Ari Lamstein

Monetizing R Portfolios

I recently ran an office hours on the topic of building R Portfolios.

The conversation was fascinating to me. One issue that came up was monetization. Basically, creating an R Portfolio is a ton of work. How can you make any money out of it?

I’m sure that there are lots of possibilities. But here are the two ways that came up.

My Experience

When I started creating my portfolio, I didn’t really know what I was doing. And I certainly didn’t know if I could make any money from it. In retrospect, here are three steps that helped make that happen:

  1. I Picked a niche that I like (the intersection of R, Maps and Open Data).
  2. I published a bunch of R packages and analyses in that niche.
  3. I created a information product (a course) in that niche.

For me, the niche has been what ties the time investment I make in the portfolio to the financial return I receive from it.

When I started my blog, I tried to write an article a week. All my posts were about my open source projects: either new features I was creating, or answers to reader questions.

Without realizing it, I was creating relationships with people who valued my portfolio. At some point it became natural for me to create a product that went into more depth on my niche.

Creating that course was a key point in my journey towards making my R portfolio profitable.

Another Approach

Many of my list members are taking a different approach to portfolio monetization:

  1. They are writing about many different topics within R (i.e., they don’t have a specific focus within R).
  2. They are trying to use their portfolio to get a full time job.

While this approach might work, I am skeptical about it. Mainly because I think that not everyone will value your portfolio equally.

If you pick a niche that interests you and publish regularly, then you can easily become an expert on the subject. And you can build an audience that values your opinion on the subject. And a small percentage of them will pay you to help them with their projects. In my case, some readers have even offered me full time jobs.

But if I applied for a regular full time job off the internet, would the hiring manager care about my portfolio? Maybe, but I don’t expect it.

In my last full time job I got to interview several candidates for software engineering roles. I served on about 10 hiring panels, and I can’t remember us ever discussing a candidate’s portfolio or blog.

That certainly doesn’t mean it never happens. But it didn’t in my experience.

What do you think?

All of this, of course, is just my own opinion and experience.

If you have an R portfolio, I’d love it if you left a comment saying how you are currently monetizing it, or hoping to monetize it in the future!

Ari Lamstein

Ari Lamstein

I currently work as a Staff Data Science Engineer at a marketing analytics consultancy. I have 20 years experience developing software in areas such as data science, web development and video games. I have also worked as a technical trainer and independent consultant.

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