The Fastest Way For A Programmer To Make Money Online

What Is The Single Fastest Way For Programmers To Make Money Online?

Hands down the fastest way you can make money online as a computer programmer is by pimping yourself out.

I’ve developed all sorts of weird things for people including plugins for CRM packages, quick PHP scripts where someone was abandoned by another programmer, custom WordPress plugins, and even a quotations system that hooked into a Joomla database.

Far and away freelance programming has been the easiest way to make money online that I trialed in 2010.

If you’re a computer programmer then you’ll be happy to know the rates are quite good too. Upwards of $70-100 an hour is often not even sneezed at, actually, it’s considered cheap.

If you think about it, you’re not usually the one getting the best end of the deal even though it feels like it by charging that much.

To hire someone costs a lot of money. Oftentimes the advertising alone to find an employee is over $500 a week on job websites. Then they need to spend their valuable time as a business owner interviewing possible local candidates of which there may not be someone suitable.

It’s also certainly a lot harder to interview for a temporary employee if the project really isn’t that involved that it requires a full time employee.

This is where you fit into the picture as a freelance programmer.

Where Can You Get Freelance Programming Jobs?

Every one of my programmer jobs has found me via my personal website I make absolutely no effort to advertise this website, just the small amount of organic listings it gains via the search engines is enough to bring in a handful of clients per year each worth potentially hundreds or thousands each depending on the project.

Do you have a personal website? If not, get on it. Knock something up in WordPress, it’s dead easy and is something you can expand later.

The other way you can get exposure as a freelancer is by putting yourself onto websites like upWork, and others. You can even scout for jobs via Craigslist or, if you’re in the UK or Australia, Gumtree.

If you have programming skills and you’re in the market for some extra cash, or you’re even just looking for something to fill your spare time with the I suggest looking into freelance programming as a viable option.

Here’s some other freelancing topics I’ve written about:

The 3 Downsides Of Freelance Programming
Make It Locally: How To Target Your Local Area As A Freelance Programmer
This Is The Secret To Happy Freelance Customers

Josh Kohlbach

Josh is a software entrepreneur from Brisbane, Australia. He spends most of his time helping e-commerce store owners. This is his personal blog where he shares his thoughts and other tidbits on online business and life in general.

This Post Has 136 Comments

  1. Dave Doolin

    Yep. Amazing how easy it can be.

    Customer selection is important though!

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Too right! I think you an I have both experienced the good and bad of that in some form over the last 6 months. It’s a topic for a whole article though, I’ll put it in my draft queue now.

  2. abdus saeed

    I am the student of BCS and i have good exprience about programming in java, c, c++, and c# so I need work

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      That great you’re learning those languages. What are you plans? Are you freelancing? If so, tell us about it.

    2. Mark Rudrum

      Can you teach me C++? and some C#? Ok, im 12 but I have already have experience with Visual Basic and hacking, CMD ect but can you teach me C++ plz?
      Email me im [admin removed for privacy]

    3. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey Mark,

      I don’t do a lot of work in either of those languages any more. Your best bet would be to look for some introductory tutorials. Sometimes you can find intro programming challenges for university students online. They are great for honing your skills.

      Best of luck

  3. Ian

    I’m currently working for a large company as a software engineer, but I was looking to supplement my income by doing extra work in my spare time – evenings and weekends.
    I was wondering if you had any tips for those just starting out? Especially since I only graduated from University last year, so I don’t have such a great portfolio of work – yet.


    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey Ian,

      Thanks for stopping by. My advice for just starting out would be to keep your rate reasonable and go for the quick jobs to build up some experience with dealing with people.

      The work is the easy bit, but the dealing with what people want and getting them to tell you can be tricky.

      At the start I’d suggest getting your own website up (just something quick and basic to explain who you are and what you do) and then hit Craigslist. Avoid elance and findaprogrammer and those types of sites at the start, there’s way to much competition from overseas companies will to do anything for near free.

      Businesses know that you get what you pay for, so start locally and try to get referrals while bumping your rate up slowly.

    2. Rajeev Kashyap

      I am a software engineer and want to earn more money in my spare time so, that i have decided to work online. I am having developing knowledge in android and java. If anybody want to give me work related to java or android i can help him.

      For more detail contact on :

  4. Mostafa

    i finished a course in php&mysql and started to search for jobs but i did not find and when i go to freelancing sites and search for projects i find many things that i don’t know and i was frustrated,
    how can i increase my experience?are there sites to let me do practices like the projects in the freelancing sites.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hi Mostafa,

      Sounds like you’re hitting that invisible wall of people needing someone with experience, but you can’t get experience if you can’t get the jobs. It’s a chicken and egg dilemma!

      My best advice is to start bidding on jobs you know you can do and low ball it to get your experience up. If the person is after something cheap you should be able to score some jobs.

      Once you get a few jobs under your belt you can start raising your rates.

      You might even consider doing a few freebies for people, especially if you know it could lead to a promising relationship in the future.

  5. Baba

    Hi Josh,
    Your article is really very informative. I am an aspiring web developer. I know xhtml, css , some seo, and some wordpress. I would request you to help me with something. First of all, i am confused which php based cms (from freelancing point of view) to master (I want to master just one as I work all alone).
    Secondly, supposingly If I do only Only ecommerce websites, is it possible to survive just being a freelance ecommerce specialist.
    Please guide me Sir. Thanks.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hi Baba, thanks for the comment.

      It’s certainly possible for you to become a fulltime freelancer, though if you’re planning on leaving a steady job I would recommend maybe starting part time first to build up your experience. There are a lot of little things you find out along the way as a freelancer that make it hard for me to say “yeah, go for it full time!”.

      Regarding your question about platforms. I guess it depends on how selective you want to be with your work. If you’re after volume I’d definitely recommend learning WordPress, it’s the most widely used. If you’re wanting to specialize, some people specifically ask for Joomla or Drupal and behind WordPress these seem to be the most used. It’s pretty easy to pickup work in any of these, sign up for elance or odesk and browse arounds some of the jobs to get a feel for what the demand is like behind each platform and make your choice.

      One you’ve made your choice I’d recommend following the advice I gave Mostafa further up in the comments and low balling to get your experience up and build your profile up in the community.

  6. Baba

    Dear Josh,
    Thanks a lot for your advice. I don’t do any job and so, I aspire to be a full time freelancer. Josh, I would like to ask you for another advice plz.
    Is freelancing in Android application Development better then WordPress in the present scenario. Kindly guide me Sir.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey Baba, no worries. As far as Android goes I can’t really comment there as I haven’t done any work in the space. Given the amount of phones out there I imagine it would be pretty healthy.

      WordPress developers are always in need as well.

  7. Baba

    Hi Josh,
    Thanks a lottt for your kind advice.

    warm regards

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      No probs Baba, glad you found it helpful, all the best for the future πŸ™‚

  8. Sandip Nirmal


    I am working in one of the MNC. I want to put my spare time to earn some money. I am good in Java, JSP, Servlet, Hibernate. I can also work on JSF & Spring, Struts. Please let me know how, how can I approach to get the work?

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey Sandip,

      Best way to get started is to look for small jobs specific to the languages you know via,, and other similar sites.

      Once you have success with a few of these smaller jobs start pitching for some of the bigger projects.

      You’ll also find that word of mouth is important and people will start recommending you.

      Best of luck!

  9. Sandip Nirmal

    Thanks a lot for quick reply & very good advice.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Anytime πŸ™‚ thanks for stopping by.

  10. Jason Trautwein

    Finally, someone I can actually follow….and its funny I agree with everything you have mentioned above, as its what I have just started doing this past month…I have found youtube very helpful when learning new code, etc….especially living in a small town in Idaho, not too many programmers here for sure…..thanks again….

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Thanks Jason.

      Yes, nothing like a good youtube tute to get you going in the right direction. It’s saved my ass multiple times.

      It’s funny how sometimes it feels like we’re so far away from the bulk of the community sitting in Silicon Valley. I’m in Brisbane, Australia so I can totally relate to the feeling. Though, there’s usually a nice little community of coders pretty much everywhere!

  11. Jeremy

    Excellent article, I thing that to earn some money online is not so hard, but requires to learn to do it and takes time.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Thanks Jeremy, yes, it’s all about how much you put in and it certainly doesn’t happen over night.

  12. Eddie G.

    Awesome Article! Awesome work Josh!
    I really enjoy being a freelance programmer. Ive been doing it for 5 years. I do all my work over the internet. I use websites like They have a great escrow payment system and bidding system that is relaible and safe. I must admit, when I first started,it was a little tough, but with sheer determination im now an independent programmer and web designer.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Thanks for the great comment Eddie! It’s good to see some balance here now. Lots of people are still in the starting up phase trying to find work, but knowing there’s people making it happen like yourself is really an inspiration. Especially for 5 years, sounds like you’re well and truly over that startup hurdle!

  13. dan angelo

    hello sir. i am from philippines and a graduate of associate in computer programming(a 2-year course).
    i really want to program, because it’s fun, i am now studying
    is php an easy language to learn? i want to learn it too. freelance programming sounds fun.:)

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey Dan,

      I self taught myself PHP back in the day. It’s probably one of the more forgiving languages and it’s pretty easy to learn if you’re already into programming. You’ll find it quite familiar feeling.

      You can freelance doing as well. Plenty of projects around for that.

  14. Gavin P.

    First off, thank you for writing this article and awesome job!

    I would like to learn c++, I figure if I learn c++ it will help me learning other languages.
    I would like to freelance to get by, I don’t expect a lot of money at. I’m currently doing volunteer work so I don’t want to work full time, and I would like to mainly work online.
    Any advice on which languages I should learn that pay ok with lesser amount of work?
    Any advice in general? Any advice for starting off and making a living? Any help is extremely appreciated!

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey Gavin, thanks for the comment.

      C++ is pretty old school these days. You’ll find it used a lot in bigger projects, but there’s plenty of more flexible higher level languages out there that most people gravitate toward. I wouldn’t expect a lot of freelance work going the C++ route, but it can be great for your career otherwise.

      Paying ok depends on where you live and how much you want to earn. I am full time these days working in PHP and other web technologies. But it also pays to be a bit of a generalist. If you work with web technologies there’s plenty of work out there.

      I recommend you check out this article I just wrote up, this guy was in a very similar situation to you:

  15. Abraham

    Hi there !

    There is really a lot of information out here on your article, I liked it very much. I just request you to help me with something. Is DRUPAL in demand or is it declining day by day ?


    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey Abraham,

      I don’t personally work with Drupal so I can’t comment unfortunately. But it’s like anything, if there it’s being used then you will find people wanting help with it. There’s plenty of work going around for web developers.

  16. Abraham

    Hi !
    Thanks for your reply. I have one more question to ask. Is WordPress scalable…most of the guys say that its not flexible like drupal is. What would u say to that ?


    1. Josh Kohlbach

      I’d say haters gonna hate πŸ˜‰

      WordPress has changed a lot in the last few years and people that hang onto those misconceptions should make an effort to be better informed.

      It’s like any software technology, if improperly implemented it won’t scale. That includes Drupal.

  17. Jiten

    Sir, nice reading yr article. Sir, I have a question on my mind. Is it possible to survive as a freelancer if i learn only ecommerce like say only Magento and OpenCart. Kindly suggest.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey Jiten,

      Definitely possible. You just need to market yourself where those customers are. I’d probably try being helpful in their forums first and leave a link to your site in your profile (or signature if it’s allowed)

  18. Vanlalruata

    I really love your post! I got to Program lot of software and had finished many too. Thanks for such a nice Idea!

  19. Raihan Rakib

    How much money I can earm by software devolopment. how can I get work in internet

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      The sky is the limit Raihan, how hard are you willing to work for it?

  20. Lajeesh K

    Hi Josh,

    It is really great to see that you are replying quickly for all comments . I am in a stage where your valuable advice may change my life. from auguest 2011 onwards I am working in a web development company. and from november I am doing part time freelance works using . till this date I have finished about 9 tasks in odesk and maintains a 4.5/5 feedback score. In my company I have experience in working in symfony 1.4, joomla, vtiger crm. And in vtiger I have worked on wordpress pluggin, google map api, vtiger crm customisation. In odesk , now I am in a stage where people will choose me due my work history and low rate ($7/hour).
    I have plan of resign the office job and start full time freelance works.
    Next month I will complete 1 year in my office and I can resign the job.
    The things that are dragging me back on doing full time freelance works are
    1) I dont have experience in working in big projects
    2) Dont have expereience in popular frameworks like yii and codeigniter(Have expereice in symfony 1.4 , but everybody now doing their project symfony 2).
    Since my company is a support based company, I will not get chance to work on
    big projects and cannot work on team project

    Now I have two ways, dont know which one to choose
    1)resgn the job and start full time work
    2) resign current job, join another company and work there around 3-6 months gain some experience.

    My current company pays me around $200 per month. from odesk I earn around $100 as part time. A full time freelance work of $7/hour gives me lot. Looking for
    your advice on which way to choose.


    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hi Lajeesh, thanks for the awesome comment.

      I’m hesitant to give such life changing advice as when it comes down to it, it’s your decision mate.

      If you’re earning good money and you’re happy with the rates that you are getting on oDesk there’s absolutely no reason not to build that up as much as you can before having to make that choice.

      My advice therefore is to be open to the possibility of soliciting work outside of oDesk as well. Given you have built up some experience and you are comfortable working freelance, it’s a great option to increase your earnings and gain more experience with a wider range of clients.

      I know you cannot advertise directly with the people you are working with at oDesk, but oDesk can’t stop you publishing your own website, having your own Twitter account, etc, to solicit work elsewhere as well.

      It’s a big opportunity to bump your rate up higher than your current $7/hr which could mean the difference between job or freelance.

      I personally freelanced for a number of years before taking the leap full time just recently, so there’s no harm continuing to do it on the side while you try different things.


  21. mclord

    Hi josh, i’m a student in the uni studying accounting, i’ve got a lot of interest in computer programming and would so much love to be one, but here’s the problem, for me to go into it, i need to be able to start earning some money to fend for myself…please tell me what to do. I really love computer programming and how long is it gonna take me before i can start earning any money?

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hi mclord,

      Asking how long it will take is like asking how long a piece of string is. I wish I could tell you it will take X days to start and you shall earn this much per hour but it’s too hard for me to comment on it.

      Definitely commend you for wanting to learn more about programming though, are you taking classes in your uni degree? When I was studying information technology I took a number of marketing subjects which weren’t part of my degree. Perhaps you could do something similar and take some IT courses?

      As for freelancing, depending on what you know already, there’s plenty of work out there.

  22. mahesh

    Firstly thank’s a lot Josh!

    digging google from past one hour finally, yes finally i found what i want on this page.
    Thank’s mate.

  23. krishna

    Hi Josh,

    Your suggestions are really helpful. I need advice on how to start up as free lance programmer. My skill set is “Unix shell script, awk and perl”. I dont think these would be enough to do a good start. So please suggest on how to proceed on.


    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Shell scripting and perl (and even awk) are only a hop skip and a jump away from web programming languages like PHP. But if you’re comfortable managing servers, then maybe you could line up a few small companies and help them administer their servers for them?

      Just a few thoughts to get you on your way!

  24. gp

    You say this is the fastest way. But you don’t explain what other ways there are, and how this is fastest. Care to comment on that?

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey gp,

      Thanks for the question..

      I suppose the other way to make money as a programmer would be to create a product and release it, or perhaps team up with someone to do that.

      Since I’ve done both over the last couple years, I can say that in my experience freelancing has been both easier and faster to achieve good cashflow than creating a product and releasing it.

      That said, creating a product is a hell of a lot of fun and very fulfilling so I’m not saying people should rule that out. But if it’s fast cash they want and they have programming skills then definitely try freelancing.

  25. vipul

    i am vry confusd.i hope u will help me.i am doing btech in computer science.i have learnt core java ,c,c”++,javascript,oracle etc.which advice will u give me
    i have seen many ppl become ceo of comapny in a very tender i want to earn money at early age
    i am 21 now

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hi Vipul,

      Of course this varies for everyone’s circumstances but since you’re still young I’d advise finishing your degree. If you were keen to start earning money on the side, freelancing is definitely a great way to build up business experience if you’re planning to some day run your own company.

      I freelanced and worked full time for over 6 years before starting my own business and it was great for building up all the “other” skills they don’t teach you about in university.

  26. Bob

    Dear Josh,
    I am an aspiring freelancer. I have 2 questions to ask.
    1) In the present scenario, which is better to go for, is it Web Development or is it Android apps development from freelancing point of view ?
    2) Which CMS is doing better in the market, is it Joomla or is it WordPress ?

    Thanks in advance and waiting in great anticipation for your kind response

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      G’day Bob, great to hear from you. Regarding your questions it will depend a lot on your skill set as to which market you feel more comfortable going for. Both web development and android development (and iOS for that matter too) have strong demand as you can see by looking at any of the “find a freelancer” type sites.

      I personally prefer using WordPress because it’s much nicer to work with. I’ve used Joomla in the past and while it can be manipulated to be any kind of site, I find my clients like the WordPress back end much better and I prefer it’s architecture as it’s very quickly and easily extensible.

      Hope that all helps, best of luck!

  27. raimes

    I would like to start freelancing in my spare time.I’m about 4 years experience developer, excellent knowledge of Delphi, C#, MSSQL and now android and there is a lot of projects related to these technologies behind me, I know also C++,MySQL,Java desktop app programming but not have work experience. So what you think what is best way for me to start, will be helpful to make some my website promoting details about projects and my work and on which way to promote my site over which people will find me.I looked some projects on elance and freelance but like you said, there are Indian companies that will do job for almost free in short time, and that is their advantage over me, because I need more time to deliver product because I’m alone ,and If I need time then I can’t do it so cheap :). I’m not good in marketing, I’m kind of guy when you need something do be done I will do it, but how to get chance to do it πŸ™‚

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey raimes,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving your question. Yes there are a lot of outsourcing companies that will do these jobs quite cheap, so I only advise going to the freelancing sites when you’re starting out to get some experience up (even if it pays little).

      Since it sounds like you already have a good project driven background I’d say your best bet is to get a site up to showcase what you can do and tell people how you can help them (and for how much).

      When I was starting up full time I took to emailing local companies directly directly letting them know that I was available if they had been thinking of re-doing their websites. I picked up a few jobs from there and it’s been a great strategy to use when things get slow ever since.

      Maybe you could do something similar once you have your site up. Think about what kinds of companies would want someone with your skillset, put together a list of the kinds of jobs you can do and then write an friendly email introducing yourself. Then hit the streets, as it were πŸ™‚

  28. Joel

    Can you give any advice to a high schooler(age 16)? I have self taught myself C++, and am now learning Java in school. I have a lot of free time, so I can teach myself other languages if needed. Are there any money making opportunities for someone like me? Thank you.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey Joel,

      Since you have a lot of spare time I’d advise considering making a product of some sort. Whether you release it for free or paid it would all be great experience getting involved with a real project.


  29. Joel

    Any type of product in particular you would suggest?

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hmm.. bit like asking how long is a piece of string.

      If you can find some need that needs filling and you can do it by programming a utility/tool type program you’ll be onto a good thing.

      Have a think about your interests/skills and how you might be able to make things a bit easier in people’s businesses/lives. There’s huge opportunities for utility type programs that serve a very specific purpose so this would be a great place to start looking for ideas.

      Best of luck!

  30. Lawrence

    Thanks alot for your writeup
    May people be generous to you because you are

    I lost my job after 4 yrs of programming; now i want to jump into freelancer and plugin

    I visited Craigslist and there still competition but not as at – indians price very low, looking back from my former company

    I choose to start wp plugins but there are 100s of them. I wonder how to market them

    wp plugin and joomla component – which has a great community

    All the best

  31. Ivan

    i am a software engineer. recently i got laid off due to restructuring. Unfortunately, i fell very sick and it limits my mobility to attend interviews for new job.
    i am thinking to start doing freelance project in the meantime. Is there any freelance jobsite that you can recommend?(reliable)
    i found several by googling, however, i am not sure whether they are reliable.

    please advice….


  32. Cuong Hoang

    Hey sir!
    First, I have read all the comments above, and they are almost things I need to find out for preparing to work freelancing job full timeline. I did leave my job in a company last week, they pay me about 400$ per month. I have experience in Java, C#, Python.. and some. But I just doubt whether this kind of work (I mean freelance) could get me about 1000$ regularly per month? …. I got other four guys to be a team, could u share us your own experience how to win bidding big project online? …. thanks, hope u reply mine, have nice day.

  33. Maryam

    Hi, josh..
    good to see your stuff.i am from Pakistan.My national language is Urdu and in Urdu the meaning of josh is Energy..enthusiasm…and its really works for you.
    i am master in CS and having 1.5 year experience in private company/software house and my expertise are php/MySQL.Oracle.i work on variety of projects and now a days working on an ERP .i want to utilize my spare time to get experienced in other technologies and frameworks of php.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hi Maryam, thanks for the kind comment!!

      I started work for a big software company when I first started as well and it’s a great way to get to know how the business works. PHP/mySQL is always in high demand so I’m sure you won’t find it hard to get some projects under your belt.

  34. deep

    hi josh
    i am a btech student AND i know c,c++ and java ,and i need to earn money
    please help!!!

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hi deep, check out some of the articles on this site regarding freelancing and dive in. Best way forward is to get your feet wet!

  35. Trent

    Hey there bud,

    I’m a noob when it comes to programing. I just started learning html5 and css3 about 4 months ago. And i’m just now learning jQuery. My question is what programming language(s) would get you the most opportunity of work. What i’m trying to say is what languages would give you a very broad rang of abilities. What is your skill set?

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey Trent,

      Great to hear you’re getting into programming. You’ve picked your languages pretty well actually as each of these are quite in demand. If you’re looking for more that would add to that kind of skillset I’d suggest either PHP or Ruby on Rails.

      My skillset is pretty wide (check my Linkedin for more) but I spend most of the time these days in PHP, HTML, CSS, Javascript, jQuery et al. I believe more that the skills and techniques are the most important part of programming, the language is just the tool. Always pick the right tool for the job.

      Best of luck with the freelancing…

  36. Felix

    I have experience with Javascript (jQuery, js vanilla,), I’ve been working on some web apps with Javascript, HTML5, CSS3 and MongoDB, I know PHP. Right now I’m working with Javascript but on Mobile Development, Have you ever heard about Titanium SDK?, I’ve developed some apps with that and it really works. I work as Professor in an University but I’m looking for online jobs to get an extra I need. Freelancing is challenging most of the time, that’s what I love the freelancing. I’m willing to participate on online projects to involve with new developments and prove my skills for free.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey Felix,

      I looked into Titanium a couple of years back and it wasn’t all that great at the time. Glad to hear that it’s getting more usable!

      I still prefer to write apps natively though, but it’s certainly somethign to look into when you’re doing cross platform stuff.

  37. kwad

    Brilliant article Josh. You’re providing a international service.

    I stumbled across this site whilst thinking, “how can I better subsidise my wife’s spending and allow her to remain as a lady of leisure”

    A little about me, I have programmed embedded c for 7 years and currently work, in cambridge UK, for well known silicon valley semiconductor company. I am quite keen to earn a bit of extra cash doing freelance programming (unlikely to be C due to the nature of C usage). However, knowing what’s in demand, what language to focus on etc is a nightmare. I have done a bit of many languages so pick up stuff quickly.


    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey Kwad, thanks for the kind words.

      I started my career as a hardcore C programmer myself so I know exactly the position you’re coming from. A nice cross over with the embedded stuff would be to hitch a ride on the recent gain in popularity of the Raspberry Pi.

      I haven’t checked but I’m sure there would be plenty of people looking to do work with that platform considering the surge in press surrounding it.

  38. Daisy

    Hi Josh !

    It was really nice to go through your article..very interesting indeed. Actually, i m in a similar situation. I know html / CSS / little bit of seo. Now, I have to earn my livelihood through freelancing only. I am confused whether to go for Android dev. or web applications dev…Moreover if its web, then which among the big 3, Joomla, Drupal, WordPress should I focus on entirely. I have heard and seen that wordpress market is pretty much saturated if i am not wrong. Anyways, plz do kindly put your valuable advice as to where is the most demand n at the same time less competition. Its worth mentioning here that I shall have to focus only on the online freelancing sites for projects.

    Thanks n Regards.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hi Daisy, thanks for the comment.

      Both web and mobile dev have large demand at the moment. As far as particular technologies go it’s probably actually less important. To me it’s about choosing the right tool for the job.

      Personally I’ve focused on the WordPress platform, but I don’t advertise myself that way. My business (and the way I freelance) is about helping people first and directing them to the right solution which just happens to be WordPress about 90% of the time because I like using the platform.

      Hope this helps!

  39. Daisy

    What do u say abt Joomla or drupal…plz suggest me as to whether i should go for wordpress, joomla or drupal,..which platform is in most demand. I want to concentrate on only one and dream n breath it.


  40. Kwad

    Thanks for your reply Josh,

    Do you miss C? and did you find picking up other languages easier/harder or just a matter of learning the syntax and changing the mindset?

    I have a Raspberry pi in my bag that I have been meaning to get up and running on for my own personal gain. But I am also currently teaching a teenager how to program using the Pi so your advice is very encouraging. πŸ™‚ I will have a look online for people looking for Raspberry Pi developers.


    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey Kwad,

      I do miss C sometimes actually. There’s something about getting down into more nitty gritty code, might be a sense of control or something.

      I don’t miss debugging C though πŸ˜‰

      As far as picking up languages, I can usually learn 80% of a new language in a few weeks and be fairly competent in it. Just comes from switching languages so much over the last few years.

  41. Cuong Hoang

    I’m done with getting my first project on, thanks man!

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Awesome Cuong, glad to hear you had some success!

  42. Andy

    You’ve got great resources here; with these sites freelancers has better chances of getting a client. When you are planning to work online you must possess the skills and expertise because the competition on each task is very high and the chance of getting hired is low. Compared to the person that has no skills and expertise, it is way too hard for you to get a job. However, there are also some freelance tasks that don’t need skills and expertise just like data entry. All you need is a good typing speed and time management in order to be successful with this business. In additional to the list is where you can look for freelancers for full time work.


  43. krunal yadav

    i have some knowledge of c,c++,java,php. i am in 3rd year BE. i want to earn money by making application online. please guide me…

  44. Parth


    I know the all webdeveloping techniques but don’t know to edit CMS.
    i know


    And tittle bit of


    i’m 19 year old indian boy and i have learned all by myself !,
    Can you please guide me, how can i start to make money online ?

    Please send me reply on my email….

  45. w9e8fuw

    This article is heavily misleading, and discouraging to employers..

    1. $500 a week to advertise? Only one freelance hub actually charges for the posting itself and it’s not even close to tens let alone hundreds.. The rest charge a flat rate percentage based on account type.

    2. $50-$100 an hour? You must be joking.. Big projects are all based on finishing quotes and only in jobs like data entry are there hourly rates.. Sometimes you’ll see website and framework jobs with hourly rate quote requests, bug very rarely…

    3. Guru dot com and Freelancer dot com are the two top sites. Also don’t forget about sites like ThemeForest for selling themes.


    1. Build an easy to navigate portfolio or you’ll only cover $1,000-$5,000 a year, if you’re lucky, and struggle doing it. With a portfolio you get contracts $15,000 or more from the above mentioned sites because you have credibility.

    2. Use social and business networking. Not networking causes unemployment just like it does in any industry online or offline… ***SAME GOES FOR ANYONE. EVEN IF YOU DIG DITCHES***

    3. Have a home page with your portfolion and social network links. Build backlinks and climb search indexes for freelancer keywords with it.

    4. If you create themes or software, publish it on software hubs, it’s like printing money even if it isn’t an original concept. This is why there are so many mobile+desktop app contracts based on old designs on these sites currently.

    ***WHY I TELL YOU: The more productive people the more attracted employers.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey w9e8fuw,

      Thanks for the comment, love the pro tips.

      First up I think you might have mis-read some of the points here or perhaps it wasn’t clear enough in the article. $500 a week to advertise is a typical rate for job websites for people hiring employees here in Australia (and around the world from what I hear). I think you have the impression I was referring to project listing websites (elance, freelancer, etc.)

      Guru and Freelancer are among the top sites now, but as you can see this was written back in 2011 and it was a different scene even then. Love the tip for selling themes and such on ThemeForest, I’d probably throw Code Canyon into that mix for plugin people (it’s owned by the same parent company).

      Not sure what you mean by your second point there… you’ll see hourly rates advertised on project sites all over the place and people do hire on an hourly basis. That said, most of my work nowadays is based around project quotes (usually sum total of the hours involved in most cases anyway), so maybe the times have changed.

      Your pro tips are great, +1 for the portfolio website. Case studies really help here too.

      Also, don’t be afraid to use your real name or email in future, I appreciate all comments even ones taking a negative viewpoint to the article – even if that article is 2 years old πŸ™‚

  46. s9d8cus

    Another PRO TIP: Low-ball till you get around 20 positive feedback, bid around the site’s minimum. Without feedback and documented earnings, you wont win bids at all, unless you low-ball. Once you bid with 20+ feedback, double-up your average bid based on projects specs.

    All I’ve mentioned here are proven methodologies. I do, however, suggest keeping a primary salary employer, cause contracting is usually doing a lot of low-paying tasks, some months you might make nothing. You’re also competing with third-world software firms now too, and quality and competence are usually an afterthought.

  47. reva

    pls pls josh send me ur email i need your help……..

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      reva – you can contact me via the contact form on this site or leave a message here. I respond to each comment.

  48. Paul

    Great article. I was just wondering what you think the best way to get started would be. I only know java really well so I would want to focus on that. But should I start looking for jobs on freelance websites or should I start a simple website and hope for people to come to me for jobs?

    Also if the website is the best option, how do I get the right customers to come to my website?

    Thanks in advance for your help

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey Paul, thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation.

      It’s hard to say what the best option for getting started is for your circumstances as you may have some business contacts already that you could pitch your services to (in which case the profile website would be important) or you may be starting from scratch (in which case you might like to try the freelance project websites or apply for casual/temp/part time roles).

      I’ve written this post on finding your first freelance clients which might help you out..

  49. Paul

    I looked at the freelance sites and the earnings potential seems very low for the possibility of actually be selected for the job. So if I was to start a simple website for myself, how do I attract the right people to my site?

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Yeah they generally are low due to the competition from countries where labour is much cheaper. This doesn’t mean you need to bid the same as them though. You have value to add that is more than just the cheapest price, think about what you can do to make your pitches stand out.

      Attracting the right people can be done in a number of ways depending on if you have budget for advertising.

      I have used these free methods successfully myself:

      – Writing articles around problems my customers might be facing to attract the right search traffic
      – Participating in niche forums where potential customers look for developers to answer questions (eg. when I was working with SugarCRM a lot I was participating in their forum quite a bit and secured several clients because they saw me as an authority
      – Be really clear on your website about what you do and what you can help people with, then make it easy for them to contact you

      Using free methods like this take more time. Paying for advertising can make things happen more quickly, but you’ll need to do some research into PPC advertising and without knowing what a customer is worth to you it’s hard to say how much you should spend.

      I should probably turn these dot points into a blog post at some stage… πŸ™‚

    2. 3rrpro4tipek3guyk3

      @Josh: what you’re suggesting in reply to this comment isn’t realistic. A person on a minimalist lifestyle with no kids and maybe only a wife or GF needs to cover at least $500 USD a month(this is international average living expenses in 1st world countries where there is public transportation, add a hundred or two for fuel costs on a busy 25MPG car). This lifestyle is highly unlikely for pretty much anyone reading your blog..

      Most contracting hubs/sites have some contracts that are 1k-40k USD and then there is a big gap that goes down to 25 USD to around 300 USD. Anything over 500 USD is very rare and is usually for firms only who have a large portfolio and infrastructure,, or devs who have the same except their infrastructure is made of sub-contractors allowing them to meet deadlines. These jobs are almost always commercial sites, whole games, or frameworks.

      As a programmer one thing that annoys me are web designers who cant do any better than me but get paid thousands for non-functional designs made mostly of stock photos and bad frameworks. I have to go in and do at least 80% of the work and only make hundreds.. This demonstrates the power of a portfolio that is visual and making technical aspects and rigor nuances..

      This is all coming from a 30 YO freelancer currently living in America, but who has lived all over the world and has lots of experience even in fields like reverse engineering and big data, and does on his own what firms usually fail to do.. In fact most of my work is contacts they tanked on..

      Also I wrote this half asleep

    3. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey 3rrpro4tipek3guyk3,

      I think it was an ok response given the question of how to attract relevant traffic to your website as a freelancer. The OP was complaining that the jobs on those sites don’t pay enough and I totally agree. It’s not sustainable to do just projects on and co if you’re living in a 1st world country.

      Those sites do give you a good way to get some experience though, so they shouldn’t be discounted altogether.

      I run my own company, but I guess you could still say I’m a freelancer since I’m flying solo. I’m also a dev (though I do design as well), not counting design work I clear mid 4 figures monthly (and low 4 figures part time just 18 months ago). I don’t use freelancing sites at all and I use all three techniques that I described in my response above.

      If you’re only making hundreds implementing full sites I would definitely reconsider what your time is worth. Devs are just as worthy of high rates, my rates are double the typical designer.

      Please feel free to use your real name to comment instead of a pseudonym πŸ™‚ I pretty much approve all comments whether they’re critical or not, the only ones that don’t get through are spam!

    4. 3rrpro4tipek3guyk3

      It sounds like you have a client-base. Surely you don’t make thousands a month just of clients coming in off back-links? It seems even if so there would be heavy gaps in the fluctuation..

      Also I never could understand why people use There is a fee for everything. has the same level of traffic and you only pay a fee for special accounts and invoices..

  50. Mike

    Excellent piece of article. Josh, I have something on my mind. I want to venture into the field of mobile apps development (Android). Now, is it better to stick to Native n start learning Java and then Android Development or is it better to stick to cross-platform and master HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript. Which is future proof, cross platform or Native (i intend to get projects from online freelancing sites as a full time freelancer)?

    warm regards.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey Mike,

      I guess it comes down to personal preference really. I prefer to build native because I don’t like the restrictions with the cross-platform 3rd party tools that render the native code for you.

      That said, for client projects it’s probably quicker and simpler to implement in those cross-platform tools because you can write once for iPhone & Android without having to learn the development tools for either.

      Future proof (if there is such a thing with the ever changing landscape in mobile development) I’d lean toward native.

  51. Mike

    Thanks a lot Josh for the kind advice !

  52. deep

    hey josh
    your website is really intresting !
    i am IT student and I know c & c++ very well

    1. ajmal

      i too searching the same. please advice us on the topic.

  53. a09sca8s

    PRO TIP: For IOS and Android: Don’t use frameworks with dependency and licensing issues that worry employers. Spend a week and start an NDK and XCode code-base. Make wrapper functions that you can use the same code on. You have to compile on OSX for XCode though and use a edited switch and compiler directives for that switch is all(this=fast-turnaround)..

    Distribute compiled headers to protect your work on some level. Nobody is going to reverse-engineer compiled code when writing their own is faster and cheaper. It also keeps market saturation down, keeping you employed..

  54. Snehal

    I’m currently working for a large company as a software engineer, but I was looking to supplement my income by doing extra work in my spare time – evenings and weekends.
    I was wondering if you had any tips for those just starting out?

  55. sammy

    Hey josh, I’m a computer engineering student but love programming and because I’m tight on money, i decided to be a part time freelance programmer. by this i can get better in programming and also make money that will pay more than flipping burgers.

    Even if i start with just make 10$ an hr which is minimum wage it will be enough money to help me out. The problem is i only know how to work with c++ and python. Since i don’t particularly favor a language over the other what do you suggest me to learn first to start my freelancing career. I want a language that has the most customers, and pays best. Can you also tell me after i learn that language how can i become pro like you and all the others. I mean, can you tell me how you became a freelancer im sure it want over night.

    Sorry but im really new to this and want someone to explain me the steps from learning to program to becoming a freelancer.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey Sammy, thanks for the comment.

      Python is in quite high demand, more so than C++ anyway so if you’re familiar with that, I’d stick with it.

      Freelancing is all about finding customers with a problem and helping them solve it, it actually has very little to do with code, languages or programming.

      My suggestions is to concentrate on helping people, that’s how you build a career out of freelancing.

  56. ajmal

    i am new to it industry. i learned c,cpp and php and i am going to study c#,.net etc.. can u guide me how do i get online jobs as i am a fresher..

    thnx in advnce

  57. faizan arshad

    hi,josh i find your work very interesting.i also want to get freelance job as i want to earn per hour at my home.i m good in c++,java,and now a days i m learning to work in android.i m doing bscs and im in my 6 th semestrer.please provide me some guideline where i can earn good money at home.thank you……

    1. Govdi


      There are hourly rate contracts through contacts and job hubs, but it’s usually whole sum bidding.

      Also, don’t be a fool, intern while a CS major so your degree works for you, even if you want to be self-employed, just to get started and to cover down time..

      Why you may ask? Freelancing/Contracting=Unemployed to an HR filter and affording a nice life by doing medial dev tasks in AC is better than gambling with contracting..

    2. Josh Kohlbach

      Govdi, that’s good advice.

      Faizan, don’t get us wrong freelancing is great, but if you’re still a student doing some work experience with a bigger IT company would be a good option. This is what I did personally and it’s how I got my first job out of uni with the same company.

      After a couple of years working full time I started freelancing on the side to build experience in other areas and branch out. Eventually (and after a few job changes) I went full time into freelancing which has actually turned into a proper consulting services company.

      If you’re just looking for the money and not the experience freelancing is still a good option just make sure you’re getting into it for the right reasons.

  58. esuero

    Hi Josh,

    You said the there are plenty of work going around for web developers. Which technologies a web developers should master to be competitive? I know there are Rails, PHP, Javascript, Responsive, Node.js, Django etc..


    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey esuero,

      I’ve responded to this a couple times already in various comments, but basically my advice is if you’re looking for work via project websites like elance and odesk then focus on the popular languages like Rails, PHP and mobile app languages.

      Otherwise if you want to make it into something more sustainable try looking at approaching local companies and seeing what you can help out with based on your current skill set.

      Hope that helps!

  59. Vaseem

    I dont have much software knowledge. I am from electronics field but I have learnt C and C++ and I enjoy it. Please kindly advise what should I do further so that I can explore my intrest.

  60. BhvK

    Hi Josh,

    Hey, very good article there. Pleasure reading it.

    Can you please help me out taking a decision which has been confusing me since the last 6 months?
    See, I had 2 years of experience in PHP i.e only in core PHP and Code Ignitor. My company didnt give me oppurtunities to work in other open source techs like WordPress, Magento etc.

    Then I shifted on to a new company where I am working mostly in Visual Basic, Crystal reports and SQL Server. I also got to work a little on C# here. But my salary is quite high as compared to my last company.
    But, my PHP knowledge has extensively decreased.
    Now its like I am in the middle of nowhere. Now I know Visual Basic(which is not very demanding in market), SQL Server & a little C# plus faded knowledge in PHP.
    So should I change my programming language again? or should I stick on to VB(as the salary is good)?
    If you think I should change then should I again jump on PHP or should I enhance my knowledge of C# and go ahead with that?

    Pleaseeeeeeee suggest. Any suggestion would be very valuable.
    Thank You.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hi BhvK,

      In the end you have to be happy with what you’re doing. If the work is good and you’re enjoying it then don’t worry about what language you’re using. For any good coder that has a number of languages under their belts already it should only take a few weeks to become proficient in a new language.

      I’d say look for that sweet cross section of work between makes you happy and what is in demand. This may mean a language change, but it may not. Being in a niche means that you can charge higher because there is less competition.

  61. Richard

    Dear Josh, wow, this is something really nice to read !
    However I still have some doubts.
    1) Is PHP slowly dying away. Is MEAN stack is what i should be doing as a full-time freelancer ?

    2) Or do u rather think that going for freelance Android development is a better option

    3) Or rather is it the Phonegap (Cross Platform) that I should go for.

    Kindly advise me. Your advise will go a long way in shaping my freelance career.

    Best Regards

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Hey Richard,

      1. PHP is still here and strong from my point of view.
      2 & 3. Android and apps in general will always be in great demand.

      I recommend looking at what your skill set is and what you enjoy doing and try to find the intersection of those two things.

      Hope that helps!

  62. Ashwini

    Myself Ashwini and currently I am in Netherlands as my husband has got onsite for a year and I have quit my job and come here, having worked in IT industry it’s very boring to sit home without work, is there a online work technical. I have experience in C++, C, UNIX.

  63. Ashik

    Hi Josh,

    I am looking for some freelancing jobs with PL/SQL, Java, VBA, Android, C# skills. Can you help me?


  64. Karan

    I wanted to know that which types of programming languages are required for freelancing and earn $100 Per hour

    1. somecode

      If you’re going to be pulling contracts through hub sites like freelacer and guru you’ll never see $100.00/hr.

      Typically it’s around $60/hr tops and only with great reputation, and then you have no-price listings where people are just probing the market, and then fixed amount. Fixed amount is rarely over $2,500 for any type of job. Actually like 85% of the jobs on hub sites are under $250.00, and you’ll often even see people wanting ready-for-market cross-platform apps for <$250.00 which is annoying. Those big multi-thousand dollar jobs are typically so large scale(like 200k+ lines with lots of media) and such small turn-around requirement that even a small team can't do it in time.

      I've actually seen $50,000-$100,000 jobs on hub sites over the years(I've been on them for about a decade) but they were very large infrastructure jobs that required a firm because of the time requirements.

      Then you have the word-of-mouth market. That's the bread and butter market. People will pay $3,000 for pretty much any quality of web design, for example. I assume that's where the owner of this site pulls work from, because he seems to have an engineers salary from freelancing which can only be done with risky sub-contracting on hub sites.. In this market you have to be a great salesman..

    2. Josh Kohlbach

      You hit it on the head. You need to be good at asking questions and listening (the two key facets of a good sales person).

      I was pulling a full-time wage while freelancing, but now I’m a company that supports multiple people (a transition that hasn’t been easy).

      Freelancing is still a great way to start and it’s all about talking to people and listening to their requirements. Freelancing sites still have a place, but don’t expect to earn a huge salary from it. It’s about making connections and building up your experience and portfolio.

  65. Deepank

    hey josh ,
    i am persuing my graduation in computer applications.i am having knowledge of programing language like C++ ,c and java but what i am learning in college is not can i expand my knowledge so that i can also become a good and professional programmer.
    please suggest me some books so that i can expand my knowledge in this programming world.

  66. Deepank

    hey josh ,
    i am persuing my graduation in computer applications.i am having knowledge of programing language like C++ ,c and java but what i am learning in college is not can i expand my knowledge so that i can also become a good and professional programmer.
    please suggest me some books so that i can expand my knowledge in this programming world

  67. Daminda Dinesh

    Hello Josh
    I am a foreign student in USA studying for computer science. I want to get programming experience and find some extra cash. But, legally , I can not do business with companies in USA. Therefore, I was thinking making connection with foreign companies. do you if there is a way that I can code and sell that code for foreign companies online?

    Thank you

    1. Arik Sarkar

      Hi Daminda Dinesh,
      I was just saying that how much does it cost to learn computer science and engineering in USA. I’m not the owner of this blog, I’m just asking because I need few details. If possible please reply.
      Thanking You,
      Best Regards.

  68. Andrea

    Hi! I’m just starting out on learning how to you think it is possible to get hired even if I don’t have a degree or do you think a college degree is necessary for this. I plan on working freelance as well.

  69. Yash

    hey… plz suggest me somthing i m having knowledge of C and Java. so to earn money online what should i do… Currrently i am persuing my BE final year from I.T .

  70. Jason

    Nice article. I struggle with translating “school world” skills into “real world” ones. Any tips on where to find projects to practice on so that my problem solving skills improve as my coding skills progress?

  71. Martyn

    Hi Josh,

    Really helpful article and thread, thanks! My question is a touch repetitive, but the thread goes back a ways and I expect things move fairly quickly.

    I have a VERY old degree (back in the day when “object oriented” was exciting and new), working in VB/VBA, Java and a little C++, but I’ve not done any coding beyond custom excel functions in 10 years or so. I’m looking to get back into the game as part of a career change, part time and trying to be realistic with aspirations not much beyond pocket money at least for a while.

    What would you recommend in terms of self guided study? I still hear talk of python, things like Ruby? All 2016 focussed thoughts would be hugely appreciated!

    Many thanks,

  72. Aliasgar MK

    Hi Josh,
    Thanks for this article. I am Software Developer with ~3 years of experience. In my current job i am doing monotones job. I want to do some real problem solving instead of going from A to B everyday.
    I have tried looking into some online job portals but not find anything helpful as I do not have much time left after my job. If you don’t mind can you please suggest some portals where i can find work online related to java.

    Thanks in advance.

  73. Gunacelan M

    Can you suggest some platforms where I could do embedded systems project and earn some money.

    1. Josh Kohlbach

      Embedded is a tricky one because you often need access to hardware. Try canvasing your local companies or look on Upwork for jobs where you have access to the required hardware to build up your experience. Hope this helps πŸ™‚

  74. Muhammad Ali

    Hello ! i am student of software engineering and i have some experience in c++ and java . and i am searching for online job .

    1. Bone

      Hi, I am a developer same as you. But I can’t find online programming job web sites for me. If you know something about that, please let me know it. Good Luck to You. Thanks.

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