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Thread: How long until I can generate some income?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2014

    How long until I can generate some income?

    My background: a decade ago I used to make websites for fun, but for some reason I never considered it as a career. Well, since then, I went to college, got degrees in mechanical engineering and chemistry (because unfortunately I didn't know what the hell I wanted to do) and have been working as an engineer for the past few years. However, I hate my job. The past few months I've been reviewing html, learning css, and dicking around with PHP. I love this stuff and I find it really fun, but obviously I'm nowhere near proficient in it. Basically I'm just looking for a rough estimate for income vs time. I realize this will depend on a large number of factors, but I'm just looking for a rough estimate. I.e. will it be 3 years before I'm making $100/month, or in 6 months can I be making $3000/month? Much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Depends on how you plan to make money: by creating web sites that directly generate money for you (ad sales, product sales, membership fees, whatever) or by working as a contractor for people trying to do that, or by getting a full-time job working for a dot.com or some other company with a web presence (or other alternatives I haven't considered).
    "Well done....Consciousness to sarcasm in five seconds!" ~ Terry Pratchett, Night Watch

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Hi there, thanks for the reply. I am open to any of those methods, although the number of full time on-site companies in my location is very limited so that may not be possible without moving. What would an Income vs Time curve look like for each of those options?

    Essentially I have about 15-18 months of living expense saved up, and I would like to quit my job to focus on learning web development, because it's very hard to put in more than a few hours a week with a time demanding job. Once I quit I plan on spending 40-50 hours/week at least learning. So I'm mostly curious how likely it is that I will be able to support myself by the time that 15-18 months is up.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Well...the first option (creating sites that actually generate income) is pretty much a lottery situation, in my mind. Many (most?) never really generate money worth the initial investment. Many make some money, but not enough to figure on buying a new house and BMW in a few years. The one in a <insert large number here> chance is that you make the right thing at the right time, and Google or Facebook buy you out.

    Being a freelance web developer will probably never make you filthy rich, unless you get really lucky and sign some deal for a percentage of the site's income for someone who makes that one-in-a-whatever killing above. I sucked as a freelancer, because I didn't like doing all the non-technical things: sales (selling myself), accounts receivable, etc. Obviously, your mileage may vary.

    Getting a decent entry-level full-time job generally requires either an applicable degree, demonstrated experience, and/or a good portfolio of stuff you've done (maybe for charities, churches, etc.?) -- and the aforementioned networking (local/on-line user's groups, linkedin, etc.... even forums).

    Personally, I'd be hesitant to just stop working, instead maybe looking for a part-time job that's not too stressful, then still being able to dedicate a few hours each day to learning and practical experience, (hours varying based on which days/hours you work). I would think this would help reduce the mental stress of feeling like you have a looming financial deadline dangling over you (is that a mixed metaphor?).

    Most developers seem to learn best by just doing it. Yeah, you read some stuff, watch some tutorials; but nothing makes it sink in like typing out the code and testing it in your browsers, researching why certain things didn't work right, fixing them, testing again, rinse, repeat. You can start out making sites/pages just for fun, such as thing for your favorite hobby, maybe volunteer to help a local non-profit fix/enhance their site, and so forth, giving you both practical experience and potentially adding stuff to your portfolio.

    Okay, I've rambled enough. I'm not smart enough to give you any hard numbers (which probably depend on way too many variables, anyway). My numbers wouldn't have any bearing, since I morphed into being a web developer over many years at a much later stage in my life. (I'm hoping to retire in 8 years, sooner if a make a killing on stock options where I work now. )
    "Well done....Consciousness to sarcasm in five seconds!" ~ Terry Pratchett, Night Watch

    How to Ask Questions the Smart Way (not affiliated with this site, but well worth reading)

    My Blog
    cwrBlog: simple, no-database PHP blogging framework

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Hey StinkFish,

    It's really hard to put a number on something like that. Where are you planning to get clients? How long do you think it will take you to become efficient in web development? Will you be learning just front end technologies, back end or learning both? There are freelancers that make over $100 an hour, I'm serious, because they know what cients to target. Then there are people who will take any scraps they can get, making minimum wage (or less in the case of overseas freelancers.).

    I would not quit your day job, but like the person above me said consider getting a part time one, maybe your job will let you. Maybe you can find another job in your field that you will like. If you decide to stick with it I would learn as much as I can, I would not touch a website job until you have built one like it, it doesn't even have to be a project that you have completed. Just enough to know that you can handle it. I wouldn't be too worried about being over your head, its a good place to be (means youre learning), but if you are absolutely stumped there are overseas freelancers that can do small scripts for you for really cheap.

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