For Love or Money: What Inspires You to Code?

There’s an interesting article over at JAXenter that’s worth a read: What motivates developers? (Hint: probably not money)

The conclusions drawn there are pretty interesting, and they are based on very solid research. The essential thesis is that people engaged in work requiring conceptual, creative thinking—which includes web development!—get more satisfaction from their work, and produce better results, not through bigger rewards, but instead through a sense of autonomy, mastery and purpose. (Those concepts are further explained in the article.)

The video accompanying the article gives nice examples of projects that don’t make a lot of sense from an old-fashioned view of economics—projects like Linux, Apache, Git and so on. In the world of web development we are inundated with free offerings. Why?

This certainly rings true for me. I used to be a teacher, and was fortunate to have a boss who gave me a lot of freedom to try new things, set my own goals and purpose. I rarely spared a thought for what I was getting paid. As a web designer, I’ve always been happiest when let loose by clients to be creative and experimental. I’m always happy to spend many extra, unpaid hours to learn something new to include in a project.

So, what motivates you as a coder, developer or designer etc? Have you been involved in an open source project, and if so, why? If you had a choice between getting paid more or having more freedom to do what you love, what would you choose, and why?

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I love the satisfaction of building dynamic sites, especially where complex data and/or structured content is involved. For me it’s in the detail being a Virgo et al. Of course having happy clients is all part of the buzz as well!

I’ve been involved with ExpressionEngine (commercial open source :wink: ) for some years, both helping the community, beta testing and so on. Apart from giving something to the community it’s also a great way to learn.

I love freelancing, having come from a well paid systems admin job I don’t earn anywhere near what I used to but you can’t put a price on the freedom - at the end of the day it’s a lifestyle, not a job.

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I have to put my $0.03272 worth in and say that it’s love that motivates me, but cannot ignore the fact that love don’t put food on the table or a roof over my head. :smile:

There are few situations where the feeling of satisfaction of something not only well done, but something that you know someone else is really going to appreciate, really flows.

It doesn’t matter (to me) if it’s complex data, or some kind of (subdued) flashy bell/whistle that grabs attention - it’s all part of the same thing. That gestalt that makes one sigh a deep breath when it’s completed, looking forward to the next one!




To be on here, it’s pretty amazing to teach people certain tips and tricks about front-end development, and they are estatic once they learn how to fix it.

As far as coding in general, I’m not entirely sure what hooked me. I kinda hang around the nerd crowd and we all took coding classes. The thrill of doing something simple (even an alert in JS) and then trying to constantly expand our knowledge and make more complex programs. It was intriguing to see just how far we could take our knowledge.

Right now, I’d probably take a little more money rather than freedom. However I dislike that I’m like that right now. I’m on the cusp of making enough money to move out into my own place, so I’d suck it up and take that little bit extra just to move out of a rented room from some random person on craigslist.

However, I got into coding because it’s fun and right now, I’m given freedom to code how I wish, with my own ideas. Working in an environment where I’m treated less would be terrible and I’m not sure I would be happy.

Just the fact that I can be given a set of requirements, and I fufill them; that makes my boss extremely happy and proud of my (and my teams) work. I feel like a part of a team and it’s rewarding to ultimately see our efforts pay off into a well functioning (responsive) website. Every day I code, we ultimately come closer to that end product. It’s inspiring and keeps me going.


Honestly, on my personal projects… it’s hitting that lotto and getting that site that started from nothing that ends up selling for a billion dollars. But you know what I would probably do if I hit that jackpot? I’d probably just use it to sit on my butt and make more sites. Just in a much nicer house in a much nicer part of the world. :slight_smile: Maybe on a massive yacht…

That’s what helps to motivate me anyway, not necessarily to that extent, but even a healthy side income would be nice. I really do it because I like it. I use my projects to learn and expand my skillset with total freedom outside of work and they are part of the reason why I’m good at what I do, the sheer time I put in and my obsession. I go to work and I code, then I come home and code some more. And on the weekends, yeah… I’m probably coding too.

I feel extremely lucky that my main hobby and my job are the same thing. I like to make things and turn nothing into something. Web Dev is a perfect mix of problem solving and artistic ability.


As the saying goes: “If you get paid to do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”



Kick *ss video, Ralph!! :thumbsup:

Thanks for sharing that and your thoughts.

For me, it is all about FREEDOM.

I want/need a certain amount of money to pay my bills - and maybe even pay off my student loans some day! - but I cherish my autonomy and creative space more than just about anything.

Money and material things come and go, but a sense of mastery and creating something out of nothing stays with you forever!


I like making things, and web projects or programming projects in general are another way of doing this. Same as graphic design, building circuits, cooking, or whatever, it’s so I can say “hey, looky at what I’ve done made!” I like showing off. :smile:

If I can do that and get paid at the end of it then the better.


Heh, yeah. The article did point out that you do need to be paid reasonably as a starting point. It seemed to focus more on rewards / bonuses / extra motivators on top of your regular pay, assuming your pay is reasonable and allows you to live a decent life.

Haha, I suspect I would too. :slight_smile:

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If I would win the lottery or something, I would code from every corner of the world || in my private jet. :sunglasses:

Coding is the creative part of myself. :smiley:

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Oh, another thing. If I won a million bucks, I’d probably make a very large donation to my dream company and have them “hire me” in exchange :smiley: .

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If I won the Lottery I would probably just work for free for organization that really needed the skill but could not afford it. Imagine having the flexibility to be part of the next Wikipedia…sweet.

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Well but make sure that they give you a good salary and a better job… else they may hire you… as a cook, or as a cleaner…

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I’m sure I’ll be able to avoid that :wink: .

I was thinking… foot stool…

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Well, Money is one of the most contributing factors on a individual’s life.same goes for me. it gives you confidence,happiness and sense of amusement in your own. But still, the contradicting part is if you don’t love what you do for earning than it will slowly and steadily transforms you into a melancholic personality or what you call a money making machine.

That’s why love for what we do is imperative in all areas. and trust me nothing is more fascinating that having a same thing as a passion plus profession.

Nikhil Shrivastav
Freelance Content writer

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We will never agree on this :smiley:

You will never have to. it’s the differences which makes us unique :slight_smile:
keep them with you. :slight_smile:

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I will. I have no choice anyway. I am who I am :wink: