8 Ways To Make Money As A JavaScript Programmer in 2020


JavaScript just turned 25, and it's still a great way to get paid.

Here are 8 ways you can use JavaScript skills to make money in 2020.

1. Get A Job

Let's start with the obvious one.

Even in the midsts of the COVID-19 crisis, there are tons of jobs for JavaScript developers--many of them remote.

What should you focus on to land one of these?

React still commands a primary seat in available jobs, but Angular and Vue are strong choices too.

If you're considering Node as well, make sure you have a firm basis with Express. And, if you want to branch out, take a look at Koa.

TypeScript is the dominant strongly-typed, compile-to-JS flavor if you're looking to branch out a bit. (Deno just landed, but it'll be awhile before there's any Deno jobs to speak of.)

2. Freelance

Looking to pull in some side-income? There's a number of places on the web where you can bid on jobs like Upwork.

Don't hesitate to branch out on your own, too. You can always find folks who are looking for some help maintaining their website. Ask around some local business, or create a landing page.

3. Teach others what you know

If you've mastered some slice of JavaScript, considering producing a course helping other developers learn.

You can release it on your own or participate in a platform like Udemy.

You could also create a YouTube channel and release your videos for free. Once you've got enough views, you can earn through advertising revenue.

4. Start a newsletter or write an e-book

This one is for those among us who can write code and words.

Do you have a really great grasp on a particular niche in the JavaScript or programming world? Have a unique perspective to offer? Like writing?

Consider starting a newsletter on substack to reach your audience.

Or, write an e-book and release it on Gumroad.

You'll want to build and connect with your audience of developers who might be interested in your work. Twitter is a great place to start building that audience as you get started writing.

5. Bug Bounties

Are you security minded? Have an eye for detail? Finding a bug in certain products or code-bases might just net your a tidy sum.

Here are some places to look for bug bounties.

6. Make Themes or Plugins for Platforms

There are a couple of exciting projects that you can build themes or plugins for:

  • GatsbyJS - a static site generator that powers this blog!
  • GhostCMS - a NodeJS CMS
  • Shopify - an ecommerce giant
  • WordPress - the blogging / website giant (you'll need some PHP too)

For things like Gatbsy, you can easily release your theme packaged as an npm module on PremiumJS. You can also consider ThemeForest or CodeCanyon.

7. Create a GPLv3 Licensed Open Source Package

Open-source users get it for free. Closed-source distributors pay.

GPLv3 licenses means that your code can freely be used in other open source projects, but if it's going to be distributed in a closed-source application, a separate commercial license needs to be purchased.

For GPLv3 restrictions to apply, it needs to be distributed.

Front-end libraries work really well with GPLv3 licenses since they're distributed by necessity:

  • UI Kits (think like Ant for React or Vuetify for Vue)
  • Components like charts, tables, or other complicated UI interactions
  • themes or plugins to existing ecosystems, like Gatsby or Ghost

You can ship the commercially-licensed version on PremiumJS as a npm package for purchase.

This method is also called "dual-licensing."

See our extensive write-up on dual-licensing.

8. Start a SaaS Business

Starting a SaaS business has never been easier, especially if you're a developer. But, this is also probably the highest-effort on this list.

Just remember though—a product isn't a business. You will need to master lots of business fundamentals like marketing and sales in addition to your craft of programming.

Not sure where to get started?

Pick a niche that you already know and enjoy and focus on bringing that audience value.

Are you into snowboarding or drinking coffee or sailing or startups or {insert interest here}? Get to know people who work in that space and see how you can apply your programming skills to make their life better.

Join the IndieHackers community. There are lots of people, many of the developers, sharing what they have learned on the way to making profitable businesses.

It's not a slam dunk.

Building a business isn't a sure-fire way to make some extra income, but if you're able to succeed, you might just have a tidy income that allows you to quit your job.