What I would like to do is make a very small amount of money ($500ish a month) programming on the side that would support the side projects I want to run.
What do you think would be the best way to make that kind of money reliably and with as little time investment as possible?
My advice would be to plan to spend 15 hours a month (5 hours of research on consulting practices, 5 hours of actively pursuing leads, and 5 hours of billable work) on this. Over time you should be able to ratchet down everything but the billable work.
Patio11, in particular, has written quite a bit about this sort of thing. I highly recommend checking these articles out:
I think there's this veneer of can do optimism that pervades the valley. I honestly wouldn't be here if I didn't buy into it. But I kind of want to buy out of it at this point.
Email me your resume (check my profile) and I'll either put you in touch with a hiring manager or let you know why. I can assure you up front that we don't hire based on school prestige or previous company size. While we like to hire referrals, we can't get nearly enough to fill all open positions.
A few of these points might be obvious to you. I apologize if they are.
1. Understand and separate (mentally) the process of interviewing at a company and your own self worth as a person working in technology. You not hearing back from a company is a function of so many latent factors that you are going to go crazy if you try figuring those out. Another poster below pointed it out but yes applying to 30 places is not a lot. I still remember one summer when I applied to 150 places and didn't get a single internship offer. Life goes on, though.
2. Understand that interviewing is a skill. If I only read HN, I would think that interviewing was all about tweeting, blogging and github. Sure, those things matter. Having a very well updated linkedin/social media/github profile helps. The right balance has to be struck between putting meaningful things that make sense to an Engineer and keywords for recruiters. More importantly go brush up on the basic stuff: data structures, algorithms etc. Almost every company, irrespective of their cool chops, asks you ritualized questions on graphs or whatever before they let you join their club. Depending on your particular tolerance to their brand BS, you may find one of the following ( pair programming, some absurd project that you are supposed to work on in your spare time, presentations etc) enjoyable or not.
3. Getting your resume infront of a hiring manager at a big company is about networking more than applying through their black hole system. Go network, Sir. That girl that you had a drink with six months back who now works at Apple; talk to her about getting your resume in the system etc.
The HN jobs thread has many jobs, did you check the monthly postings?
By the way 30-40 is not a lot of companies to apply. I have friends out of Harvard & MIT that regularly apply to 60-70 places.
This is not reliable, might be low if you are on a 6 figure incom and it might not be good where you live (I live in Aus) but try look up research panel/focus group recruiters in your city - I work in Market Research and we generally pay $50-100 per hour, online surveys through these groups can be good too (~$50-60 per hour) (A LOT better than doing them through online based agencies.)
For those in Perth, Western Australia and interested we use ResearchPanel and West Coast Field Services.
Some food for thought anyway!
Actually finding remote people to hire me for longer jobs is hard though, so unless I receive contact out of the blue I've more or less given up looking for it.
(I do keep pondering the value of being a "Remote Sysadmin", but I receive conflicting feedback: http://blog.steve.org.uk/it_is_unfortunate_that_many_compani... )
We are actually working on a solution that might be useful to you. That said, feel free to check out http://ladr.io. We are hoping to launch a beta/prototype in the coming 2 weeks.
2. Step: Offer to create add-ons for that software.
It has been working fine for me for a couple of years now. The software is B2B and the customers are mostly small businesses. I get a couple of feature requests per week from those existing customers. And not only convert those requests quite often to new projects, I also get to offer the add-ons to other customers. That's always part of the agreement.
The costs of the add-ons have been in the range from $250 to $2000.
- AppGrid, a simple GUI-configured window manager for OS X 10.7+, predecessor to Zephyros
- DeskLabels, lets you put labels on your desktop so you can label groups of icons
- Mail Ping, pretty much a clone of Gmail Notifier, but works with multiple gmail accounts
- LoginControl, lets you reorder your login items in Mac OS X 10.5
- Docks, an Mac OS X 10.5 app that let you swap out the apps/documents in your dock quickly (featured in MacWorld magazine a few years ago, leading to the only month I had any real sales)
- TunesBar, showing your iTunes song in your menu bar; now integrated into Bahamut
- QuickApps, icon in your menu-bar that gave you quick mouse-based access to all your apps
- QuickTimer, a simple microwave-style timer for your desktop
- TiltRecall, an iPhone OS 3 simon-clone based on tilting your iPhone
(I'm probably forgetting a few.)
I've since open-sourced many of these apps. The repo was forked a lot, and then I deleted my own repo.