How to make money building websites

8 min read
Cate Barker

Editor's note: This post is brought to you by GoDaddy Pro, a free suite of tools to help you save time as a web developer. Sign up for free!

Being a part-time website developer is a great “side hustle,” which Merriam-Webster defines as “work performed for income supplementary to one’s primary job.”

If you are looking for a way to keep working on creative projects outside of normal work hours, making money building websites is the perfect side hustle.

Make money building websites with a website development side hustle

Building websites as a side hustle is one of the most common side hustles nowadays due to the flexibility and sense of control that comes from it. A website development side hustle allows you start up with very little to no upfront costs, work at your own pace, and gives you the power to make it as large or small as your lifestyle allows.

Let’s dig deeper into some of the key benefits of making money building websites as a side hustle.

Easy to start, easy to grow

When you think of starting a small business, the overhead and upfront costs can be intimidating and deter you from starting your project. The great thing about starting a side hustle as a website developer is that you can expect to have very little to no upfront or overhead costs.

At bare minimum, a working computer and high-speed internet connection will be the two main requirements you will need to get started.

Depending on the services you plan to offer, you might also need software to help you design, build, and code websites.

Most tools, however, are low-cost and offer a monthly subscription program that allows you to make a small investment while you build up your list of clients.

Make Money Building Websites Grow

As you get more work and the income stream from your side hustle becomes more consistent, you can invest further into things like:

In addition to the low startup fees for a website developer side hustle, marketing costs can also be relatively low when compared to other businesses. Many freelance websites like UpWork allow you to bid on projects at no cost, and as you grow your list of clients, you’ll find that word of mouth will become your best source for new clients.

Work at your own pace

Most website developers find that their side hustle allows them to work on their own time and at their own pace without having to be micromanaged. In general, the clients you will work with as a website developer won’t establish working hours for you, as long as their projects are completed within a timely manner.

This might require you to build trust with your clients at first.

You can do this by responding to client emails and other correspondence within a reasonable timeframe. However, once you’ve established trust, you’re free to work on your own schedule.

Tip to establish trust: Under-promise and over-deliver

A general rule of thumb is to give your clients a timeline that won’t leave you rushing and working late hours to complete the project within the promised deadline.

Instead, provide a timeline that is slightly longer than what you truly expect the project will require.

This will give you enough of a time buffer in case you are not able to work certain days or if you run into any issues that delay the project.

Most of the time, your projects will be completed long before the quoted timeframe and will make your clients happy for completing tasks before the projected deadline.

Choose how you get paid

Another great benefit of having a side hustle as a website developer is the flexibility to decide how your clients pay you. Depending on your goals and type of work, you can choose to bill your clients by the hour or charge a fixed amount for an entire project.

Hourly billing

Billing by the hour is great because it ensures that you are paid for all of your extra time invested into a project. However, it can also be tricky to find the “sweet spot” for your hourly rate. Clients will shop around and most likely choose a developer that has low pricing, so it will be up to you to ensure your clients find value in the hourly rate you are charging so that you do not undersell your services.

Additionally, clients with large projects might need a lower hourly rate, while clients with smaller and one-off projects should be charged at a higher hourly rate.

The fixed rate option

Charging a fixed rate is great if you know the full details of the project. You should not charge a fixed rate if:

  • You have never completed a similar project
  • The client does not specify clear and specific goals or requirements

It is never fun to charge a fixed rate for a project that ends up requiring double the work than you had originally anticipated.

Go big or keep it small

Make Money Building Websites Sizes
Photo: Céline Haeberly on Unsplash

Unlike a full-time job where you have no control over your workload, making money by building websites on the side puts you in control of the number of projects you decide to take on.

If you are a busy person who only needs some extra cash here and there, keeping the number of simultaneous projects you are working on small will work great. If you decide you can use more money and can take on a little more responsibility, you can accept more projects — and even outsource some of the work if it becomes too heavy.

Remember that you do not necessarily need multiple clients to have more work.

One large client can potentially provide you the amount of work that three small clients would. It just depends on how you prefer to work and how much work you’re willing to take on.

Pro tip: If you’re just starting out as a website developer, try taking on small projects first. This will let you see how much time you can truly afford to dedicate to your side hustle.

The key is to pace yourself from the start so that you do not lose control of your projects. Starting with small and manageable projects will help you identify pain points that could arise from larger projects, and even help you build client relationship skills. Starting small will also help you build your portfolio and validate your business.

Keep the money coming with add-ons and selling extra services

A big benefit of having a website development side hustle is that you can sell various services to your clients. As long as you have the skills, it’s easy to capitalize on your many talents. Many web designers also know how to:

  • Optimize websites for SEO
  • Set up social media accounts
  • Create a content strategy
  • Write web content

Being a website developer allows you to cross-sell most of these services that your clients are already looking for.

Some examples of add-ons and extra services you could build into your side hustle are:

  • SEO optimization for the website you just completed
  • Ongoing monthly blogging
  • Social media profile setup and content creation
  • Business cards and flyers (design and print)
  • Ongoing monthly retainer that includes a set amount of website maintenance hours
  • Pay-Per-Click campaign setup and management
  • Graphic design

Get creative and don’t be scared to try offering new products and services to your website development clients. Those who enjoy the relationship they have with you will prefer to work with someone they already know as opposed to vetting a new vendor. Offering various services will not only allow you to grow your side hustle, but will also help you identify what you truly enjoy doing most.

Ready to get started?

The most important benefit of having a website development side hustle is that you are in control of many areas. Aside from being your own boss, you have the rare opportunity to expand your creative skills and projects while you’re getting paid. There are many ways to start making money building websites, and the only right way to do it is the way that you feel works best for you and your personal goals.

Bonus tip: Use tools to streamline your work.

Do you want to build websites for some extra cash? Or do you want to make website development your new career?

Either way, if you streamline your routine tasks to save time, you come out ahead.

You'll have more time for billable work. You'll have more time for yourself. You'll have more time for whatever you want to do.

Save time with GoDaddy Pro.

GoDaddy Pro is a free suite of tools to help you save time as a website developer.

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Need to run WordPress updates or backups on a bunch of sites? Don't do it one at a time. Do it in bulk from a central dashboard.

(Plus, if your clients use GoDaddy products, you'll also receive extra perks and rewards.)

Sound like a win-win? We think so. And we hope you do, too.

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