8 Side Income Ideas For Programmers (That Actually Work)

Let’s face it, software engineers have pretty high salaries.

You can easily live a very comfortable life based on your salary.

However, some programmers like to explore side income ideas to supplement their full-time salaries.

Maybe you want to get an early retirement?

Maybe you want to experience the freedom of simply having enough money so that you never have to worry about finances or losing your job.

The reasons why you might want an extra income in addition to your salary are numerous and varies from one person to another.

In this article, I will share with you some side income ideas that will help increase your income without quitting your full-time job.

1. Investing

For many programmers, saving money is just good enough.

It is a very simple thing to do. You get your salary deposited to your bank account. You spend some of it and you save the rest.

As long as you spend less than what you earn, your net worth will gradually increase over time.

The issue is that leaving cash in your bank account is not ideal because idle cash doesn’t bring any returns.

And because of inflation, this essentially means that you are in fact losing money.

If you want to build your wealth, all indicators show that you have to invest your money.

If you just started your programming career right out of college, you probably don’t know a lot about stock market investing.

Here is a beginner’s guide that will teach you everything you need to learn about stock market investing.

Just to be clear I am not talking about day-trading and spending all your free time buying and selling stocks! That is a job in itself and you will not have the time or the energy to do that.

What you should do instead is focus on long-term investing.

By that, I mean to invest your savings in good companies and let your portfolio grow slowly over time.

You can invest in ETFs, mutual funds, or individual stocks of good businesses using any of the available online brokers.

It used to be the case that you would pay fees to online brokers whenever you buy or sell stocks but these days are long gone :).

If your online broker is still charging you transaction fees, it is time to change your broker.

One important thing though is that you always need to be on top of all your investments, your 401ks, Roth IRAs, RSUs, and stocks that you invest in yourself.

Pro Tip: Sign up with Robinhood today and get a Free stock immediately. They pioneered commision-free trades and then all major brokers followed suit.

2. Create a Video Course

At this point in time, there are actually more positions for skillful programmers than there are people to fill those positions.

With that in mind, it is easy to conclude that programming is in incredibly high demand right now, and will be for years to come.

With that much demand, not only can you make money through programming but also you can make money teaching programming.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of people in the world who want to learn what you already know.

And if you are a talented teacher, this could be an excellent side income for you.

You can literally teach programming to anyone in the world. It’s is a HUGE market.

Platforms like Udemy make it super easy to create your courses and make money from them. All you need to do is create a high-quality course.

They will take care of the marketing and everything else.

This course by Daniel Scott teaches you how to create, market, and sell your first online course.

This one by Miguel Hernandez teaches you how he was able to make $90K selling his online courses.

3. Start Your Own Programming Blog

This is by far my favorite side-income source.

I make an extra $1500~$2000 per month from this blog alone, helps pay a big chunk of the expensive silicon valley rent. If you want to start your own blog, I wrote an in-depth article about how and why you should start one.

The advantage of this method is that not only will you be making money, but you will also be making yourself a name in the programming community.

Marketing yourself as a software engineer and having a strong online presence is extremely important and it will open the doors for a lot of opportunities in your career that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

In addition to building your personal brand, I am a strong believer that you can’t fully learn something until you teach it.

With a programming blog, you will be teaching others about programming while improving as a programmer yourself. All that while making money at the same time. How awesome is that?!

And it doesn’t have to be expensive, you can start your WordPress blog today for as little as the price of a cup of coffee

But wait a minute, how can you make money from your programming blog?

You can monetize your blog in several ways:

First: Advertisements

The first method is to simply put ads on your blog.

If you don’t know where to start, you can always start with Google Adsense.

Google allows you to put Google ads on your site and get a share of the ad revenue every time one of your readers click on the ad.

Here is a good in-depth article about Google Adsense.

If you decide to monetize only with ads, you should always be trying to increase your readers as your ads income is directly proportional to the size of your readers.

After you get comfortable with Adsense, you can start experimenting with other premium ad agencies.

For example, popular programming blogs/sites like coding horror, codewars, and others use carbon ads.

Second: Being an Affiliate

Alternatively, you can try to set up your own affiliate system by selling other people’s products.

For example, you can sign up with Amazon associates and start selling any amazon product on your blog.

That’s pretty awesome because Amazon has pretty much everything under the sun.

When you sign up, Amazon will give you a referral link that you can use on your blog. If your readers go to amazon through your referral link and buy anything from amazon, you get a commission.

The commission varies a lot based on the product, your performance, and other variables.

Since your readers are interested in programming, you should always suggest products that are valuable to programmers like programming books and software.

Now let me give you a word of advice.

Unlike monetizing with ads, when you monetize through being an affiliate, you might be tempted to recommend expensive products even if you have never used these products yourself.

Don’t do that. This is dangerous!

Whatever you recommend, make sure you recommend the products you actually use.

This is extremely important because the most valuable asset that you have is the trust of your readers.

Don’t ever compromise this mutual trust for a few extra bucks. Make sure you recommend good, valuable products that you use yourself. If you don’t use the product, don’t recommend it. Period.

Third: Selling your own products

Selling your own products on your blog requires the most work but it brings in the most money.

Once you set up the products you want to sell and do everything on your end, your blog will continue to passively make money for you.

Make sure that your product aligns well with your readers.

Your products should be valuable to programmers and computer scientists.

For example, you can sell books about programming and the software engineering career.

Let me be clear here, selling your own product isn’t going to be easy.

Among other things, you will need to learn about online marketing and proper ways to promote your products.

However, these skills are extremely useful for you as a person and as a software engineer.

4. Fiverr

One of the easiest ways to get started making a few bucks on the side is through freelancing on Fiverr.

If you don’t know what Fiverr is, it is one of the largest online marketplaces for freelancers with services starting at five dollars.

These services can be in a wide variety of categories including programming, business, marketing, design, writing, translation, video, music, and much more.

So whether you want to use your existing programming skills to make money on the side, or you have other skills that you would rather monetize, Fiverr can be your gateway to the freelancing world.

And in addition to making money on Fiverr by being a freelancer, you can also use the site to outsource some of the tasks that you would rather someone else do, freeing up your precious time to do something more valuable with it.

I personally hired freelancers on Fiverr for various tasks especially when it comes to logo and graphic design.

5. Ecommerce

Let’s face it, e-commerce (aka selling products online) is taking over the retail world.

Every day, we witness traditional brick and mortar retail shops are going out of business.

One idea for a side income could be to grab a piece of this pie and start your own e-commerce business.

Setting up your online store, and even finding products to sell, is super easy these days with platforms like Shopify.

The tough part is NOT actually getting your store set up (you can literally do this in a couple of hours), but what will require more effort and time from your side is to be able to market and sell your products.

You need to be creative about the different ways you can market your products. How are you going to find your target audience? Paid ads or organic traffic? How competitive is your niche?

Being creative and having a solid thought-out strategy is what is going to differentiate you from your competition.

Similar to other side income ideas in this post, this one also requires work but if you get it right, E-commerce has the potential to completely replace your current job. 

Here is a step-by-step comprehensive guide from Shopify about how to build and grow your online E-commerce business.

6. Start Your Own YouTube Channel

If you want more personal interaction with your audience and you have a likable friendly personality, you can start your very own Youtube channel.

Believe it or not, most software engineers could use some experience when it comes to public speaking.

After all, being able to work on your public speaking and communication skills can be very beneficial to you and your career.

So even if we were to entirely disregard the potential income (which could be significant), starting your youtube channel is still worth it.

I personally think starting a youtube channel is much more effective than just starting a blog.

Because Youtube allows you to build a much stronger relationship with your audience at a much deeper level than a programming blog would.

Of course, the best strategy is to have both.

Now when it comes to monetization, making money on youtube isn’t very different from making money from your blog.

You can also monetize with youtube ads, affiliate links, or selling your own products.

7. Build a Piece of Software and Sell It

To end the list, here is a strategy that requires the most work out of the bunch – making your own piece of software in order to sell it.

You are a programmer. You write software. This is what you do.

The idea here is very simple.

Instead of writing software for someone else to sell, make some software that you sell yourself.

This requires more than just your programming skills, you need to develop an eye for business needs and opportunities.

Build a software product that the market needs or that helps other people solve their problems and you will be in good shape.

You will also need to work on your marketing skills as well to be able to promote your software.

All of these skills, despite being extremely important, are skills that the average programmer does not have and you will be at a huge advantage if you can learn and employ these skills.

That said, not everyone who tries to make their own piece of software succeeds.

In fact, the probability is quite slim. But if your product does take off, it can be very lucrative.

You can create a phone app, a SAAS service, or just a downloadable software. It’s your call.

8. Freelancing on Upwork

In addition to Fiverr, Upwork is yet another way you can utilize your programming skills is to be a freelancer on Upwork.

Upwork allows clients from all over the world to find and hire you if you have the skills they are looking for.

Programming is definitely one of the most in-demand skills that are required and you should definitely consider freelancing if this is what you want to do.


There are many ways you can make a side income as a programmer.

Pick whatever interests you the most and go for it.

Good luck 🙂

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5 years ago

Good article, however, the statement of us making hefty salaries as a matter of fact is just ludicrous. I certainly don’t– and many, many others I know do not make near what I’d call hefty. Maybe in Silicon Valley or certain parts of California, but not most of the United States.

5 years ago
Reply to  Jason

Where do you live? I’m not in a tech hub and I make close to $100k/year in total compensation as a senior developer and I’m fairly underpaid according to other salaries at similar companies around here. Sure, my first job was $55K, but that’s still a pretty livable salary…

4 years ago
Reply to  Derek

I make less than $100 a month in Ghana

Martin Sanders
4 years ago
Reply to  Jason

It’s all about perspective. If you are a new junior programmer than pay will be peanuts (that was my experience).

Now, after 12 year in the industry I get several job offers a week, and have been offered twice the pay i’m currently on (I turned them down as did not wish to relocate to London).

4 years ago
Reply to  Jason

“…not most of the United States”? Well, I don’t know what part of the United States you are talking about, but here in Miami I make 75, 000.00 per year as a Junior Ruby on Rails Developer and honestly I can’t complain. Is not a lot, but is enough to live comfortably. In fact, “in Silicon Valley or certain parts of California” no matter how much you earn, all that money means nothing after paying a huge rent and so many ridiculously expensive bills.

4 years ago
Reply to  Reinier

I don’t agree that it means nothing. If your expenses are the same percentage of your income, you still have more money to save/spent at the end of the day.

4 years ago
Reply to  Jason

I live in Miami and work remotely as a Senior C# Developer for a company in Virginia. I make 130k + full benefits. There are many companies in the US that offer salaries above 100k.

3 years ago
Reply to  Jason

I don’t know about you, but in Arizona Junior level positions regularly pay around $75k starting salary + full benefits. The cost of living here isn’t too bad either.

5 years ago

Good tips.

abdallah osamah
4 years ago
Reply to  Jake

you are right

Martin Sanders
4 years ago

Great article, some things I never considered.

4 years ago

Nice Article.