Becoming a web developer can be as challenging as working out every day.
It’s important to know what it will take to succeed as a web developer.
Here are 6 things to consider for aspiring web developers:
1 – The Right Attitude and Belief
The first hurdle to get through is yourself.
Let me explain:
Why is it that some people in difficult situations manage to succeed and those who have ‘perfect’ upbringings sometimes end up in positions that don’t make sense at all?
You don't want to become a web developer.
You want to become a successful web developer.
(sounds cheesy, but it's true).
The next step after aligning your attitude to becoming a web developer is BELIEVING that you are one.
You may be thinking, “but I don’t know enough to be called a web developer” or “but how can I be a web developer if I haven’t even started yet?”
These are valid questions… and I’m not saying you should lie about being a web developer or that you should take on work far beyond what you are able to do at this moment.
What I am saying is that you need to “trick” your brain and boost your confidence in BELIEVING that you are a web developer rather than second guessing it. Try it and I can assure you that this method is far better than doubting the fact.
If someone asks you, “so what do you do?” tell them without any doubts, “I’m a web developer/freelancer.”
This may lead nowhere, but you’d be surprised how many people will be very interested in the fact that you are a web developer/freelancer. Almost as if you pulled some Star Wars Jedi mind trick on them.
Whether you’d like to become a web developer or freelancer, your mind-set and attitude is crucial to your success.
2 – Determination and Discipline
Failure and doubt are inevitable. The question is how you will deal with it when it happens.
You need to be determined, motivated and driven to really be successful at web development. There are many aspiring web developers out there. Not all of them will be determined and driven and motivated.
Not all of them will be disciplined in learning web development. That might not sound right, but it is true. We are all busy with other things and you may even have a full-time job while you learn web development (that’s in fact how I started).
The hard part is not starting… it’s whether you keep going. You need to be disciplined in learning.
Set a schedule and stick to it.
I used to work from 8am-6pm, come home to my wife and be exhausted, eat, relax for a bit, and then start learning to code from 8pm to 1am/2am for a few months. That was very challenging for me, but I needed to be highly focused and it worked out well because of that discipline.
Maybe you have children or other important priorities, but don’t make excuses. If it’s important to you, you will make a plan to learn and you will force yourself to be disciplined.
3 – Stubbornness/Persistence
You may be thinking, “why stubbornness?”
It’s good to be stubborn or persistent as you learn.
What I mean by that is if you have an error in your code or if it is not coming out how you’d planned and thought (which happens more often than you might think,) don’t just move on if you can’t find the solution and don’t cut any corners. Be stubborn and figure it out.
Although it may take you longer to figure out, what you learn by being stubborn in this regard is that your knowledge will remain with you and you will be more efficient and effective in your future projects because of this.
4 – Prioritising
If you want to do something great, it comes with sacrifice. This is challenging to accept for most people.
If you want to be a great programmer or freelancer and you are complaining that you don’t have time, then just look at your daily/weekly/monthly routine to see what you can remove to free up more time so that you can learn more, develop your skills and apply what you know.
One of the biggest distractions I’ve eliminated in my life is watching TV. It was hard to do at first, but even if I got given a free TV the size of my wall, with free unlimited movies and series, I wouldn’t even be interested now.
I’m not the only strange one out there who does this. Seth Godin, one of the greatest marketers and thought leaders of our time is also a big advocate for not wasting time watching TV.
Whether you are a student, a full time employee, a husband/wife/father/mother, you need to know how to prioritise.
Every single day there is around 140,000 websites added to the internet. Imagine… that’s almost 2 websites EVERY SECOND!
So if you are interested in creating a website for your own business, it will be good to start asap!
Do what you need to do, don’t neglect your family, cut out the TV, cut out distractions and learn how to code – after all, that is your goal so be serious about it and work towards it.
5 - The Skills
You can’t become an accountant without understanding accountancy. The same principle applies for web development.
In order to be a web developer, you need to know what web development is, how it works, the programming languages and their importance, what to learn, communication skills, problem solving, innovation and more.
It’s important that you know how to learn effectively. To read more into this, I’ve broken down the programming languages in my free eBook.
6 – Your Goals
You need to define your goals.
WHY do you want to be a web developer/freelancer?
Would you like to learn web development and apply for work and be an employee?
Would you like to be a freelance web developer and work for yourself?
When you create a website, what is your deadline?
Once you have your goals, make sure you are driven by it and focus on working towards achieving them. Don’t be like most people and set goals that fade away after a few months…
How to set your goals in 5 simple steps:
Be S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Bound)
Specific: To become a freelance web developer
Time Bound: 12 months
Measurable: I will measure my progress every month and set defined goals to reach my specific goal.
Attainable: Challenging, but yes.
Once your main goal has been set, break down the 12 months into medium-term goals, in this case it would be:
*Don’t worry if these terms are a bit technical for you, I explain more in my eBook.
In 3 months, I want to know Frontend Web Development
In 6 months, I want to know Backend Web Development
In 9 months, I want to start working on my portfolio website, build my brand, improve on my business knowledge and perfect my web development skills.
By 12 months, I want a portfolio of 5 websites, I want to be a full-stack web developer and I want to know the fundamentals of freelancing and gaining clients.
Once I have my medium-term goals, I break it up into my monthly goals:
Frontend Web Development
Month 1 – Learn HTML & CSS
Backend Web Development
Month 4 – Learn PHP
Month 5 – Learn more advanced PHP
Portfolio, Personal Brand, Business Knowledge, Web Development Knowledge
Month 7 – Create a personal portfolio website, social media profiles and build a personal brand
Month 8 – Reach out to businesses & organisations to create websites for them
Month 9 – Improve portfolio, web development skills and personal brand
Portfolio of 5 Websites, Full-Stack Web Developer, Freelance Fundamentals, Clients
Month 10 – Must have a minimum of 5 websites on portfolio
Month 11 – Learn freelance fundamentals and business essentials
Month 12 – Reach out to prospective clients, promote your work and get clients
Now that you have your monthly goals, break it down into daily goals:
You don’t need to study full-time to make this goal a reality – this would help for sure, but if you are working and you can only study part-time that is also fine. If you can dedicate 3-4 hours every night to this schedule, I fully believe that you can accomplish this goal if you are dedicated, disciplined and motivated enough.
This is just a very short example and a simplified guideline, and it is not intended to be a comprehensive goal-breakdown, I just want to illustrate how it could be done. The programming languages mentioned above are just examples too.
Write out your goals, print it out and stick to it.
One of THE MOST important aspects of achieving your goal is:
If you are accountable to someone and you have weekly/monthly calls to discuss the progress and he/she holds you accountable and motivates you when you feel like giving up or have any doubts, it will push you through and help you stay focused. The more honest and ‘hard-core’ your accountability partner is; the better!
I had an accountability partner when I started freelancing, and it was crucial in playing a major part in my freelancing success today.
Last, but not least… TAKE ACTION, adapt and stop making excuses.
Until next time,