How to Make Money While You Learn to Code
It’s no secret that learning to code takes time. While plenty of people have a natural flair for it and can build functioning apps or websites within a few weeks, there’s a lot of elbow grease required for others. No matter how much of programming genius you are, however, everyone starts off earning the same amount of money; zero. But that’s not to say that you can’t start earning money right away. Sure, it may not be the $100k+ salary that senior web developers rake in, but it’s a start. And every penny counts, right?
Here are five ways to earn cash while learning to code.
Most people seriously over-estimate the skill level required to build an app. In fact, these days you don’t actually need any programming skills thanks to certain software. But that’s certainly not the route for budding programmers to go down. If you’ve been learning Swift or Objective-C, you’ll be able to create basic iOS apps within a few hours. If you have a useful, marketable idea for an app, you can easily make money by building it yourself for free, launching it on the App Store and selling it to the public. All with just a day’s worth of work. If you think you have a flair for app development and the million-dollar app ideas just keep coming, check out PhoneGap, Appcelerator or Apache Cordova. These automatic coding apps can help you make apps in minutes rather than hours – but that doesn’t mean you can skip on your coding studies.
Work for Locals
Start-ups and big businesses naturally require professional-level programming. But small local businesses often just need the most basic apps and websites. Generally speaking, they also don’t have huge budgets to hire web or app developers. In other words, they want a solution that is as simple and cheap as possible. You are that solution! If you can prove that your skills match their needs (and trust us, in most cases, they will), local business owners will be more than happy to hire you. Unfortunately, you shouldn’t expect to be rolling in cash – but it’s a great way to land your first job, gain experience with real-life projects rather than just building things for yourself, and you may even get a second or third job out of it. Ask around your neighborhood or advertise your services locally and see what happens.
For every coder out there who knows their stuff, there are probably ten or more brand new coders who want to learn. Where do most of them start learning? Online, using whatever free tutorials they can find. Record your screen while you work on some easy to follow projects, add some comments or a voiceover and hey presto, you’ve got a set of tutorials. Set up your own website, populate it with those tutorials and some more good quality content, link it up to Google AdSense and your bank account will slowly but surely begin to fill up. For this, you’ll also need to know about Search Engine Optimisation, content creation, web design and a little bit of marketing. But hey, that’s all part and parcel of being a well-rounded programmer/developer/general tech guru. Believe it or not, it can actually be pretty fun too.
The number one way to make money while your code is by doing freelance work on the side. However, this is easier said than done. Clients expect industry level code and you may find it difficult to source jobs at your skill level that are actually worth the money. However, if you want to build a career as a freelancer or a consultant, it’s never too early to get in the game. Set up a profile on sites like Upwork or Freelancer, join relevant Linkedin Groups, and start bidding for jobs. Be very careful not to mislead potential clients about your level of expertise, and don’t take on too many jobs at once – no matter how tempting the money may be. Always make sure to ask for feedback and recommendations at the end of every successful job; it’s the only way to grow your profile, your ratings, and your client base.
Enter Coding Contests
Yes, coding contests are a thing and they offer cash prizes. The biggest and most popular is Topcoder, with over 1 million members. There are three competition areas; design, data science, and development. Competitors in each work on real-world challenges for 2000 global clients as well as competing in Single Round Matches, during which fun and skill learning is emphasized. It's a very collaborative and very interesting community to jump into, and no matter what your area of expertise you’re guaranteed to learn a lot.
Have fun, and don’t spend all your money in one store!