The possibilities are often limited only by the imagination of the people building the software. However, developers frequently struggle with effective ways to share the benefits of their code with others and to earn revenue for the time they have spent creating it.
The most common first step taken by developers to monetize their code and knowledge is to get a job. They rely on a company to pay them to use their expertise to build functionality. This could be a full time salary position or a part time consulting engagement. Either way, there are downsides to getting a “job”.
Build a Company
Another approach that a developer can take to avoid all of the downsides mentioned above is to create their own software company or consulting firm. They are in full control of their time, the intellectual property they create, and how and what they choose to create. They could use their knowledge and expertise to train a team of consultants or they could create a website that provides software as a service or they could create a mobile application. However, there are downsides on these paths, as well.
Create Open Source Code
Creating open source code is a novel path towards monetizing code a developer is creating because code contributed to an open source project is almost always licensed for free general use. Many developers take this route to build a portfolio of sorts. Then the portfolio and recognition generated from contributions is used to accelerate either of the paths above. There are definitely challenges with this approach.
These paradigms represent the historic approaches taken by developers, but a more recent trend is to create and offer apps in the marketplace of a community driven app platform. Developers taking an app-centric approach to creating and delivering functionality are able to offer their monetized product to enterprise level customers without the most of the downsides mentioned above. This creates a new compelling paradigm for developers seeking to generate revenue from the code that they have created.
App platforms significantly reduce the complexity and amount of code that needs to be created to have a monetizable product. By leveraging a platform and the development community around it, a developer can focus their time creating code in the areas of their expertise and enjoyment. The developer’s app combined with other community apps and the functionality and presentation of the platform form a compelling value proposition for large organizations looking to replace expensive enterprise software or SaaS offerings.
Many app platforms offer software development kits in mainstream languages like Python and others. Developers can often stick with the language of their preference when creating their apps and avoid the time and expertise loss associated with learning a new language. They retain the intellectual property ownership of the code in their apps while gaining new distribution avenues.
Even developers in traditional job roles can benefit when their company adopts a community driven app platform. They can create internal apps and gain all of the language and expertise focus benefits while seeing usage of their tooling increase to more users across the organization. Many companies using developers in this capacity will often find compelling benefits in using the platform just to simplify their development framework.