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Ask HN: Alternative ways to make money with coding and system skills?
496 points by tayo42 on Nov 16, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 282 comments
The thought of returning to corporate working kind of disgusts me. daily meetings, middle management bs, politics, bureaucracy... im sure your familiar with the typical complaints.

Ive realized I don't seem to have any money generating skills, the only thing I seem actually be good at is making money for other people.

So im wondering if anyone has been able to use their coding skill to make a living that isn't working in a business.

Things ive tried and thought about(please correct anything that seems wrong!):

monetizing hobbies - I see why people don't recommend this, im not good enough anyway. to old to go pro at sports, not good enough or have credentials to teach.

coding tutoring and teaching - i tried this on codementor.io, there's more mentors then people needing help, its competitive and doesn't pay much when you consider how much extra work goes into it. I also don't have a CS degree so it doesn't seem like I can teach at a school. Maybe there are better ways to teach?

bug bounty chasing - I thought this would be easier then it really is. i guess its like a whole different skill set, interesting as a hobby but its going to take to long to get good. and its competitive

make a company or sell a thing software thing - I can code up my dream ideas with ease, what i don't know how to do is market anything or get users. seems to be another skill that will take months and maybe not even turn out to do anything

freelance - compared to just working rates seem low and its hard to find work from what ive seen

If you have cool ideas or something worked out for you, id be interested in hearing them! Otherwise I need to get working on a resume, id rather not!

Building and selling macOS apps is a pretty good niche to be in right now.

I escaped my stressful corporate job 1 year ago and I’ve been living comfortably since then from app revenue only.

I’m making between $3.5k and $9k per month with https://lunar.fyi/ and the smaller apps I create at https://lowtechguys.com/

It’s not much for some parts of the world. But I’m well enough from this that I even took the time to build a small calendar app (https://lowtechguys.com/grila) from which all the funds will go to my brother’s college costs so he can stop working 12h/day jobs.

Before this I tried creating paid web services but none took off. I realized I actually don’t use any indie web product after 8 years of professional coding. I’m only using web products from big companies like Google, fly.io, Amazon etc.

Desktop apps on the other hand, most that I use and love are made by single developers.

With the ascent of Apple Silicon, and the ease of SwiftUI, this has the potential of bringing a modest revenue while also being more fulfilling than a corporate job.

In case you’re curious how the code looks for something like that, here’s a small open-source app that I built in a single (long) day, which has proven to be useful enough that people want to pay for it: https://github.com/alin23/Clop

> from which all the funds will go to my brother’s college costs so he can stop working 12h/day jobs.

This is cool. I hope you make a bunch of extra sales from your (correctly) upvoted comment here :-)

I would love to read some blog with more details about your experience.

As a long time backend and full stack developer my brain is stucked in web services. Which works Well as employee but when it comes to have your own product you are playing against Google,AWS,meta and so on.

Maybe I try developing desktop applications too.

I have a few writings here: https://alinpanaitiu.com/blog/

And here: https://notes.alinpanaitiu.com/

The most desktop app technical + marketing related article would be: https://alinpanaitiu.com/blog/apps-outside-app-store/

I worked as a web dev for 5 years first, and those skills transferred well into the marketing and API part of the apps.

For example my Lunar app even has a CLI that is implemented as client-server and the app also provides an API for controlling displays remotely or through a Raspberry Pi server. That would have been very hard had I not known how to write an API.


It’s a fun niche. I’m making tens of dollars a month on my first app: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/audiowrangler/id1565701763?mt=... :)

I also made tens of dollars a month with https://lowtechguys.com/rcmd for the first few months ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The good thing is that usually you just keep growing from this. Now it’s making $1k per month, mostly because of sharing it with the world and implementing recurrent annoyances shared by users.

It’s important to have a way for users to contact you. I love Formspark.io for that, just slap a contact form on the app website and emails will start coming.

Thanks for following up. One q: I suck at building landing pages. Do you have any tips here? I have some ok-ish copy already distinct from the App Store page, but I hate finagling HTML.

For simple one-page presentation websites, try https://carrd.co

In my experience, knowing CSS is 90% of making a pretty and informative page. HTML is mostly just h1 for title, h2 for subtitle, div for groups and p for copy text.

I don’t like writing neither HTML nor CSS so my websites are written in Plim with Tailwind classes for styling.

Here’s a snippet that defines the icon on the https://lowtechguys.com/clop page

            img.w-28.h-28.md:w-32.md:h-32.filter.drop-shadow-2xl src="/static/img/clop-icon.png"
            h1.mb-6.text-4xl.text-zinc-600 Clop
            h5.text-gray-500.m-0.p-0 Clipboard optimizer for images
            h5.text-gray-500.m-0.p-0.-mt-1 Copy large, paste small, send fast
You can see how most of the text is just Tailwind classes which are basically CSS one liners.

It’s not easy to understand nor pretty to read, but it makes for super fast iteration time, especially because of the responsive breakpoints (e.g. .flex-col.md:flex-row for a vertical layout on mobile and horizontal on desktop)

Thanks! I'll give it another shot; by the time I get around to working on marketing web stuff in my day (after work + parenting) I am pretty tired so I never give it a fair shot. Will check out carrd.io.

Look up launch page templates. There's tons of Tailwind launch page templates to use.

You can also explore buying pre-made themes from ThemeForest. I’ve bought a few to various landing pages in the past.

Ohh ma gahd, I've been wanting something like this for ages!

So good to know there's a $dozens MRR club :) same here with https://apps.apple.com/app/supreme/id1281516834 but upgrading old iOS code to SwiftUI is a bit of a pain

Don't put yourself down, $9k/month is nothing to scoff at, Nice work!

> Before this I tried creating paid web services but none took off. I realized I actually don’t use any indie web product after 8 years of professional coding. I’m only using web products from big companies like Google, fly.io, Amazon etc.

What kind of paid web services did you try, if you don’t mind me asking? I’m thinking about going this route myself, but I hear you - I’ve also pretty much bought exclusively from the big guys.

Any other learnings from the web service route you could share? Like what tech stack / platform did you use? How did you try to market your service? Can you see other reason (than not being big / trustworthy enough) why it didn’t work?

My most ambitious web project was https://noiseblend.com which is a web app for discovering music on Spotify.

It’s a next.js + React slow and memory hungry mess [1] which could have been static HTML with some JS for the dynamic bits.

Experience taught me to keep it simple nowadays, but I had to go through the Noiseblend mistakes first.

The stack is Python with Sanic for the backend, Postgres for db and Redis for cache.

That’s what remained after removing all the unnecessary services I implemented because I thought they were paramount: high availability, data locality, time series databases, performance monitoring, alerts etc. Forget about those until you start making money on the product.

The biggest disadvantage a web service has over a desktop app is that you have to keep it up. No matter what, you have a server to manage and make sure it keeps responding. That worry doesn’t exist on offline desktop apps.

The other is finding the market for it. Noiseblend didn’t have a market, and it being dependent on Spotify didn’t allow me to ask for money unless I did something more. That’s another problem, avoid creating functionality that depends heavily on big companies.

I thought about “pivoting” and turning it into a playlist building tool for DJs. I added filtering songs by key and mode (e.g. A minor) and asked a few people if they would use such a thing. Turns out that they use a semi-offline desktop app [2] that already does that and is much faster and powerful.

Oh well, at least now I have a way to find songs to improvise on with my Kaval and guitar.

From my observations, people are reluctant on paying for websites. I guess they don’t feel as “owned” as a desktop app.

[1] https://github.com/Noiseblend/ui/blob/master/pages/artists.c...

[2] https://mixedinkey.com/camelot-wheel/

Interesting! I actually made a web-based tool for harmonic mixing back in 2012. https://inorganik.net/mixtool/

Your apps and site look awesome, congratulations.

For whatever reason, the hero video at https://lunar.fyi/ makes Safari use 100% of all cores, Webkit.GPU goes nuts, WindowServer unresponsive… works fine on Chrome however. Monterey 12.5.1, iMac 5K, 27"

Thank you!

I think that might be because Safari uses the HEVC version of the video. I'm also seeing 25% usage on an M1 Max MacBook, which is more than I expected.

Firefox and Chrome don't have noticeable CPU usage. They only support the H264 encoded video.

I might have to reencode the video and optimize for hardware decoding. Default ffmpeg options were not enough apparently.

EDIT: it's actually because of the HDR section from https://lunar.fyi/#xdr

Safari is the only browser that can activate the HDR subsystem on these Display P3 screens, and by doing that it taxes the GPU more when playing back video.

Ah! Makes sense. Thanks for sharing

This is interesting, along with the discussion it started below. Thanks! Im a windows and linux (and andorid)user so I'm not to in tune with the mac world

How did you find paying users( or just users? i see you have free trials and free tiers) Does the app store offer that much discoverability?

For the first 3 years, Lunar was my only app, and it was completely free and not on the App Store. I just had a one page website with the app UI screenshot and a download link.

Since the app was free, I didn't seek out users too much. I just shared it on the usual channels of the time and forgot about it: ProductHunt, HN, Lobsters, Reddit

It became popular by itself because it solves a real need that people have and after picking up a bit of steam, it gets recommended a lot.

After launching rcmd, my first App Store app, it felt like it entered a black hole, no discoverability whatsoever. Until an App Store editor placed it in front: https://twitter.com/alinp32/status/1479462684315865099

That generated a large peak in downloads, and people started recommending it again. Blog posts on technical challenges I solved while developing the apps also help a lot but they're high effort and I need 2-3 months to accumulate enough research and knowledge for them.

Before Mac, I was both a Windows and Linux power user. I never saw someone buy a thing on Linux, not that it doesn't happen, but it's a rare occurence so I don't think there's much business there.

On Windows however, people buy software all the time.

Find the Windows inconvenience that annoys you the most, build something to fix it and share it with the world for free. If a handful of people find it useful, chances are there might be tens of thousands more like that who would even pay for you to work and fix more related annoyances that they have.

I have no idea in what state Windows UI programming is nowadays though, it wasn't pleasant last time I tried it 5 years ago. But even system tray utilities with minimal UI can be very useful.

Paid user here. Thanks for making old-school but super-helpful desktop software!

> old-school but super-helpful

Love this, thank you for the kind message!

How do you manage the licensing? Do you use some library to enforce the trial period in your apps?

For non-AppStore apps like Lunar, I use the macOS SDK from Paddle.com. It provides trials, license activation UI, payments and checkout UI, both in-app and on web. Here's how I use it: https://github.com/FuzzyIdeas/Lowtech/blob/main/Sources/Lowt...

For App Store apps I have my own custom solution which uses https://github.com/IdeasOnCanvas/AppReceiptValidator to see if the app has been bought, and if it isn't, I have a time and usage based expiry logic. When the timer expires, I block key functionalities of the app and show this screen: https://shots.panaitiu.com/o6qnP8

Love lunar! I have my shortcuts/hotkeys configured and it's a breeze to switch between super dim, medium brightness, and full-on-hyper-bright-it's-time-to-crank-some-work-out brightness. Thanks for this great app.

Thanks for Lunar, I have been using it b/c the native apple software wouldn't let me adjust light on my external monitor properly.

Also, I love the secret, extra brightness levels it allows on the main screen, especially when I am outside. Do you know if there is any risk of damage to the brightness by using it at the higher settings?

I once had software that me increase the volume of my macbook speakers and one day I was working and vibing to the song and pushed the volume all the way up... and blew a speaker out...

Thank you! :)

About XDR, I have an FAQ about its safety here: https://lunar.fyi/faq#xdr-safe

How do you market your apps, and how much time and money do you spend marketing and advertising them?

If conventional wisdom is to be believed, it seems like the difference between building an okay app and a great app doesn't matter that much, because success depends on investing the vast majority of the effort into marketing. That's a big deterrent for me — I'm much more interested in building awesome things than hawking them.

I spend very little time advertising them. Maybe 3 times a week I get an email with a relevant keyword mentioned on HN or Reddit, and in 2 of those cases I spend a few minutes writing a concise comment.

About 3 times a year I do promos on Twitter to get more followers and spread the word a bit more through retweets.

And then I have the blog posts I write, which do take a lot of time, but they are mostly for sharing knowledge, not for advertising. Although they do help get some eyes on the apps as well.

    > If conventional wisdom is to be believed, it seems like the difference between building an okay app and a great app doesn't matter that much
I'd say the difference matters a lot. Since being in these circles, I notice how low quality apps (or just apps where the author didn't give them much thought after launch) don't get recommended as much if at all, and bad rep is spread on them which deters people from even trying them.

I'm more inclined towards the "a good product sells itself" line. It definitely doesn't sell itself if people don't know about it, but you have a much higher chance to get picked up by vocal people and groups and recommended around if your app is high quality and makes a good impression. Even more so if you hear what people have to say after trying your app and try to improve the app for a few months after the launch.

Hey, Thanks for Lunar. There are other free alternatives but Lunar's Pro makes it easy for me to have the external monitor have some sane sync with my primary display.

Lunar looks like it's quite extensive. (And the website looks great!) How much work have you put into it, over what period, if you don't mind me asking?

Thanks for the kind words!

I’d say I had a year of full time work (on and off in 3 years of time) until I had Lunar 3 which was the most stable until Apple Silicon arrived: https://github.com/alin23/lunar/tree/lunar3

I had accumulated about $5k in donations over those years which allowed me to quit my job, do 6 months of full time work in 3 months of time, and launch Lunar 4 with support for Apple Silicon: https://alinpanaitiu.com/blog/journey-to-ddc-on-m1-macs/

After that, the hard work started because now I had paying users asking for a stable app that was very Hardware dependent on a completely new macOS architecture. 9 more months of full time work followed.

Right now it’s finally quiet. I do about a bug fix and small feature release per month and I have plenty of time to work on my other apps.

Thank you for lunar. I use it every day. The ability to rotate the inbuilt apple display has been a killer feature for me.

Huh, I had no idea that function would ever be useful :) I guess you never know. Thanks!

I see you sell apps directly and from the AppStore. What do you think about mac AppStore? The word in the street is that it's not growing and users aren't using it and developers are hating it because it lacks [INSERT FEATURE]. Is that right?

I love the App Store product and what it offers, what I don’t like is the bureaucracy that grew around it.

Because Lunar uses lots of private and reverse engineered APIs, it isn’t allowed on the App Store, so I had to replicate a lot of the distribution myself:

    - payments and refunds 
    - license activation
    - anti cracking measures
    - automatic (and rolling) updates
    - making a website for the app
    - SEO (the App Store is quite good at this)
    - error reporting and crash data collection
    - anonymous analytics
    - making sure I’m not mishandling any user data
I mostly opt for the App Store nowadays because it saves me the hassle for all of the above, but it comes with a number of pains and disadvantages:

    - no trial mode for one-time purchase apps
    - the sandbox is very limiting: no private APIs, no full disk access, no Accessibility Permissions etc. 
    - the review process is more annoying than helpful
    - the user ratings can hurt the business a lot when the product is harder to understand and users leave an angry review because they didn’t read the description before buying the app
For the trial thing I have my own solution where I publish a trial-only build on my website and a link to buying on the App Store when the trial ends.

The sandbox, well I found workarounds for most of my needs [1] but I still skip building some ideas because I know they would never be approved.

The reviews are as annoying as ever [2], I even got my name in a Wired article [3] because of that. They can be very discouraging.

[1] https://alinpanaitiu.com/blog/window-switcher-app-store/

[2] https://notes.alinpanaitiu.com/App%20Store%20review%20timeli...

[3] https://www.wired.com/story/apples-app-store-review-fix-fail...

Can you not publish the app with limited functionality and/or ads for free and make the full version an in-app purchase?

I can but:

    - in-app purchases come with more disadvantages than a one-time purchase (harder to implement, more UI and explaining needed, restoring purchases is a confusing thing)
    - I don't want ads in my products
    - there's not much functionality to limit, since the apps are very focused on a single thing
    - App Store reviewers don't approve apps that limit functionality too much
The App Store way of doing this is with an additional $0 in-app purchase named "7-day Trial", but I tried it and it creates an incredibly confusing experience for users.

I'm a fan of your apps. Huge kudos, especially rcmd is super nice. Use it all the time.

The contact option on the site is broken. I wanted to know if grila supports ics imports?

Because if yes I'm gonna get it ;-)

> I actually don’t use any indie web product

The only indie web product I use (and have used for many years now) is workflowy. So simple, so beautiful. Wish I invented it.

How do you decide on whether you should open source an app? What impact do you think this has on your revenue/profits/clone-ability?

Ah I did notice you encrypt/hide pro features. Still curious to hear your thoughts!

I usually open source free apps, that I don't think I'll ever be able to sell because "who else could have the same problem as me?"

If it turns out that people have a need and want to pay for Pro features, I try my best to keep the source available for the free part of the app, and only encrypt the code that constitutes the paid features.

That happened with Lunar, and it seems to start happening with Clop as well.

I have no idea if it did impact my profits at all, but it did help other people to start competing with me. The only competitors to Lunar (MonitorControl and DisplayBuddy) started by using Lunar's code [1] for controlling monitors on Apple Silicon [2], as Lunar was the first app to get that feature.

Competition is still good though, as long as it's not break-neck competition. I learned how to make Lunar simpler in terms of menubar UI from MonitorControl, and got some ideas on how to implement Custom Presets from testing DisplayBuddy.

[1] https://github.com/alin23/Lunar/blob/master/Lunar/DDC/DDC.c#...

[2] https://alinpanaitiu.com/blog/journey-to-ddc-on-m1-macs/

That’s quite interesting. Thanks for sharing. How did you go about marketing your apps and attracting customers/installs?

My secret is f5bot.com ^_^

I’m notified when keywords related to “human wants thing, my app can do thing” appear on HN, Reddit and Lobsters.

If I can then contribute with information to that discussion, I’ll also leave a link to my app.

Don’t just self plug, people (myself included) appreciate more detailed information on how they can solve their own personal problem, instead of being thrown into “here’s an app, figure it out”

Here's something related telegram users might appreciate: https://github.com/lawxls/HackerNews-personalized

This is a telegram bot for managing personalized feed of stories from Hacker News. Just add keywords, and maybe set score threshold.

Was this a good self plug? :D

That’s actually really useful! I avoid some keywords in f5bot because they tend to be verbose and I don’t want to receive 100 emails per day on them.

A chat makes it perfect for this use case, I’ll use it right away, thanks for making and sharing it!

Pretty cool, congrats! Can you recommend learning material about developing macOS apps with SwiftUI?

Thanks! I only learn by building small ideas and looking into the Apple documentation through Dash (https://kapeli.com/dash) and searching "how to do X" on Google. So I can't recommend material from first-hand experience.

But I've heard good things about this university video course: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9VJ9OpT-IPSM6dFSwQCI...

On a first glance it seems to cover a lot of stuff I use regularly in SwiftUI, but also some videos are quite long. It depends if you like learning by watching, or by doing.

Thanks for link, I will have a look at it. Keep up the good work and all the best!

building for app-stores is also kinda niche sorta these days. most businesses want to be on the web mainly with a presence the app stores. i make about $10k each month with Red Goose [1] with focus on the app stores.

[1] https://goose.red

That's a really good product for businesses, yes. They need a web presence as most are just stores and catalogs. A mobile app is a good complement to that.

What I'm building and noticing on other macOS developers are system utilities, that have no web equivalent. Things like window managers, app switchers, clipboard history, hardware controllers etc.

It's a smaller niche, but closer to the users. It makes a dev feel like less of a cog in a big system, and more of a craftsman giving people a way to solve their frustrations.

By the way, do you think noiseblend.com would fit into Red Goose? I tried both Ionic and Cordova but there were two big disadvantages to them:

    - way too much work to pack a Webpack+Next.js+React frontend into an app (and I didn't want to sell it, so not much incentive to put in that work)
    - both were still using older WebViews on iOS instead of the newer WKWebView and the memory requirements of Noiseblend triggered iOS OOM killing the app
I'm curious if you're using a newer (or simply stabler) packing technology.

Red Goose uses a Swift WKWebView wrapper for iOS (fairly latest) and Kotlin for Android. It’s stable enough but also just a step behind the bleeding edge.

I like to keep all my app specific developer controls (UX/UI, functionality etc.) in my web-app and put in only very specific native modules that an appstore forces me to use.

NoiseBlend should be an easy conversion from what I can see prima-facie.

Supporting your brother like that is very cool! For me, the calendar app is not available in Brazil though..

Thank you! The app is still awaiting approval from App Store, it will be available in every country soon.

You can use the trial build until then :)

Just want to say that Lunar is amazing.

Thanks for sharing! Have you considered selling your Apps outside the AppStore? Would it be worth it?

Lunar, my best selling app, is outside the App Store. But I had to do 2 to 4 months more work to replicate what App Store is doing. See my more detailed comment here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=33621601

How do you do marketing?

I built this www.anxispace.com .. and I literally cannot do marketing to save my life!

Sharing the link on the appropriate platforms is my best working version of marketing. Word of mouth takes over after this. See my comment here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=33621814

I tried paid ads on all major platforms, but unless you have money to sink in, you’ll mostly just lose money and annoy a few people.

Interesting. The code looks like the love child of F# and TypeScript.

wow, zoom hider! just yesterday i was in a zoom saying i wish i had something that could keep the damn floating controls hidden when i hit escape, and there it is. fantastic

Heh glad it’s helpful ^_^

I have it constantly running with the menubar icon hidden, so even I forgot it existed. It just does its job when I go into a Zoom meeting.

Grila doesn't seem to be available on the US mac app store?

It’s still awaiting approval from App Store reviewers, I just launched it today.

You can still use the trial build from the website until then.

Nice work. This is a great accomplishment, keep going :)

Your lunar app looks awesome, excited to try it out!

How do you promote / seed your apps ?

Mostly links in comments and word of mouth :) see my comment here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=33621814

that is awesome thanks!

Coding pairs well and elevates many other side-hustles, I think.

Nearly every job can benefits from automation, and if it can't, then the logical thinking that coding requires will improve it in some way.

I paired coding with fiction writing and made a scifi podcast, which now represents 10% of my monthly income after two years!

I wrote up my experience and advice here, if you're interested in the details https://www.0atman.com/articles/21/make-fiction-podcast

More recently (March of this year) I also started to teach what I can about coding on my YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/NoBoilerplate)

Which has seen enormous positive feedback - and youtube ads are very fair (50/50 split between you and Google), and you don't have to chase the money, it's all handled for you! Another 10% of my monthly income comes from YT, I'd guess.

The key with a youtube channel is to differentiate yourself from the rest in some way. I'm trying to do that with careful script writing and high-quality audio. Don't just dive in and waffle for 30 minutes while screenrecording, practice!

I watched your Rust for the Impatient video only 2 days ago. Thank you, it was very helpful.

I'm so pleased! That video is based on an article from fasterthanli.me - Amos writes SUCH high-quality articles, I asked his permission to base that video on his "A Half-Hour To Learn Rust" post. Certainly worth clicking around his site, an incredible resource!

The fasterthanli.me article: https://fasterthanli.me/articles/a-half-hour-to-learn-rust

I also love your channel, great work!

You're the best! I was in the middle of a six-month internship that only let me use C when I found your channel.

Up until that point, I was having a really hard time and thinking about dropping out of my software engineering degree because I just thought there has to be a better way to work on low level stuff.

And then I found your videos about Rust and I feel so much better about the future! I feel like I know way more now about what I want to look for in a company before I apply.

Thank you! (Literally made my first HN account to post this)

Oh man, just want to say what a massive help your videos have been. I’d tried getting into Rust several times before finding your channel this year; and now I feel like I finally get it, not just the how but the why.

Please keep making amazing content for as long as you enjoy it!

WONDERFUL! That's literally my ENTIRE goal with the rust series - to just get people over the initial learning curve. It's not INCOMPREHENSIBLE, but you have to know in your BONES why you are putting in the work!

Fantastic channel!

After watching https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rJ94rbdteE I have this irrational urge to go out and write some Rust.

Indeed your scripts (the spoken ones) are great.

Love your channel! I'd love to see less Rust focused videos however. I feel like you've exhausted that avenue, personally.

Your channel is awesome! I enjoy your style very much. Thanks for inspiring and sharing your thoughts!

Thank you so much! I'll keep going I think, I have a lot of thoughts about exciting technical topics, so expect more!


Being a (part-time) youtuber myself, can I ask what you are using for audio?

It is indeed great!

You're too kind! I'm just using a Rode Procaster in an extremely cluttered room XD

However, I don't recommend the setup, I tested an SM58 and the damn thing sounds IDENTICAL, but 1/4 the price!

The trick is to speak very close to the microphone, off-center, have the microphone 2-3cm from the corner of your mouth, so breath doesn't hit it, but volume does.

Thats funny as I just started writing fiction. I wanted to improve my written communication skills and thought it would be a fun way to. Thanks for the comment and link its interesting!

Brilliant! Keep going, I hear is the advice, your best work is behind the initial bad stuff - so get it out!

> The thought of returning to corporate working kind of disgusts me. daily meetings, middle management bs, politics, bureaucracy... im sure your familiar with the typical complaints.

Have you considered working in a company that isn't like that?

Things to look for:

* Ownership: The owner should be the person running the business.

* Size: Fewer than 20 employees. Ideally two or three; consider being the first.

* Revenue: A reasonably stable revenue stream lets you take on mid-long term projects. Ad revenue from a niche content business is quite good here.

One of my favorite burnout jobs was as estimator for a high-end hardwood flooring company. Completely fell into it by accident, the place was next door to where I'd walk to get an espresso around 10AM.

So I'd walk in there occasionally to look at some of the demo work they had on the walls, and one day I opened my mouth and said "I need some exercise" and the owner said "we'll make you 'shop boy'!"; bear in mind I was in my 40s at the time. So one or two days a week I'd come in and sweep and clean for a few hours, and then that led to dump runs and eventually they found out I could fix electrical things (like their tools).

The owner was a fundie who homeschooled his kids, I wouldn't tag him as someone I'd seek out for a friend, but we had great conversations about religion and philosophy. The guy who did estimates was tired of it, so he gave me a week's training and off I went; he was my "boss" and he was 19 years old, awesome to work for. It was usually 4-6 hours, 5 days a week. Only paid minimum wage, but after a month they gave me health insurance and I didn't even ask for it.

It was a hoot, I had a "floor hunter" schtick. I got to look at some wild things: a safe that had fallen through a floor, somebody what wanted to put a wine cellar in the underground tunnel (needed a cypress floor natch) which the PO had used as a gun lane, a studs out remodel of an amazing mansion (I saved the subfloor in the ballroom!). Got to see the other side of some IT peeps I knew by reputation, a couple of whom I'd briefly met; a several of them looked like they were experiencing deja vu, but none of them found me out. I bid jobs from $1000 to $100,000 USD.

Did it for about a year.

I've worked in small (less than 20 employees) companies and although there were no grooming / standup / retro meetings (i.e. all the bullshit agile stuff I can't stand), it was replaced with other bullshit like having to answer the phone and deal with passive aggressive customers, zero benefits other than salary (no 401k etc), an owner who said things like "microsoft can build excel, why can't we build <insert feature here>", no project/product managers to manage the todo list, so everything was urgent and must be done imediately!

>an owner who said things like "microsoft can build excel, why can't we build <insert feature here>",no project/product managers to manage the todo list, so everything was urgent and must be done imediately!

<10 employees here. This is exactly my experience. The grass is always greener.

Yeah it helps if the owner codes- so they know what they are talking about at least in principle when it comes to building stuff.

Sometimes that makes it worse. You'll get founders who say "Well, when I originally wrote [our product], it was 1,500 lines of code, and I did it myself in a weekend. Why are you telling me a team of five needs a month to add a single feature???" Except, things are different now that the code base has increased 100X and the number of users has increased 10,000X.

Who downvoted this? Reveal yourself! A small business owner no doubt who the truth hurt.

As someone else said upthread, the character of the owner matters a great deal.

There are nice companies like that even at 100-something employee size. The company being owner-run is paramount, as is the character of the owners (caring more about the product and the craft than about maximizing profit).

> (caring more about the product and the craft than about maximizing profit).

Actually caring about profit is good too. Problems start when the people in charge care about advancement, prestige, status, resume building, or CYA.

The owners should certainly care about being profitable, but increasing profit shouldn’t be the primary criterion for career advancement and product design. In a small company, the hierarchy is also flat enough that there isn’t much space for the people in charge for advancement/prestige/status within the company, in particular not for the owners themselves. In the end, this is also about hiring people with the right attitudes, which again falls to the owners.

Yeah that could be a possibility if all else fails. I think I also want to feel like I own my time. I guess i like the idea of taking this into my own hands, instead of being goldilocks with a job.

Programming can support almost any other domain. A programmer paired with another expert can create a lot of value.

These days I'm a webmaster. I don't get paid to write software, but writing software helps me get paid.

I help people with German bureaucracy, and occasionally, being able to create software helps me do my job better. I can build little calculators and widgets that support my content, for example.

If I didn't do that, I'd probably pair with other people to solve small problems that big tech doesn't cover. It's fun, it's effective, and it's often lucrative.

"A programmer paired with another expert"

This is the key phrase here. I might tweak it to say "subject matter expert", but that is just semantics.

I help my friend customize and automate his trading research and strategies with my python and automation skills.

We are experimenting with openBB, and I'm learning about trading, finance, and other industries. He gets to do things that a Bloomberg cant or wont do. This is a win-win.

Non-profits are very different to corporate environments. Not without their own issues and bullshit, and less well-paid, but considerably more easy going and potentialy a lot more fun.

Some people like the idea of doing something meaningful, I've been in the sector too long to care about that. What I do find is that the sort of problems you're facing are far more interesting. For example, I spend all day trying to figure out how best to track how [ISSUE] is presented in the media.

Worth having a poke around non-profit job boards for interesting-looking problems. The good gigs are often solving very specific, weird and interesting challenges.

I've never worked in the corporate world as an employee, but I've worked long-term contracts as a freelancer with both Corporations large and small, and also large-ish non-profits.

My take-way: I'd take the corporate world over the non-profits any day of the week. The office politics level was so high that you'd quickly see it and its effects even when you only had like five in-person meetings and a few phone calls. It seeped into everything and it was just annoying. They were very laid back and the pace was a joke in comparison, but they all seemed to attract a type of personality that I don't want to work with (or maybe those are who remain and they run off all the nice people). Plus endless committees.

Granted, non of them were technical non-profits, they were just non-profits that also needed tech stuff done, and as mentioned, they were not small, so things might be very different in a small organization that doesn't yet have local, regional, state and federal levels.

Yeah, I guess with any sort of organisation, corporate, academic, non-profit or otherwise, there's a tonne of variety. I've mainly been a non-profit boy, some have been great, others a completely shit-show. I'm European, and the scene here's very different to the US. YMMV.

I guess my thought here in my original reply was that one thing they can offer over corporates are cool problems to work on. I've got a lot of friends who do OSINT stuff, for example.

A good non-profit gig is a thing of beauty, I'm very happy with what I'm up to now, but that's me. Bad ones, sure, you'd probably be better off at a shitty corporate. Same with any work, homework on your prospective employer is essential.

I'm in Europe, too, Germany to be exact. I believe the issues you get with larger organizations turning into self-sustaining bureaucracies are probably global, Peter and Hull were on to something. I hope your gig stays the way you like it!

Working in OSINT sounds like fun, is the scene large enough for your friends to do that professionally, or are they essentially volunteering?

Nah, professionals for sure. Think Panama Papers type stuff. Though there are volunteering opportunities through orgs like datakind.

I haven’t had much luck working with non-profits personally. It attracts people who build petty kingdoms, like any organisation, but there’s no mediating factor of needing to get results to temper it. It can all become quite arbitrary and toxic very quickly.

OP said they are disgusted with politics and bureaucracy. Non-profits are (if possible) EVEN WORSE on those axes than commercial businesses.

Since there is no profit-driven forcing function, ALL operations devolve into pure politics and bureaucracy.

Can you recommend some non-profit job boards?

Reliefweb is the humanitarian one, idealist is a decent general one, charityjob is the big UK one. Lots of stuff on normal national job boards though, I tend to filter for it.

AI space is heating up with the release of Stable Diffusion models and OpenAI.

If you are interested you can start playing with these tech and make things useful for people.

I'm just getting started on this and released the MVP version of Picasa AI[1] and I'm excited about it.

I wanted to build something for a long time and I always postponed it for better time. With the AI trends I feel now is the correct time to jump in.

[1] - https://PicasaAI.com

This is the truth, about to raise and am looking for someone to help out. Let me know if interested!

Hey, Sorry I missed your msg. Yes, I'm interested. Please ping me on Twitter or let me know how can I reach out?

Smartly marketed on vanity ;)

Being good at making other people money is actually a skill you can monetise. That’s basically what B2B software is: making money for other people. It’s the very definition of value creation. So focus on how you can make money for other people, then scale that up in a way that allows you to charge less than the value created but more than the cost to produce.

Also don’t try to think of an idea, just start talking to business owners about problems that cost them money or constrain growth (opportunity cost) and fix those problems.

Any insight on the reaching out to business owners part?

Not getting anywhere with cold emails

Networking events such as BNI or meetups

Chamber of commerce events

Go door to door

LinkedIn messages and/or get introduced through shared connections

Facebook communities and/or other online forums where you can answer questions and build relationships

Phone calls

Better cold emails!

Friends and family

Also whenever you speak to someone and have a good conversation with them, ask that person for the contact details of someone else who might be interested in speaking

this is a really good advice. I've this as well.

> monetizing hobbies

I find two issues with this (disclaimer, My "hobby" is coding, so I guess I've been monetizing it, all my adult life):

1) Once someone starts paying you, they get to exert their influence on your work, and it becomes a lot less "hobbyish."

One of the biggest joys in my life, these days, is not having managers destroying my work.

2) Delivering ship software requires a lot of "not fun" stuff.

In some cases, the majority of the project could be wrapped up in "unfun," like needing to use particular coding practices, languages, dependencies, techniques, etc. Also, there's all the "polishing the fenders" kind of thing, like documentation, UX finish, maintenance, fixing all those bugs that you don't think are "actually bugs," establishing CI/D, configuration management, presentations to the Board, etc.

These days, I write software for myself. I eat my own dog food. Every one of my projects is a complete ship product, with all the aforementioned stuff (without the CI/D, as I don't really need it, for my one-man shop).

> 1) Once someone starts paying you, they get to exert their influence on your work, and it becomes a lot less "hobbyish."

Definitely. I've been working on a free open-source project for 6 months. Last week, a user came with a feature request, and stated that they were willing to pay me. That could sound nice, but I immediately thought "nope". I told them that donations were appreciated, but I wasn't going to do commissioned work.

I don't want that kind of responsibility for my hobby projects.

Depending on your country, freelancing next to the day-job may be an option to testing "the new job" without giving up the security/benefits of an employment (for instance an affordable employer's contributed health care if you are in western europe). Hourly rates for IT freelancing professionals are only increasing, there is a long standing and ongoing shortage for skilled people. It is not uncommon to earn a yearly sallary of an employee within a few month as a freelancer. This means: Even more time to checkout what you really want to do.

Edit, disclaimer: I co-founded a cooperative to help skilled IT people to work independently as freelancers, giving legal advices and a network.

> Edit, disclaimer: I co-founded a cooperative to help skilled IT people to work independently as freelancers, giving legal advices and a network.

Interesting. Where can I learn more?

I think it would be great for Europe (or at least for Sweden) if bright and productive software engineers stopped working for peanuts and went freelance instead. Would love to help push the needle in that direction.

Swedish .net dev here, would love to try freelancing without giving up my current job. Hit me up :)

Would be great if you shared details. Thanks.

Reading your post, I think for you - consider working only for a paycheck, rather than wanting to work for nebulous concepts such as 'good work', 'passion', 'fun', etc. Work a 9-5, go home and enjoy your time outside of work. Just be a solid, dependable person, and give no reason to be fired. Don't try to overachieve, because that can lead to additional responsibilities/stress/etc. This type of person is very much required in every single company.

Consider teaching on your own blog - it's not immediate money, but if you're patient, you'll start to get folks asking if you're available for consulting, or if you've considered writing a book on what you write about.

Source: I wrote a book about a single function in React, it did okay.

Ive thought about the blog thing, i just have no idea how to find readers? With the book the publisher takes care of the marketing part? I think that's a common theme Im noticing with where I seem to stop. How do i find, reader, clients, users for whatever i want to do.

It comes from naturally participating in the community - someone will ask a question, you'll respond "oh hey here's how you do that", and link them to your blog with additional details (or you'll write an article that solves the issue and share it if it comes up again)

Yup, nearly all the blog stuff I have is just to save time on explaining things over and over to someone on HN or FB. Look to answer questions and then blog about stuff where the answer is long.

And then once you're explaining the thing over and over again and need to get into more depth, write a book or training module. For example, some things need background knowledge on how coroutines work, and then you end up explaining why we use coroutines over threading, and so on.

What’s a growing area/project that is poorly documented? Just start blogging as if you were creating documentation, add code examples, etc. Since you’re bad at marketing, make it SEO.

Once you have some traffic coming in, promote a paid course/ebook where you build a full project/app or some bigger unit of work with the thing.

Writing books just don’t make enough money. It makes you look like cool for having published a book, and that’s about it.

I second this. I wrote a book for Manning, and I always describe it as something I'm really glad I did, that I'll never do again.

However, it did have nice second order effects on my career, and if I had written a book in an area that hasn't sputtered out (mine was on building voice apps for smart assistant platforms), I suspect it may have even lead to work directly.

Found your book. So you would consider this area dead? Why? Did Google et al close down their APIs?

I wouldn't consider it dead yet, but I do consider it a failed platform. (I've been intending to write a blog post on this.)

Alexa/Amazon is still going, but there are rumors that layoffs will disproportionately impact this division, Google has shut down their APIs unless you're wanting to integrate with an Android app, and Apple has never really opened up Siri.

As for why—it's so hard to build a business on the platforms. They are geared toward "get in and get out" interactions and for things like ordering a pizza, you've already got your phone on you. I still think voice has life, and I love using my devices, but it didn't take off how I thought it might.

"Enough" money varies widely between people. There are plenty of people who choose lower stress at the cost of not maximizing income and it sounds like OP might be interested in that.

It’s great long term marketing though.

I've been working on Entrepreneurship for quite a while now and still feel like a noob!

I created an ebook a while back on how to make money with Airbnb (based on my experience as a superhost), but I did zero marketing and ended up making about 3 sales total...

A few years back I made a course on Udemy. I figured this would solve my marketing issue. It took me 6 months and was a real slog but managed to create a course about Neo4j. I don't make a tonne of money from that, but managed to make a best selling course, and on a good month it might bring in $1k USD.

A couple years ago I did Sam Ovens consulting accelerator which basically teaches you to reach out to ppl with problems and get them on a sales call then sell them a $2k solution to said problem. I followed this and managed to sell a handful of people on helping them land their first dev job. People's problems were varied, I realise in hindsight that I could have been more educated around coaching but I did help all those people land their first job. I played with pricing a bit, selling at various prices ($2.5k, $750, $1.5k). I feel like if you pushed long and hard enough on this niche perhaps it could be successful, but to me it always felt a bit off for various reasons.

Now, I'm creating a website builder. I'd say it's not a project for the light hearted - it pains me a bit to say that it's been a year so far. I actually have something that can build a website and did have it up online, but took it down to avoid server costs while building it out.

I've learnt a lot on my journey and I find it fun (in a massochistic sort of way), but still very much a work in progress.

Happy to share if anyone has questions :)

> I followed this and managed to sell a handful of people on helping them land their first dev job

I've always wanted to do something like this. Could you share more about it? I think I could provide a lot of value to a new dev but haven't identified a business model that would work.

I basically helped in whatever I could to give them a better shot at landing their first job.

Company selection, CV review, coding exercises and question prep. With one guy he actually recorded an interview without my asking him to do it, but it turned out to be really helpful as I discovered he needed help with basic small talk type skills as well.

The main challenges are: 1) Finding people that are at that point in their career 2) Most people actually are lacking in technical skills and need to up their skillset 3) The obvious challenge that people without jobs don't always have a heap of spare money floating about 4) Tech stacks are often quite different (although not really a problem for me personally).

It's not too hard to sell people (still a numbers game though), but the price point was Def a sticking point.

You sound like someone who can be a technical co-founder to someone who is good with sales and the schmoozing part. A lot of Startup founders are looking for such a person, who is the "Guy in the Chair".

You get paid to do what you like. And things goes well, get a big payday later on. If not, by then, you would know how to do another one but with a much better experience, connections, and still not do the "typical complaints."

It's funny when you get paid to do what you like. It stops being a chore and you feel like it's almost cheating. You're paying me for this?

Then of course, not all days are like that. Although John Conway allegedly said that he never worked a day in his life. Can't find the source of that though.

I think it's sometimes an overlooked mistake in companies when they move people around. "Hey, Tim is like a world class performer. He's doing X, let's move him to Y". It works for some, but not for others.

How do you find the non-technical cofounders to do this?

I seriously hope you are not kidding with me. Back-of-envelop, napkin-calculation, and my 8-ball wizardy data would say that there are 9 non-technical founders looking for every capable technical founder.

Anyway, there are lots of communities, cohort-based, hybrid-style, and what-not options these days to find someone or a few. You can start with https://www.startupschool.org and/or https://www.beondeck.com

the problem is how to identify capable non-technical founders.

I suspect the ratio of capable non-technical and technical founders is nearer 0.1-0.5:1

any thoughts on how to identify the unicorns?

This can be a blog post, hell, may be even a book on its own.

For quick starters, look for someone who tinkered, cobbled, hacked, juggard[1] his/her way through an MVP with no-code, low-code, dump-code, Figma-ed, etc. Better yet, s/he had tried selling that idea, napkin-diagrams, to customers. Avoid anyone that smooth talks with nothing to show for (MVP/Customers/Prospects).

While talking (do this for as long as you are comfortable moving ahead), watch out if s/he can articulate and build an idea maze[2] of what his/her current thoughts are.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jugaad

2. https://cdixon.org/2013/08/04/the-idea-maze

Watch out though because those people are often busy selling 'you' and you have to also find one with integrity and properly values your input.

Look for people who have revenue and traction, not just an idea. Some of the best non-technical Founders I've worked with:

- Built a business trip packing / iterinerary recommendation system, using just Google Sheets plugins

- Built a video transcription + recutting service in Bubble.

Each of these made five-six figures of revenue with the MVP. The Founders couldn't code, but they used every tool at their disposal to get enough $$$ to find someone who can code. True grit!

>- Built a business trip packing / iterinerary recommendation system, using just Google Sheets plugins

Hey, can you point me to this tool? I would love to use this tool.

I'd say 0.1:1 from personal experience. Often you see founders who want to build facebook-but-better type of stuff from day 1. My advice is to avoid first-time tech founders, it's very hard to coach them into adopting the lean startup mindset until they feel the pain.

Thanks for those two links. I'm in the exact same place as the OP, and would love to start something of my own, but I have only technical skills, meaning all my startup ideas are for devs, a domain that's absolutely saturated. In the best case, I would pair with someone who is a "nerd" of a different domain, but somehow I find it rather difficult to meet such people. In case you (or anyone else) know of similar programs for Europe (esp. Berlin), I would be grateful for pointers.

Meetup is still a good source for making lots of surface-level connections, here's a quick search I did: https://www.meetup.com/find/?keywords=startup&source=EVENTS&...

edit: You'll probably have more success, as I don't know the German terminology for things like 'startup' - Geschaeftsaufstellung?

Nah it's still startup, just capitalized like any other noun.

Englisch klingt so butterweich.

Another place I've seen non-technical founders looking to pair up is at https://www.indiehackers.com/

In trading, I realize I always made loses when my emotions get involved. So I decided to implement a trading-bot in Python for fun. It took 1.5 years of development. The bot can open ~100 positions each day and closing all with 1 cent gain (in total ~1$ profit per day). At least its nice to see something I made can make some money even its amount pretty small.

Is it outperforming the market though?

I was experimenting in Binance Spot.I don't believe it out-performs the market, but it can survive when market crashes since the bot is not greedy.

The bot opens up to 20 positions in parallel each starts with 2$ and always limit order with 0.5% profit. Some positions close itself in few seconds some remain for a day.

If there is -5% loss on a position, I added up the amount of the position and re-order limit order with 0.5% gain. Let's say for 2$ position if there is 5% loss, I add 2$ more, than 4$ ... The position size grows as 2 => 4 => 8 => 16 ... with updated limit order for each. I observe that eventually position close it self with profit.

This is called "picking up pennies in front of a steamroller". You will make your $1 for many, many days, then the day comes where you continue doubling down and you lose a substantial amount of capital in the process.

Very similar to systematically trading options, i.e. selling covered calls, ...

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martingale_(betting_system)

Source (FWIW, but it really isn't needed for this case): I worked at the most prestigious hedge fund/market maker in the US running their strategies on the servers colocated in all the major exchanges, so I know a couple things about arbitrage strategies. If a similar approach were to even remotely work, I would have most certainly seen it.

No need to reply (to me at least): I won't be convinced by any further argument that your trading system circumvents this basic paradox :-)

My reply will not meant to convince you because I agree with you :-)

> "The day comes where you continue doubling down and you lose a substantial amount of capital in the process."

- I believe that continue doubling is one of the most fatal stratetegy. Sadly, I made this mistake multiple times, which caused me a extensive loss. The only solution I come up is, while continuing doubling, cut loss if there is a certain amount loss reached (like 10$ or 1% of the capital). That was the actualy reason I implemented the bot where it automatically closes the position for me; since in a loss , "fear" does not let me realize what's happening and instead of a cut loss I adding more into a losing trade.

How much did you paid for the broker fee ?

The bot trades on the Binance spot, fee is 0.10%.

trading is free these days for stocks

Most web related indie dev has been killed by open source. Best alternative is to look into niche programming or pairing with a person that understands real life problems and needs. Game dev is an option along with programming plugins for various platforms. Dont be put off by nay sayers and do your own research.

> Most web related indie dev has been killed by open source.

You throw this out there like some fact.

Meanwhile, the lot of us make money on web dev that is built upon open source. The same we have been doing for a long time now.

Yup. If you want to do interesting work / really write software then you have to give it away for free. If you want to get paid you have to spend your days cobbling together open source to accomplish totally trivial functionality that some dimwit has “invented”. That’s the situation we’ve gotten ourselves into, unfortunately.

You have to deliver value to your customers/users. If doing hard engineering delivers value then you will get paid for it. If plumbing together open source components delivers value then you will get paid for that.

Users don’t care how your product works, they just care that it improves their life.

Sure. But do you see a lot of lawyers uploading their agreement templates on github? Value (or actually price) is a function of supply and demand, and when there’s almost infinite supply at a zero price point value/price goes to zero. That’s what has happened.

Yep, the geeks were duped. It reminds me of a documentary from about 20 years ago where Eric Raymond is boasting to some Microsoft Exec that open source was their worst nightmare. Yeah open source sure showed them, by providing lord only knows how much of the Azure infrastructure for free.

> by providing lord only knows how much of the Azure infrastructure for free.

They learned how to play the game. Absolutely no other trade out there makes their work available for free to the extent software engineers do. Essentially software engineers put themselves in a position where they _depend_ on salaried employment, working for those that leverage their free work to generate billions in revenue. Sure there are contractors out there but by and large software engineering is salaried work. The naive thinking is that by making software available for free somehow they change the world for the better. Instead they willingly provide free work to corporations that then abuse them.

You seem to confuse "a job" with research.

How privileged are you when you are complaining about not being able to have fun 100% of paid time, like no generation before us ever had.

Sure. If you’re looking for “a job” then this situation is great (and there’s nothing wrong with that BTW). But for those of us who like to read Donald Knuth it’s been the road to serfdom.

You may believe or not, but large businesses and even some medium, uses strategy of destroy low segments of market with products sell much lower than market prices or even free.

Simple example, HDDs of small sizes and very large, usually sell cheaper than cost production, donated from profitable medium segment, or from other source of cheap money (like VC or stocks).

Hard example, when IBM released Eclipse, killed lot of small companies, who made simple cheap IDEs (shareware). Those small companies usually are not threat, but sometimes could grow.

You can always do your own course or book and put it on Gumroad. Here's my story: https://nts.strzibny.name/one-year-of-sales/

How do you promote this kind of content

> I can code up my dream ideas with ease, what i don't know how to do is market anything or get users.

That is the key. If you learn marketing strategies, you will be able validate ideas, grow a customer base, test what works and doesn’t.

What's the best way to learn marketing?

Not sure what the best way is. Here's the very basics of digital marketing:

* build something great

* build a list of people interested in that thing

* Keep them engaged by giving them value

* occasionally ask them to buy stuff

And the rest is implementation details.

Reading your post it sounds like you dont really want to learn how to do something new. You just want to use your existing skill set to make money. That is fine but to start a business, and starting a side hustle is starting a business, you need to learn new things.

If you dont want to do that then maybe finding a smaller company or a company with a better culture will help. I didnt love my first two eng jobs. I like this one a lot. No middle management bs. No politics. Get to work on interesting stuff. Just took some time to find it. Ask friends where they want to work/the best place they have worked is.

> you dont really want to learn how to do something new. You just want to use your existing skill set to make money

Yeah for the short term, i have been thinking of ways to leverage the person I am now. Developing new skills and talents is a long term investment, which is useful just not my immediate goal. hope that makes sense

I have tried, and failed, and tried, and failed, to maintain interest in full time office-based positions. I just can't. I've never held a FTE position longer than 3 years. I'm nearing 40, by the way.

I use my skills, such as they are, in contract positions. I've been working continuously since 15 or so and aside from a brief spell of 4 months, never been out of work. When I became experienced/qualified enough to use my programming/engineering skills, after another failed FTE position I went contracting and never looked back.

Once again, recently, I have failed to engage with my latest run at an FTE role. I can't be doing with the monumentally slow pace of my employer, the power structures, the bureaucracy, the 45-minute daily standups (yes, I know), the broken business processes. So I'm back to contracting.

Some people aren't cut out for office life. Contracting is office life, sure, but you dictate the terms, you (generally) dictate the pay, you stay when you find a good team and walk when you want to. The problems are harder, you're generally solving issues the client can't solve themselves and bureaucratic blockers magically disappear when the client remembers you're costing them three figures a day.

LinkedIn jobs (HEAVILY filtered) tends to be my go-to when I go shopping for a new client, but there's plenty of contract-specific talent networks and bodyshop consultancies who you can find work from.

After all your time contracting, how easily can you find a new contract in terms of weeks/months spent searching for one? The reason I ask is because I'm getting tired of bureaucracy too and have been considering taking a break and getting into contracting as a software engineer for a while to see how that goes...How reliable is the pipeline of work in the software dev contracting world if you want to maintain access to a steady supply of income/benefits?

In the UK at least I can correct your timeframe to days and weeks, not weeks and months.

The quickest I have found a contract position from a cold start is 45 minutes.

Market's teeming and has been for years, aside from the obvious Covid period, there hasn't been any meaningful market collapse for a long time.

Saying that, this time of year is generally poor as companies eye Xmas and start shutting up shop. You'd do well late January onwards and especially after the start of the next budgetary cycle, typically end of March.

I've never contracted, but I'm in the exact same boat with regards to being someone else's full-time employee. Lately I've been struggling to stay even one year—I've been with 4 companies over the past 4 years! I'm a "flight risk". :)

And it's not that I don't want to work. I put 3-4 hours per weeknight into side projects, and another 8-12 hours on weekends. I have yet to make money on the side, but I keep hoping that something will succeed and I can run my own ship.

Perhaps you feel like you're chained in when you're working for an employer - I feel like it's a gilded cage. Yes, there's healthcare benefits, dental cover, bonus if I'm lucky, that kind of thing but at the end of the day I'm owned. My time is owned, my attention is owned and although I can pull the red cord and quit it's essentially bondage. Quitting becomes harder to do when you have a mortgage and kids, too. So you put up with it, and make yourself miserable, or put up with the misery.

But start working for yourself and all that goes away. You have CONTROL back - you dictate what you do, i.e. what you find interesting. Of course, the difficulty is making enough money to live, and finding that balance. I can't make money from side projects, I'm not that talented, but I can make money picking and choosing the projects that suit my interests and contracting is a happy medium.

i use Toptal to find projects i want to work upon with my preferred tech stack, timezone, working hrs (I prefer 20 hrs) and hourly rate. There's so much freedom for me that I could never get from a corporate . Toptal clients are nice too!

How brutal are the interviews?

Isn’t the pay really low? Can you negotiate?

I've contacted with toptal, just for curiosity, to ask questions, because on their site I have not seen clear instructions.

First words they said me, even don't asking what I'm looking for, that I should book interview to next week, if fail, next time not earlier than in 6 months, and after 3 fails ban forever. I don't think, this is normal talk.

The interviews are not as brutal as in FAANG, but you have to do a test project which takes a lot of time.

You set your hourly rate yourself, but you have to consider the competition. So, it’s usually good enough for Europe, but not for the US.


Not good enough to teach?

You are thinking about this wrong!

Passion about something and communicating that to others is the invite for them to take that journey to mastery.

You just need the garyVee social media money tricks on top to make it fundable.

I am in the process of re-vamping that stuff to do exactly that and I am probably older than you at db of 1965...follow me to see it happen


Side note garyvee content stack for devs is the reels get expanded in to code and screenshot visual slides in the medium articles while at the same time making mp4 animation reels for instagram, linkedin, Fb posting. On top of that you break the programming into smaller foundation units that get the same expanded reels treatment. In my case I finalizing 8 months of sm postings in a few weekends at over 2,000 artifacts for 20k in social media postings. Yes! Really that much damn efficiency!

Come on take the damn plunge! the hard swim will do you some good to chase away all those wrong assumptions and mind fog!

BT FB, Linked, Instagram , Youtube all have 1 billion users to make this strategy work.

You sound like a marketing person trying to sell me something. Your medium blog posts also sound like internet background noise. Those are the kinds of posts that come up when you Google a problem and the results include spam like this

> the reels get expanded in to code and screenshot visual slides in the medium articles while at the same time making mp4 animation reels for instagram, linkedin, Fb posting.

Having trouble parsing this to understand what you mean. I have a feeling I am missing context. For example, what do you mean by "reels". Is this an analogy to film reels?

I think it's reels as "Youtube Reels" as in short (15-60 second) videos.

Agreed. Also btw there's a typo in your link. It should be https://fredgrott.medium.com/ (there was an extra o in com)

This is a great post! I have very similar thoughts! I haven't escaped the corporate job yet, but the pandemic and subsequent layoff scares have convinced me that bootstrapping a business is a good way to take back some economic control.

I'm working on DiffLens to improve how developers see diffs of their code changes. DiffLens uses abstract syntax trees to make diffs more focused and understandable. It's free at the moment while we iterate on it and get the word out. I think it's the best way to view source code changes. If someone is interested in checking it out, see https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=DiffLens... . It works within VS Code and supports JS, TS, CSS and text diffs. JSON support is coming soon!

More of an observation than a suggestion, but literally every single organisation (businesses, educational institutions, community groups) that I've been involved with, has had technical stuff that could be improved to help with the core mission. Often, those technical issues aren't front of mind for other people in the org, but someone with your technical skills and an understanding of the organisation will see the issues and be able to improve things. A successful technical fix will quickly have people bringing you new things to work on.

At this stage, I've got a full time job (and I'm pretty burned out, frankly) so don't take on those technical things as I come across them. But, it sure feels like just engaging with them (or not saying "no") could quickly turn in to a sort of technical odd-job-fixer/consultant role.

learn sales, it fixes everything.

OP, sales is a skill that has the highest ROI of all. life is sales, it's how you pitch yourself to a company or a client, how you negotiate for a larger salary, how you identify the pain points of your clients, how you screen if they're the right fit for you, how you prioritize if you're focusing on the right stuff. even dating the right person is sales, also how you convince your kid to beush his/her teeth every after meal. all of it is sales, which is more about emotions than logic.

you resist learning it because you're anxious, probably because you got this idea that learning and doing it is cringeworthy as hell. what you resist persists, it might be the sign it's the right thing to do: to start fucking learning it.

check out @bowtiedsalesguy on twitter, his tweets alone will show you a different frame and headspace of how to properly approach these things.

> convince your kid to brush his/her teeth every after meal. all of it is sales, which is more about emotions than logic.

Cute story: I was having trouble getting my 4-year-old to brush his teeth until one night, I had to idea to show him this children's Q&A book that had a page about "why do I have to brush my teeth?" The little cartoon bacteria convinced him that brushing his teeth was a good idea. It was like a light switch in his head; I finished the page and he said, "daddy, I want to brush my teeth now" and walked off to the bathroom.

Sounds cool and I'm not experienced in this area but I'd say watch out that it's not creating some kind of phobia or obsession with them thinking about scary invisible things in their mouth!

To give more context to the story about my son: I didn't at all give him some overbearing lecture. I simply read the page to him as if it were regular story-time and let him make the decision, which he did with remarkable swiftness.

That's good advice about phobia/obsession.

My daughter is a bit weird about germs. For example the other day, I was handling a deer skull that we found in the backyard, and she was a little put out that I touched a doorknob before washing my hands.

As a kid, I was the same way with germs. As an adult, I'm probably still a bit overly cautious. When COVID happened, I joked that it wasn't OCD, but rather it was training for a pandemic.

My observation of her behavior makes me wonder if it's a nature vs. nurture thing with her. Nurture: Did I accidentally teach her my phobia. Nature: does her brain (like mine) ruminate about everything, leading to phobias when the topic of ruminations is a scary thing like germs.

> handling a deer skull .. I touched a doorknob before washing my hands.

I'm not a germaphobe, but I think I'm with your daughter on this one. :)

> For example the other day, I was handling a deer skull that we found in the backyard

Have you ever heard of prions, e.g. chronic wasting disease?

How did you learn sales and which books would you recommend for example?

Yeah from reading the comments all around here i think im convinced picking up a book or something would be interesting and at least a long term skill to develop!

Extremely authentic and good advice. However, in this case, the wrong target. The OP is looking to do technical work and perhaps, if viable, avoid the "selling" part. Everyone should "sell" and learn to be good at the specific idea of "selling" suited to that person. A CTO/VP-of-Eng should sell technical proofs, ideas, to the internal team and external hiring prospect, and sometime to the CEO to push forward technical awesomeness.

Having said that, "Learn to Sell" can be told blanket to all aspiring founders, and trying to take on a CEO role.

hard to avoid doing sales when life in itself is sales. it's a life skill.

it's how you nego for a better salary, how you identify real pain points of people, how you charge higher rates, also how you date and how you teach your kids. everything is sales.

more answered in sibling comment.

"Learn to articulate yourself" might be a less sinister and more approachable phrase to many honest, hard-working engineering folks.

I remember doing this.

There is a problem.

Operate the sales.

I remember having the fullstack design and operations of the tech side of the product but the sales and support side of the product (conversion, adoption, tech support, tickets) required the same muscle volume than the tech side did.

So you can double your knowledge rasonably fast but you cannot double your attention and dedicated time.

And I remember this Paul Kenny talk at Business of Software being of great intro to the subject:

Selling Sales to Techies - Business of software 2010 https://vimeo.com/96703844

I agree. But then still the question remains: sell what?

I have made lot mistakes and learn lot.

From my exp/knowledge, most important to start doing business.

- 99% of ideas end just ideas, nothing done, just from some foundations mistakenly considered, doing will be too boring, or not worth time/money/etc. Unfortunately, books and academia, not too helpful, because, usually, books written and academia running, by people, who are not successful in business, but good in write books or in teaching.

Next important thing, don't screw up. Meaning, even experienced people make epic mistakes, which are really easy to avoid.

But for this need to be experienced and open minded, this is not easy. When you do sales, your skin becomes thick and solid, because you lot of time hear refusing, but in product dev (on service even more!) you need to have powerful closed loop with client.

So, in conclusion, two main business principles: 1. hear your clients, who pay money. 2. start/stop easy.

answered in sibling comment. tldr the entirety of himself.

What is a good way to get started?

I had suggested Founding Sales[1] a few times. It is an easy to read, and a good primer to start. You can read it online if you register. The print copy is worth it.

1. https://www.foundingsales.com

@bowtiedsalesguy on twitter, his tweets and free substack blog are great for starters.

It used to be easier to start an internet business before the Great Monopolization of the '10s happened. For us it was simply the WWW. Now you have to look for a platform that still has a window of opportunity open before the monopoly in charge of it decides to choke everyone out. A kind soul mentioned the iOS app store.

Perhaps there is a window of opportunity in content, video content. For youtube, start with making shorts or just copy popular shorts from tiktok. Youtube promotes them so you can get subscribers (but no money), that you can then use to upload longer, money-making videos.

Gaming is also a possible niche. If you can create something that complements a popular game, you have a dedicated community to monetize.

Find a coding partner to share everything 50/50. Keep one another accountable to get MVPs out. Gage feedback, if you don't think it will work sell it on a saas reseller service and move on to the next idea.

Having a solid partner is key, I've struggled find solid coding partners because they lose interest. They like their 9 - 5 programming job and don't care about coding after work.

Easy way to get started is to look at products and find complaints, major issues, or ideas they haven't implemented and build it. All you have to do is market to the users of the other app directly on the forums or help chats.

Please contact me as I have lots of SaaS products built for my company and fun ideas.

Looking for a coding partner. ;)

contact me

Reading through this list, your main problem seems to be a lack of motivation to do anything. Perhaps addressing that would be helpful.

I am amazing at shell scripting, in particular bash. It has generated thousands of dollars in side quest style work at large $orporations.

Knowing a thing or two about Python and Pandas and Sqlite has also been very profitable.

I'm super good at shell scripting. I didn't realize I could monetize this.

How do you find "side quest style work" and what does that even mean?

How do you know what problems these corporations have that you can fix? Or how do these corporations find out that they have a problem, and that you are the guy who can solve it?

This is business model of closed marketplace.

Closed mean, client need something fast, but for him accessible only employers.

For example, my friend, have lot of side requests, working as engineer in isp with few thousands clients.

Clients just say him, they want to pay for example to install them wifi at cafe (for which they already bought internet from isp).

Short answer, find something to automate and get permission to work on it. Even better if you are already a consultant at the company. Typically at a large project where there are gaps and developers are miles away. Will the client pay for your time, while you work out the code to get the functionality you want to run? The answer has 100% been yes, they WANT code and business logic implemented.

Good thing, if you like to work in such corporations. This scheme is not working well if you are just have friends there.

I'm also very much interested in finding solutions to the stated problem, but have not had much luck so far

> freelance - compared to just working rates seem low and its hard to find work from what ive seen

Freelancing money can be very, very good. It does take work to find jobs initially, but often at a certain point your referrals start kicking in, and you've got to increase your rate because you've got too much work. Not that it's easy, but it's a good racket, and during economies in which companies may not have budget approval to hire salaried employees, it's probably not a bad option to consider.

So how do you find your first gigs? Upwork?

Well for me, I had friends with companies who needed some help. I ended up taking over a project that was on a stupidly short timeline, and the other guy had flaked out. I did a good job, and that led to introductions to a much bigger company who provided work for several years. Basically networking.

This was in like 2007, so I don't really know what the landscape is like now, or how you find jobs. I would assume it's easier if anything, because it's just a larger space with more resources, but what do I know. I stopped being a sole proprietor in 2010, and joined a consulting company for the next 10 years, and am now elsewhere, as a salaryman.

If I were starting today, I'd probably look at job postings anywhere (LinkedIn, Indeed, whatever) and even if the job posting was for a salaried position, I would contact them and say "I am a freelancer, and if you can't find somebody qualified, or if it doesn't make sense for you to hire someone on a permanent basis, please consider me." /shrug

I have mild success at $500/month by selling my $5 Video Hub App (though I donate $3.50 of every purchase to a cost-effective charity). This is averaging 100 sales per month for several years now.

https://videohubapp.com/ - though I also have it open source: https://github.com/whyboris/Video-Hub-App

How do you promote it?

Initially on Hacker News: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17587992

After that shared it a bit on Reddit and some forums. Haven't promoted it for several years (other than occasional comments on Reddit and HN, where fitting). I got lucky that several individuals reviewed my app on their blogs.

Some traffic also comes from this amazing website: https://alternativeto.net/software/video-hub-app/

I think you'll find there is more work in freelancing than you think. The trick is to charge a market rate for your time (which is usually higher than most people think) and work a lot when there is work so when work slows down, you can survive financially. You can do very well if you build a good reputation for yourself. I'd be happy to offer more advice if you're interested. You can reach me at buink.com.

If this thread has life after 5 days, I'll offer some general perspective and my individual angle on the subjects discussed here.

People's tech experience has earning potential but untold thousands of people have similar experience and are trying to get a footing working for themselves using that experience. Absent some remarkable idea, the world probably isn't willing to pay (much) for yet-another person doing the same thing. Money should not be the only determining factor for the path we take, of course, but meeting our basic needs is pretty important, especially if you have kids like I do.

Thus, identifying an un(der)served niche can be a key differentiator.

I took an unconventional approach, after being (directly) in tech for 14 years, and started my own consulting business. This business works with law firms to analyze and describe software (and some hardware) to give them insights on intellectual property litigations. Most of my day is spent learning how other people implemented specific solutions and advising clients on what those solutions mean for their IP cases. I love helping smart, grateful clients through learning and then explaining their tech stack.

I have a handful of people on my team that are former developers that wanted to use their experience in a different way. We enjoy working together and like the work we do. People are key. We make reasonable incomes but not outlandish $.

This business is a relationship business, as any professional services business is, so we focus on meeting client goals and anticipating their needs. This approach does not need to be grueling (I've experienced a grueling form of this before going on my own) but this approach, and the business generally, requires some effort. Those that have gone out on their own will usually find that they put more effort into the business, than they did working on their own, but that the new approach is more gratifying and is thus an overall win for them.

This post is about sharing my experience and a different take the topic discussed in this thread, rather than looking for new colleagues, but I would be open to hearing from people who find what I say intriguing. DM me if so.

For the most part, if you can make money for other people, you can use that skill set for yourself.

Also, if you're somewhere where it's legal or at least accessible, it's not actually 100% true that at a casino the house always wins. It will take a little bit of effort to get started and you do need a small bit of infrastructure (but a cheap VPS or a SoC would actually do, depending on what you focus on), but it's not only possible, but can be fairly profitable to bet on sports. You do need some money in the bank to start, but there's a fair bit of resources on Github that can help you with data collection, analytics, etc. And places like the sportsbook subreddit or one of many forums out there where you can get a lay of the land.

I have no CS degree, hell, I haven't taken math since I failed AP Stats in 11th grade (tbf my teacher had a stroke in class 3 weeks before the test and died before he got to the hospital and it screwed up everyone and nobody in the class passed since this was just before we could bring cell phones to school, but still, that year was a wash). I haven't taken a formal math class since and I went to 8 more years of school after that. 3.5 years later I'm up 161 units which is just about viable (5%+ ROI is generally considered viable).

It's nice to work from home, hang out with likeminded fans in groupchats and reddit, and watch sports and make money. Now, it is still gambling. I've lost 32 straight picks in a row once - then Brentford beat City and made half of that back. It's not for the faint of heart, but it is a viable option if you are into sports, or statistics, or just hate making front ends as I do. Just don't buy anyone else's picks, they wouldn't be selling picks if they're actually making money.

I know Kelly criterion and some bankroll management. Where do I start? Wouldn’t you be banned from bookies if you’re a winning bettor? Or at least get limited? And which bookies to use?

This is my experience. They restrict or ban your account if you win too much in a short amount of time.

A retired friend does sports betting as a hobby and is quite good at it, but has been banned from two big name bookies for nothing more than a brief winning streak. No software or analysis, just a sports enthusiast.

I totally understand the mentality of folks who sell picks. Especially with all the KYC regulations these days it can be a real slog to keep an account live.

You will get limited and bankroll management is a nightmare.

Former pro bettor here (11 years), Europe based. Yes, you get banned from bookies once they identify you as a sharp punter very quickly.

I've always been curious about building a sports betting process / model as a hobby. Any suggested reading?

5% ROI doesn't sound that great? I can get nearly 4% from US treasuries right now, unless I'm misunderstanding you.

I guess that means per bet. Whether that's good or not depends on the variance though ...

Isn’t sports gambling full of fraud?

I have come up with 3 ideas in the past that worked out well for me.

I wrote a popular MP3 search engine pre-Napster, a site dedicated to price tracking in the game EverQuest, and even a technical analysis website for predicting price movement in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).

Each one of these worked out well enough to live off at the time.

The first two of those projects worked just because the underlying "thing" was huge at the time (MP3s, EverQuest).

That last one required actual marketing, buying ads in magazines related to the field ("Technical Analysis of Stocks and Commodities", etc). But I knew the audience for the ETF idea likely had a lot more disposable income, so the monthly charge was high.

Unfortunately, as I've gotten older and have a "real" job, I no longer have that desire to write more code after work, so these sorts of ideas and projects have stalled out.

The point being if you can find a niche that's popular, or even something you are just very interested in (in my case, at the time, technical analysis), you can likely make money off of it as a software engineer.

I've been a successful dev for a decade now but I was a mech E / CS dropout.

I loathe CS for many reasons and saw the writing on the wall for my degree-less ass, so I went back for industrial engineering. 3 semesters to go and loving every second of it!!! Well, maybe not the materials science and beam analysis but the rest is great.

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