It is well known that students are always worried if they will find work after graduation. Of course, people are always looking to hire employees with experience or a good internship. But today I am going to tell you my story and tell you something that you maybe don't know. This one goes out for all the IT students. Ready? Well, here goes. What if you don’t need an internship to get experience?
It is true that when you start looking for your first job as a software developer, it is tough without a CV showing some experience and online courses. However, if you have a computer and an internet connection, that’s all you need. If you are not a student, you can learn these tips and tricks and seek opportunities in entry-level jobs with soft skills in the information technology industry with your high school diploma.
In this text, I will tell you the story of how my personal-made websites were generating me a salary before I even finished college and, more importantly, how you can do the same. If you follow this plan, the best-case scenario is that you’re making money online and you don’t have to invest time in a job search. On the other hand, the worst-case scenario is that you will have a resume showing that you know how to take a project from an idea to a finished product or service.
The reason I’m bringing this up now is that here at ZenDev, our IT consultancy company, we’re getting daily emails for internships from students with various degrees in different fields. Due to COVID-19, it’s very hard to get internships right now, because most IT companies are working from home, so the idea of having a mentor isn’t really possible. While I sympathize with the students, the good news is that you don’t really need an internship.
How? Let me explain.
In 2008 when I started my studies, I knew that I wanted to work for myself right off the bat. I studied in Gothenburg at the Chalmers University. For those of you that don’t know, Volvo is an off-shoot company to another Swedish giant called SKF (they invented ball bearings) which is a Gothenburg based company. Naturally, a lot of the industry in Sweden revolves around these companies, and I felt like my studies at Chalmers were preparing me to jump into this big wheel. I personally did not like the idea of feeling like a small cog in a large ecosystem. I wanted something much smaller but where I would have full creative control of what I worked with.
So as soon as I started Uni, I started creating websites on the side. The idea was to create websites that would draw people, and then I would put up ads on the websites. The idea was to generate passive income doing that.
The first goal was to have these websites pay for my lunch at college, and my final goal was that, when I finished Uni, I wouldn’t have to get employed in the industry, but rather I could continue doing my own thing.
Here is the tough part though. For the first two years, I probably made 100 dollars in total. I was putting out website after website, and they were failing. But it was OK, because I was getting better and better at programming, PHP, MySQL and SEO, etc.
After having failed enough times, I started succeeding, and then it went FAST. I went from 0 to 500 dollars in a few months, and just a year in, I was up at 5,000 dollars a month. Since then it’s been up and down month by month, but over the course of the years, I’ve made over 150,000 dollars through my website, just using Google AdSense to monetize. And I’m still going.
So what kind of websites did I make when I started succeeding? Well, I’ll tell you about my biggest success by far. I saw a gap in the market for a service where you can enter a word and get examples of how that word can be used in a sentence. I figured that had to be useful for students or anybody who did any kind of writing.
So I created a website that offered that exact service. Obviously, I didn’t write hundreds of thousands of sentences into the database myself. I downloaded a bunch of Swedish books in E-pub format, then I wrote a script that looped through all the books, and split the texts up at the dots.
I filled my database with those sentences in one table, and another table was just a list of words, whereas a third table was a connection between the two, saying this word is present in this sentence. Today I would use elastic search for something like that, but you work with the knowledge you have.
After creating the service and putting it out there, it was a hit right away. The traffic was growing fast and after some time, I had about 5,000 people in Sweden visiting my website every day. And every time somebody clicked on one of the ads, Google AdSense would give me some money. As simple as that.
Then I came to think of a book I read called “Nail It, Then Scale It”. Simply put, when you find something that works, see how you can do it on a larger scale. In my case that meant: create the service in the more popular languages. So I did the same type of website on a different URL, and I did it for English, Spanish, German etc. As expected, it was a major hit. At its peak, it had over 100 000 daily visitors. Since its creation it’s had 50 million visitors, and it still has 50,000 daily visitors!
Apart from being great for my personal economy, it’s a fantastic feeling to know that something you came up with, and stayed up late nights programming, actually has helped solve a small problem on 50 millions occasions, for people in countries all over the world. That is the power of the world that we live in today.
My AdSense account continued showing income month by month, and it’s still going. In October 2020 I made 1,400 euros, not doing anything. This is why it's called passive income. Obviously, there is nothing passive about creating a valuable service, it took time and a lot of effort, but since it’s been up, I have done very little maintenance work. I’ve barely touched these websites since 2016 when I co-founded my IT consultancy Zendev, and I’m still getting checks every month from Google, literally making money sleeping.
Now, this type of income requires quite a lot of understanding about SEO and many small intricacies of creating successful websites. If this is interesting to you, please write “Tell me more” in the comment section below. If I see that there is enough interest, I will write a longer text explaining in detail how to make these types of websites and what to think about.
If you think this content is interesting in general, follow me on LinkedIn, where I am active the most, and subscribe to my YouTube channel. I talk about Startups, business in general and IT. Hope to see you guys there.