How do open source developers (individual) make money?

9 minutes, 42 seconds Read

Open source development is a growing part of the programming industry, offering projects with a variety of different licenses and varying levels of commitment. But how do individual open source developers make money off of their projects? Is it possible to make a living from open source development or is it just a hobby? Are there different business models available that support open source development financially?

There is no denying that open source software is playing a more significant role in the modern software industry. According to the 2018 Open Source Security and Risk Analysis (OSSRA) report, over 96% of surveyed organizations responded that open source software was important for their business operations. While open source style of development has grown from its humble beginnings, it still faces financial challenges. The same OSSRA report found that while 95% of surveyed organizations contributed to open source projects, only 9% reported paying developers for their contribution.

The current payment model for open source development shows numerous issues. For example, the software is free but not actually ‘free’. Although no money is exchanged, it still requires an immense amount of time and energy from developers. In addition, due to constantly changing requirements, sustained maintenance and support are necessary for quality products. As a result, open source developers often struggle to support their projects and receive recognition for their work.

In this article, you will learn the various ways in which open source developers can make money from their projects. We will look into the different business models that can financially support open source development and the different strategies developers can use to ensure they can make a living off their projects. Through exploring the different options, this article will help open source developers better understand how they can monetize their projects.


Open source developers (individuals) are talented programmers who use software code, made publically available, to create programs and applications for use by others. They make money when people choose to use their software or purchase products and services related to it. Some open source developers choose to accept monetary donations or sell support services related to their software. Others may opt to have their work included in larger products or services that pay them a royalty, or offer sponsorship or a paid position.
Software code is a set of instructions that direct a computer to carry out specific tasks. It can be modified, copy and redistributed for free.
Publically available means that anyone can access the software or code without having to pay a fee.
Monetary donations are when people give money to support the work of the open source developer.
Support services are provided by the developer to help potential users understand and get the most out of their software.
Royalty is a percentage of money paid to the developer for the use of their software in products or services.
Sponsorship is an agreement where a company supports the costs of a project in return for promotional opportunities or access to new technology.
Paid position is when a company offers the developer a contract paying for the programming efforts on a project.

This is useful, but you might missed:  How will AI replace coders or developers?

Making Money through Open Source Development

Introduction to Open Source Development

Open source development involves creating free software applications and programs that are made available to the public for use. Open source refers to any program whose source code is made available for public use and modification. There are various forms of open source projects ranging from operating systems, software libraries, and application programs. Open source projects are typically developed in a collaborative and public effort by volunteers who donate their time and expertise.

Ways Open Source Developers Get Paid

Open source developers often make money through a variety of different sources. The most common source of income is through donations. Donations can be made to open source developers directly or through crowdfunding websites. Other sources of income are freelance work, consulting, and training. Some open source developers also make money from advertisement revenue, or by offering premium versions of their open source software.

Working with Open Source Projects

Working with open source projects can be a great way to make money. Projects generally require varying levels of development expertise and each one is unique. Depending on a open source developer’s experience and skillset, they can either work on existing projects or create their own. Working on existing open source projects can include bug fixing, coding updates, improving codebase security, creating new features, and improving documentation.

Building a Business on Open Source Projects

Open source developers can also make money through building a business around an open source project. Developers can monetize their open source projects by providing support services, hosting, or a subscription model. Examples of businesses built around open source projects include companies such as Red Hat, which offer support for an operating system based on the Linux kernel, and WordPress, which offers web hosting services for users of its open source content management system.

Benefits of Open Source Development

Working in open source development provides many benefits to both developers and users. Open source projects produce free software that is of great benefit to those who cannot afford to buy costly commercial software. For developers, open source projects provide an opportunity to hone their coding skills and work on interesting projects with widespread user base. Furthermore, developers may be able to monetize their projects, making them potential sources of steady income.

  • Introduction to Open Source Development
  • Ways Open Source Developers Get Paid
  • Working with Open Source Projects
  • Building a Business on Open Source Projects
  • Benefits of Open Source Development

Exploring the Alternatives


Open source developers, who have expertise in a certain platform or language, can make money through freelance work. Companies, seeking to develop programs online and develop them in the open source environment, seek to hire experienced developers. Companies are willing to pay good money for the expertise and programs the developers can produce. Often, the employer will contact them through specialized sites, such as Upwork or Freelancer, where payment is taken through escrow systems. The development project may span weeks or even months, and the employer is usually willing to pay a good sum for a successful delivery.

Fees for Services

Open source developers may offer their services directly for a fee. Often, tech companies or enterprises look to hire experienced open source developers on short notice, and are willing to pay for the experience. DevOps engineers, Stack developers, Python developers, and System Analysts are all in-demand skills that come with an open source background. Open source developers can often make much more than equivalent terms positions in the corporate world.

Merchandise Sales

Open source developers can also sell merchandise, such as a book or a t-shirt, that show off their prowess in coding or in the open source platform. They can spread awareness of their skills by selling merchandise that is based on the code they created. They can also promote themselves and their projects by setting up customized items that highlight their coding expertise or open source work.

Affiliate Income

Finally, open source developers have the opportunity to generate revenue through affiliate income. By partnering with different sites or providing services, they can earn commission fees, paid out on a recurring basis. This income can make up a significant portion of their compensation, and can provide enough monetary support to sustain them and their open source projects, while also rewarding them for their contributions to the open source community.

The Benefits of Open Source Development

The Prominence of Open Source Development

Open source development has exploded in popularity in recent years, as individuals and businesses alike have come to see the many benefits offered by this type of project. These advantages include access to a wealth of development expertise, reduced costs associated with software development, and the freedom to customize applications to meet specific needs. Due to their cost-effectiveness, open source projects have become increasingly attractive to entrepreneurs and business owners, allowing them to develop custom software at minimal cost.

Generating Revenue Through Open Source Development

So how do individual open source developers make money from these projects? The answer lies in a variety of approaches that leverage the unique combination of cost-effectiveness, expertise, and flexibility available with open source development. For example, many independent developers make money by offering consulting services to companies or taking on special projects for clients. They can also earn revenue by licensing their software code, or developing applications and selling them directly to customers.
Many open source projects also have communities of users who support the development process. Often, these communities provide financial donations or volunteer work to help maintain the projects and ensure their continued success. Some developers also generate revenue from advertisements that are displayed when users access a project’s website or documentation.
Finally, many independent developers find sponsorships for their projects. These sponsorships can come in the form of financial donations, free hosting and development tools, or even special recognition for their work. By leveraging the broad reach and appeal of open source projects, developers can create a steady stream of income for themselves and their projects.
In addition to the potential to earn money, open source development can provide a great deal of personal satisfaction. By creating innovative applications and releasing them under an open license, developers can add value to the broader community and at the same time enjoy the freedom to experiment and learn in a collaborative environment.


Concluding open source developers (individual) making money is a complex yet highly rewarding topic. The rise of the digital era has seen a growth in such development projects, providing previously unseen opportunities for developers and users alike. But how can individual developers actually generate an income from these endeavours?
To really get to grips with making money from open source development, it’s best to stay up to date with the latest developments and releases. To ensure no important updates go unnoticed, it’s advisable to follow relevant websites and blogs closely – leaving it up to the reader to find the best sources of information!
FAQ Section
Q: How can developers secure support for open source projects?
A: Developers can look to crowd-funding or financial backers to secure support for their open source projects. Alternatively, depending on the nature of the project, developers can also ask for (paid-for) voluntary contributions or look for collaboration opportunities with other developers or entities.
Q: Are there any sources of direct income for open source developers?
A: Yes. For instance, developers can introduce a premium package featuring certain exclusive features that are not found in the open source version. They might also turn to affiliate marketing or the establishing of specialised training sessions related to the project.
Q: How can one market their open source project?
A: Very much like any other product, visibility and exposure is absolutely key. Developers are advised to make use of all available channels, such as online forums, networking sites, relevant industry magazines and conferences in order to ensure maximum reach.
Q: Does one need to be tech-savvy in order to work on open source projects?
A: Not only does one need to have a good technical understanding of coding and other software-based concepts, but they must also possess knowledge in areas such as project management, marketing and user experience.
Q: What are the main obstacles to setting up a sustainable open source project?
A: One of the most common issues is not having enough resources to maintain and support the project. Additionally, developers also need to pay close attention to copyright and licensing issues, as well as ensuring that their venture is actively marketed.

This is useful, but you might missed:  How to choose best software Development Company USA?

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *