Web News

Do Web Developers Need Side Hustles?

August 22, 2023
August 23, 2023
Episode Number:

Side hustles are a popular choice when looking to make additional money on top of your primary income. There are seemingly countless ways to make a little money on the side and many of them are done online. With that said, web developers, whose job it is to create online experiences, should arguably have an upper hand in this space with their technical knowhow and exposure to online marketing. This week, Matt and Mike discussed whether a web developer should start a side hustle. They covered the pros and cons of side hustles, the difference between side projects & side hustles, and whether junior developers have enough time between their job applications & learning to have a side hustle at all.


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Who’s in This Episode?

Show Notes

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What you'll learn in this episode

  • The differences between a side hustle and side project
  • Pros and cons of having a side hustle
  • The importance of learning coding skills as a junior developer (and how a side hustle could distract you from your learnings)


What is a side hustle?

  • A side hustle is a form of income other than your primary income
  • Side hustles are typically designed to be mostly passive, or can be done whenever you have the time (there’s typically no set schedule, and usually don’t need to be done daily)
  • For most web developers, their primary income is working for a company as a developer (employed, contracted, freelancing)
  • Commonly you’ll hear that you should build a SaaS, a blog, an affiliate marketing site
  • Examples of side hustles: 25 Side Hustles: Ideas for Making Money in Your Spare Time (2023) - Shopify Canada

Why you should have a side hustle... general

  • Additional income
    - Save more (towards general savings, emergency fund, retirement)
    - Buy luxury items without touching your primary income
  • Learning new skills
  • Exercising existing skills (giving you an edge in your selected side hustle)
  • Peace of mind
    - Even though your side hustle may bring in less than your day job, you now have two forms of income - in the event of a layoff you’ll have some subsidiary income to help you work through it a web developer

  • You have a technical advantage
    - You won’t need to rely on no-code tools (although you may choose to use them)
    - If no-code tools aren’t available for what you’re trying to build, you have the skills to build it yourself!
  • If your side hustle is non-technical, your knowledge of website building, SEO, etc. gives you a marketing edge
  • Programming is something that you need to keep up practice on, should you get laid off your side hustle can help you keep your skills sharp
  • If your side hustle involves web development, website administration, digital content creation, building an online community then you’re building out skills and results that you can show off on your resume and/or portfolio

Why you should not have a side hustle... general

  • Work-life balance concerns
    - Your day job may already pay you enough and take up the majority of your time (you may need time to step away from work)
  • You may underestimate how much time your side hustle will take
    - Many side hustles will advertise that they’re passive, but many of those are not (or will not make enough passively to make it worth your while)
    - Research your prospective side hustle deeply before starting (and even then, it may take more of your time than expected)
  • Chasing the bag
    - If you’re only chasing the money, you may end up working on something that you hate - typically a side hustle is something that you’re passionate about, or at least can tolerate it a web developer

  • Doing the same thing all day….and all night
    - Coding all day can leave your brain fried…and doing it all night too is just going to accentuate that feeling
  • Overestimating your abilities
    - We’ve seen web developers decide that they’re going to start a side hustle, but build it with completely custom code - including the complex parts like ecommerce
    -- If one single thing goes wrong, you’ll have to get in there and fix it (whereas a no-code platform is typically responsible for maintenance and fixes)
    -- The problem here is that you may know how to fix the problems…but you need the time (and preferably desire) to do so
    -- This extra maintenance and coding is often done for no benefit - your customers don’t care what you’re using to build your side hustle…and you’re ultimately making your side hustle so that you can make money

Are side projects, side hustles?

  • By our definition they’re similar, but no
  • Side projects are projects that you do on the side of your day job…but it is not done for the purpose of profit
  • Side hustles are projects that you do on the side of your day job, but they are done for profit
  • Side projects can turn into side hustles and vice versa

Notes for junior developers

  • As you develop skills you may want to use those skills to create a project that can make you some money - but it’s important to note:
    - When you start a side hustle, you’re running a business (even if it’s small)
    - Some of the business admin tasks may distract you from learning new coding skills
    - Junior and veteran developers can benefit from running a side hustle as a portfolio piece (and the profit of course), but for junior developers it’s arguably more important that they continue developing their coding skills
  • Personally, I’d recommend junior developers focus on portfolio projects (side projects) that showcase their skill to prospective employers and exercise/practice their skills
  • It is entirely possible that you can run a successful side hustle as a junior developer (or on your road to becoming a junior developer), but it’s a lot on your plate to learn new skills, job search, and run a small side hustle business