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Ask HN: How can a 16 year-old programmer make money writing code?
17 points by pryan 1697 days ago | hide | past | web | 25 comments | favorite
Being so young there is absolutely no sane person that'd hire me for any freelance work.

So I'm wondering if there are any other ways I could make money writing code?

My advice is to be patient and continue your education. You need to realize if you learn enough about the world around you, people will beat a path to your door.

The first phase in programming is learning how to code. The second phase is learning why. Once you get to the second phase, people will ask you to help them.

Many years ago, I bought an early personal computer. I quickly realized what it lacked, and I wrote it, primarily because I needed it for my own work. Pretty soon the manufacturer heard what I had done and asked to see it. Over the next five years I made six million dollars.

I tell you this just so you know it's possible -- but you need to be able to figure out what's missing, what people need. Being able to code, by itself, doesn't assure success. You need to know why to code.


Thanks for the inspirational comment and for the amazing article/story!

Nice comment, and nice article! Thanks.


Why do you think it's necessary to reveal your age to those who hire you? Have a good portfolio and you're set.

The web provides you varying levels of anonymity; take advantage of it.

I made thousands of dollars before your age monetizing my Facebook apps with ads. Perhaps you should investigate doing stuff that doesn't rely on others who frankly care more about your age than your competence.

Some contracts aren't enforceable against minors. Do minors not need to disclose their age when entering into a contract? It seems like this should be a requirement.

I'd recommend that OP have a solid portfolio and get a potential client interested, and then only reveal their age when entering into a contract or doing something where it matters.

There's already been great advice about continuing your education and putting together a portfolio, so I'm going to address your question from a different angle.

Problem solving is a big part of programming, and it's a skill that can be used outside of writing code. Do you actually need money to get those things you want? Or can you think of a creative solution that costs less or nothing? Note, I'm not advising you do something illegal that could get you in serious trouble. I'm just reminding you that hacking doesn't always involve a computer.

Perhaps you'll realize that money isn't your main goal, and you really just want to work on more projects. In that case, there are plenty of open source projects you could try.

I am 17, and I have found that a lot of people don't really care if you can prove you know what you are doing. Whenever i'm talking to big people, I act as if I am 24. They usually ask your age at some point, I usually just say "It doesn't matter". If they pressure, then I give in and tell them, usually leading them to be more impressed than anything else. Just prove you are the right man for the job.

I disagree that no one would hire you. If you have a decent portfolio and your rates are comparatively low, then you might pick up lots of work from Craigslist or other job boards.

Especially if you program HTML/CSS/JS. There is lots of project work out there that doesn't need big corporate guns.

> Being so young there is absolutely no sane person that'd hire me for any freelance work.

I'm 17. I've been freelancing for 2 years and have made a serious living. Best advice is to start small and build a portfolio. Age isn't a factor if you can prove that you're a capable individual.

If you want to get work you need to have more than just a skill set, you need to learn how to sell yourself. If you're able to prove that you know what you're doing and that you can provide serious value, someone will hire you.

I'm 17 at the moment - been freelancing and doing paid work since I was 12. The way I see it is, people who discredit you because of your age are not the people you want to work for anyway. Stick to it and you will get there.

>>>Bill Gates and Paul Allen were high school students at Lakeside School in Seattle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traf-O-Data

Hey there, I'm Fouad and I started freelance work when I was ~14 - 17 now. Send me a quick blurb about what you can/want to do at holla [ at ] fouad.co and I'd love to share some tips.

You could sell products instead of services, such as mobile apps or website plugins.

Or, there may be others your age that want websites or software. Start with people you know.

What type of coding are you comfortable with? If you can get in with a good team then you should be fine. Shoot me an email (check my profile)

What's your skill set? And do you have a link to some stuff you've made? I might have some work for you.

It's all about networking. Take advantage of any connections you have. Meet as many people as you can.

If you're comfortable with PHP I'll give you some contracting work today.

I'm interested.

At I got an internship at a Fortune 500, so it's possible.

You can sell plugins and themes in markets.

you can join a startup.I am 17 and I did :D !

Good you are this young. You have one thing others(older than you) don't have, a lot more time - as in actual time, number of days.

>>continue your education @lutusp said it

Yes, indeed. And just in case the tempting 'rebellion' thought of I-droped-out-of-school/college-to-build-this-build-that kicks in, just weigh what you might be losing. You might be losing those life-long friends, pranks, drunken brawls, night-outs, heartbreaks and falling in love all over again &c &c.

Now, for some people this is less important. Just think about it and then take a decision.

Your post doesn't mention leaving school but seeing you are so much aware at this tender age and restless I thought I will chip in with my unsolicited advice.

Here are few things you can do to make money:

* Write some apps and put it on app stores - I think Google Android is a good place to start. There are lots of iOS apps that are not even available on Android. Hordes of quality apps can be written for Android(yes, paid ones).

>>no sane person that'd hire me for any freelance work

* contribute to open source - it will help you to build up credibility. It's not about you being young - it's about out of those 1^billion trillion coders out there, that sane person doesn't know if you are a real deal and most probably he doesn't have time to figure you out.

* Try freelancing portals and in the meantime do the above mentioned ^

* Keep having fun - do all this in spare time :-)

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