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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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  • App Store (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @02:57PM (#42874069)

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @03:13PM (#42874273)

    Look into creating code for AV control systems, AMX and Crestron being the big dogs in the game. Both offer online classes on how to write code for their control systems. Many AV companies are looking for good coders either to hire or contract. A few of my acquaintances who are independent have a deal with a luxury yacht builder to supply the code for the entertainment/living control systems they install on their boats, to list an example, but get the top level certifications from the above mentioned manufactures of these control systems and you can make some good change on the side. These systems are in use in all environments, plenty of need and opportunities.

  • by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @03:25PM (#42874401) Homepage Journal
    If so, working on personal projects that don't necessarily have any likelihood of financial reward may be much more satisfying than doing paying work in your spare time. I've certainly found that to be the case. I spend my spare time on projects that are just things I'm personally interested in. Often they're very obscure, and only of interest to a small number of other people. However, I enjoy them very much. Sometimes I publish them as free software, and when I do, it is very cool to meet the few other people with similar interests. Because I'm interested in a wide variety of things, I've got enough ideas for personal projects to keep me busy for hundreds of years, so I almost never get bored.

    I also was very lucky that a very-long-term project project in which I invested a huge amount of time (thousands of hours) starting in 1995, with absolutely no expectation of financial reward, actually started making me a non-trivial amount of money starting in 2009. I'm certainly not going to claim that this is a likely outcome, but it can happen.

    As an example of a small and very obscure personal project, in July of 2011 I rewrote the Apple I ROM monitor to work on an MC6800 microprocessor (rather than the 6502), because the Apple I hardware design was theoretically capable of being configured for the MC6800. It's of no practical value whatsoever, and will never make me any money, but I submitted it as a RetroChallenge contest entry and actually won second place and a small prize. Just recently someone in Australia actually installed an MC6800 in an Apple 1 replica, did a little hardware debugging, and got my monitor code running on it. (I'd only run it in simulation with MESS.) It was very satisfying watching the video on Youtube.

  • Re:Really? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @03:53PM (#42874697)

    Write an app to sell in an online app store. I've friend who have done very well out of Mac one.

    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.

    The Mac App Store didn't open until 2011, and it didn't start out so popular at first. The situation for developers targeting it has steadily improved over the past couple of years.

  • Not necessarily (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @03:58PM (#42874737)

    If you have no mobile devices and have to buy them from scratch to do your development and testing, you will be in the hole.

    No, testing environments and simulators don't cut it.

    App development for most - unless a bolckbuster app - is a money losing experience.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by immaterial ( 1520413 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @03:59PM (#42874747)
    I can't believe you got modded insightful for responding to someone who at least cited some personal experience with "I have no experience with this but you're wrong..."

    FWIW, a friend came to me a bit over a year ago with a simple idea and I threw it together over the course of a couple weekends and put it on the Mac App Store. Literally 4 days of coding and we've made thousands of sales at $1.99 each. That's not make-us-rich money, but it is damn good pay for a few days' work - and it's still selling with no additional effort from us.
  • by bokmann ( 323771 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @04:16PM (#42874903) Homepage

    speaking as the owner of a successful 7 person software consulting firm, its not worth my time to manage you.

    We have tried time and time again to try to utilize people for '15 hours on the side'. It fails miserably. You aren't there when I need you to unblock someone looking at your work, and if you have any other commitment, overtime on your main job, a sick kid, a band rehearsal, a stubbed toe, its evident that the '15 hours on the side' is your lowest priority... and that's fine, I mean, I wouldn't give up time with my kids for some beer money on the side, but generally, our priorities don't line up and its only a matter of time before I pay the price.

    Contribute to open source, build a portfolio, then determine if its something you're ready to commit to.

  • Re:Salesforce? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SQLGuru ( 980662 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @01:33AM (#42879925) Journal

    I've had less luck at the internet moonlighting sites (freelancer and guru.com) because there are way too many people competing for jobs (and too many people from India). I've had much better luck going through my local Craigslist. There have been a couple of duds (failure to pay or pay in a timely manner), but I can meet face to face and sell my skills based on an interview (I interview well) and also get a feel for the person requesting the work (I've turned a few down). That extra level of comfort seems to work in my favor.

    There are a lot of "make me a web site for $150" type of offers, but if you keep an eye out, you can usually find better projects (I just picked up one working with the Kinect -- which is something I wanted to learn anyway).

    I've made $2k to $4k most years in side work. If I took on more than 5 or 6 projects, I could probably get that number up to around $10k to $12k per year just working nights and weekends (but I'd rather have some free time). Probably not enough projects to quit my day job, but that's not what I'm looking for, anyway.

One can't proceed from the informal to the formal by formal means.