Observations and Experiences Earning Money Through Codementor

A person talking and mentoring another person on table with laptop on top of it

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

I don't remember when I started following Sunil on Twitter. He's a developer who — apart from his day job — invests a lot of time in curating development resources in Twitter threads. He has a significantly large Twitter following. He spends a lot of free time freelancing. He also writes ebooks about developer platforms, passive income generation, freelancing, his developer experiences, how to become a better developer, which he sells. Once, I saw him tweet about a platform called codementor.io. After that tweet I repeatedly saw him tweet about how easy it was and how nice it felt to just help someone out with their doubts or help debug somebody's code and make easy money out of it.

So I decided to try it out. And he was right. It really is easy pocket money coming in on the side. I earned a little over my rent's money in about a month, helping people with their doubts about JavaScript, React, Redux, Typescript and CSS styling in my free time.

I got to talk to a lot of people, ranging from different behaviours, cultures, hailing from different countries, with varied experience levels.

  1. A couple of super humble and eager to learn university students. What I learnt observing how they learnt was how aggresive they were towards getting their code working, not minding if they were doing things properly, or if they were handling edge cases or doing error handling upfront.

  2. A person who had taken a project from someone and was seeking out help on it. Kinda like subletting.

  3. A person in his mid 30s or early 40s. A mobile app developer, who had just inherited a React Redux web app code in a Create React App setup. He took notes by hand old school. I was able to help him get a general understanding of React and JavaScript ecosystem at large, and give him detailed suggestions as we walked through the codebase – surprisingly well written and commented. The amount of research, learning and follow up that he conveyed through chat messages afterwards was inspiring. He came up with smart doubts and questions and I loved resolving them.

  4. A bootcamp student, a woman, who was doing her last project assignment. React on frontend with a Ruby on Rails backend. She had trouble making sense of React state across components and React Router usage. She sounded polite but panicked. She had a southern US accent. It was the first time I'd talked and listened to someone with one, outside of Hollywood movies. It was inspiring that she was seeking help. But by the sound of her voice I sensed that nobody until then had been able to explain to her some of the concepts that I did. When I asked her if I could help her run VS Code live share session because zoom's remote control was excruciatingly slow, she got worried that the live session will be live for anybody to see, which was sweet. But by the amount of tension she seemed to be was evident, even though she did a good job to cover it up with her naturally calming and polite voice. She asked me if I'd be willing to help her learn JavaScript in a better way, since things got rushed, as they often do, in the bootcamp.

  5. A machine learning veteran. Having sold a couple of technology companies in the US, he had decided to not start a new one and instead work with an existing company. Hailing from Malleshwaram in Bangalore, we bonded over having lived in the same city. He told me that he had gone to Kendra Vidyalaya there. He then went onto study in the US and eventually settled there. He was trying UI development with React for the first time, working on a personal project. Being the experienced person he is, he had already found a couple of hackish solutions, albeit wrong, to the problem he had approached on the platform for. When I helped him learn to resolve the problem in the most correct 'React-y' way, he was elated. He gave me his number and email id and asked me to talk with him in case I'd need a job in Bangalore anytime, with possibly the double income that I'd have in mind. I was humbled and felt a little shy. I told him, I'd definitely let him know when need be. I helped him once again with some layouting.

From this experience I observed a very alarming fact – I had come across with all the people who had either started themselves out, or somebody else had started them out to learn web development in a way that might be misleading. I say that because I was started with learning web development the same way — through focussing too much on frameworks and not stressing more on the underlying foundations.

The coming of a new bare bones React framework called Remix felt surprisingly liberating, because using it, one would actually be forced to code in a way that takes care of progressive enhancement (an app would work fine end to end even without JavaScript with all the forms and things and what have you). Inspired by remix and Sarah Drasner's Github tagline

Comprehension Over Configuration

Over the next several weeks I'm going to embark on the journey to read through the web.dev codebase and share my learnings from there.

Stay tuned!

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