a relatively new platform for technical creators to offer paid consultations. The platform allows consultations in the form of one-on-one calls, mentoring subscriptions, and Q&As.
You can register on the platform for free and set up your profile (example: my profile). You have the freedom to decide what format of consultations you want to provide. You can also set up for all the modes if you feel you are up for it. I opted out of giving a monthly subscription option as it sounds like a lot of commitment.
Additionally, you are free to choose the price per consultation.
In a way, Hiretheauthor works as a monetization and discovery platform for technical creators. Once you set up your profile on the platform, you get a unique shareable link for your marketing purpose. You can share the link on your articles, tweets, videos, and social media handles to attract clients. Here is an example of how I use it on my website.
Your audience on various platforms can now use your shareable link and set up consultations with you or post questions for a predetermined fee.
You don't have to pay to create your profile and use the platform.
The platform is in its initial days. Hence, not much competition among the participants.
The consultation scheduling and payment process are pretty convenient.
You have complete freedom to choose your consultation schedule and fee.
The platform takes a tiny percentage as the commission from each job you get. You don't pay anything out of your pocket.
As it is early days for the platform, the reach is currently limited.
You have to do your marketing to get clients to purchase your consultations.
eBooks are a convenient way to earn money from your existing content as a technical creator. You can use your eBooks as a free product that attracts an audience for your online courses or consultations. You can also sell your eBooks on platforms such as Amazon KDP, Kobo, Payship, Lulu, etc.
Many people have the misconception that you need to write a book from scratch. I believed in the myth for a long time. But that's not true. If you are already writing technical articles, you can repurpose them. Stitch together articles on a similar topic and re-edit to make it flow like a book. That's all you will need to accumulate content for your first eBook.
I can understand if you are feeling a bit lost thinking about how to get started. I had the same feeling when I thought of creating an eBook for the first time. But after going through some helpful tutorials, I am in the final stage of completing my first technical eBook by repurposing some of my Medium articles.
You can go through this helpful udemy course on eBook creation (affiliated link) to get you started with creating your first eBook in no time. If you need some more motivation, you can watch these free sample videos on eBook creation from highly successful authors Tim Denning and Todd Brinson.
eBooks are easy to publish and sell than traditional publishing. Anyone with enough content can self-publish an eBook.
You can repurpose your existing technical articles from various platforms to create an eBook.
You can use eBooks as free give-aways to advertise and attract the audience for your paid courses or consultations.
If your eBook is successful, you can convert them into a paperback edition with minor effort for better reach.
If you have no content of your own yet, you will have to start from scratch. I would suggest you start writing articles keeping an eBook in mind. Once you have the required content, then stitch them together to create your eBook.
You will need designers' help to create your e-book design and cover photo if you want your book to look professional.
Youtube videos are an excellent way to earn recurring money from your content. If you plan to create video tutorials for Udemy, you can effortlessly repurpose the same through your Youtube channel. Similar to Udemy, you can post video content without showing your face in the video.
It is granted that Youtube is already crowded a lot. But it does not hurt when you are not going to put much effort into creating content solely for Youtube. Stephane Maarek's (one of the best-selling teachers in Udemy) Youtube channel is an excellent example of how to repurpose online tutorials for Youtube.
Also, the videos don't have to be coding-related. You can share your experience as a software engineer and inspire others. To give you the idea and some motivation, here are a few successful Youtube channels that focus on non-coding related software engineering topics: Mayuko, ForrestKnight, TechLead.
If you want a helping hand for making Youtube videos, check out this excellent online course (affiliated link) that guides you through the entire process of creating a successful channel for the platform.
You can repurpose your existing content without much effort.
You can advertise your primary side hustle through your videos and attract more clients to your online courses and consultations.
Youtube has a great reach across the globe. Hence, your videos have a better chance of attracting an audience without much effort.
The platform is crowded with a lot of content. Hence, building your audience will take a reasonable amount of time.
Monetization of Youtube videos starts only after 1000 subscribers to your channel and 4000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months.
These are some options that can make software engineers earn on the side by sharing their knowledge. Five out of six of these options make money even while you are sleeping.
These five side hustles do take some amount of effort to build the content. Most of these methods take time to build an audience before you regularly see a substantial amount of earnings. Hence, do not expect overnight success from your side hustles.
However, always remember, you just need to start. The rest will fall in place eventually if you remain consistent and keep persevering.
Thanks for reading the article. I wish you all the very best in your software career.
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