6 Unconventional Software Developer Side Hustles

6 Unconventional Software Developer Side Hustles

dev.to - Jan 23

Unconventional side hustles are a fantastic way of putting those extra hours in your week to good use, allowing you to develop an additional stream of income and hit your savings goals.

Side Hustles

Over time, if you scale your side hustle, it may even start to generate enough passive income to give you complete financial freedom. The best example of this is our final idea of an unconventional side hustle, so be sure to read to the end!

In this article, we’ll be focusing on side hustles for software developers that aren’t always the first thing that comes to mind. We’ll be covering:

- Blogging
- Online Courses/eBooks
- YouTube
- Affiliate Marketing
- Investing
- Building your own Micro SaaS Application
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Let’s break these down even further ...

Blogging as a Side Hustle

Blogging is one of the most accessible forms of starting a side hustle. All you’ll need to do to begin posting on your very own blog is, well, create one! By signing up for a domain and then publishing articles on your blog, you’ll be able to cultivate an audience over time.

If you run ads on your blog, you’ll be able to generate passive income from your blog pages, your writing generating you money while you sleep.


Software development is a bountiful niche, with plenty of practising or ex-software developers using their knowledge in the field to write about industry updates, their opinions on current developments, or just giving walkthroughs and tips about how to get better at coding.

Take a look at this list of successful software engineering blogs to get a feel for the kind of content that is currently being produced and generating passive income.

Benefits of Blogging

  • Easy To Begin - Just sign up for a domain to get started.
  • Flexible - Post as much, or as little, as you want on your blog.

Drawbacks of Blogging

  • Patience - Can take years to build an audience and generate an income.
  • Ideas - Some people struggle with idea generation.

Online Courses/eBooks

If you have a particularly specialised skill set, then why not try your hand at writing an eBook or publishing an Online Course.

Platforms like Skillshare and Udemy allow creators to sign up for an account and publish their courses. As people spend time viewing your course, you’ll get a passive income stream.

Online Courses

This passive stream of income also goes for writing an eBook. As people buy your eBook to gain an insight into your software development skills, you’ll automatically get paid through services like Amazon Kindle Publishing.

Not only does creating a course and sharing an eBook give you an opportunity to share your expert knowledge, but you’ll also be able to make money online by doing something that comes naturally to you.

Benefits of Online Courses and eBooks

  • Your Own Knowledge - You just need to talk or write about what you know, making this easy to develop.
  • Passive Income Stream - Once the product is created, you’ll be able to generate income continuously from it.

Drawbacks of Online Courses and eBook

  • Audience - This unconventional side hustle is much easier if you already have an audience that are likely to buy your product.
  • Teaching - If you’re not great at explaining concepts or writing, the creation of the final product could be a difficult task.

YouTube as an Unconventional Side Hustle

With over 30,000 hours of new content uploaded to YouTube every single hour, what’s stopping you from also throwing your hat in the ring?

By creating YouTube videos that break down how to code in a language you have experience in, you’ll be able to build up an audience of viewers. Over time, the more views that your videos recieve, the more passive income you’ll receive from YouTube’s creator programme.


Depending on what you want to share, you can make your YouTube videos about anything.

Benefits of YouTube as a side hustle for software developers

  • Low Entry - You just need to begin recording either yourself or your screen to create a video.
  • Passive Income - After you’ve recorded a video, its views will gain you a recurring income over time.

Drawbacks of YouTube as a side hustle for software developers

  • Saturated - With the huge stream of content uploaded to YouTube every single day, it is hard to stand out on the platform.
  • Audience - Finding an audience is difficult on YouTube, and you may spend years uploading without any certainty of success.

Affiliate Marketing as an Unconventional Side Hustle

Affiliate marketing is where you embed links to products within an article. As a user clicks on these links, the website you sent them through will give you a small commission on anything they buy. One of the largest affiliate marketing schemes online is Amazon’s own, with creators using this to generate income.

Affiliate Marketing

By using your software developing skills, you’ll be able to create a programmatic SEO system that generates landing pages based on highly-searched keywords in a certain niche. You can use this to quickly create pages like:

  • Top 5 X products for Y

With X being a product type (Cameras, laptops, sofas - anything!) and Y being a demographic.

Over time, by combining this with blogging, you’ll be able to build up a recommendations resource, generating a stream of passive income through affiliate marketing.

Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

  • Skills - You can automate the process by using the skills you’ve built up as a software developer.
  • Passive - After creating your script, you’ll only have to have very little input to keep this side hustle running.

Drawbacks of Affiliate Marketing

  • Saturation - Many people run review blogs, making this niche difficult to break into.
  • Commission Based - If people don’t buy anything, you won’t generate a payment, making this an unstable form of income.


The average mid-career software developer salary in the USA is $87,000 and £38,000 in the UK. More experienced software developers will be trending upwards of this amount.

Due to this, one of the most effective ways of creating a side hustle as a software developer is simply investing the money you’re paid in your 9-5. Investing makes your money work for you, allowing you to generate returns, be it through rising stock prices or through dividends, on your money.

If you’re new to investing, then something like Index Fund investing will be a more straightforward path for you to investigate.


As a software developer, you may also be interested in utilising your existing skills and creating an automated investing bot. This is a form of algorithmic trading that allows you to buy and sell certain stocks based on a set of trading rules. By following technical indicators, your bot can make an educated guess about the direction of a stock and buy/sell accordingly.

Around 70-80% of the shares traded on the U.S. stock exchange stem from these automatic trading systems developed by software developers.

Benefits of Investing

  • High Returns - Compared to leaving your money in a savings account, you can expect to see much higher rates of return on your money.
  • Automatic - If you use your skills to develop a program that automatically trades for you, this becomes a passive stream of additional income.

Drawbacks of Investing

  • Risk - As with all stock trading, there is an element of risk to this side hustle.
  • Crashes - When the stock market crashes, which is a reoccurring event within history, you can quickly lose a large portion of your investment.

Building your own Micro-SaaS Application

A Micro SaaS Application is a piece of software that is developed by a solo developer or micro team that targets a specific niche. It has a recurring subscription model that generates a passive income as people pay to utilise your app.

Micro SaaS apps come in all shapes and sizes, covering a range of niches and solving a grand variety of problems. There is no one perfect niche, however the characteristics of a solid Micro SaaS app are often similar if you analyse the best apps available.


This is a side hustle that offers incredible growth opportunities, putting your software engineering skills to the test and building something that generates additional income.

Considering that this is a self-built application, you’ll be able to work on this side hustle whenever you want. If you have some additional hours on the weekend, why not start to generate Micro SaaS ideas, with the eventual intention of launching it.

If you scale up your Micro SaaS app over time, you may be able to quit your 9-5 job and go full time on your app just like I did. Turning this side hustle into a full-time occupation is a great way to give yourself more time to spend with your family and to give you financial freedom.

Benefits of Micro SaaS apps

  • Easy To Begin - There are absolutely no start-up costs, just your time.
  • Passive Income - After building the app, it will generate you a monthly income without you having to lift a finger.
  • Scalable - If you play your cards right, you’ll be able to scale your app to cover the cost of your living expenses, unlocking financial freedom.

Downsides of Micro SaaS apps

  • Niche Trouble - You’ll have to find a solid Micro Saas niche to be successful.
  • Reliance on Systems - If the platform you use to launch your app loses its user-base, then your app will be impacted by this loss too.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a software developer that’s looking to start a side hustle and maybe escape the 9-5, then building a Micro SaaS app is the very best way. If you’re not sure where to get started, check out this complete guide to Micro SaaS apps.

That said, any one of these side hustles for software developers will let you use your wealth of knowledge to make money online as a programmer. If none of these methods stood out to you, why not check out my article with more conventional side hustles for software developers.

You’ll be generating additional income and taking the pressure off your 9-5 in no time!