9 Ways for Programmers to Monetize Their Skills on Etsy

anlene
10 Min Read

One of the largest marketplaces on the web today, Etsy has a reputation as a go-to source for bespoke handmade goods. Therefore, it may come as a surprise that Etsy can also be a resource for a programmer looking for a side hustle.


Despite Etsy’s general clientele, there are plenty of ways that a developer can make a little extra cash on Etsy. From custom-built apps to data analysis, with very few competitors, the market is wide open for developers of any experience level or background to make a little cash on the side.

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1. Offering Custom Web Design Services on Etsy

A number of design elements, primarily color swatches and books.

One of the easiest ways for a programmer to make money on Etsy is by offering custom web design services. Custom web design can include creating websites, apps, and custom API development. Selling services through Etsy is fairly simple.

With the platform’s private messaging system, programmers can even set up custom services for customers looking for specialized work. Offering custom services is a great way for developers to make a little extra cash while also building a portfolio of projects and skills for a resume.

2. Setting Up Themes Through Etsy

A developer building a Shopify site on a laptop.

Developers with Content Management System (CMS) experience can offer their skills in customizing WordPress themes for users who would rather not deal with technical details. Configuring CMSs is an easy way for programmers to earn a little cash on the side with minimal time investment.

For those looking to expand their business, there are always open opportunities to make minor modifications. Additionally, custom widgets, visual tweaks, and complete site overhauls are always in demand. Configuring a complete CMS for a buyer is generally a fairly simple task.

Low on time consumption, while still complex enough to put out non-technical users, setting up a theme often brings in more income later. Being the one to initially configure a buyer’s servers commonly means repeat business down the road as they grow.

3. Selling Excel Spreadsheets and Dashboards on Etsy

A laptop sitting on a couch with a dashboard on the screen.

While you might not think it’s a big task to format a spreadsheet or create a dashboard, the patrons of Etsy are in search of a simple analytics solution to save them time. There is a surprisingly strong market on Etsy for standardized spreadsheets, reports, and interactive dashboards made in Excel.

Programmers with experience using Excel’s functions and Video Basic for Applications (VBA) to create custom macros can sell pre-made spreadsheets. Developers with data processing experience can expand their business to sell R scripts, HTML dashboards, or custom reports. If these are generalized, they can even be repaid over time and again to create a source of passive income.

4. Create Resellable Themes to Sell on Etsy

An iPad with the WordPress app open on the app store.

Another easy way for skilled developers to create passive income is to create and sell themes for various CMSs. WordPress and Shopify are two of the most popular CMSs, giving theme authors a large potential audience. Alternatively, there are plenty of other CMSs, like Joomla, Drupal, and Magento with smaller user bases, but less competition.

Combining creating and configuring themes for users can offer both passive and active side income. Designers with considerable expertise in front-end design can create standalone, headless apps to be used with standard CMSs.

Headless WordPress blogging templates are always popular, and Shopify’s Hydrogen framework offers an easy to develop headless e-commerce experience. With so many options for different types of CMS, there’s no shortage of shoppers for themes, giving developers plenty of opportunities to make selling themes a part of their side hustle.

5. Selling WordPress Plugins on Etsy

The WordPress.com homepage on a computer screen.

WordPress is one of the most endlessly extensible CMS platforms on the web today, with options to customize just about every part of a visitor’s experience. In addition to themes, programmers with WordPress experience can also sell plugins.

With a little bit of PHP, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript knowledge, developers can create plugins for a wide variety of purposes. WordPress provides a robust set of hooks that developers can use to alter data, inject new features, or remove pieces of the theme’s template.

Many plugins focus on integrating outside APIs or platforms. Creating this style of API can lead to long-term profits in the form of subscription revenue rather than one-time purchases, making WordPress development an even more lucrative opportunity for the right developer.

6. Selling Office Templates on Etsy

An iPhone showing all of the Microsoft Office apps in one folder.

For developers with some design skills, there is a market for templates for Microsoft Office products. Fully customized templates for PowerPoint slideshows, Excel reports, and communications made in Word are always in demand.

Developers can also offer packages with consistent templates across multiple platforms, or customized templates. Completed branding packages with everything a company or individual needs can be worth a considerable amount.

These types of assets are quite popular on Etsy, and can often allow for repeat business in the future when it comes time to brand other assets, potentially leading to long-term development opportunities.

7. Designing Digital Products Through Etsy

A man shopping on a website on a laptop.

Developers with design skills have endless opportunities to offer resellable digital goods to Etsy’s audience. Aside from themes and reports, Etsy is the ideal marketplace for digital art, web assets, and front-end design elements.

There are a variety of products, from pre-made apps to UI kits, that developers can offer to make a little extra cash. Skilled developers can even sell code snippets to other developers. Another common digital good that developers can sell is pre-developed APIs.

For a front-end developer, having a pre-made API to connect to various services can save time. With so many different opportunities, there are plenty of ways for any type of developer to make a little extra cash selling digital goods.

8. Selling Custom App Development Services on Etsy

A man holding an iPhone and looking at the screen.

While Etsy might seem like an odd place to purchase an app, that leaves the market wide open for enterprising developers. There’s never a shortage of customers looking to turn their website into a mobile app, or designers with a new mobile game in mind.

In addition to web apps, there’s always a wide market online for developing fully custom mobile apps of all types. Developers with sufficient talent can offer pre-made configurable apps, customizable app templates, or kits and widgets that allow users to create their own apps.

Alternatively, programmers can coordinate with buyers to create completely customized apps from the ground up. Building apps from the ground up can be more time-consuming, but can also provide more compensation than expanding a pre-existing template.

9. Offer SEO Services on Etsy

A web dashboard with information about SEO for a website.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services are another relatively simple way for developers to make money on Etsy. Some buyers are looking for reviews of pre-existing sites to find missing meta-data. Other buyers will be after someone to add new metadata in.

Whether offering a review service or a meta-data generation, there are plenty of opportunities for programmers to make some extra cash on Etsy. Developers offering SEO services should be certain to familiarize themselves with tools like Chrome’s Lighthouse, SEMrush, and Google’s Schema Markup Testing Tool.

Developers offering analyzes to help companies find potential issues with their SEO will always find their skills in high demand.

How Your Programming Skills Can Make You Money on Etsy

Despite Etsy’s reputation as the web’s premier source for bespoke, handmade goods, there are plenty of opportunities for programmers to make some cash on the platform. With few competitors, the market is open for developers to sell on Etsy as a side hustle.

From SEO optimizations to custom WordPress themes, there are plenty of digital goods that fall well within Etsy’s terms. There are plenty of opportunities on the platform for developers to make a little extra cash from an unexpected source while also building up their resume and portfolio.

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