Maybe your job sucks like mine did. Maybe you wake up every morning looking for an excuse to stay home like I did. Maybe you're learning to write code to escape like I did. Maybe you can't get anyone to hire you like I couldn't.
If that sounds like you, I created this web site so you can break into a tough industry… like I did! When you started learning, you probably heard how many job openings there are for web developers. It's so true! What they don't tell you though is that those openings are for senior-level developers, not fresh-outta-bootcamp newbies like us.
I've been there, and I stumbled into a way to make it work.
When you find yourself hitting that wall, check out some of the articles and resources here. Everyone is different, and my method won't work for everyone, but, you know what else isn't working? Shotgunning applications to every opening under the sun and hoping for the best.
Why Web Development?
Learning web development is a great way to get out of your 💩 job and start building a better life for yourself. Here’s why:
The field already has tons of positions waiting to be filled and that number is set to grow 30% by 2031 — six times the growth of the average
8 Things I Learned to Get From Walmart Cashier to 6-Figure Web Developer
One of my middle school teachers had a poster in her classroom. It was a multi-car garage, doors open showing several exotic cars. The text on the poster: “Justification for higher education.”
I doubt there was ever a time when most college graduates were going on to own Ferraris and Lamborghinis, but I do believe there was a time when a college degree guaranteed a comfortable standard of living. Those days have long since passed.
Now, we need another kind of education. A school of hard knocks cobbled together from the disappointments and failures of the traditional career path. We were lead to believe that, if we followed that path, the rest would take care of itself… but what happens when it doesn’t?
I followed that track until I was 30. It took me from cashier jobs at a grocery store and at Walmart to working in a call center for Comcast to a job in IT paying about $36k a year.
The nice thing about low-paying jobs is that they are easier to leave. I spent the next six years figuring out how to make things work on my own. These are the 8 lessons I feel were most critical to get me where I am now.
Find a Big Goal that drives you forward, stops you from quitting, and can refill your willpower reserves.
Don’t stress over the tech and software you use to get started. (That’s why this site has a single recommendation each for the best laptop and IDE you should be using.)
Waiting to be hired costs time and money: time because you need to find a junior position which is harder to come by and money because you’re unproven and are asking your employer to take on that risk. This means you’ll probably get paid less than what you’re worth.
Start your career with freelancing. This will force you to learn about business which will make you a better web developer. Every web project starts with a business goal. If you can focus on solving that instead of just building a web site, you’ll be much more valuable as a web developer. Besides that, it’s a much easier on-ramp, and you get experience which will help you be paid what you’re worth if you seek a permanent position later. (I can help you get your first freelance gig and learn how to send invoices.)
Disqualify clients early and often. Each client you take on represents an opportunity cost: it’s another, perhaps better client you can’t take on. It’s better for the prospective client too. If you’re not the best fit for their job, they’ll have less success and be less satisfied. You want your freelance jobs to be a home run for everyone involved.
Build relationships with people, even if you’re an introvert. Friendships and great work opportunities will follow. Go to meet-ups and conferences. Talk to people about what you do, and, more importantly, about what they do.
Invest in yourself. Buy the right tools you need to do a good job. Spend money on learning new things if that leads to a better/quicker outcome than doing it for free. Hire people to do things you’re bad at or don’t want to do, both in your business and your personal life.
Knowing these principles alone won’t make you successful. Heck, I wrote them, and I can barely force myself to follow them a lot of the time. For now, just read them, try to understand them, and keep them in your back pocket. If you’re like me, it will take a few false starts to muster the discipline to try them.
Once you have that discipline and start living by these rules, you’ll see your web development career start to take off. 📈
That's a little about what I learned that got me started in my new career. If you're looking for a new approach, here are some resources to get you started.
You probably think you get a job by first training and then applying to jobs until you get hired. That can work, but you may be surprised how many you need to apply to before finding one. Iʼve talked to plenty of people who have put in hundreds of applications and still not gotten a bite. This article will calibrate your expectations, whether you learn with bootcamp, teach yourself, or even get a degree.
Now that you know what youʼre in for starting a career in web developer, hereʼs how you can avoid that horrible fate. My inverted career path approach can help you get around all the soul crushing rejection of applying for hundreds of jobs without getting one. You just need to flip the power dynamic.
This video series is a good overview of the approach I took to getting into web development with no connections and no experience. If youʼve tried applying and arenʼt getting anywhere, this might be the alternative path need. Follow the links from this video to the others in the series.
As you start learning, youʼre bound to get caught in a trap that everyone gets caught in: the sweet siren song of coding tutorials. Like a Lego set, theyʼre easy, fun, and satisfying. It feels like youʼre learning, but, by the end of it, you havenʼt learned anything except how to complete the tutorial. Here Iʼll teach you to avoid the trap and what to do instead.