Side hustle for programmers – Opportunity or a waste of time?

by Aripriya Basu November 23, 2020
The CEO Story Award -

Software engineering or programming is one of the most sought-after professions. Everyone wants to be one. 

In fact, many plan to be one right from their school days.

And why not. A quality software engineer can earn a seven-figure salary in a year! 

That is some handsome money. 

But yes, the student loan won’t pay for itself neither will a month-long vacation abroad come for free. 

Both of these will require extra cash and that can only come through side hustles. 

This is one of the prime reasons backing the popularity of side hustle for programmers

It’s very different from a second job. Working in Subway or as a freelance developer will only get you so much. 

If you have bigger dreams and want a deeper pocket, then side hustle for programmers is what you need to look into.

But how is the side hustle for programmers different from a second job?

Side hustle for programmers vs a second job

If you are confused between the two, you are not the only one. 

Indeed both are very similar.  They both get you money and involve extra work. 

But there is one striking difference between the two:

A second job is not voluntary. You have some set tasks which you have to complete within a set time regularly.

A side hustle for programmers is more of a business. You consider yourself as an #entrepreneur.

In other words, you are your own boss. You decide the type of business you want to run, the hours you will like to put in, and so on. 

Mostly, a side hustle for programmers is more featured around their specific expertise. 

For instance, a side hustle for a software engineer can be creating online courses or starting a niche newsletter. 

If you are a software engineer you can look into both of these since you will have the skills to ace in both of these fields. 

You need not learn anything extra. On the flip side, you will make some extra earnings by teaching people what you are already good at! 

Win-win right?

Great, so now that you know how a side hustle for programmers differs from a second job, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of a side hustle for programmers.

Well, not all is hunky-dory when it comes to side hustles you see. 

There are certain challenges, for instance:

Easy to get ahead of yourself

Side hustle for programmers are both fun and lucrative, thus you might end up doing it anytime. 

It is cool as long as it does not become an obsession.

But that sad news is, it happens more often than we expect it. You might just become too engrossed in your side hustle. 

In such cases, reading a book, having some quiet time, or even sleeping might seem unproductive to you. 

Though you may feel that you have become a workaholic and take pride in it, that is surely not the case. 

You are burning yourself, and the downtime is just around the corner. 

To avoid this you might need to make some hard decisions but backed by logic and not emotion. Is your side hustle getting you enough money for you to not worry about your regular income source? Is your side hustle exploded and now attracts a lot more user attention all of a sudden than you ever imagined?

If that is the case, you might consider quitting your day job. If not, your side hustle is still about your passion. Don’t give it #1 priority in your work life just yet.

Stress and complexity

While your friends might be chilling and doing all the TGIF stuff, you will be busy with your gig. 

These can be attending client calls, preparing invoices, or learning new skills.

Now, you may like your hustle, but imagine doing all this every weekend!

To top it all, you will have to deal with taxes and other insurance issues. 

Stress and complexity are sure to arise eventually.

Zooming out of your regular work

If you opt for a side hustle for programmers that pays off very well, then you might just start to ignore your regular job. 

While it might be okay to do so, many a time it can backfire and you might end up losing both ends of the bargain 


But of course, all is not dark in the side hustle for programmers game. 

There are some perks too..

You can get a certain advantage in your career thanks to your side hustle

But for this, think a little out of the box. 

Think about it, when you have a single career trajectory, your thought process, and skillset is almost the same as the person next to you. 

What they think, you think, and vice versa. 

It’s like an assembly line of production with almost no creativity.

But, if you are into some side hustle for programmers you are most likely to develop new skills and acquire a new taste for challenges. 

With a newfound vision and a unique way of seeing things, you might become the next Rodolphe Dutel in your organization! 

Might as well hustle for that. 

Change in taste

Your daily job might require you to do a set list of tasks. 

You log in, do your chores, call your clients, deliver on deadline, and logout. That might get very boring after a point in time. 

So, instead of growing cobwebs on your brain, try a side hustle for programmers. 

Generally, these will involve and use different parts of your brain than required for your daily work. 

Thus, even though the work might be intensive and new, it can be very relaxing, almost like a vacation if you will. 

Worth giving it a shot huh?

Enhanced work balance

Workaholics find it very difficult to phase out of their work. 

They are always engrossed in their work even outside the office and cannot help but be anxious about the same. 

A side hustle for programmers can help them too. 

Well, if it’s a new business, they have something else to worry about, using a different side of their brain. 

This can be relaxing, at least to some extent. 

Meeting interesting people

If you are a software developer, the people you know might be coders, testers, developers, or graphic designers at the most. 

But do you know painters, standup comedians, and actors? 

Do you hang out with them often?

Maybe not, because they don’t fall in your immediate circle. But they might if your side hustle is running a small joint that boosts local talents!

These people are sure to add some spice to your daily friend circle and imagine the kind of things you might learn from them!  

So you see, there is both darkness and light when it comes to side hustle for programmers. 

But if you don’t take the risk, you might never know whether or not you are capable of shining! 

Be it to test new waters, explore new boundaries, or to gather new experiences, a side hustle for programmers can help with a lot of exciting new things. 

Now comes the million-dollar question 

What are the side hustle ideas for programmers

Thankfully, you have a few choices to look into. 

For instance:

Newsletters and blogs

Just because you are an engineer does not mean only math can be your friend. 

In fact, you need words to be a sellable engineer. So, if you still have not got in the groove of writing, it’s high time you start with the same. 

In case you are good with words, you can use that to develop your side hustle. 

Start a newsletter or a blog. You can even get to write your own book, though a long shot to begin with. 

Write about the things you know best, have in-depth knowledge of and are passionate about.

If you are really adding value and being consistent, these will take off and you will find a passive revenue stream.

Online courses

Since you are a programmer already, why not help the budding ones with your on-the-job practical knowledge? 

Undergraduate programmers are always looking to learn from their seniors and this can be your cue. 

Depending on your expertise, you can create video courses teaching programming to the beginners. It need not be face-to-face always.

There are tons of options for you to try out. You can try Udemy, Curious or any other platform you prefer. Also, why not try out multiple such platforms while you are at it?


You must have seen the various consultancy positions on the different job portals. 

Know that they are very lucrative! 

If you have the required knowledge or experience you can work with any company on the side. 

Not only that, you can choose the project to work on along with the time period you want to be involved for! 

But of course, you can take a completely different side hustle, maybe something that is related to your hobby. 

For instance, painting or photography!

Though there is some debate about the entire side hustle ideas for programmers, you can only know if it’s for you by taking up the initiative. 

So, go on! Give it a try. 


Are side hustle ideas for programmers worth it?

A side hustle can be very effective if you are planning out your work well. Not only does a side hustle boost a solid passive earning, but it also works as a much-needed break to the monotonous routine that you might be working under currently. It helps you to learn new skills which you might not have thought about otherwise. 

What can be a good side hustle?

There can be many areas you can explore:

  • Online courses
  • Writing blogs or newsletters
  • Consulting
  • Becoming an Instagram influencer

What are the benefits of side hustles?

Side hustles can make you more flexible with your ideas. Additionally, you can develop new ways of approaching a problem and meet new people who are most likely to broaden your horizon. You will eventually get to be a more well-rounded individual than you could possibly by working a regular day job only.