Make Money with programming. Your Advanced Guide

Hey there, it’s time for a new exhaustive article to jumpstart your career. By reading the full article you are gaining 3 years of experience. (this is how long it took me to get to my current knowledge about the topic)

Whenever you browse the net, chances are you heard of programmers getting paid over $100k a year, the bonuses are too good to be true, and the whole vision is just exciting yet scary given the hard work needed. But it’s way easier than you might ever think. I’ve worked remotely in a startup in California, I built my company (several), I built side projects. It was all out of desperation to elevate my lifestyle. And I can’t stress enough that you need to work smart, not hard. Here is what I learned as a dev-entrepreneur. 

Let’s start with this: 

1- Learn 1 Programming Language 

Doesn’t sound fun, you read it everywhere, and it’s getting cheesy. I confirm, yet, it’s important! You need to be advanced in 1 area. Don’t confuse being advanced with ‘working hard’. The easiest investment is to redirect all your energy into that 1 Programming language + stack. 

What happens when you do this?

  • Fast and reliable programming

  • Increases the quality of your code

  • More chances to get hired anywhere given your phenomenal portfolio

It’s not fun to invest your time in 1 thing only, and that is actually good. If it’s challenging to do so, then it’s challenging for anybody else. And persistence creates a native selection process that gets only the best performing programmers in that specific stack in the top 1% 

Learning multiple stacks is attractive and outstanding. But that is just the surface. In reality, you just brushed over multiple technologies and didn’t settle for the important. 

Now that we got this out the way. Let’s get into the real deal.

2- Remote Work (Not your average strategy)

Working remotely is both a curse and a blessing. Depends on how you look at it. But once I did it, I could never look back. 

Before applying for any remote work, You need to:

  • Know what you are doing (seriously): Don’t just apply because you learned a stack in the past 3 months. Theory and Production are 2 different things, to learn more about this The Gap Between Learning Code And Producing Usable Software . When you are working at a startup, you are expected to work with the CEO & CTO. There is no corporate politics and you are basically working with a bunch of friends. Not every startup is this way, and this is the beauty of starting out with a startup. You learn a L O T. 

  • Note: You’ll be expected to write advanced algorithms, solve problems, find solutions fast, work overtime, talk to people, etc.. Your task is mainly writing code but more often than not you’ll be doing something else. 

  • You need to have an incredible portfolio to showcase what you are capable of. While it’s not a must, a portfolio is a huge help since it tells a story about your aspirations, technical skills, and interests. Given the pandemic, businesses are more willing to consider remote work, make use of it! 

  • Note: Your portfolio doesn’t have to be too advanced though. Avoid perfectionism and just get started. You’ll learn from every project, and eventually shape your own story. 

  • Startups extremely need technical talent. This is your advantage! Startups pay so much to get technical talent. You can reverse engineer the formula and notice that: 

  • If you don’t ask for a too competitive salary

  • You have a fairly good portfolio

  • Ask to work remotely

  • Ask to work for free for the first month and you can be converted to an employee if you perform well

  • I can almost guarantee you’ll get the job, unlike Mr.Genius, the new graduate of Elite University Potato, has some side projects, asking for 200k in salary - No hate, I’ve seen them, wasn’t good looks, always stay humble. The industry is shifting toward talent, so don’t worry about a diploma.

3- Build side-projects:

The mindset to build successful side-projects is 180° from the one every developer starts with. Technical decisions build the foundation, Business callings create success. If you want to take this path, great! You’ll learn even more if combine it with the “remote work” strategy. 

Note: This is the hardest strategy among all the others. Here is why

You need a 70% business mindset and 30% technical. Not fun when you have to dive into a completely different area (Business). But there is a shortcut: If you are solving your own problem: build a solution for yourself, make it look great, and ship it to people. (chances are it will work if you look hard enough for initial users:)

4- Freelance:

This is the go-to strategy for anyone in any area. If done right, you don’t need to work anywhere, you can make a business out of it, and you’ll make some serious cash. But as I said, if done the right way.

Here is how:

  • Avoid freelancing on 3rd party platforms: Your reputation is linked to a score and restricted in a locked eco-system. If the company goes bankrupt (unlikely) you lose all your leads. You are also competing with at least 100+ people that been building their brand ages ago. Generally, it will take you longer to make it work there. 

  • Build your own brand. You might have guessed it, but you need a portfolio:) (see how important it is?) This is your green pass to credibility. A diploma is great and all that but does it make people money? debatable. 

  • When building a strong brand, you are literally building multiple potential passive income sources. You can create an e-book, SaaS service, software development agency, etc.. You name it!. As we always say “Doing what we love, investing in ourselves pays off.” ― Akiroq Brost

Note: You won’t easily find your first client; I highly recommend asking people in your circle. If you can’t, that’s fine, you’ll need to do it the hard way. But it gets easier thanks to network effects. Being recommended, making money, and building your own network at the same time. Can this get any better?

5- Build your audience: 

The Freelance strategy is based on this concept: Build your audience. You want people to know you. Gaining social credibility is the best asset you can ever ask for. It lasts, is ever-growing, and can bring passive income. 

However, your goal isn’t to build an audience of 1,000 people. You want much lesser: Just 100 :) Easy right? Well no. Check this out -by a16z- You want to have 100 super-fans not just people that ‘know’ you. To put things in perspective, you’ll need to go through 500, 1,000 , or 10,000 to find your first 100 super-fans. Once done, enjoy network effects. These people will actively recommend you to multiple others and defend your brand. 

There are multiple channels for building an audience but I’m not a big fan of them. Facebook, Instagram, Youtube etc.. these are great but the barrier to entry is pretty high. If you can’t run ads to promote your page you’ll have to invest quite some time building that audience. If you are going to invest just the same amount of work, why not do it through Blogging? 

If you have something to share, do it through writing. It’s everlasting traffic, you help people, and build up your brand. It’s not easy, it takes a lot of investment (time-wise) but at least, it’s your own asset. You don’t depend on an algorithm (kind of) to promote your content. 

Note: This strategy takes more time to make money, and is super long term focused. However, it’s important to work on at least 1 long term investment, here is why

This the exhaustive list to make money in 2020-2021 as a programmer. I’ll keep it updated. In order to know all of this, I had to put in the work. If you got value from it consider subscribing and sharing with your loved ones. This supports the website and keeps me motivated to help you out. Cheers! Until the next time :)