I had a chat with Richard 'Pretzel Hands' Blechinger about earning a high income at a young age and advice for people with no CS degree. It was great fun and I hope you enjoy the interview.
Pete: So I was wondering if you could sort of introduce yourself. What your background is, what you are working on, what is your stack etc?
Richard: Sure! The name is Richard Blechinger and I am 22 years old. My preferred stack is PHP on the backend, usually paired with Wordpress or Laravel. For frontend things I rely heavily on React.js.
I work as a full-stack developer for various clients. Notable projects include payment integrations for a bank, a website called fishbreak.ch on which you can book your ideal fishing trip and being the go-to guy for landing pages for various sporting brands such as SUUNTO, Salomon or Atomic Skis.
Earning 10,000 Euros a month at 21
Pete: Something that really caught me eye in the WIP group chat last year was that you were 21 and earning 10,000 euros a month as a programmer? Plus, I think a few thousand more with smaller clients? You must live in San Francisco, right?
Richard: My monthly revenue currently lies between 10,000-15,000 EUR a month before taxes. (Hahaha, and no, I don't live in San Francisco, thankfully. I live in an old farm house in Austria that we're currently renovating. It's very cheap to live in.)
Pete: Wow! If i'm right, that is like $200k a year?
Richard: Well, around $150k if you take fluctuation into account. Not every month is super amazing 😀
Richard: And taxes/insurance leaves me with about half of that.
Pete: Sure. But for a 22 year old that is crazy!
Richard: Having $50k in savings at any given time is certainly very calming.
Pete: OMG, interview over!
Richard: Hahaha, I'd totally understand. But I still consider this mostly luck.
How Richard got into coding
Pete: Can you tell us about your background?
My background is a bit unusual. Originally I was super into making video games which is why I participated in Ludum Dare. It's a competition where you try to make a game from scratch in 48h. I first joined at 13 years old and it got me interested in programming.
After a lot of self-teaching I got hired by my high school professor to make an educational app in Delphi, but I left that place relatively quickly. Then I completed an apprenticeship at a web agency called 'NCM'. After that was finished, I started freelancing in 2016 at 19 years old.