18 Best Side Hustles for Software Engineers to Make Money

As a software engineer, you have plenty of freelancing opportunities. 

Lots of companies need software engineers, and the demand for them is growing fast! The BLS expects employment for software developers to grow by 25% from 2021 to 2031.

You can combine these trends and do both: work as a software engineer and freelance on the side.

In fact, Upwork’s Freelance Forward study found that 39% of the U.S. workforce, or about 60 million Americans, worked in a freelancing role during 2022.

In this article, we’ll discuss the 18 side jobs that are suitable for software engineers.

Best Side Hustles for Software Engineers

1. E-commerce Website Development

E-commerce website development is a popular side gig for software engineers who want to work on engaging projects and earn competitive incomes.

As a software engineer, you’ll tackle various tasks, from building visually appealing storefronts with responsive designs to integrating secure payment gateways and enhancing user experiences.

Your income in e-commerce development varies based on skills, experience, and project complexity. Shopify or WooCommerce developers typically earn between $15 to $29 per hour. Those with broader coding or web design skills can earn from $15 to $30 hourly.

You can find jobs on platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. Just remember to showcase your work experiences in your portfolio, featuring online storefronts and product displays, to attract potential clients.

2. Mobile App Development

Mobile app development offers software engineers the opportunity to work on diverse projects and earn a lucrative income based on their expertise and contributions.

Whether it’s fitness apps, e-commerce platforms, or something entirely different, software engineers can apply their expertise to various types of mobile apps.

Your task involves understanding client needs, designing user interfaces, employing different development approaches, and ensuring app functionality through testing.

You can build up a portfolio on Upwork or Fiverr to attract potential clients. App developers can earn a substantial hourly rate, typically ranging from $20 to $40. I’d suggest starting with a low price initially to gather more testimonials. As your projects roll in, you can gradually raise your price.

3. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing for tech products offers software engineers a lucrative side hustle opportunity that leverages their passion for technology.

You can collaborate with software and tech product companies that align with your interests and passion for technology. This allows you to promote products they genuinely believe in.

You can market tech products through various platforms such as websites, blogs, social media. Once you set up your affiliate links and marketing strategies, you can earn passive income as people click on your links and make purchases.

Unlike traditional business models, affiliate marketing doesn’t require handling product manufacturing or customer service. Instead, you only have to focus on implementing effective marketing strategies and delivering value to potential customers.

4. Sell Online Coding Courses

Selling online coding courses is a lucrative side hustle for software engineers to share their expertise with eager learners. You can create comprehensive courses covering various topics such as web development, coding languages, app creation, or AI, to share your knowledge with a wide audience.

Professional filmmaking skills are not necessary. You can simply record yourself explaining concepts, add voiceovers to screen recordings, and use user-friendly programs to create engaging visuals. 

However, pricing for online courses can vary widely, from as low as $20 to higher price points. Your earnings as a course creator will depend on engagement levels and the number of students purchasing the course.

5. API and SaaS solutions

If you’re into business and enjoy solving problems, you might want to make some extra money with API development and Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions.

Here’s what it involves:

  • Understand what makes each business tick
  • Create APIs (which are like bridges that let different software systems talk to each other smoothly)
  • Build SaaS platforms that offer smart solutions.

Your skills can lead to automating tasks, making processes run more smoothly, and giving clients better experiences.

You can find clients on freelancing platforms like Fiverr and Upwork. Software developers usually charge between $15 and $30 per hour on average, but as you gain more experience and build up your portfolio, you can earn even more.

6. Plugin and Template Development

Did you know that plugins and templates are in high demand? Many entrepreneurs using WordPress sites don’t know how to code. However, it’s easy to install plugins to make their websites visually appealing and easy to navigate.

As a software developer, you can identify the technical issues people are facing and create plugins to help solve their problems.

Or, you can examine which plugins are receiving numerous customer complaints. For example, if a particular eCommerce theme isn’t performing well, you can optimize it and develop your own to capitalize on the opportunity.

Once you’ve created these plugins, you can promote them on platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. These platforms allow you to reach a large pool of clients who need plugins and themes for their businesses.

Typically, a web designer might charge $15 to $30 per hour for their work. However, if you specialize in certain aspects of web design and have extensive experience, you can charge more and attract higher-paying clients.

7. Start a YouTube channel

As a software engineer, you possess valuable programming knowledge. Why not share that knowledge with people worldwide by starting a YouTube channel about coding? It’s an opportunity to help budding coders and tech enthusiasts while earning some extra money.

To become a popular YouTuber, you need to create high-quality content to build up a large base of subscribers. Keep in mind that it’s important to make your videos easy to understand for learners of all levels. The most popular content types are step-by-step guides.

To monetize your YouTube channel, you can join the YouTube Partner Program for ad revenue and channel memberships. You can also explore sponsorships, selling merchandise, and offering premium content through platforms like Patreon.

Once you have earned the trust of your subscribers, you can even sell high-ticket coding courses to them.

8. Tech Blogging

Blogging is a lucrative side hustle for software engineers. Leveraging your technical expertise, you can create a blog to share insights and experiences with a global audience.

Tech blogging involves creating content that appeals to tech enthusiasts, whether it’s explaining complex ideas or reviewing the newest gadgets.

You can make money through ads on your blog, writing for other companies, or even offering exclusive content through subscriptions on your website.

While the average blogger makes around $45,690, tech bloggers can earn more because they offer specialized knowledge and tackle valuable topics.

Blogging not only provides financial benefits but also establishes you as an industry authority and allows you to connect with like-minded professionals.

9. Consulting

Consulting is an attractive side hustle for software engineers looking to monetize their expertise. It involves being a tech advisor for businesses. Your tasks might include meeting with clients, staying up-to-date on tech trends, and explaining complex ideas in simple terms.

You’ll also recommend software solutions tailored to each business’s needs. This could mean suggesting tools to boost efficiency or creating strategies to improve existing systems.

You can choose to work on a project-by-project basis or offer ongoing consulting services. In general, tech consultants typically earn $12 to $30 per hour, but rates can be higher for bigger projects.

It’s important to note that if you earn $600 or more from a client, you typically receive a 1099 form, and establishing an LLC can be a prudent step to manage expenses and protect your assets.

10. Sell APIs

Selling APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) can be a profitable side gig for software engineers. You have two main options: either creating APIs from scratch and selling them on online platforms, or developing custom APIs for specific clients and charging for your services.

You can sell your APIs on Facebook Marketplace or other API marketplaces like RapidAPI, which offers quick setup and easier user management by assigning API keys to each user.

Rakuten is another popular API marketplace with over 1 million developers who can manage, sell, and market their APIs.

To become a successful API seller, you’ll need some effective marketing strategies, such as:

  • Identify your target audience
  • Create an API brand
  • Provide interactive examples and tutorials

Whether you decide to sell pre-made APIs or provide custom solutions, this side hustle can offer a reliable income stream.

11. Sell Code

Selling code can be a profitable side hustle for software engineers. You can monetize your coding skills by creating and selling plugins, themes, libraries, and other web-based applications.

For example, you can develop WordPress plugins and sell them on official repositories, charging a fee for each download. Alternatively, you can offer code libraries and applications on platforms like GitHub Marketplace or CodeCanyon.

This side gig enables engineers to earn money from their coding expertise and potentially generate passive income as their products become popular in the market.

12. Coding Bootcamps

Teaching at coding bootcamps can be a lucrative side hustle for software engineers. In this role, you’ll share your programming expertise to help students learn application and website development skills.

Coding is not a compulsory subject in the United States, but more and more parents realize the importance of programming skills in the era of AI. So, the demand for bootcamp instructors is rapidly growing.

You can find part-time coding bootcamp instructor jobs on platforms like Indeed, Glassdoor, or Talent.com. Depending on your skills and qualifications, you can expect to earn an hourly pay of $20 to $30.

13. Write an eBook

Writing an ebook is a great side hustle for software engineers. With Amazon KDP, you can publish a book at a very low cost.

Your book can cover topics like programming languages, web design, mobile app development, etc. However, you must beware of using too many jargons. Make your book easy to understand with visual elements to guide your readers. The most popular coding books are usually for beginners.

If available, you should collect some testimonials or reviews from readers or experts who have found value in your eBook.

With the help of ChatGPT, it isn’t difficult to write an eBook these days. But it can be challenging to promote your eBook; be ready for some advertising costs on Amazon, or you might need some email subscribers to get your first sale.

14. Online Tutoring

Teaching or tutoring is an excellent opportunity for software engineers to supplement their income while sharing their technical knowledge with others. With the rise of online teaching platforms like TutorMe and Chegg, engineers can easily find opportunities for remote or in-person teaching.

As a tutor, you can instruct students of various ages and backgrounds, from elementary school to college. You can offer guidance on programming languages like Python, Java, or JavaScript, as well as cover topics such as data structures, algorithms, and software development methodologies.

This side hustle offers flexibility in terms of scheduling, allowing you to work around your existing commitments.

15. Create a Virtual Community

Building an online forum is one of the best ways to generate traffic and make money. As a software engineer, you can use your development skills to create a discussion forum, chatroom, or social platform where people can connect over shared interests.

To get started, you’ll build the technical infrastructure needed for the platform and customize it to fit your target audience. For example, you might create a community for book lovers to connect with their favorite authors.

As a community manager, you’ll establish some community rules to moderate the posts and comments, ensuring that every discussion is engaging and respectful.

As your traffic grows, you can earn money from membership fees, sponsored content, display ads, and affiliate marketing.

16. Start a Podcast

Starting a podcast is a lucrative side hustle for software engineers.

To begin, choose a niche that aligns with your expertise, whether it’s coding, open-source projects, or any other tech-related topic.

Interview-style podcasts are best for gaining expert knowledge and are typically more conversational and engaging. For example, you can invite guests to discuss the latest developments in AI technology.

When preparing for your initial episodes, focus on scheduling and organizing your interviews, as well as outlining your podcast episodes.

A good rule of thumb is to have at least two or three episodes ready before launching, but it depends on how much buffer time you prefer.

As your audience grows, you can try to get some sponsorship deals or set up a donation system for your listeners. Or, you can promote your own digital products such as ebooks, online courses, plugins, or themes for online stores.

17. Freelance Writing

Freelance technical writing offers software engineers the opportunity to use their expertise to explain complex technical concepts.

Your role as a freelance technical writer will involve translating intricate technical details into understandable language for a broader audience. This might include writing documentation, user guides, tutorials, blog posts, or whitepapers related to software development, coding languages, APIs, or other technical topics.

To find technical writing gigs specifically tailored to software engineering, sign up on freelancing platforms like Upwork, Problogger, and Guru. On your freelancer profile or pitches to potential clients, highlight your software engineering background and expertise. You should also emphasize your ability to break down complex ideas into digestible content.

Remember to stay updated on the latest trends and developments in software engineering to enhance the quality and relevance of your writing. 

18. Open an E-commerce Store

Opening an e-commerce store is a lucrative side hustle for software engineers to utilize their coding expertise.

To get started, choose a niche or category of products that you’re passionate about and have knowledge of.

Decide on an e-commerce platform that suits your needs and preferences. Popular options include Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento.

After that, you can use your coding skills to customize the design, UX, and functionality of your online store. Make sure it delivers a seamless shopping experience for customers.

With your technical background, you’ll find it easy to handle tasks such as integrating secure payment processing services.

The success of an e-commerce business lies in generating traffic. However, most software engineers I know can quickly grasp SEO optimization and Facebook ads, making it easy for them to effectively target customers and secure their first sales quickly.

What’s the Best Side Hustle for Software Engineers?

Choosing the best side hustle for engineers depends on your interests, availability, and long-term goals.

If you’re new to side hustles, you might consider trying tech blogging. It doesn’t demand completing projects on a tight schedule. You can write whenever you have spare time, making it a flexible gig.

For more ideas, take a look at our side hustle database.


1. Can I Juggle a Side Hustle with My Full-Time Software Engineering Job?

Absolutely! It’s possible to balance a side hustle alongside your full-time software engineering job. Some gigs like blogging, affiliate marketing, and selling APIs won’t require you to stay on board or meet deadlines. You can do them whenever you like, even when you’re lying on the beach.

2. What Common Challenges Do Software Engineers Face When Starting a Side Hustle?

Starting a side hustle as a software engineer can be challenging due to:

  • Limited time during regular work hours.
  • Keeping up with evolving technologies and trends.
  • Building a strong personal and service brand.

3. Can a Side Hustle Help Me Quit My Software Engineering Job?

Well, a software engineering job is usually well-paid in the United States. If you want to earn more money than your salary, you might choose some hustles with high earning potential like a YouTube channel, blogging, e-commerce, etc. It may take you a few years, but it’s entirely possible to become your own boss.

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