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.