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This is an important question because "apply for a job/internship" isn't a solution for everyone especially during economic stress periods when constant rejection can push good programmers into depression.

Can people with experience briefly comment on other ways to get programming revenue:

  • Creating "free for non-commercial" software
  • Turning an idea into a startup with near-zero resources and not flopping
  • Turning an idea into a startup with near-zero resources and coming out employed
  • Using outsourcing sites and actually getting paid
  • Making freeware and getting sponsors/advertisers (I know we all hate installer spam, but still)
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migrated from Jun 1 '11 at 14:29

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

closed as not constructive by Yannis Mar 8 '12 at 15:38

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This could be a good question - but it will depend on the answers it receives. If it turns into a "list of stuff" then it will be closed. – ChrisF Jun 1 '11 at 14:42
Actually software professionals are in demand more than ever. You can't blame the economy if you can't get a job right now. – rmx Jun 1 '11 at 15:45
Why did you accept an answer so quickly? That's just going to discourage further answers and improvement of answers. I'm sure that's not what you wanted, is it? – Aaronaught Jun 1 '11 at 16:02
the answer to this question is a series of books – Steven A. Lowe Jun 1 '11 at 23:16
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The freeware method makes profit at oblique angles. If you give out a tool that people find useful, they're more willing to pay for additional features. The Maptool project has a board of features that people have submitted. They want to get around to all of them, but the feature on top of the stack is put there based on donation amounts. The maker of Dwarf Fortress is currently living off of donations.

There's money in the free model. But it's more much more indirect and requires you to have some belief in the compassion your fellow man.

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+1 for mentioning Dwarf Fortress, possibly one of the most epic one man projects I have ever heard of. – Morgan Herlocker Jun 1 '11 at 16:55

The "APP Stores" have made it fairly easy for a programmer to build an app and make money off of it in a relatively short time, with low resource overhead. But it requires, an Idea for an app people will both use and pay for.

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I'll start by saying that outsourcing sites are dangerously prone to scammy/spammy employers who don't pay out. And for actual work it's hard to ever come out as the best candidate. I was able to make a few hundred dollars a month for about three months when I became friends with a successful programmer from Singapore who, knowing my basic PHP skills, would take jobs and split work with me.

The key here is that he puts a lot of work into his account which most people don't have time for. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone with an alternative.

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Why did you immediately put an answer to your own question instead of adding this information to your question? – BiggsTRC Jun 1 '11 at 14:40
+1 From what I've seen from those sites it seems hard to start out there since you have to contend with others who may have a better resume on the site but will bid the same rate. – Jon Jun 1 '11 at 14:41
@Biggs: It's not appropriate to answer one's own question in the question. Vasiliy did the right thing here. – Aaronaught Jun 1 '11 at 14:45
This actually DOES belong in the question. It is not an answer to the question, but just a backgound on what lead to the question being asked. If an OP can already answer their own question, then they should not ask as it leads to non-constructive questions. – Morgan Herlocker Jun 1 '11 at 15:04
@ironcode: "What are some good ways" would have been a lousy question, because "good" is a matter of opinion. He actually asked a specific question and posted a real-life factual answer. It is not an aside, it is an answer. People need to get over their hangups with self-answering; it's a normal, natural part of the SE Q&A process. "Examples" in the question itself actually are red flags for a poor question. – Aaronaught Jun 1 '11 at 16:01

Look at local businesses. As companies mature sometimes they want to have custom software to do things their way. If they are a big enough player in their industry, you can get some of the costs absorbed by selling to similar businesses in other locations; they have the contacts. They will provide much of the domain knowledge. If they are not interested in reselling, you can negotiate to allow you to do it and leverage your work.

Let everyone know there is a knowledgeable and reliable developer in their area. Many people would not go out on the net and prefer to build a relationship face-to-face. You may not get work right away. Reputations are built over time.

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