how to make money as a web developer in Malaysia

How To Make Money as a Web Developer in Malaysia

Feb 17, 2022

Interested to pursue a web development career and want to find out the opportunities that await you? In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about becoming a successful web developer in Malaysia.

The web developer role.

A web developer mainly creates and maintains websites and mobile apps. This includes E-commerce sites, social media platforms, and any digital tool.

The role of a web developer and software developer is often confused – where those new to coding, think they are the same thing. Here is how they are different:

  • Web developers build apps and interactive websites. This includes simple web pages, to full-blown E-commerce platforms.
  • Software developers spend more time creating applications and programs for computers and mobile devices.

Both web and software developers write code, but both roles require a different set of skills. Compared to web development which focuses on websites, software development requires a broader range of skills such as DevOps – combining development and It operations.

How to get a headstart in web development.

Anyone can learn to code today. But, in a world of infinite information, you don’t become an in-demand web developer by knowing & memorizing more code.

The 3 skillsets that are underrated for web developers are:

1. Communication.

Not to be confused with messaging apps like email, having communication skills means being able to communicate effectively with clients and other team members. As a web developer, you’ll often find yourself having to explain technical concepts to non-tech people.

Web developers with good communication know when to be brief and when to go into details.

2. Attention to detail.

Good web developers are people who have strong attention to detail, where they are very thorough with their code. They seek to achieve high standards when working on any projects, which results in fewer errors.

3. Problem solving.

Most experienced web developers will tell you that a typical web development project doesn’t end when the website is published. Rather, it is the point where lots of bug fixing work comes in.

Turn yourself into a sought-after developer by being a good problem solver, in solving issues where other developers are not able to. Also, implement agile metrics as they would not only help in assessing productivity and software quality but also bring more clarity to overall project development.

So, how do web developers make money in Malaysia?

To answer this question, I created a poll in Developer Kaki, a Facebook group filled with developers in Malaysia.

You should join Developer Kaki

From the list, 68% of developers make money through earning a salary a.k.a working for a company. 15% of them are freelancers.

And then there are other non-conventional ways to monetize too, such as:

  • Building and selling digital products (For example, on CodeCanyon)
  • Making courses.
  • Writing articles.
  • Building a mobile app.
  • Starting a development agency/house.

We also previously shared some tips to monetize as a learning web developer. You can watch the video below as well.

Tips to start out as a web developer without going broke.

Want to learn web development and be able to fund yourself in the process? Here are some strategies to do that.

1 – Moonlighting Strategy

A typical path taken by web development students to earn a side income is to freelance, after study or work hours – at night. Hence the moonlighting strategy.

Whether you are a working adult or student, working after hours is great, not just for the money but because you also gain experience working on various projects.

However, always be upfront to clients that you are a beginner. There are businesses willing to work with newbies. E.g. Those who don’t even have a website or online presence yet. These could be early-stage businesses or solo entrepreneurs with a budget.

You can directly approach businesses who can help, or sign up as a freelancer on Upwork, Fiverr, or Freelancer.com.

2 – Document Your Learning Process

We live in a world where people spend a lot of time engaging with content every day. Brands have realized this, and now they want to work with people who command a following. If you have a sizable online following, you could monetize your content through ads, sponsorships, or affiliates.

As you learn to code, document your journey. You can write blogs or create YouTube videos. You don’t have to be an expert in the subject matter. Instead, document your thought process from a beginner’s point of view.

Study Ali Abdaal, a big-time creator on YouTube, and you’ll find that although he creates content on tech and productivity – he doesn’t have the answer for everything. Rather, he studies ideas from other people and documents them from his point of view.

3 – Develop Open-Source Programs

This is a little of a long shot. That’s why it’s strategy #3.

If you have the interest, you could start developing open-source web plugins or programs – and make them available for free. Then ask your users for monetary support, in exchange for your support to keep the program updated.

An example is WordPress plugins. Many web developers offer their plugins for free.

Use sites like Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee to ask for support from your users.

Got a coffee from a user. yay!

But developers from other countries are cheaper.

Someone has probably told you that there is an overflow of talented developers from countries such as India. How do you compete?

While web developers anywhere around the world can also pitch for jobs in Malaysia, there are areas where Malaysians have an edge, especially with our multilingual localization advantage (not just programming language skills). 

The key is to look beyond just programming skillsets – and think about other ways to provide value to a client or project.

How much can a web developer make in Malaysia?

Do a quick search on job matching sites like Payscale or Jobstreet, and you’ll find a wide salary range, from as low as RM2,700 per month to an upwards of RM8,580 or more.

Don’t let these numbers affect you. As always, what you see on job-matching websites is an aggregate of 600+ salaries reported in the last 3 years. This often can be inaccurate.

While the numbers suggest the going market rate of web developers, you should always ask for a salary grade that you’re worth during an interview.

Rather than blindly accepting a salary package, use the briefcase technique to showcase the value you provide to a company, and then follow up by asking for a salary grade that you want.

Freelancing

Web development freelancers in Malaysia typically charge anywhere from RM80 – RM400 per hour. This doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to charging by the hour. You can also choose to charge by a project fee or by value.

Search results for web developer in Malaysia on Upwork

As a freelancer, you are essentially a small business. This means you’re responsible for selling, marketing, managing invoices, and working with the client.

Many new freelancers forget to factor in their operational costs when charging clients. Here are some hidden freelancing expenses that you might want to factor in your next proposal:

  • Equipment cost (laptop, computer, etc.)
  • Utilities cost (rent, telephone, internet, etc.)
  • Longer working hours.
  • Travel costs.
  • Administrative time.

Conclusion

Obviously, there are many ways to succeed as a web developer in Malaysia. You could even be a part-time developer while holding a full-time job in another area.

What is your #1 tip to monetize as a student? Drop your answer in the comments below.

The point of this post is to show you what’s possible if you decide to pick up web development. If you want to shorten your progress in learning web development, I’d recommend you to check out Full Stack 360, our program that teaches your front-end and back-end development.

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2 Comments

  1. Maruf

    Sir I activated your developer apps last night. But I want to know how much money I have spent for various service activities from yesterday till now…..rm

    Reply
    • Reuben Chng

      Hi Maruf, we don’t develop apps. Seems like you have mistaken us as another site/service you have signed up for.

      Reply

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