Like so many people, I had dreamed of one day finding a career that I enjoyed. But in a world where were not encouraged to be extraordinary, I had no idea how to achieve this. The mainstream way of life is to stumble through education, get a corporate 9-5 job and find a place settle down and call home. Well what if, like me, you’re not happy with being ordinary? What if you don’t want to conform to the mainstream way of life that western culture teaches us? You need to do what I, and so many other incredible people are doing. Learn code and use this skill to fuel a freelance entrepreneurial business. Afterall, there’s nothing exciting about being ordinary! Keep reading to find out how learning code changed my life.
Life Before I Discovered Code
Howdy, from across the pond! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Beth and I’m a 20-something-year-old living in a small town in the south of England. Like a lot of freelance entrepreneurs, I’ve never has a clear idea of what I want to do with my life. I’ve been plodding along, following what society expected of me. However, my childhood was far from ordinary. I spent a lot of my upbringing moving around from different areas of the UK and even different countries, like Brunei. This has made travelling one of my greatest passions. I did well at school, but was given very little in the way of careers education. I was so unsure of what career I wanted to have or would be able to have for that matter. I ended up going to College for a whole two semesters before deciding it wasn’t for me, and ultimately dropping out. Being out of full-time education meant that sadly, I had to grow up, and fast. I found a full-time job and a house to rent and that was me. Done. The End. Or so I thought until I began learning code.
I’ve had three exceedingly ordinary jobs in my “adult” life. My first was at a grocery store manning the checkouts. This was repetitive, monotonous and didn’t challenge me in any way, other than patients. My second job was as a carer for children with special needs. This was super rewarding, but the care industry is an incredibly challenging one and without the correct management behind you, it’s impossible to carry out your job safely. My third job was as a receptionist and administrator at a family run business. Mundane, repetitive and just like working on the checkouts, this job only tested my patients.
The Early Days Of Learning To Code
The first time I discovered code was while sat behind the desk at my 9-5 receptionist job. I had finished all my tasks for the day well before I was due to clock out, so resorted to browsing the internet. Playing Candy Crush on Facebook, seeing if there were any bargains on Amazon, the usual. Now, at this point I wasn’t completely ignorant to code. I knew it existed and that people typed it in colorful fonts on a black screen (I now know this is commonly referred to as a text editor), but that was the extent of my knowledge on the subject. I cannot tell you why I decided to, on this particular day, see if I could learn to code. At this moment in time, I thought that code was a huge secret and only big ol’ geeks could learn it. So in my Google search I was super intrigued and excited to discover Code Academy.
I probably shouldn’t say this…
But from that point on, when I finished all my work tasks I hoped straight on over to Code Academy. Learning code quickly became something that I not only found interesting, but fun as well. That might be hard to believe, but coding involved problem solving and it offered me an intellectual challenge. Something that none of my other jobs had done so far. In a matter of weeks, I completed all that Code Academy had to offer me. Don’t get me wrong, Code Academy is an awesome free resource, but with all the free time I had in my 9-5 job, it didn’t take me long to race through the course.
As the weeks kept passing, I began to wonder if I could make a living from learning code.
Off the back of Code Academy, I took other free courses that taught code. I was hoping to reinforce an idea that had been growing in the back of my mind. “Could turn this into a viable career?”. I spent quite a while playing with static HTML and CSS files, testing and validating the new skills I had learnt. Looking back on that, it all seems quite primitive compared to where I am now, but it was a stepping stone to get to where I am today.
There’s only so much that free courses can teach you
I had spent long enough on my static HTML and CSS files and free courses to prove to myself that this wasn’t a fad. The next step was to up my game. I had to start investing in myself. I didn’t even have a laptop, all my coding was done from work. In this day and age, who really needs a laptop when you have smartphones and tablets? Web developers need laptops, and that’s who I wanted to be. I bought a cheap laptop to help get me started and also took part in a course that would teach me all about the hottest content management system (CMS), WordPress. Just like with Code Academy and the other free courses I’d done, I spent every free second I had learning about WordPress and I loved it! Not only did it teach me some awesome coding skills, it filled me with the confidence I needed to pursue this dream of becoming a freelance web developer.
How Learning Code Changed My Life
I really had nothing to lose by trying to set up a freelance business, but everything to gain. So I thought ‘What the heck’ and started to create a business plan. I say business plan… It was a fairly primitive list of the bare minimum I needed to do to set up an online business. The main to-do’s on my list were coming up with a business name, buying a domain name and hosting, building my own site, registering as a business and then finding some clients. I could go on forever about the ins and outs of choosing my business name, deciding on which hosting provider to go with, but that’s not what you want to hear about. What you want to hear is how long it took me to learn code and set up a freelance business. Well, this is the timeline…
- September 2017 – Started to play around with code
- October 2017 – Bought domain name
- November 2017 – Created and launched my website
- December 2017 – Registered as a business
- January – Started looking for clients and doing business
Wow… I hadn’t actually sat down and thought about how far I’d come in such a short space of time until right now… typing this. Am I the only one who’s flabbergasted? In five months I’d learnt how to code and setup my own business! I never thought I’d be saying that out loud! It feels like it’s been so much longer than five months! Feel free to carry on reading while I pick myself up off the floor!
In a matter of five months I’d gone from never needing to touch the parentheses key on the keyboard and having no clue what a text editor was, to a confident WordPress web developer looking for her first paying client.
Crazy! All while still in full-time employment. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. The late nights and weekends spent on my laptop all seemed to be worth it now. Yes, I hadn’t become a full-time freelancer yet, but I had made some huge steps in the way of achieving my dream. All that was left was to drum up enough business to be able to kick the 9-5 job to the kirb once and for all.
Finding that all important first client
In my search for clients I first went local. From walking my dog up the high street at 6am and putting business cards through store letter boxes to emailing local businesses to see if they needed any help with a new or existing website. I was super nervous! I’d never had to put myself out there like this and at first I felt pretty vulnerable. Eventually, I landed my first local while I was in a local bar of all places! As well as searching locally, I used Facebook groups to try and expand my network and find some business. I began by offering advice to those seeking it and even doing some small tasks for free. All of this was in an effort to get my name out there as a web developer.
How Has Learning Code Changed My Life?
When I think about it, learning code has enabled me to do many things, other than the obvious web development. I didn’t expect that learning to code would hugely boost my confidence. I have to admit, I’ve been shy all my life. Learning code and starting a web development business meant that I had to talk to clients. I needed to be confident in order to sell my services to people and convince them of it’s value to their business. I must have some sort of confidence and self belief to have started my own freelance business.
Learning code has given me something to strive for. Instead of plodding along on autopilot, I’m actively trying to get my online business off the ground so I can pursue the freelance lifestyle. People in 9-5 jobs seem quite happy to go about their days doing the same thing over and over again. I am not one of those people. I am striving for a life where I can be location independent, financially stable and loving every minute of my career. Everyday I wake up wondering what I can do to take another step towards being a full-time freelancer. It’s so close now, I can almost taste it!
As well as developing websites, learning code has taken me in another direction I was unaware it could until very recently. Technical ghostwriting. Learning code and the basics of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has given me an awesome starting point for technical ghostwriting. Because of code, I know the technical lingo, or I’m able to understand it when researching a topic to write about. Knowing basic SEO means that I can write online content that search engines will recognise and like. Who would have thought that my English Language and Literature qualifications would have come in handy!
Why Am I Telling You All Of This?
I want to inspire you. Never in a million years did I think that I could have set up my own online business… Until I learnt to code. It might sound like I’m exaggerating, but learning code has changed my life. I had resided to the fact that I was going to spend the rest of my life hoping from one dead end job to another.
Learning to code has opened up a world of possibilities for me. A world where I don’t have to conform to being ordinary. A world where, if I wanted to, I could spend the rest of my life traveling. A world where the possibility of earning the salary that I want to earn is perfectly possible.
I get so much inspiration from fellow female entrepreneurs who have done just that. If you want to be extraordinary, satisfied with your career and more importantly, your own boss, then you need to learn to code.
Oh, and there’s one small detail I neglected to tell you through all of this. I had Julia (and Blue) as a friend and mentor along the way! Julia has first hand experience in the coding industry. She knows her stuff and has done everything she preaches about. She wasn’t happy with her 9-5 job, so she became her own boss. She has more than quadrupled her hourly rate since she started out. She is becoming location independent and moving into an RV! If anyone is going to be able to teach you code, it’s the woman who taught her dog to fetch beer! Julia has a natural talent for teaching, she is genuine, encouraging and supportive. If you want to entrust your coding education with someone who is down right awesome, Julia is that person.