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Programming The Almighty Buck

Ask Slashdot: Making Side-Money As a Programmer? 257

earlzdotnet writes "I've been programming for a few years now, and I have a full time job. I'm one of those lucky souls that actually enjoy programming, so I commonly work on my own open source projects on weekends. However, I wouldn't mind working on a short-term projects (i.e. not more than ~2 months) every once in a while on weekends. I've looked at freelancing before, and I could probably make more money by working at McDonald's on weekends than that. I've also looked into making web sites for small businesses, but it requires a bit too much commitment and support for me, especially since I'm terrible at graphics design. I've tried my hand at writing reusable components to sell to other programmers, but that was pretty pointless (I made one $20 sale). I've seen teaching suggested, but I'm self-taught and probably not experienced enough to responsibly teach people. Are there any other options to make a bit of cash as a programmer? Is programming just one of those things that requires complete dedication, or what?"
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Ask Slashdot: Making Side-Money As a Programmer?

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  • Obviously... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @02:58PM (#42874077)

    You should work at McDonald.

  • by icsEater ( 1093717 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @02:59PM (#42874099)
    You can always develop iPhone and Android apps. Of course, you might not end up making any money. But you could get lucky and strike it big. Even if not, you'll be having fun.
  • OSS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @03:00PM (#42874109)

    I know you're looking for was to bring in some extra cash, but in the long run submitting patches to OSS might actually be the way to go. You get to see a wide variety of code (both in terms of quality and subject matter) so it's usually interesting, you get to "make a difference" especially if it's a project you care about, and there are a lot of managers out there who look favorably to having such things are a resume (so it might help you bring in more money in the future, just be sure you have your patches associated with you to prove that you were the submitter to a reasonable degree). Probably not what you were looking for, just my $.02.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @03:03PM (#42874147)

    Full-time programmers often sign an employment contract that assigns all IP to their employer for $1. Be very open with your employer about producing software that you believe belongs to you as opposed to them. Labour laws are regional so this may not apply. Does your employer offer any incentives to contribute extra work? I'd start there.

  • by magic maverick ( 2615475 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @03:03PM (#42874149) Homepage Journal

    Before you start doing freelance stuff, check your current contract for whether or not there is a clause about you telling them (and getting approval) before starting another job. You never know...

    Also, if you can make websites, you don't need to have design skills or anything. Look into reusing WordPress templates (or similar free design templates for other platforms) and then just build websites around them. Plus, if you use WordPress, you don't really have any issue, 'cause there are so many other people who can just then take up the support after you disappear.

    Also just chuck ads in the local paper. "Programming done", but beware of cranks.

  • Re:What about ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cob666 ( 656740 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @03:16PM (#42874315) Homepage
    I just looked at that website and browsed some of the projects. Based on how much the people putting up these projects want to spend, you probably WOULD be better off working at McDonalds.
  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @03:18PM (#42874335)

    Write an app to sell in an online app store. I've friend who have done very well out of Mac one. It would be helpful if you can find a graphic designer to work with you. Pretty apps sell better.

    And when did he do that?

    From what I've seen, that's so 2009. That "write an app and make $$$" days are well over.

    I have a LOT of ideas for apps, but when I look at the Apple store, Android - Google Play, etc ... I see that whatever I want to do has been done to death and it's available for FREE - by experienced app programmers who are much better than me. Try as I may to see if there's something I can do better, there isn't.

    Granted that's just me - not someone who may be much more gifted than me.

    Look it everyone, when you see advice online, it's jumped the shark. The folks who are going to do something that wil make one rich are doing it because they think it's cool (and WELL ahead of the curve) and they get lucky if it makes them $$$$. Yes, it's always hard work, but to hit the money? Luck.

    And then there are times when things have jumped the shark. iOS or any mobile app development has jumped the shark (I've said that too much) .

    Where in programming is a need not being filled? There's your answer.

    I don't know because if I did, I'd be doing it and not spouting it off on the interweb.

  • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @03:20PM (#42874349)

    If an employer asks you to do this, don't fucking sign it. I've had many employers over the years. Every agreement I've ever signed has said anything done on my time with my equipment is mine. Done on work time with work equipment is theirs. Don't accept anything more restrictive than that, its not worth it. Make them change it or find another job, they'll get the idea pretty quickly.

  • Re:Get a Raise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moses48 ( 1849872 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @03:23PM (#42874375)

    Ask for a raise at work, and continue your open source contributions on the weekend?

    There are a few ways to get more pay:
    1) Increase skill-set, ability and move to a job that pays more. (spend weekends training and researching what jobs pay more)
    2) Side job - (if it doesn't conflict with your current work contract)
            a) Use an agent to find you a job working remote or weekends, they exist
            b) create own application (may or may not payoff)
    3) Talk to management about overtime opportunities. Usually doesn't hurt to see what their policies are. If you are salaried they will often look down on this, but they might be willing to give a bonus for an extra project being done in overtime. You can also talk about your career path.

  • Re:What about ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @03:30PM (#42874465) Homepage

    I don't think many on Rent-A-Coder can actually program. I once put a job on there. I had a simple Python program that would retrieve and format in a standard form WHOIS data from one registrar's WHOIS server. I wanted modules written for about 50 other registrars. That's a simple formatting job; I just didn't want to write all the variants. Three Rent-A-Coder "programmers" in succession tried and gave up. Not one ever delivered a single line of code. This wasn't exactly rocket science.

    I tried "" once for some simple web design work. I was willing to pay about $500 for one well-designed page with some specific original artwork. I got back crap clip art. I finally paid $500 to a student at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, and got back good work in a week with no problems.

    "" was difficult about returning my money. I discovered that the regional small claims court in Australia accepts online filings. I filled out the appropriate online forms, paid a small court fee, and within hours of filing a case, Freelancer sent me a refund by wire transfer.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quirkz ( 1206400 ) <ross.quirkz@com> on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @04:27PM (#42875005) Homepage
    I think it's important to distinguish between something that's worth doing because it pays a little additional cash wile being fun, versus doing something to make you rich. You seem to be focused on the latter, while the original question seems to be focused on the former.
  • Don't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bocsika ( 929320 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @04:49PM (#42875201)
    I did two jobs on the same time.
    Spend the life together with your family, your kids.
    Forget the bits and nerd stuff.
    Read and walk with your children.
    Get a dog, that makes you move out more frequently.

    The electrons in the CPU do not deserve your precious time, they are immortal, you are not.

This is now. Later is later.