With a full-time job as a software engineer, you'll have valuable programming skills and a financial safety net. Use it to start a profitable side project. There are a few options to choose from:
- software consulting
- run a productized service
- create for an existing marketplace: Wordpress/Shopify/GitHub/Slack plugin, iOS/Mac/Android app
- grow an audience: for your own products or for affiliates/ads
- build a one-off product: books, screencasts, courses, downloadable software
- launch a SaaS
In More Details
The Financial Independence community are huge fans of side hustles. They are plenty of savers making additional income from: Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, Etsy, etc... But as a software engineer, you have a head start — your programming skills are in demand.
Software Consulting — Moonlighting as a consultant or freelancer is one of the easiest ways to get started. You can start by joining an existing marketplace for freelancers, but it's better to find your own clients (when you're no longer seen as a commodity). Learn more from Patrick McKenzie's Growing One's Consulting Business.
Productized Services — While consulting businesses are a great way to start, there's usually a direct correlation between income and time. It's difficult to scale earnings without spending more time on it. Productized services don't have that problem. A productized service decouples the sales process and hourly rate from your service. Think of "Design Pickle" a service that offers unlimited custom designs for a flat monthly fee. Check out Brian Casel's Productize & Scale Guides.
Join an Existing Marketplace — While you have the programming abilities, a product also requires marketing. Often times, it's easier to build for an existing marketplace. For example: a Wordpress plugin, a Slack app, or an iOS/Android app. It's a great place to start, since you'll have an existing marketing channel to work with.
Build Your Own Audience — Having an audience is one of the greatest strengths you can have for launching side projects. You'll have access to a group of people to get suggestions from, valid criticism for your products, and potential customers. Take some time to build one. Watch Nathan Barry's Building Profitable Audiences.
Build a One-Off Product — Products with one-off sales tend to be easier to build, maintain, and sell than products with recurring sales. Consider starting with these: books, screencasts, courses, plugins. Besides becoming a profitable side project, it'll also give you a chance to learn more about marketing and sales.
Launch a SaaS — Software as a Service is hard. Very hard. Recurring revenue is amazing. But marketing, sales, and maintenance are difficult. If you have previous experience launching a SaaS at your full-time job, or have had success with other products, definitely give it a shot. Watch Gail Goodman's How to Navigate the Long, Slow, SaaS Ramp of Death.
Some great resources:
- Indie Hackers — a community launching their own products
- Failory — failed (and successful) startup stories
- Ladders of Wealth Creation — by Nathan Barry, step-by-step roadmap on building wealth by creating projects and products
- Stairstep Approach to Bootstrapping — Rob Walling's article about starting easy and getting better at creating products
- The Spiderweb Strategy — Sacha Greif's thoughts on having a diversified product portfolio
- The Profitable Side Project Handbook — Rachel Andrew's book about the infrastructure behind a profitable side project
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