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How to Make Money Building Websites (Step by Step in 2024)

Don't Work Another Day is reader-supported. We may receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own.
  By Forrest McCall | Last Updated:  April 13, 2021

In the 21st century, you probably visit multiple websites on a daily basis. This might be social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or perhaps your favorite retailers like Amazon or Target.

Use of the internet has skyrocketed in the past decade, providing tremendous opportunity for those willing and able to create content and businesses found online.

One of these methods is building websites to make money. You might think you need to be an expert web developer or programmer to get started, but that’s not the case with today's technology.

In this post, I’ll explore how to make money building websites, how to build a website from scratch, and ways to gain clients to boost your profits. Let’s get started!

Why Building Websites is an Excellent Side Hustle

Building websites is a great side hustle for many reasons listed below. If you're looking for a way to make money online, website building could be the perfect side hustle for you.

Low Startup Costs

If you’re starting a web development business, the entry costs are minimal making it a great option for those who don’t want to drain their savings to get started. All you’ll need is a computer and internet connection to start building websites and making money.

Related: 31 Profitable Business Ideas for Anyone to Start in 2021

Ability to Work Remotely

One of my favorite reason to make money building websites is because of its remote capabilities. Whether you choose to work on the beach or at home at your office, it’s nice to have that level of flexibility.

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Capability to Work Alone

Are you an introvert at heart? Building websites could be the perfect side hustle for you! Your interaction with others is somewhat limited. Depending on the sites you're working on or the client you're working with, social interaction can be limited.

Related: 19 Side Hustles for Introverts

Tremendous Pay

If you’re working as a freelancer or full-time developer, the pay is tremendous. Your hourly rate is among some of the highest out of all freelance work and it can help you make thousands of dollars each month on the side.


If you’re starting a web design business, you have the ability to grow at your own pace. If you’re feeling passionate one week or have more time to devote to your side hustle, you can easily scale your business to take on new clients.

Choose Your Payment Method

With many jobs, you’ll receive a paycheck each couple of weeks sent directly to your bank account with taxes and insurance deducted from your pay. By starting a business or working as a freelancer, you’ll gain access to other payment types and terms to get paid how you want.

For example, some freelancers will choose to get paid via PayPal or Venmo. You can also choose the frequency of payment. If you’re working on a small business's website, it’s common to require payment half upfront and the remaining half due upon completion of the project.

Web Development Side Hustle Disadvantages

Just as there are many benefits of starting a web development side hustle, there are also a few disadvantages. Some of the most common include:

  • Stressful work atmosphere
  • Small learning curve for new web developers
  • Constantly evolving environment
  • Managing multiple projects at once

While you don't need to be an expert web designer to get started, you should have a basic knowledge of some web design practices to succeed.

How to Build Websites from Scratch

To get started building websites to make money, you’ll first need to understand what it takes to build a website successfully.

To fast-track your way to make money building websites, knowledge of common web development codes like HTML, CSS, and Javascript can be helpful. But take note – they aren’t necessary!

There are a couple of main routes to take when building websites depending on the site you are working on.

1. Build a website using a CMS like WordPress with a purchased theme

2. Build a website using a web page builder like Elementor

3. Build a website from custom code (Yuck!)

There is no one right option when it comes to building sites. You’ll need to analyze your client's needs to pick with option is best for their goals and needs.

Before you can start building websites, you'll need to have a couple of things in place. Namely a domain name and hosting package for your site.

Best Ways to Make Money Building Websites - WordPress

How to Build a Website with WordPress

One of the easiest ways to start making money building websites is using a CMS like WordPress and purchasing a theme.

What is a theme?

You can think of a theme as a “skin” for the site and defines how it will look and feel.

But you aren’t constrained to the exact layout and design of the initial theme in most cases. You can easily change colors, images, and layouts of themes within the WordPress panel without any coding knowledge.

Installing WordPress on your site or blog can be an extremely simple job. Many hosting companies will have the capability to do it for you for free.

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Disclosure: This link is an affiliate link, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

How to Build a Website with a Pagebuilder

If you’re looking to build a website that has a little more customization, using a page builder like Elementor is one of your best options.

You can build your website using a CMS like WordPress and then install the Elementor plugin to design custom pages without any coding knowledge. Using a website builder comes with a cost, however. Not only will there be a monetary cost, but sometimes they are not as functional when building a new website.

How to Build a Website with Custom Code

In some cases, building a website with custom code might be your only (or best) option. You’ll need to be extremely knowledgeable with various web development languages including HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, and more.

These websites tend to be more complex in nature, but your compensation should reflect this additional knowledge and work.

To build a website from custom-code, you must understand how the internet and websites work.

To understand how it works, let’s look at a brief example. Whenever you type in a URL to visit, you can think of that as the destination for your route. The browser will then communicate with the domain and URL to find any web files on that page. If you have code on the page (HTML), it will be displayed.

To build a custom-coded website, you’ll need to create an HTML file for each webpage you want to build. This can become extremely time-consuming, hence the reason many websites use a CMS like WordPress.

Best Ways to Make Money Building Websites

Best Ways to Make Money Building Websites in 2021

Now that you know the basics of building a website, below are some of the best ways you can use your knowledge of building websites to make money.

Build Websites for Local Businesses

If you’re looking to make money and support local businesses, building websites for them can be an excellent way to make money.

Depending on the suede and functionality of the website, it’s possible to make anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over $10,000 for your work.

The key here is finding clients to work with you. While many website developers might get scared of having to talk and work directly with business owners – it’s really not that bad.

To find clients, you have a few options:

  • Direct sales by speaking with business owners
  • Digital marketing to attract leads
  • Referrals from previous clients
  • Connections to current business owners

It’s best to use a variety of acquisition strategies to maximize your work and maintain a steady workload.

Build a Website for Yourself to Make Money

Another option to make money building a website is starting a blog or website of your own. For example, I make over $1,000 each month through my blog. Best of all, it can be done part-time – on my own schedule.

Building a website for yourself can be one of the riskier methods of making money building a website but it can also be the most rewarding. You’ll need to have a good idea for your website and how it will make money.

Your options are not limited to just a blog, however. You might consider building an e-commerce site like an online store or affiliate website to make money online.

There are many ways to monetize a site to make money online. Some of the most popular include:

  • Display advertising
  • Selling digital products
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Sponsored posts

Before starting on a website for yourself, you need to have a plan in place to gain traffic for your website. The primary traffic acquisition channels include SEO, Pinterest & social media, paid traffic, and referral traffic. For beginners, I would recommend using Pinterest and SEO to gain visitors. These channels have the strongest returns on your investment.

Building a website for yourself and making money will take some time. You cannot expect your website to start making a significant income overnight. Give your site anywhere from 6-12 months to grow and see where it takes you.

When building a website for yourself, you'll need to consider the costs involved. For example, hosting your website will cost around $10 per month for a small website. For larger websites hosting can cost over $50 per month.

Related: Types of Blogs That Make Money [2021 and Beyond!]

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Work as a Freelance Developer

If you have more advanced coding knowledge, working as a freelance developer is a perfect way to pad your income building web pages.

With this method, you will be compensated based on the time you work building websites.

The pay ranges, but you can expect to earn $25 per hour or more.

You’ll need to keep in mind that when working as a freelancer, items like taxes and health insurance are not deducted from your pay. When tax season rolls around, you’ll be forced to pay taxes on your earnings. It’s a good idea to stash away 20% to 25% of your earnings for tax season.

Make Money Flipping Websites

Another great way to make a lot of money building websites is by flipping them. This process involves purchasing an existing website and improving its revenue and then selling it for a profit.

There’s one catch. You’ll need to understand how to grow an audience and traffic to increase revenues for your business before selling it. This can take some time and money to do.

Depending on the type of website you’re working with, it’s common to invest in the content of the website to increase its readership. This means that some sites, like a blog, will work to churn out new posts to gain traffic.

Create a Lead Gen Website to Make Money

Because acquiring new customers can be so costly, some businesses will choose to purchase these leads from others.

For example, let’s take a look at a pressure washing business. For their small business, they might have to spend $100 to acquire one new customer through flyers and time spent advertising. However, if you build a website that attracts customers looking for pressure washing services, you can sell these leads to the company likely for somewhere between $50 and $75. This benefits the company because instead of paying $100 per customer, now they will only have to pay $75. This is known as affiliate marketing.

The best way to create a lead generation website is by focusing on SEO and search engines. Because many smaller businesses do not have the time or knowledge to compete, this gives you a great opportunity.

Make Money Building Landing Pages

Some companies don’t need a full website but instead, just a few landing pages built. This will require a lot less work on your part but can still be a great choice to make money.

Depending on the number and detail of the landing page, it’s possible to charge a few hundred dollars for each page you build.

How Much Money Can I Make Building Websites?

Because the skills required to build some websites can be unique, this offers tremendous opportunity for those willing to learn.

If you want to build websites directly for clients, it’s possible to make anywhere from a couple of thousand dollars to over $10,000.

If you opt to build a website for yourself, this can turn into an income-producing machine delivering thousands into your bank account each month.

Lastly, you might want to work as a full-time web developer for a company or agency. For this work, your salary can range anywhere from $70,000 to over $200,000 in some areas. Your experience, skills, and region are all factors that will determine your pay.

How to Make More Money Building Websites

A website on its own likely isn’t worth very much. You‘ll need to have a plan to get traffic to the website. Below are some other products and services you could sell to make even more money online.

Increase Your Rates

One of the most obvious ways to make more money building websites is by increasing your rates.

But you’ll need to have reasoning for doing so. For example, if you’re working as a freelancer and dramatically increase your rates without explaining your reasoning, there’s a chance they might find an alternative.

If possible, try to back your reasoning with numbers or stats. For example, if you mention that site speed has increased by 19%, this would be an acceptable reason to raise rates or charge more for your services. It's important to consider each client before raising rates.

Always Ask for Referrals

Getting new clients can be expensive and time-consuming. If you have a portfolio of happy clients, try to get any testimonials or referrals from them.

It’s not common to get a referral without asking, so ask away!

Create an Affiliate Program

If you're looking to expand your client base, creating an affiliate program can be a fast way to do so. In short, you'll need to give clients an affiliate link they can use to promote your offerings.

Offer Maintenance Packages

One of the best ways to make money building websites is by offering maintenance packages. In these packages, you can make basic updates to the website, update any plugins that might be applicable, and make other minimal changes to the site for an annual or monthly fee.

This fee can costs a few hundred dollars each year but it might only take 1 hour to complete the work. It's essentially free money!

Become More Efficient

When building websites, you’ll want to track how much time you’re spending on each one and the pay associated. This can help you to break down your hourly pay.

As you become more experienced and your skills grow, you might find that your hourly rate improves.

Offer Web Design Services

There are two main components when you create a website – designing the site and developing the site. If your goal is to make money building websites, aim to profit off of both.

If you're not good with design, you might consider outsourcing some of your work to a web designer.

Turn Customers into Advocates

Whenever working on any project, you’ll want to overdeliver to turn customers into advocates.

What exactly does that mean?

In short, you want your current customers to be so happy with your services they promote your business for you. They can do this by leaving reviews for your services online. It's a good idea to create a process you can use to follow up with previous clients asking for reviews.

Become a Top-Notch Salesperson

One of the easiest ways to land new clients is becoming a better salesperson. You'll need to be comfortable selling your services and understand your client's needs.

Provide Superb Service

Another great way to boost your earnings is by providing excellent customer service that goes above and beyond. Not only will it leave your customers happy and more likely to leave positive reviews, but it can also become a selling point for potential clients.

When you sell your services, you can bring up positive reviews left by previous clients to help close the deal.

SEO Services

SEO services will help your clients' websites get found online. You can offer these services as an add-on to increase your income building websites.

Many web developers will have a basic sense of SEO, but you might consider doing some research to increase your knowledge and sell it to clients.

Social Media Services

Social media is here to stay, so why not make some extra cash when building websites? A website will not get traffic on its own. It’ll need some marketing put behind it to gain visitors and grow.

Social media can be an excellent way to attract new visitors to your website but many marketers will get overwhelmed with options. Because there are so many platforms, you might try to spread yourself too thin and fail across all channels. Instead, try to focus on one channel that suits where your audience is.

Content Creation

Websites aren’t launched without any content on the site. If you want to make even more money, consider offering content services including copywriting.

If you do not have these skills yourself, you could consider outsourcing them at a higher rate to make a small profit.

Marketing Automation

Email marketing and marketing automation can be one of the highest ROI tactics for businesses big and small. By setting up and creating these automations, you can boost your income.

You’ll need to be familiar with various marketing automation tools and services to get started but these have a very small learning curve and there are many resources to help you.

Is a Web Design Side Hustle Right For You?

Starting a web development and design side hustle is perfect for those eager to learn and want to be rewarded for their efforts.

With an above-average pay and the ability to scale your side hustle turned business, making money building websites is an excellent option for many people.

Final Thoughts on Making Money Building Websites

Making money building websites can be what you make of it. For those willing to learn and put in the effort to build connections, it’s possible to make a large income.

There are several main options when making money building websites: working with clients to build one-off websites, building a website for yourself, or working as a full-time web developer for a company or marketing agency.

The pay for each varies widely. Building websites for others can be one of the most lucrative methods, but is also the most inconsistent.

If you’re looking for a consistent income, working as a web developer for a company or marketing agency is likely your best option.

Have you made money building websites? Comment your experience below!

Forrest is a personal finance, entrepreneurship, and investing expert dedicated to helping others obtain life long wealth. He has a Bachelor's degree in business and has been featured in many popular publications including Forbes, Business Insider, Bankrate, CNET Money, and many others. To learn more about Forrest, visit the About Us Page for more info.
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