You want to test out new skills. (Don’t we all?)
You want more money while you’re at it, too. (Same.)
Maybe you’re looking to get a promotion, new job, or transition into full-time self-employment.
Either way, your day job isn’t cutting it for you financially, and you’re considering other options. You know you can earn more money as a developer, but taking on yet more coding projects sounds about as pleasant as skinny-dipping in the subarctic.
Fortunately, spending your life hunting for a missing semicolon on line 54 isn’t your only option for making more cash as a software engineer.
To prove it, we’ll go over six methods to earn more income -- half active, half passive -- today. So if you want to pad your pockets without ditching your weekend, read on.
3 ways to earn active income as a developer
Unlike passive income, which usually requires a lot of front-loaded work and then brings in a trickling stream of income after the initial launch, active income requires an ongoing commitment.
In exchange, your profits are more stable and sustainable over the long-term -- but you might have to lighten up your Netflix binge schedule to fit them in.
Or, alternatively, combine it if you use our first method -- coaching.
#1. Coach and mentor other developers
Development is a broad field that’s changing every day.
That gives you an opportunity to use your experiences and insights for new entries into the industry. It gives you the chance to become a programmer mentor or coach.
A chance that comes with endless niching possibilities, at that.
You could, for example, focus on helping developers who work with a particular language -- such as Eliot Sykes, who coaches Rails developers -- or in a particular field, like natural language processing (NLP).
Or, like John Somnez of Simple Programmer, you could offer life coaching to other developers.
Alternatively, instead of trying to attract individual coaching clients, you may increase your earnings and impact by working with small businesses instead.
94% of employees said they would stay with their current employer longer if their employer invested in their learning and development.
However, not all businesses have the time or expertise to coach employees who want further training -- that’s where you can come in.
And whether you work with private clients or a business’ employees, mentoring can be a win-win situation for both you and your mentees.
47% of people consider mentors to be important and 29% say they’re very important.
Of those with mentors, the average relationship lasts about 3.3 years, and the mentee and mentor talk for around 4 hours a month. All of that translates to a lot of billable hours for you as a developer career coach.
(About 156 billable hours, to be exact.)
But there’s a downside to that -- with your hours dependent on single clients, losing a mentee could put a serious crimp in your monthly financing. The way around that is our second method for making more bang for your developer book.
#2. Sell membership plans and coding boot camps
You’ve probably noticed you keep getting the same questions and giving the same advice on coaching calls, to colleagues, or in online forums.
Why not distill your advice into a membership plan where you can reach more people and increase your hourly earnings?
True, memberships will require more time from you each week or month than something like an evergreen course, but you can usually earn more from them because of their length.
Aside from their popularity, memberships are also incredibly flexible. You can change your membership’s structure to accommodate your schedule and desired income.
You could, for example, start a mastermind group where you support and administrate a group of like-minded people coming together to solve a very specific problem for a set amount of time.
Alternatively, you can create a group coaching program and limit membership enrollment to once or twice a year, or run regular cohorts.
For the ultimate flexibility, you could offer an open running membership program like like Steve Smith of devBetter.
As for what your membership includes, it could run the gamut from live group coaching, private coaching, pre-recorded videos and pre-written content, exclusive webinars, and more.
On the pricing side, you can price your membership site at whatever price tag you think reflects the value and quality of your members will receive.
Patrick Shyu, for instance, charged $6 for his monthly membership, although it’s not uncommon to see memberships charging in the high two-digit or three-digit figures for monthly fees.
There’s one last thing that membership sites have going for them as an income stream, too: they’re far more scalable than standalone products. Put plainly, they can grow to three times their size without three times the work.
However, as with private mentoring, their scalability comes at the price of higher commitment.
If you’d like an active income stream without the same time sink, the third solution -- creating a product for a specific niche -- may fit you better.
#3. Create an app or website for a specific niche
Apps and websites strike a sweet spot between active and passive income streams -- while they can require upfront effort, they only need as much ongoing work as you’ve designed them to require.
And with global mobile app revenue totaling over 365 billion in 2018 and projected to be worth 935.2 billion by 2023, they’ve got serious profit potential.
For example, the one-page website builder, Carrd.co, is run by two people and earns nearly $25,000 per month with over 20,000 users.
Likewise, this Wall Street trader-turned-physician earned over $70,000 over seven years by selling 10 apps.
These two examples aren’t anomalies, either.
Part of the (probable) reason these kinds of profits are so common is how cheap customer acquisition is for apps. On average, it costs only $2.89 to acquire a new user.
With it costing an average of $101.58 to acquire a user who makes an in-app purchase, however, consider designing apps or websites that target niche groups with high disposable incomes.
Next, you’ll want to investigate different monetization strategies for your app.
If you want to offer a free app, you could monetize it with ads, paid tiers, or in-app purchases.
A quick note of caution here, though. However you choose to monetize your app, stay cognizant of dark patterns.
Dark patterns are design and technical strategies designed to get users to unwittingly hand over data, make unintentional purchases, or make it hard for users to delete/exit an app or unsubscribe from a service.
Not only are dark patterns an ethically questionable approach to business and earning your customers’ loyalty, but politicians are introducing legislation to ban their use as well, which means your app could face fines or lawsuits in the future if they include them.