Search [Enter] to search. Click anywhere to close.

January 5th, 2021

Generating Passive Income As A Web Developer

Making passive income is a dream for many, and a reality for some. When it comes to making passive income for web developers in particular, fortunately, that goal proves to be an achievable one for many.

You need only take a look at a site like reddit, specifically the Passive Income subreddit, to see a large and thriving community dedicated specifically to this very topic.

The methods used to make passive income are many and varied, but this article will specifically focus on how you can generate passive income as a web or software developer.

Many passive income streams lend themselves to the web or software developers skill-set

Web developers (and programmers in general, in fact) tend naturally to have a great skillset that lends itself well to generating passive income.

A lot of passive income streams (or at least, the ones we’ll cover in this article) are computer-based in some way. So there’s a natural affinity here already for developers.

But firstly: what’s passive income?

You may be asking yourself “what is passive income?” or “how can I make money for doing nothing?”

Those are acceptable questions to ask.

Passive income, however, is not always truly passive. The definition of passive income, as such, can be a little tricky to nail down at first.

A classic example of what I mean would be running a monetized blog, though.

A practical example of how passive income streams work

The blog needs to be maintained, and new articles need to be posted regularly.

In that sense, it’s fair to argue that this is not a truly passive income source.

However, think of it like this: you may write a post today that contains affiliate links. This post may generate revenue tomorrow, the next day, the day after that. It may generate revenue while you sleep. It may even be generating revenue 2 years from now.

A better way to think about passive income is: you aren’t directly trading your time (or resources) for money.

An element of (usually very hard) work is required, but passive income streams can start to flow in based off of these bouts of activity.

The passive income ideas

Here are 4 passive income ideas that I believe are particularly suitable for web developers or software developers.

The ideas are in no particular order, but each one is technology based in some way. It’s possible to generate passive income streams via these ideas, but remember: you must be solving a problem for your users, and you must be doing that effectively in order to generate traction!

Let’s look at the ideas.

1. Build mobile apps with React Native

It’s no secret that building mobile apps has the potential to be extremely lucrative.

Strictly speaking, however, this isn’t necessarily the web developer’s domain. But there is a decent amount of crossover between the two disciplines (web development & app development) — especially when you factor in tech such as React Native.

There are a few different approaches to consider before you dive head-first into your app idea, though.

Build many simple paid apps

Rather than focus on a single app, and pin all of your hopes and expectations on monetizing this one particular app, it may be wise to hedge your bets a little. The idea here is that you can build multiple (let’s say, 5 or 6) mobile apps that each solve a specific (yet relatively simple) problem for the user.

It doesn’t necessarily matter so much if your app idea already exists, this will likely be the case — you just have to do it well.

Multiple small apps may be preferable for generating income in the long run
Creating multiple small apps may be a better option as opposed spending all of your time and resources on one!

You can then charge a small fee for users to download these apps. Even if each app only garners a modest following, you’ll eventually have many apps in play at once — so your monetization streams are somewhat diversified from the outset, which is fantastic!

The other main benefit to this approach is that it’ll allow you to more easily see what works and what doesn’t. You can then choose to narrow your focus later on down the line, if required.

Monetize your free apps with ads to generate passive income

The alternative to the paid approach would be to keep your apps free for your users, but monetize them with in-app advertisements using a popular ad network such as Google’s AdMob.

You’re more likely to attract a large userbase with a free app — however, you’ll also (typically) need a lot of traffic to see any sort of significant return via the ad networks alone.

Provide IAPs (in app purchases) for your apps

A happy medium, potentially combining the best of both worlds (free + premium) would be to offer IAPs in each of your (free) apps.

The idea here would be to provide a useful free app that attracts users effectively to begin with, then offer an upgraded experience or some other purchasable item or feature from within the app itself alongside that.

The more users your app attracts, the more likely these users will be to purchase some of your IAP features or a premium/paid version of the app. The free version of the app could still be monetized with advertisements; the premium version would drop these ads as part of the premium package. That’s one common approach.

A small caveat…

It’s worth noting here that there are no certainties when it comes to generating income! Many people pursue different ideas for passive income, but sadly, not everybody can be successful.

Although building out mobile apps can be an extremely lucrative path towards generating passive income as a web developer, there are certainly no guarantees. It’s about finding the right niche, and then reaching enough consumers within that niche in an effective way.

This can be applied to almost all avenues listed within this article. If it was so easy, everybody would be doing it!

2. Start a blog within a web development or tech niche

A blog or website can become profitable over time given a decent strategy coupled with a lot of persistence.

One way of making passive income as a web developer could be to utilize your existing skillset, and make it work for you. You likely have a degree of technical knowledge already which, when imparted to others, could be extremely valuable.

A “how-to” style blog or website could leverage this pre-existing knowledge by passing it on to others in the form of tutorials and articles. Effectively imparting your knowledge in a comprehensive but easily digestible manner could help you to gather and retain a loyal readership.

Before beginning – it’s always best to start with a degree of planning, however…

Identify your specific niche

The act of actually starting up a new blog or website is generally straight-forward enough for a web developer, however, you’ll need to ensure you have a clear strategy to attract users. One of the most vital factors to consider when starting out is what niche your blog will reside in. As such, finding an effective niche for your blog is absolutely critical in this regard.

In simple terms, blogging on topics that are too broad and already thoroughly covered by many of the big players within your industry or niche will make it much harder for you to gain visibility.

Google trends is a great tool to help with identifying your niche
Google Trends is a great resource for helping to identify your niche

We’re talking specifically about generating passive income for web developers here, so naturally, your niche will likely reside within the web development sphere in some way.

Covering web development “in general” isn’t particular feasible for those just starting out (it’s quite a broad topic!); but if you can focus on specific aspects within each article (by targeting specific keywords identified by tools such as Google Trends) — then that will likely benefit you significantly in the long run.

Once you start to gain a substantial amount of traffic, there are a few ways you can go about monetizing your blog or website.

Implement ads on your website or blog

Again, using an ad network like Google’s AdSense could supply a steady flow of income, based on how many visitors you are attracting as well as a few other important factors.

As with a mobile app, you’ll likely need a significant amount of traffic before you start to see any significant kind of income from your website. But we’re not looking for the magic bullet here, we’re looking at obtaining many passive income streams that could potentially work in unison.

Take a look at affiliate marketing programs

In essence, the idea of affiliate marketing in this context is:

  • You write a post on your blog
  • You link to a product or service from within this post (typically, the article would be directly related to the product or service in some way) using an affiliate marketing program such as Amazon Associates
  • Visitors who read the post may click on the affiliate link
  • If the visitor makes a purchase, you’ll receive a commission (a percentage of the underlying sale value)

It goes without saying that this approach is most effective when you have a lot of viewers accessing your content.

You’ll want to provide quality content that’s useful and informative, and you’ll want it to rank highly in the common search engines. This will ensure a steady flow of organic traffic to your blog and in-turn allow many of these monetization strategies to really flourish.

Once you have this steady stream of organic traffic, affiliate marketing (and utilizing one of the various ad networks) could really start to pay dividends.

You can check out my article on getting more app downloads to help with building up this organic traffic for your app. The article is geared towards the Play store in some respects, however — the points and principles within are applicable across the board.

3. Write an eBook or create some other type of digital product

Selling on an eBook or some other digital product would really benefit from having a thriving web presence to begin with. As such, you can see how generating passive income as a web developer really plays in to your pre-existing skillset.

In an ideal world, your blog would be attracting a lot of users, and these users would naturally have a common interest in the topics and subjects that they are consuming via your blog.

You can target these users with some kind of useful digital product which they can download (or otherwise access) for a fee. The classic example here is an eBook.

Selling a technical eBook via your website or blog

If your website offers up a lot of “how-to” style articles, your visitors may be particularly receptive or likely to want to purchase a one-off “how-to” guide on a given topic. Clearly, you’ll need a degree of expertise in this topic to begin with.

If you do have the required expertise in your chosen niche, and you do have a knack for breaking down concepts and explaining them thoroughly and clearly — then this may be an avenue to consider.

With a popular blog, and a digital product (your eBook) that is easily accessible and on clear display, you can see how this monetization stream could begin to take off.

Selling your digital product(s) elsewhere

Of course, you don’t need to rely on your own personal website or blog to sell your digital product. There are many platforms and marketplaces to sell eBooks on directly, for example, such as sites like Leanpub.

Leanpub is a great place to sell technical eBooks and guides
Leanpub is a great place to sell technical eBooks and guides

If your digital product isn’t an eBook, however, there are a host of other marketplaces for these kind of items. I’m talking about products such as:

  • WordPress themes
  • WordPress plugins
  • JavaScript code
  • Other code snippets or utilities that developers can easily reuse

And so on.

ThemeForest is one of the most popular marketplaces for WordPress themes & plugins specifically, but it’s also great for website templates, UI templates and so on. You may be able to find a home for your product on here.

There are many marketplaces to consider outside of ThemeForest, however. It would be a wise choice to take a look around yourself beforehand to decide on your preferred options.

4. Turn a side project into a source of passive income

Last but not least, monetizing a side project can be a great source of passive income if the project in particular manages to take off.

Generating passive income for web developers — much like for those in any industry, is not an easy undertaking. At least generating significant income is not easy.

side projects as a source of passive income
Side projects as a source of passive income can be hugely rewarding, whilst also being a good way to sharpen your skill-set

With side projects specifically, you’ll be relying on one (or more) project gaining some traction. This is much easier said than done.

If you do find that one of your side projects gains some tractions and you start to organically build an audience or usership, you may have something (potentially) valuable in your hands. Essentially, your project, product or tool will need to solve some need.

It’ll need to do this effectively and efficiently and your users will need to recognize that.

Side project ideas for passive income

There are a few articles across that deal specifically with project ideas.

If you’re a full stack developer, I’d firstly recommend 10 Full-Stack Project Ideas For Web Developers.

Coming up with viable passive income ideas is definitely quite difficult, there is a lot of competition in (almost) every domain already. So you’ll need to be passionate and really good at what you do to stand out and start gathering that first burst of momentum.

Just as importantly, you’ll need a good idea.

Feel free to check out the various posts on to assist with that!

In summary

Making passive income is not always easy, and it’s not for everyone, but there are feasible options out there. Knowledge, persistence and time will definitely be required.

I’ve outlined some of the most effective and more popular passive income streams.

If you’re attempting to generate some passive income as a web developer, it should be clear by now that in some respects you do already have a “head start”, so to speak.

There is a degree of tech-literacy that is required when working with these monetization streams. Not only that, working on blogs, websites and apps should be home from home for a web developer. Using your existing skills to build up your monetization stream(s) means you aren’t starting from scratch, and you can actively work on your products from day one.

Good luck!

Thanks for reading!

Have any questions? Ping me over at @justacodingblog
← Back to blog