passive income for software developers

Developers are in higher demand than they have ever been, and there have never been so many opportunities to make passive income as a developer. Many companies are looking for your skills, but if you’re looking for a life free from a set schedule, clocking in, clocking out, and supporting someone else’s dreams, then passive income is the way to go.

How can you make passive income as a developer? No matter what language you know, or are learning, there are many different types of ways to make passive income as a developer. Some passive income ideas for developers include creating and selling chatbots, assets, tools, API bridges, animations, functions, themes, widgets, apps, plugins, bots, and software.

Development is extremely broad, so you have many options to generate income. Here are 34 passive income ideas for developers of all types. Whether you are offering your services to support the backend or frontend of an application, providing a tutorial on how to create mobile applications, or creating lead generating chatbots, you can create passive income streams.

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Web Developers (Front, Back, Full Stack)

Here are some ways web developers can make passive income. May you be a front-end, back-end or full stack developer, you can make passive income in a variety of ways. Check out our ideas and guides below.

1. Chatbots


The use of chatbots has exploded. They perform many useful tasks such as greeting visitors, collecting user information, answering FAQ’s and generally help companies increase their productivity. You can create chatbots with many different programming languages, and the future of chatbots is learning towards Bots as a Service (BAAS). Companies are looking for chatbots that can handle their most demanding tasks and help them become more productive. Learn more about how you can make passive income from your bot in our beginner guide below.

See our Passive Income Chatbot Guide

2. Developing and Selling API Bridges (SAAS)

Building connections between applications and Software as a Service (SaaS) programs can provide a stable passive income. Many companies have heavily adopted API bridges, so learning or mastering their development can be lucrative. The goal is to save companies time and money by allowing them to eliminate man hours replacing manual tasks with automation. If a company uses one software for billing, but another CRM for order management, instead of spending time manually copy/pasting information, an API bridge allows the two apps to communicate together directly in real time. If you offer bridges as a SAAS product, you can make excellent passive income. The most important work will be ongoing maintenance and support which you could always outsource to make it more passive.

3. Membership Sites


People love exclusivity. It makes them feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. Membership sites are created by offering special perks to an audience on a website. Many plugins exist to do this in WordPress for example, creating a gate that only allows subscribers to access premium or exclusive content. According to SmartBlogger, some membership sites make $100,000 or more annually. Perhaps you could develop full-time. This developer was making $2,000 per day when his membership sites launched, and he still rakes in $800/month in residual income. Learn more about how to create a membership site for passive income in our guide below.

See our Passive Income Membership Site Guide

4. Blogging


We are not talking about blogging for blogging – talking about your day or whatever. We are specifically talking about passive income blogs. There are millions of people looking to become developers. Their specializations are as diverse as anyone else’s, and they are looking for coding blogs to find information. With as little as one blog post a week that answers specific questions, you can provide programming knowledge that passionate and aspiring developers would love to read. As long as you provide useful and practical knowledge that answer real world questions, you can generate income from ad revenue, affiliate income, eBook sales or other. If you want to maximize your profits and take your blog to the next level, add some members-only content. Learn how to make a great niche blog in our guide below.

See our Passive Income Blogging Guide

5. Selling Animations / Effects / Functions

Passive income doesn’t get more passive than selling content that is “evergreen”, or will not need any upgrades. If you have created animations, special effects, or functions in the past, know that they can be useful to others. You can offer them on many platforms such as the GameDev Market, the Unity Asset Store, or the Unreal Engine marketplace. When creating animations or effects, it is recommended to make sure they are original or improve on someone else’s (open source) designs. If you find designs that are out of date, this is also a great way to improve them, sell them, and make passive income. If you create assets in Unity or Unreal, you can get sales by creating dynamic assets that are on one platform but not the other. You can also sell upgrades to your basic frontend code for a yearly subscription.

6. Advertising on Your Client’s Websites

After creating or updating your client’s website, you can negotiate with them to reserve space on their website for advertisements. In this dedicated space, you can request ads for your service, a link to your blog or books, and many other advertisements. Not only will you make a lump sum from the client, but you can set yourself up to reach other clients through their website. This strategy can provide a large amount of passive income in the future as clients come to you without your marketing efforts.

7. Reselling Web Hosting

Businesses need space to host their files and other elements of their websites. They need web hosting. With some patience and diligence, you can offer this service to them. When reselling web hosting it is important to make sure you purchase from reputable companies, offer many freebies (i.e., SEO and SSL), and find ways to differentiate your web hosting services from others. When buying web hosting in bulk, it is helpful to look for providers that allow you to add your logo to your customer’s control panel. This method will increase both your branding and promotional efforts. Also, some hosting providers offer free advertising credits which can be used with big names like Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Yahoo. You can maximize your visibility with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

8. Leasing Dedicated Servers

Dedicated servers are in high demand as they can be used by companies that have a lot of traffic or need personal servers. They can be used on the company’s premises, and are known to lower router, security system, network administration, and internet connection costs. Dedicated servers can be operated remotely, so you can work from home while making fairly passive income. To make the offer more passive, you can outsource the ongoing setup and support to a competent virtual assistant.

9. Building and Selling Web Applications (SaaS)

If you are looking to make money without spending weeks creating new content, you can buy and sell web apps (make sure you have the copyrights and authorizations to do so). Many businesses aren’t sure what software would be the best for the needs. You can determine the best features and add-ons needed for these businesses and earn passive income while doing so. Businesses need web applications that cater to boosting productivity, improving project management, and that improve skills and money management.

10. Finding Security Flaws and Hacks

Many security flaws lurk behind the “impenetrable” surface of businesses’ websites, mobile applications, and proprietary software. You can help companies guard themselves against service attacks, viruses, malware, and hackers looking for an opportunity to break into their systems. Gray hackers are helpful for companies, and most are paid a lot to find these security flaws. Security flaws and hackable code can be found in many areas of a company’s online presence, including their databases, encryption, and network. Some companies may add third-party plugins to their systems, which can also introduce security flaws that would be difficult for anyone but a developer to detect. For passive income and a chance to protect the data of various companies, contact companies, and offer your services as a gray hacker at a high ticket price, and eventually outsource the work to make it more passive.

11. Flipping Niche Sites

One awesome way to make passive income online as a web developer is by flipping niche sites. There is a vast market for niche sites and it’s become very easy to purchase, improve and resell them. If you have any skills in blogging, content creation (for passive income specifically) and SEO, you can easily get into this niche market. From fly fishing to knitting, you can purchase niche sites for an affordable price, spruce them up, add some content, and sell them for higher than you purchased them for. You can also boost the monthly revenue they are making and enjoy the passive income until you decide to sell. Learn more about how to improve your niche site from Rick & Jim on Project 24.

Learn More From Project 24

12. eCommerce & Drop Shipping

eCommerce is an excellent opportunity for web developers to make passive income online. However, your choice of platform is very important. WooCommerce requires a lot of maintenance and can crash a WordPress site. Shopify is expensive ongoing. And forget creating a custom solution, it’s not the 1990’s anymore. Ecwid eCommerce is an amazing tool to create an online store quickly and easily. Ecwid integrates any CMS including WordPress, and allows you to drop ship or use print on demand services like Printful. Most drop shipping companies will produce your products, package them, ship them, and handle returns. This makes things very passive! Ecwid also allows you to push your products to Amazon, eBay, Facebook and Instagram. Learn more in our eCommerce guide below.

See our Passive Income eCommerce Guide

13. Creating and Selling Web Themes

This is a classic passive income idea for web devs. Through a combination of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and plugins, you can create a variety of professional website templates that can pull in impressive passive income. The competition is fierce, so it’s important to stand out from the crowd. Niching down is one way to provide templates a target market that is underserved. Look for a niche you are passionate about, that has a target audience looking for templates and that does not have much selection. This will be a great place to start. There are many templates you can create, including those that are geared towards children’s items, authors, programmers, life coaches, indie developers, and eCommerce.

14. Creating and Selling WordPress Plugins

Millions of people use WordPress to promote their businesses and services. Creating WordPress plugins is an excellent way to generate passive income, as people are looking for many ways to expand the features of their WordPress site. When creating a plugin, focus on a real-world need. You can find what people want in WordPress forums, blogs, and YouTube channels. There, you will find many users expressing their frustrations, which is an excellent way to gather information on what they are looking for. On these forums, you can market yourself as a developer who is dedicated to fixing these issues, offer your technical know-how to problems that haven’t been solved, and become the go-to person on WordPress forums. If you already have an audience who knows you, it will be even easier to sell your plugin once it’s created.

15. Creating and Selling Widgets

Widgets come in many forms, some of which need a lot of coding and some of which don’t. There is a huge market for custom widgets, as people want increased functionality on their blogs and websites.If you have limited time, you can find reusable open source code online, tweak it, and create custom widgets for many users. You can outsource part of the work on sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and

16. Flipping Domain Names

Domain flipping consists in buying domain names, parking them and then selling them later on at a higher price. Many people are making thousands of dollars by simply registering domain names for less than 10 dollars and then selling them to business or individuals. We love NameCheap to purchase domain names because of their excellent interface and support. You can sign up to sites that notify you when specific domain names have expired or are no longer in use. You can buy these domains and offer them to customers who need them. Many companies decide on a business name and then find that the domain name is not available. They will pay top dollar prices to have access to the exact name they want, especially if it’s a .com. Learn more in our domain flipping guide below.

See our Passive Income Domain Flipping Guide

App Developers

Here are some ways app developers can make passive income. Check out our passive income ideas and guides for app developers below.

17. Creating a Game App

This is a classic for app developers, but game apps are so popular there is an incredible opportunity in this niche, especially if you can be ahead of the crowd. Try to think outside the box with game apps in niches like 360 and VR. Classic Android and iOS apps are well known and a bit saturated. But why not create apps for other companies like Windows phones instead. Creating mobile games is a huge niche that has only gotten larger as phones have become bigger, more powerful, and wireless networks have grown faster. They won’t be going away anytime soon. After you have created these games and tested them extensively, some features that can increase your passive income include downloadable content, access to behind-the-scenes videos, monthly subscriptions that offer bundle apps, features, or assets, pro subscriptions which will remove ads and in-app purchases. This developer offered in-app spending and increased his passive income immensely.

See our Passive Income eCommerce Guide

18. Creating an App Compiling Data from Pros

Professionals in various domains such as fitness, health and personal development have incredible knowledge and resources they would like to transform into an interactive app. However, they lack the technical development skills to do so. This is where you can come in. If you can partner with a well known professional to build an app that answers their market needs, instead of getting paid a flat or upfront fee, request a percentage of sales for more, ongoing revenue. You can then outsource or delegate ongoing maintenance, support or future dev requests.

Game Developers

Here are some ways game developers can make passive income. Check out our passive income ideas and guides for game developers below.

19. Selling Your Tools

Do you enjoy making 2D, or 3D games? Are you looking for some extra money to fund these games or have enough income to spend more time creating them? One way to increase your passive income is to sell your tools. Game development is, for most developers, a long and tough road. You can make money by making this process easier for beginners or experienced game devs who are looking to create their games faster. Watch the video below at the time we set to learn more about how this developer made money by selling his dev tools.

See our Passive Income eCommerce Guide

20. Selling Your Assets

If you have already created a couple of games, you may have noticed you have assets that are just lying around unused. You can sell functions, source code, and game designs to create passive income. Assets for mobile games can be worth $50-$100, while models, 2D images, and 3D images are worth much more, depending on their complexity. Assets can be created with many different tools, such as Blender, Maya, Unreal Engine, Unity, Visual Studio, or whichever tools you have the most experience in. There are many online sources available for you to package these assets and offer them to other devs, so they can modify them as they see fit. Your assets can be sold in the Unreal Engine Market, Unity Asset Store, TurboSquid (3D models), Game Art 2D (sprites, GUI elements), through your website, or on freelance sites. Learn more in the video below.

Java Developers

Here are some ways Java developers can make passive income. Check out our passive income ideas and guides for Java developers below.

21. Helping A Niche You Are Passionate About

Do you want to support people who are working in a field you are excited about? Offer your dev services in order to create passive income. Not only can you grow your passive income, but you can also help a cause that means a lot to you. This passion can help you stay motivated as you put in the long hours needed to create a high-quality result. To develop passive income, you can pitch to people or companies directly and offer your services. This developer helped a niche he cared about and is still selling his software licenses for $80 per day!

22. Creating and Selling After Effects Plugins

Are motion graphics your biggest passion? You can monetize your passion by creating stunning motion graphic plugins that can be used with After Effects. Many companies are looking for increased functionality to go along with their videos. You can market your plugins to companies, sell them in online stocks, and get much promotional space to grow your business. Businesses are looking for safe, well-tested third-party plugins that can provide functionality to wow their customers. There are many resources online to learn how to create After Effects plugins, including courses on Udemy, the Adobe forums, and comprehensive tutorials through PluralSight.

23. Creating Bots

Do you enjoy creating bots that can do a variety of different tasks? An in-demand skill for companies and consumers, especially those in the retail industry, is bot creation. More than just chatbots, some of these bots can take orders, place these orders in the company’s databases, and schedule shipping. Depending on your skill level, creating these bots can be a significant time investment, but as you gain skills, making them will become easier. As these bots have so many features and are in such demand, they can provide a great deal of passive income. You can find a variety of clients looking for bots on freelance sites and by searching for companies that could use automated services. Many companies want to increase their productivity and lower their expenses. A bot, expertly created by you, can provide both of these functions. Learn more in our Chatbot guide (which is non-dev friendly).

24. Creating and Selling 3D-Printing Patterns

3D-printing has hit the scene and skyrocketed. Companies and business owners are looking for templates to use for their 3D printers. Creating 3D printing patterns may take some special skills and software, but these skills are not too hard to learn. To increase your passive income, you can buy multiple software licenses and outsource the work, offer many variations of the same pattern, and provide customization options. Make it as easy as possible for the end user with no dev skills to customize their print, and you will be successful. Learn more about 3D printing in our guide.

See our Passive Income 3D Printing Guide

25. Selling Your Software

Creating software can be a long process, but the ROI you provide can bolster your passive income. After you have put in the hard work, your software can be sold repeatedly to companies or individuals looking for what you have created. Rather than focus on marketing to people, you will want to find those need before building your software before you even get started. If you have already found a niche, or already have an audience, make sure that you thoroughly understand their biggest pains in order to solve them with your software. Some popular reasons people need software include increasing productivity, lowering overhead with gamification, or improving financial management.

Crypto Developers

Here are some ways Crypto developers can make passive income. Check out our passive income ideas and guides for Crypto developers below.

26.Crypto (Mining)

Are you looking for ways to make passive income from cryptocurrency? The upfront costs, time, energy can be enormous for crypt mining, but they can be worth it. Mining the blockchain, Bitcoin, Litecoin, Monero, or Ethereum requires expensive and powerful equipment like ASICs and GPU rigs. These will allow you to mine quickly, which will ensure you make a profit. Other costs are tied to cooling your equipment, which can increase your electricity bill. As there are many upfront costs for crypto mining, the field is not saturated. With dedication and a willingness to take invest in your future, you can become a highly-paid crypto miner. This can be a great way to make passive income as a developer.

27. Masternodes

Similar to Bitcoin’s full nodes, masternodes are a full node that holds a full copy of the blockchain. These nodes are always running because they keep the blockchain in real-time. Masternodes performs special tasks for specific cryptocurrencies, and masternode owners are paid so others can access these tasks. Upfront costs are needed for creating a passive income with masternodes and include purchasing the required amount of coins for each crypto,getting a VPS or server so you can host the wallet 24/7, owning a dedicated IP address, reserve storage space so you can save the blockchain and so on. When working with masternodes, it is essential to extensively know what you are doing to avoid scammers. Not all coins are worth enough to run a masternode. With a lot of work, masternodes can provide a lucrative passive income stream.

28. Crypto Lending

If you have already amassed lots of Bitcoin, Ether, or some other crypto, then you can join the centuries-old process of lending. As Bitcoin allows you to be your ‘own bank’, you can lend Bitcoin or other crypto with little or no interference from banks. Many companies can help you successfully lend your crypto, including peer-to-peer lending communities. Excellent lending platforms for earning passive income include Celsius Network, INLOCK, and BlockFi.

29. Bitcoin Arbitraging

Each Bitcoin exchange displays a different price per currency, which prompted arbitraging. Arbitraging allows you to purchase bitcoin at a lower price in one exchange and sell it for a higher price in another exchange. There are many upfront costs associated with bitcoin arbitraging, such as fiat and bitcoin deposit fees, fiat and bitcoin withdrawal fees, and transaction fees. To find higher exchange prices, you can compare Bittrex’s prices to Bitstamp’s. Of the passive income methods mentioned already, it can be challenging to create a passive income using bitcoin arbitraging since it requires active maintenance and a lot of upfront coin, but when you can, the payoffs can be substantial.

30. Trading Bots

Hiring employees for 24/7 work is expensive, and companies are trying to cut their costs. This fact is excellent news for you because it means these companies could use trading bots. Crypto trading bots are mostly created to discover and report back differences in exchange prices. Like other elements of cryptocurrency, they have a significant upfront investment, but for some people, they could be profitable. When creating, selling, or using trading bots, keep an eye out for scamming developers and flash crashes. To make a passive income from trading bots, you will want to work hard and be open to high-risk investments.

Software Developers

Here are some ways software developers can make passive income. Check out our passive income ideas and guides for software developers below.

31. Automating QA (Quality Assurance)

Many software companies are in great need of automated testing, so your skills in scripting can be a great asset to them. No matter which business niche you are interested in, automated testing can check code and functionality much faster than teams of testers. Providing fully functional code is an excellent source of passive income. Cold-pitching to companies or joining freelancing boards can help you find your first assignments. Turn this into a more passive source of income by creating your QA processes for free and then charging recurring fees for their use.

32. Selling Software

Rather than creating your own software, you can sell other developer’s software for a commission. This will free up a lot of your time as the work is outsourced. When selling software, you must ensure it is thoroughly tested, matches the needs of companies or business owners, and will integrate with the company’s existing software. Similar to affiliate marketing, this can be an excellent source of passive income.

Ideas for Any Developers

No matter your dev skills or your favourite coding language, here are some ways developers can make passive income. Check out our passive income ideas and guides for developers in general below.

33. YouTube

Of course, as a developer, you may not be interested in being on camera, upfront and center on YouTube. But, YouTube is a fantastic platform if you are looking to make passive income and you don’t have to be on camera if you do not want to. You can create videos geared toward developing. Topics can range from coding interviews, the day-to-day life of a developer, debugging, comparison videos of different development tools, or your thoughts on the future of various programming languages. YouTube offers a large number of eager developers looking for a knowledgeable person to help them grow. Growing a YouTube platform can take time, but if you consistently post useful videos, you will see your subscribers grow.

Learn More in Our YouTube Guide

34. Affiliate Marketing


If you use software that you love and would like to promote to others, than affiliate marketing may be for you. Have a look at your favourite tools and see if they offer affiliate programs. Sign up and promote the software on your blog or YouTube channel by talking about the benefits and why you love it. Of course, the most popular platform for affiliate marketing is Amazon. When you sign up as an affiliate, Amazon will send you a referral link you can use to refer products from the platform. When your readers click on this link and buy anything from Amazon, you receive a commission on the sale. While there are incentives to recommend expensive products, it is important not to link to products you haven’t used, even if you can make more money. Link to relevant programming tools, software, or books you like and used, so you maintain trust with your readers. The commissions you will receive from these affiliates depend on the product and can vary a lot, but affiliate marketing is an excellent way to make passive income. Learn more in our affiliate marketing guide.

See our Passive Income Affiliate Marketing Guide

35. Gaming

We added this one based on an assumption, but most devs like gaming 😉 Twitch and YouTube offer excellent avenues to create passive income from gaming. Many people are eager to watch others game to learn from them. You can maximize these platforms by providing development tips on the creation of this game, even if you did not create the game yourself. These expert tips can boost the amount of money people are willing to spend to watch you play games. You can give them insight into the structure, design, and possible coding practices behind AAA games, indie games, or your own games. Learn more in our passive income gaming guide below where a YouTuber explains how they left their 9-5 job to make a full time income gaming on YouTube!

See our Passive Income Gaming Guide

Related Questions

Is Bitcoin arbitraging legal? Bitcoin arbitraging is legal, and is similar to buying and reselling any other items. You can maximize your chances of success with Bitcoin arbitraging by arbitraging between exchanges and arbitraging within an exchange. When you arbitrage within an exchange, you can avoid repeat withdrawal fees.

Do I need to create a website to make a passive income? No, you don’t need to create a website to create passive income, but a website can provide a space for you to sell your products, services or affiliate products. A website gives you a great deal of credibility on the internet and may result in more business. You can define your offers and grow your potential customer list.

Do I have to be an experienced developer to make a passive income? No, you do not have to be an experienced developer to make passive income. Creating passive income requires work, focus, persistence, and the desire to satisfy a real need. As you become a more experienced programmer, you can develop ways to create passive income streams by selling your assets, apps or software.

There are many opportunities to make a passive income as a developer. Whether you are a software developer, crypto developer, web developer, game developer, or skilled in another programming discipline, there are companies and people in need of your skills. Want to learn other ways to make money? Click below to access our massive list of passive income ideas for beginners.

See our Massive List of Passive Income Ideas for Beginners