Why shouldn’t your hobby earn you money?
Programming is a very lucrative skill to have, whether as a professional career, a freelance gig, or even just a hobby. For programmers who know how, there’s a real opportunity to turn their knowledge and expertise into cold hard cash.
When you combine the ability to program or code with the ability to write in a way that resonates with an audience, that’s a jackpot. The best part is that you don’t even need to go to college or have five years of experience at Google to have a successful and lucrative programming blog – if you learn computer science online and set up a learning course for yourself, you’ll have all you need to turn your blog into profit.
The internet is full of readers who want to be entertained, educated, engaged. A programmer who can tap into that audience has a ton of options for monetization.
This guide won’t mention Google Ads for the simple reason that many programmers (your potential audience) are suspicious of ads and tend to use ad blockers, so it’s not a great income source. Furthermore, Google ads only begin to pay off if you have tens of thousands of visitors to your site. These seven methods of monetizing your programming blog don’t rely on huge amounts of traffic.
All you need is some programming knowledge, a desire to write, and a blog to put your thoughts on.
1. Monetize Your Programming Blog With Affiliate links
Affiliate links are when a company or individual gives you a specific link to their product, service, or slates funnel. If someone clicks on that link and makes a purchase, you get a percentage of that revenue. The most common iteration you’ll see for this type of monetization is the Amazon affiliate program.
As a programmer, no matter what your expertise level is, you have valuable experience. That experience – whether it’s the keyboard you love for coding, the course that got you on your way, or the textbook that you reference every day, can be monetized on your blog.
By joining some affiliate programs and mentioning their products or services when you write, you can begin getting rewards from your readers. They won’t have to pay anything extra for taking advantage of your hard-won experience, and you’ll profit without having to make a single sale yourself.
The best part is that you don’t need to be an expert coder – even if you’re blogging about your beginning journey into coding, and you’re still in the process of learning to code, you can still make recommendations that others will value. For example, Qvault is a platform that provides computer science courses and certificates. When programmers refer others to the platform, they receive 50% of any payments, which is useful for beginner coders especially. You don’t need to be an expert coder – you can just say, “Hey, this course worked great for me.”
To maximize the potential of this, ensure you make a disclaimer about your affiliate links. As long as you’re honest about them, your readers won’t mind. Explain why you love what you’re recommending. This ensures your voice remains authentic on your blog and not too “salesy” which can turn readers off.
In sum, affiliate links mean that readers who click on your links and make a purchase pay nothing extra, you get the benefit of monetizing your experience, and you help support a platform you believe in.
2. Monetize Your Programming Blog With Sponsored Posts
Just like any other industry, brands may pay you to discuss their products or services with a sponsored post. If you have an audience, no matter if it’s small or large, brands will pay you money to get in front of that audience.
Sponsored posts are great for programmers monetizing their blog because as mentioned above, programmers are often an ad-adverse group of people. Seeing an ad is unlikely to work. Hearing about a brand or product from a source they trust, meanwhile, is much more likely to result in a positive result for them.
A common misconception is that you need to wait until you have thousands of monthly visitors. But the truth is that brands actually prefer to work with “micro-influencers” who tend to have a much more engaged audience. If you can prove that 100 people hang on your every word, that’s better than a casual audience of 10,000.
It’s also typical to believe that if programmers want to monetize their blogs, they have to wait for sponsors to come to them. It isn’t true – you can start reaching out immediately. For example, Dylan Israel started his programming YouTube channel and managed to secure his first sponsor at 2,500 subscribers. He proactively reached out to coding organizations and boot camps to be connected to their marketing department. Now, obviously, with 78k subs, they come to him. But you don’t have to wait.
With sponsored posts, the key is to ensure the focus is not on the brand, but rather on the value to the user. For example, if you have a sponsor who sells mechanical keyboards, you can write a post on doing pros and cons of mechanical keyboards versus membrane keyboards and your honest opinion. Even if you say something slightly negative about the brand, brands will prefer that to an overly promotional one. Programmers can smell inauthenticity from a mile away.
In sum, sponsored posts are a way for brands to pay you to write about them obliquely. You don’t have to wait until you have a huge audience – start when you have a modest, but engaged audience. As long as you stay honest and authentic, your readers won’t mind it.
3. Monetize Your Programming Blog By Selling Your Own Code
Your programming blog can be monetized by selling the code you write. Here, you’re using the blog as a way to prove expertise or at least some experience. Once readers have a chance to see how good you are at what you do, they may be tempted to buy from you.
Once you’ve established expertise, you can build and sell your own products to create scalable, passive income. Unlike sponsored posts that offer a one-off payment, selling a digital product is infinitely scalable. You can spend 8 hours creating something, and be reaping the rewards for months to come.
“You can write a PHP script, make a website template, WordPress themes, WordPress plugins, Android app source code, CSS source code, and so on,” writes Faruque Ahamed Mollick on EyeSwift
Depending on what your blog is about, there are different ways to market and sell your code. For instance, you might write a post discussing how to do a cool thing with Ruby and title it, “How I Wrote a Script that Did XYZ Thing With Ruby.” You describe the process, then link to a marketplace like GitMarket or on your own website’s store for coders who want to take advantage of what you’ve already created.
This type of blog is multipurpose – it creates additional authenticity, explaining why your product is going to be good, which helps your audience if they want to go through the process of doing so themselves. But equally, you may catch some Google traffic of people who just need Ruby to do XYZ cool thing and want the shortcut.
In sum, selling your code is great because as a programmer, no matter if you’re a beginner coder or not, you’ll have produced some kind of hobby code that does a neat thing. You can document the journey on your blog, and sell the final product. This is an infinitely scalable source of income, and also doesn’t take a lot of additional work other than what you’d already be doing.
4. Monetize Your Programming Blog by Promoting Other Services
While Google ads are tricky to scale into a worthwhile revenue stream, your own service ads are likely to be much more convincing to a casual reader.
Many beginner coders think they have nothing worthwhile to sell to readers, but it isn’t true. Can you discuss the biggest mistakes people typically make in the coding language you learned, and how you’d recommend avoiding them? Can you suggest a list of resources to get started with a language? Can you review a script for bugs? Can you translate an indecipherable error message? These are all valuable and can be marketed as soon as you start coding.
A great example of this is Pawel Urbanek’s ad, which I came across during research for this article. On an article about how he writes and promotes his programming blog, he embeds an ad for his services at the very top:
It’s true that these opportunities will increase as your experience increases, but you don’t have to wait until you’re a bona fide programmer to start promoting your services.
The only thing you should watch out for is overusing ads. It’s true that you need to make a living somehow, yes, but readers won’t always understand that and get turned off from too many blatant ads, especially if they’re from you. Keep it limited – perhaps one in every five posts, or only on your best-performing posts. You should also try to match ads with blog post subject. That way you retain value for your readers whether they’re regular visitors or one-time readers, but you can still let people know the value you provide.
In sum, adding your own ads inline on your blog posts can be a great way to raise awareness of your other services and give you some extra income. Even as a beginner coder, there are many services you can offer.
5. Monetize Your Programming Blog by Coaching Beginner Coders
One of the unspoken rules of making money on the internet is that you should give away all your value for free. Why? Because no matter how valuable or tailored it is, you will still get readers who look at your tutorials, guides, reference sheets, and say, “Hey, this is great. Can you customize this for me and my situation?”
The internet is full of free and amazing programming information. If you try to withhold it in order to sell it, you won’t have clients because they’ll be able to get it for free somewhere else. Instead, offer full and free insights and ensure that you offer readers a way to book you for further and deeper consultation.
If you show enough talent at tutorials especially, you might find individuals want more of a 1:1 relationship with you, where you coach them through a particular specific issue they’re facing, for example an interview or thorny coding problem they’re facing.
A common mistake I see is coaches pricing themselves too low. Even as a beginner coder, your advice is valuable. By pricing your services higher than you think, you ensure that your clients take that seriously, as well. They’re more likely to listen, apply, and enact your programming advice. When they see it works, they’ll come back – or tell their friends.
As an example, take a look at Dan Bader’s blog, which is geared for novice Pythonistas. Along with tons of useful free advice that will help solve almost everyone’s problems, he has a whole section to sell his courses and one-on-one mentorship.
In sum, coaching readers is a great way to add additional value to the readers who really want to go that extra step. As long as you treat your coaching like the gold dust it is and offer as much value as you can up front, you’ll ensure your coaching business flourishes on your programming blog.
6. Monetize Your Programming Blog by Advertising Your Freelance Services
About a year ago, I wrote a blog post on the fastest way to learn to code. It ranked on Google’s front page, and as a result, I got a freelance client who read the post, enjoyed it, and wanted to hire me to do freelance programming blogging on the company’s behalf.
The truth is, if you can write about programming and coding on your own website, chances are someone is going to want you to do it for theirs as well. It’s a really good skill to have and to let others know you have it.
In my case, my client had to jump through a few hoops in order to find my contact information. Don’t make your clients do this – make sure you have a “contact me to write for you” section somewhere on your profile, portfolio, or GitHub page.
In sum, using your programming blog to show that you’re an able writer about programming, and let potential freelance clients know that you’re looking for this kind of work. It’s a great way to use your programming blog to earn money from something that isn’t programming!
7. Monetize Your Programming Blog By Getting a Job
While it’s great to use your hobby to make a bit of money on the side, it’s perfectly valid to want to use your coding blog to get a coding job. In this instance, having a coding blog in a particular niche can help raise your personal brand in that area. A website also works really well as a supplement to any coding portfolio you may have.
While it’s not as “monetizable” as selling courses, coaching or code chunks, it’s still a way to earn a steady income through your programming blog.
You can send it to prospective employers as proof that you’re passionate and knowledgeable about what you want to do. Many employers want you to evidence your interest in coding beyond the questions you get asked at interviews. A programming blog is also a good way to network, building a group of individuals who like what you do and who may mention your name, or let you know of a job opportunity. Just like any other part of the world, who you know matters. Cultivating a network of relevant individuals with your blog is a great way to tap into that fact.
In sum, your blog can be used to monetize your hobby by turning it into a fully fledged job, both in proving your commitment and bringing your work to the awareness of that niche’s network.
Final thoughts on how you can monetize your programming blog
You can monetize your programming blog with any (or several!) of these seven strategies. Written communication is a highly underrated soft skill – it’s easy to underestimate the demand for well-written tutorials, opinion pieces, and information on trends.
If you know how to program in any language and you enjoy writing, there’s a huge opportunity for you to monetize your programming blog.