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Ask HN: How to make very small amounts of money ($500ish) working remotely?
48 points by canbrianExp on Feb 7, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 27 comments
I would describe myself as a pretty okay software developer. I'm definitely competent, I'm passionate, but I don't think I'm good enough to land a 80k job in SF at the moment.

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?




You should be able to charge $100/hr for your services as a software consultant.

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:

http://www.kalzumeus.com/2011/10/28/dont-call-yourself-a-pro... http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/09/17/ramit-sethi-and-patrick-...


I'm not the OP, but I've always wondered just how you find these kind of small contracting jobs, especially when you work remotely. I hope these articles mention that.


If you can program your way out of a paper bag, you're good enough to land an 80k job in SF at the moment. People whose entire programming careers are measured in weeks are hireable in the current environment, for at least some engineering roles, at at least some companies.


Tell me where to apply for a job that will hire a competent programmer for 80k and I'll split my income with you if I get a job in a month.


Approximately every company in the Valley which has 10+ engineers is currently hiring more engineers. Do you need an introduction? Email me with anything that demonstrates programming ability. I'll recommend a few folks to talk to.


They may be hiring, but they're not getting back to me. I've applied to yahoo, google, twitter, mozilla, facebook as well as 30 smaller companies. Some aren't hiring people unless they have many years behind a specific skill set (Twitter), others haven't gotten back to me or rejected my application for different reasons (Didn't go to prestigious enough school, haven't worked anywhere with 1 million users, they wanted to hire a friend instead, etc etc.)

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.


I'm the CEO of Twitch. We hire almost exclusively based on [programming skill] and [not an asshole].

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.


I completely understand your plight. I spent a few months hunting for my next job. The process is convoluted and hard even irrespective of whether you go to a prestigious school or not. However, really, please don't think of things like schools as make or break deals. There are folks I know who have done things like HackBright and found a job in your pay scale. Of course, it gets harder and you will have to go through the grueling process of working through an incredibly noisy process of painful rejects before you get better.

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.


You want to go with smaller companies that are flexible enough to evaluate you and maybe take a risk. They'll also let you do more stuff if you prove you can.


Ah but those next 30 are also already 'established' companies that can now afford to be very, very selective about next hires. There is an "invisible" start-up scene with thousands of companies where they're simply dying of thirst re: engineering talent. "invisible" in the sense of not on mainstream tech media. (even mainstream tech media covers around ~150 startups regularly).

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.


I second the idea to add your email to your profile. I have an email I'd like to send you.


I added it to my profile. (Its my spam email but I'll go through it the next week.)


You are a good human being patio11. People who show love and assist to others regardless of whether they will get anything in return should be awarded the nobel peace.


Patio11, thank you for continuing to inspire and help others understand their value. The biggest hurdles are often in the mindset and belief system of the individual. I know that's been the case for me.


Does this include non-American people? I'm European


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Start by putting your email address in your HN profile. There's plenty of people here that might have projects for you.


Hey mate,

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!


Can you give me an example of a company/organisation that you work for so I can look for something similar.


I'm not really sure how good the money is, but I have a friend who recently became an 'expert' on airpair. He said he likes it so far

www.airpair.com


I'm a system administrator, and I've generally found that local people seem to remember me fondly and offer me work - whether it is tuning nginx, setting up a small cluster, or similar.

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... )


Hey there,

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.


1. Step: Create a software and sell it (or give it away for free).

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.


What type of software can I sell to a company? Seriously, I just don't know what to build.


Another option is to write little apps, maybe for iOS or Android, and sell them on their respective stores. It probably won't be a significant source of income (it never was for me, so I gave up on it) but who knows, it could go viral.


What apps did you make?


The ones I sold:

- 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[1]

- 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[2] was forked a lot, and then I deleted my own repo.

[1]: https://github.com/sdegutis/bahamut

[2]: https://github.com/fuseelements/grs




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