Updated on 

August 9, 2021

How To Earn Money as a Programmer

If you're looking for a job as a software developer, the market is effectively flooded with programmers. In order to get a good-paying full-time job, you need to have experience in a particular domain and know the ins and outs of that framework or language. Even then, not everyone will be qualified enough, which leads to more competition.

For this reason, it is recommended that you start freelancing while you learn the basics of programming languages and frameworks. Freelancing allows you to add value right off the bat without having to go through a long vetting process where your experience isn't relevant or being forced to take up low-paid "intern" jobs which have no real career value.

This article will explain how you can earn money as a programmer freelancing on sites such as upwork.com and freelancer.com. These sites have millions of users, so it is easy to find work that interests you and get paid in the process.

A computer that runs on an operating system that you can install programming tools on. This means Windows, Mac OS X and Linux should all work with the steps in this article.

A personal email address such as Gmail or Outlook (as opposed to a school account).

Step 1: Sign up for Freelancer and Upwork (Optional Step)

Sign up for both freelancer.com and upwork.com. They are the two biggest freelance platforms online, with over 10 million users on each site.
In order to find work, you must sign up for their services as they have millions of potential employers who need help through their platform.

Step 2: Create a Profile

After signing up for both websites, you need to create a profile. You want to complete the following sections:

Basic Information - This is your name and about me section where you can talk about your skill set and work experience.

Skills & Expertise - Here is where you put in the programming languages that you've learned so far (which should be at least 1-2). You can check this against their pre-defined skill sets to see if your profile matches up.

Work Availability - This is when you tell them how many hours you want to work each week and what time zone you're based in.

Contact Information - You need a phone number and email address that you can receive notifications on.

Step 3: Complete the Tests (Optional)

Upwork and freelancer have their own tests for you to complete when creating a profile. This is optional but recommended as it will give you an idea of what questions employers are asking in interviews.

The tests consist of skills matching and an English test. Try to match up as many answers as possible, as this will give you a higher opportunity of getting shortlisted for jobs.

You also need to pass the English test in order to have your profile approved by the site moderators. After passing that step, you can submit your profile and start looking for jobs.

Step 4: Post Your Profile and Get Approved

Once you have successfully signed up for both websites, it is time to submit your profile. Freelancer has a fairly strict approval process where they review all profiles before allowing them to be posted on the website.

However, Upwork has a much less stringent process where they just check for spam and job scammers. If you've made it thus far, you should be able to get your profile posted within a matter of days.

Once you've gotten your profile approved, it is time to start posting jobs that interest you on the sites (you can't apply through their websites like other users). Use the broad categories of programming languages such as PHP, MySQL, and Java Programming.

This will give you the best job opportunities while also improving your search engine ranking for better results in the future. You should also submit a cover letter to go along with each post so that potential employers can gain an insight into your personality and how you approach projects.

Step 5: Find Work and Take Your First Freelance Project

It is now time to browse through the freelance projects that you found in your searches. This will give you a better idea of what kinds of businesses hire freelancers for their development needs. You may want to choose jobs that pay more than $10 an hour, as these are the jobs that will benefit you most early on in your career.

Step 6: Answer Questions and Communicate

Once you've found a project that has been posted online, it is time to get in touch with the person posting the job. Most of the questions will be around your work history and how you would approach the project. You will have to be very specific in your answers and also make sure that you highlight any skillsets that are relevant to the job description.

After answering all of the questions, you can choose to bid on the work or move onto another job listing online. If you find yourself struggling for work after a week or two, just move onto the next company and repeat the process from Step 5.

Step 7: Get Paid

As soon as you've finished working on a project, it is time to submit your invoice for payment. You have to keep in mind that most companies will take a percentage of your earnings, so some larger companies may withhold more than 25% of the total invoice. This is standard practice, so it should be fairly simple to find out what your earnings will end up being prior to taking the project.

Step 8: Get Better At What You're Doing and Find New Opportunities

Freelance work is a great way to earn money as a programmer while you learn the ropes of how to make money programming. However, if you are unhappy with where you're at in your career path, it is best to keep looking for a new job or venture that will better suit your interests and skillset.

A great way to find jobs quicker is by becoming more active on remote work forums such as Stack Overflow and Reddit. You'll be able to learn more about the market and possibly even contribute to projects while you build up your reputation as a freelancer by taking on increasingly larger projects.


Freelance work is a great way for programmers to earn money programming, but it can also teach them valuable skills that will benefit them in the long run.

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