Before I started my web development business, I was a mother of babies with a BA in English and a personal blog. Now I’m a mother of toddlers with a BA in English and a business doing work that I love from home.
Obviously the first step in this transformation was, you know, learning how to code. But even as I added more coding skills to my repertoire, I had so many questions about how to turn these new skills into an actual job:
- How much code did I really need to know?
- How would I find clients when I didn’t have experience?
- What does the full web design and development process really look like?
- Was I making a bunch of obvious “rookie” mistakes?
- What was the “industry standard” concerning ______?
No matter how much I Googled and researched, there were just certain items that weren’t transparent, and I was afraid of getting those things wrong.
Since then, I have made my fair share of mistakes and lucky guesses, and while I am far from having everything figured out, I’m comfortable with the basic ins and outs of running a freelance web development business. I’m very excited to bring some of this knowledge and experience to you in this series which we’re calling: So You Want to Become a Web Developer.
Who This Series is For
The intent of this series is to help bridge the gap between your coding knowledge and the information you need to turn that knowledge into a job. This series is especially targeted for women who:
- Are self-motivated to learn code and keep learning code.
- Have some interest in turning those coding skills into a job of some sort.
- Are honest and ethical and want to bring authentic value to the clients you work for (not looking to cut corners or make quick money).
- Are ready to work hard, even through the rough patches.
Most of my experience involves creating a work-from-home freelancing business, so if that’s your jam, I hope to help get you started! Even if you are aiming for another career path, though, like getting hired at a startup, I think you will find this series valuable as an overview of what the industry looks like and what you need to know.
What This Series is Going to Cover
This series is going to be broken down into three main parts with multiple articles for each one.
Section 1: Surveying the Field
Questions I’ll tackle in this section include:
- What do I really need to know to be a web developer?
- How do I sort through the various technologies and languages to find the right ones for me?
- What kinds of web development jobs are out there?
Section 2: Getting to Work
In this section, I’ll seek to answer questions like:
- What does the web development process actually look like?
- How do I start putting a web development portfolio together?
- How do I find clients, especially at the beginning?
Section 3: Handling Your Business
This section includes the answers to questions like:
- What do I need to know about contracts and working with clients?
- How do I figure out how to price my services?
- What does a day in the life of freelance web developer look like?
The focus of this series is more bird’s-eye view of the process, so certain items won’t be covered. These include:
- Specific recommendations for specific hardware or software
- Full reviews or discussions of all the languages, preprocessors, libraries, etc.
- Coding tutorials or strategies
- Legal advice
- Micro-level administration (exactly how much money to save for taxes, etc.)
How to Use This Series
Web development is not an exact science, and neither is running a web development business. The information presented in this series is either from my first-hand experience or will be heavily researched, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect or that it will work for everyone.
To get the most out of this series, I would suggest:
- Understanding that this information is not foolproof and that there are other web developers and industry professionals who might disagree with aspects of it (even though it’s all been tested or researched).
- Feeling free to use the advice that works for you and ignore the advice that doesn’t seem to be a good fit for your goals.
- Using the information as a starting place to conduct your own research.
Also, try not to get paralyzed because of information overload. Yes, there is a lot to consider, but you don’t have to get everything perfect before you begin. Use this series to help you decide the path you think you might want to take, and just do it! You can always change your mind along the way.
Thoughts to Consider Before We Start
As you await the first So You Want to Become a Web Developer article, I would encourage you to be thinking about your long term goals. The details might be hazy right now, but what do you envision for your future in web development? Consider who you want to work for, what kinds of websites or apps you want to build, what your ideal work schedule would be, and whether you want to work on a team or on your own.
You don’t have to have all of these questions answered right away, and we will explore all of these questions more in depth, but it’s good to have a basic understanding of your goals as you start sifting through the information.
Also, if you have any questions or recommendations for content that you would like to see covered in the series, please don’t hesitate to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t wait to get started, and I hope to make a few friends along the way!
Hope Connell is an INTJ, podcast enthusiast, and English major turned web developer. When she isn’t providing down-to-earth web development for creative women, you can find her reading, brainstorming, and chasing her two toddlers.