What is a Technical Side Gig? (Real Life Examples + How to Land Your First Gig in 2020)

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Technical side gigs helped shape my journey through the world of tech when it was still all new to me.

They taught me so much—and ultimately, I’d call those experiences one of the factors that led to making my career in tech and founding Learn to Code With Me. 

Since side hustles have such a special place in my heart, I tend to mention them a lot. Which is why I wanted to have a dedicated post going over questions like: 

  • Exactly what is a technical side gig? 
  • Why are they such a good idea for beginners in tech?
  • What kinds of side gigs could I get?
  • How do I start/pursue next steps to find one?

Let’s dive right in!

Table of Contents

What is a Technical Side Gig?

Side gig, side hustle, side income, side project—they all essentially mean the same thing. A part-time venture that allows you to make money on the side.

“On the side” could mean a side gig is either: 

  • Additional to your “day job”/main source of income
  • Or supplemental to other full-time activities in your life like attending a coding bootcamp, full-time parenting, taking care of your aging parents, working a part-time job + juggling other responsibilities, etc.

Nearly half of Americans have side gigs. Of those, 43% work another full-time job, while 51% are part-time workers. So it’s totally possible to piece together part-time jobs + side hustles to add up to full-time money—that’s the “gig economy” for you!

Side gig benefits

Typically, a side gig will require 10 hours or fewer per week, though this will vary. Because they usually come with flexible scheduling, the idea is fitting it around the life you already have. You could work on a side gig in the mornings or evenings if you work a 9-5, on the weekends, during your lunch break, on your commute if you take the train/bus, whenever you have free time here and there, etc.

While extra cash is definitely a motivator for many who have a side gig, it’s  often not the only motivator. Some pursue side gigs to explore a potential new career direction, build up their resume or to give themselves a creative outlet. Others do it to develop a new skill.

And that’s where the “technical” part of “what is a technical side gig” comes in! Since I’m all about coding and digital skills, I’m focusing on the side gigs that will help you use and develop your new tech passions.

In the rest of this post, we’ll be looking at compelling reasons to start a side hustle as part of your tech journey, some examples of tech-related side hustles you could pursue, and some basic tools for getting started. 

But if you’d like to skip to arguably the best part and start learning how to land one on your own, you can head right over to my free workshop here. It’s an hour long (jam-packed with valuable info) but feel free to watch at your own pace!

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Why Should You do a Technical Side Gig?

Doing freelance side projects is the best way to accomplish a massive laundry list of goals that can move you forward in your coding & life journey. These are eight reasons why just about anyone can benefit from adding a side hustle to their lives.

1. Generate extra income 

If your living expenses currently eat up your entire paycheck, or you’re saving for a big goal like a wedding, house, or international trip, then taking on a second gig can accelerate debt payoff and help you stack up your bank account. 

2. Rapidly advance your tech skills 

Learning on the job lights a fire under you, motivating you to learn on the go and meet deadlines, more than an online course or tutorial can. Teaching yourself things through your side projects is a fantastic way to learn a new skill, like how Tommy Griffith learned SEO while trying to market his first ebook.

3. Choose your own schedule 

Most side gigs have flexibility when it comes to hours and location—so you can balance life, travel, parenting, etc. In other words, side gigs are a commitment, but not one that requires you to upend your life or make huge sacrifices. And if your goal is to work from anywhere in the world, tech side gigs can help you build up a client base.

create your own schedule

4. Learn what “real world” work you enjoy 

There are a ton of tech career paths out there, so it can be hard to know which you should pursue. What better way to answer that question and learn what’s right for you, than by testing the waters with a side gig? Through a gig, you can learn the kinds of work you like or don’t like before committing to a career track.

5. Gain valuable real-world experience you can be proud of 

You can bolster your resume, LinkedIn and portfolio with your side gig experience to impress future employers or clients. So if you don’t have a college degree, no problem. Experience is often more important anyway, especially if you’re able to show real examples of projects and talk about how you worked through them. 

6. Build a community of tech friends 

Create authentic, meaningful connections with others in the tech industry and build word-of-mouth referrals for future gigs or jobs (without actually having to “network” ). These relationships often happen naturally as you communicate with clients, join freelancer groups, and dive into side-hustlin’.


7. Get a confidence boost (AKA fight off imposter syndrome) 

Nothing builds up your confidence in YOURSELF than going out there and getting real experience under your belt. And it becomes easier and easier after your first technical side gig to land more. You start small, and build up over time. 

8. Find a new hobby/passion 

Doing something productive with your free time can be good for your mental health and happiness, whether you’re working on projects for clients or for yourself.

Check out this article for some real-world examples of how these tech side hustle benefits have changed lives!

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5 Examples of Technical Side Gigs

What kind of work can you expect to find when you dive into the world of tech side gigs—especially as a beginner who’s still learning? There’s a ton of different things you can do, but let’s look at some quick examples, what skills you’ll want to work on as you pursue them, and what you could eventually earn! 

software qa testing

Technical side gig example #1: Build simple websites for clients

What it entails: Building entire sites from scratch or developing individual pages and features to improve existing sites.

  • Essential skills: WordPress, HTML/CSS
  • Desirable skills: JavaScript, design
  • Earning potential: Average web developer rate on Upwork: $75 per hour

Technical side gig example #2: Be customer service/live tech support

What it entails: Be the person on the other end of the live support chat for a specific piece of software (e.g., email marketing provider, website builders, accounting, hosting). The job will entail answering client inquiries via chat, email, phone, etc. Remote positions are often available.

  • Essential skills: Communication (written/verbal), familiarity with the software
  • Desirable skills: Customer service experience, troubleshooting skills
  • Earning potential: Around $15-$19 per hour

Technical side gig example #3: Start an ecommerce store

What it entails: You can launch your own online store to sell something that you make (crafts, jewelry, etc. or even things like website themes or design templates).

  • Essential skills: Something you can sell, organization, communication
  • Desirable skills: Marketing automation, SEO, social media email marketing
  • Earning potential: Limitless (anywhere from a few dollars a week to thousands of dollars per month, depends on the product’s value)
start ecommerce store

Technical side gig example #4: Software/QA testing

What it entails: QA testers are responsible for running tests on websites, applications, and software programs to identify coding flaws and bugs. They aren’t the ones writing the code—their job is knowing how to run the automated tests that inspect code for problems—meaning you don’t have to be a master coder to do QA work. You might also find gigs where you visit websites and record your reactions and thoughts as you go through it, looking for mistakes, design flaws, etc.

  • Essential skills: Eye for detail, bug tracking tools, test management tools
  • Desirable skills: GUI testing tools, automation tools
  • Earning potential: Average QA Testing rate on Upwork: $47/hour

Technical side gig example #5: Edit video and/or audio

edit audio video

What it entails: Video is a more popular medium than ever, from YouTubers to businesses promoting themselves via online ads or social advertising. With the right software and skills, you can take your clients’ raw footage and turn it into a cohesive, attractive video.

  • Essential skills: Adobe Premiere Pro, creativity, eye for detail
  • Desirable skills: Organization, communication, time management
  • Earning potential: $20 to $100+ per hour

These five technical side gigs are just a small sample of all the ones out there for you to explore. To learn about many more (along with detailed job descriptions and their earning potential), download my free ebook, 28 Ways to Earn a Side Income While Learning How to Code.

28 ways ebook

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What You Need to Get Started With Your Side Gig 

Honestly, you don’t need much to get started down this path. Just some persistence, an internet connection, and a computer.

side gig

Then, it’s time to do a little self-reflection on your past and your future goals to figure out what kind of side gig is best for you. Ideally, you’ll go after side hustles that align with your past experience—which could mean seeking opportunities in an industry you’re familiar with, or finding gigs that combine your new tech skills with other non-technical skills you already have. This makes it easier and faster to land something.

As a bonus, having templates for things like proposals and contracts will make things easier for you as you prepare to work with clients for the first time. 

Keep in mind that what you don’t need is advanced tech skills. I got my first side gig after just a few weeks of learning to code. Joe Previte was able to make $5,000 in his first year of learning to code.

generate extra income

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Two Basic Methods to Find Technical Side Gigs

Then you actually need to find a side gig opportunity. There are two main ways you can find gigs:

The first — Through people you already know (or may meet soon) by posting on social media, emailing or texting friends, attending meetups, volunteering, etc.

The second — Through channels where you’re unknown, like an online job board, Craigslist (where I found my first side gig), Upwork, Indeed, cold email outreach, posting in forums, etc.

I know, this is a very cursory overview, and I have a lot more to say about how to find these side gigs! Which brings us to…

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It’s Your Turn to Take Action!

Now that you know what a technical side gig is, why you should have one, and how simple it can be to get started (even with minimal experience), what are you waiting for?!

The next step is equipping yourself with the knowledge you need to actually land one of these side gigs. 

And I’m not going to leave you hanging! 

I developed a 4-part framework specifically to help beginners in tech land their first side gigs. 

Sign up - simple 4-part framework for landing side gigs

Learn all about it by joining my FREE one-hour training here!

Among other things, I get deeper into important topics like:

  • Deciding what kind of side gig is right for you
  • Where to find great freelance opportunities
  • Carving out time in your schedule (even if you feel like there’s none)
  • The logistics of getting started with new clients
  • How to handle being a newbie with limited relevant experience

Again, learn all this and more by joining the workshop here.

I’d love to know what your dream tech side hustle is—let me know in the comments!