Musician and tour guide... and now? Serious question

Hi forum,

I am new here, and new to everything to do with this forum, so please bear with me if I stray blindly past obvious answers in my later naive questions…

I will tell a short story about who I am, and why I am here. Any constructive advice - and hard reality wake up calls - welcome.

I am 62 years old. Married, 2 kids (28 and 18). American, live now in Bavaria. I have worked professionally as a musician since I was 20. Had good, albeit, minor success. I was in the first German late night television show as one of my high points. Ran a recording studio for many years as a composer and producer of film music. Toured and on and on. I had a good run and I still play as one of two main jobs.

Second job: Around 2012, long story, I started tour guiding. I built this up as a side business but by 2018 I was considering no longer taking weddings or such gigs as a musician (I am not a fan of playing weddings… but that is another story) because I had so much work as a tour guide. Life was going pretty good.

2020… Both of my jobs no longer exist. No need to go into it, we all know. I am now no longer able to say “Be patient. Your jobs will be back”. No income since February. Patience, and money, have run out…

Now to my point. I am having to keep myself busy, and I needed a website for my band as well as my tour guiding business. (I can provide links but am not sure of link policy here, I am new.) I had time but no income, and websites are expesive, so I thought I will do it myself. As I was doing the websites, I got a bit informed about WordPress. Mainly I know my way around the Elementor pro page builder. I bought the pro version before I know what I was doing cause it sounded good… But I have a subscription for a year now. I use hello theme and El. Pro and have built some pages.

I wanted specific things, like a slider with changing text as a background on my landing page, and the slider stayed absolute when you scrolled down, and I could not do this… Looooong story. I started trying to find out how to do EXACTLY what I want, and not have to use a template. So in my research, I stumbled across coding. I started (very recently so I still know basically nothing) learning HTML, CSS and Java, since I was working with WP, even though I was REALLY working with elementor page builder.

In my search for how to use code in a couple of CSS pastings in the elementor editor, I stumbled across info about being in web development as a job…

And that led me here…

I cannot wait for my professions to bounce back. I thought by having 2 jobs I was safe…lol. I am looking for a career change. A bit daunting at my age. My resume? A talented, funny guy who knows loads of Bavarian history and is a mean guitar player with the best stories… Hmmmmm.

So now I am here, almost done with the HTML section, and will go from there. I am a hard worker, I have built a number of successful companies over my lifetime, and the main reason any of them eventually stopped was simple logistics of business, for example, I ran a successful recording and production company, but we mainly lived of off jobs from smaller studios, industry films and such. Eventually, these types of films could start to use computer-generated music that did not need to be registered or had copyright infringement etc… When that work went away, with the changes in software and royalty-free music, so did a lot of studios, like mine. But we had a great run so all was good. My point is I can put my mind to something and do it, and, 62 or not, I believe I still can.

Tl;dr: starts kinda here…

So my naive question: I am thinking of learning all the basics, like in the freecodecamp Responsive Web Design Certification. And just start there. Can I realistically end up with a job?

I realize if someone came to me and said “I know 5 songs. I can play a C major scale. Can I be working and earning my living as a professional musician by next year?” I would first have to pick myself up off the ground for laughing so hard. But everywhere you look on the net are schools and bootcamps and courses that claim you can be working in a year… I know it cant be easy, and certainly not that easy, but I am a fast learner and a hard worker. I am kinda smart as well. I may NEED a career change. Is it smart for me to take the next 9 months or year to learn code as well as whatever else I need to know (graphic design, photo editing, of yea, I do that a bit already)? It would only make sense for me to do it if there is a realistic chance of being able to work. I dont really have a few spare years anymore…lol.

A musician is very hampered by being old. That is just a fact of the business. I am only still able to work as much as I do because of my past, but that is drying up, to be honest. My “big” years were all 25-30 years ago. So my future here post COVID will be tricky at best.

A tour guide needs to be physically fit and know – and love – history. I am still both of these, but the business has been eviscerated by COVID. The future of this business, for me, is also very questionable, especially in the near future.

I have the time right now, and I am good with software. I do all my own computer repairs, build them etc, and I take care of my software issues. But I am a hobby guy, so a real layman. But I am not daunted by challenges. So if I learn, and while I learn I take part in a forum like this, just how naive is it for me to think I could make this at least a decent side income at some not all too distant future, provided I am able to learn the “how to do” stuff? I realize this is so very general, as the job descriptions are so varied, but I have to start somewhere… I am basically referring to website building, maybe wordpress sites but I am open to just about anything, at least to try.

Thank you for taking the time, if you got this far. I deeply appreciate it.

3 Likes

It’s a competitive field, above all in starting positions, but you have also life experience.
Also, if you prefer freelancing instead of a salaried position, you already have the marketing/business part down!
If you are willing to learn, you could start doing static websites for other businesses in 2-6 months, and more complex projects (if you don’t stop learning) going forward.

others did it, you can to

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Hey @studiofletch!

I am also a musician and started learning how to code 6 months ago. There are a few musicians on this forum. :smiley:

With just FCC? No. But if you use FCC as a guide and supplement it with other resources then yes. There will never be just one source that teaches everything.

Yeah, it is definitely not the norm to get a job within a few months. But there are people who have done it. So it is possible.

Part of that is just the sales pitch cause they want your money. But if the bootcamp is any good they will hopefully connect you with potential employers.

I would do some research and decide which path you want to take.

Web design?
Front end?
Full stack?
Back end?
etc.

Once you pick a path, then it will become easier to create a game plan.
You could start researching with this guide.

Also if you are interested in freelancing then these articles might help.



Hope that helps!

Good luck

1 Like

Servus,

first of all, I think you have a lot of career capital, meaning you did a lot of stuff and know people.

This is a great place to start. I think there are a lot of musicians that need a website. Moreover you speak “their” language, because you are also a musician. And you have business experience.

Definitely! :smile:

Also, small music businesses need websites.

Wow, lots of great and positive replies!! Thanks. I like it here already.

Thanks ieahleen, jwilkins.oboe and miku86 for the specific comments as well. I am thinking full-stack is what I would be interested in, right now. My heavy weighted end would be WordPress/front-end and web design. But this is all subject to change as I learn. But thanks for the quick and informative replies.

@j.wilkins, I assume you play the oboe? I am nothing if not the master of the obvious… I play mainly guitar and sing,

www. jayfletcher.de is a place to hear a small sample of my music but it is one of the sites I mentioned, so it is a self-made 404 page with only music to listen to right now. I had a real site and I erased all of it to make myself get off my butt and get it done… I hope to use my own sites as my first resume sites. I need a tour guide site, my personal site (link above), and my band site. None are up and running yet. This is my first attempt at a homepage for my band, but this is not online. I hope I can post links, but since it is a coding site I am guessing yes. www.https://fletcherperryparty.com/home-english/ I did this with Elementor pro and I assume it is a technical mess but a week ago I could not have done anything like that. It is not online yet (unless you have the link so only for your personal look at what I did, but not for other use yet, thanks) and everything is done with “can I do this” in mind and not “this is how it should look” in mind, if you get me. It is simply to see if I can make stuff do what I want it to.

@Miku86, yea, I would be able to do music sites 4 sure. But I need to learn a lot. My initial question was, as a 62-year-old with no prior knowledge or experience in tech is it dumb to think of pursuing this? You all have made me feel like I should give it a go. Thanks!

2 Likes

Oh yea, one more site. This was my real first attempt. It is a code nightmare, but I liked the look. But I think I did everything wrong technically one can do with this… :slight_smile: https://jaysbavariantours.com/home/ also only viewable if you have the address so only for your interest. None of the links work, it is only the one page. I did it all so technically bad that I need to do it all again anyway.

Hahaha yes :smile:

I think it is a really strong first attempt. I don’t think you need to be so hard on yourself.

There might be companies that will be ageist and not consider you but that is their loss. But I think there are alot of companies and clients that would love to work with you.

I can already tell that you are going to put the work in and do what you have to do in order to be successful.

I would go for it!
Plus, a programming career will definitely have a lot more stability than music :grinning:

Thanks, Jessica. The reason I was hard on that page is the backend is a catastrophe code wise. I like the look, but I have a hand made header and footer as single blocks, as one example. No CSS, so I would have to change every header and footer separately when changes would be needed. That is what I meant by everything wrong. I liked the basic look. But since it was my very first attempt I thought it was great, until I learned what CSS is…lol

Oh yea,

Servus!! :beers:

Sorry to hear about your circumstance, that’s tuff.

Sounds to me like you’d be a great fit for this industry. You’re technically inclined, creative, and passionate about learning.

The fact that you’ve ran your own business before puts you in a good situation. Not saying it’ll be easy to get a full time programmer job at your age but I don’t think it’s impossible either.

A beautiful part about becoming competent in this industry is that you can make your own work. If getting employed doesn’t work out you can use your skills to freelance, or build your own software and sell it.

I don’t know if this is universally true, but in my experience it seems like agism is less of a problem in this industry than others. Maybe it’s because of the evanescence of tech. It comes and goes so fast and developers tend to job hop a LOT. So most companies hiring aren’t really expecting to retain their developers for more than a few years tops. And at least in the communities I’m involved in, most people in tech seem to be very welcoming of people from all sorts of backgrounds and circumstances (although I’m aware that isn’t true everywhere). Although this is just conjecture.

Either way, I can’t say I’ve worked with anyone getting into this gig at your age, but I’ve worked with people who weren’t a whole lot younger either. Keep in mind that your life experience is extremely valuable on a team if you know how to apply and market it.

I don’t envy your position but I think it’s definitely possible for you to make it as a professional developer.

Can you do it in 1 year?

I honestly don’t know. It’s certainly possible but I’ve also known people including myself who took a lot longer. So much is driven by luck. You can be 100% job ready and just not get the right opportunities or the timing keeps being wrong.

But again, freelancing and building your own company are always fallbacks.

PS

That’s a solid surname by the way :wink:

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@dannyjamesfletcher Thanks! Ditto on the surname :slight_smile:

I appreciate your thoughts. I know age is always gonna be a factor, it is just a matter of to what degree. But I am who I am, so I kinda have 2 choices: Try something or dont.

Yea, when I look at it that way…lol. AND:: I can say lol, so on the internet I look young…

But freelance is 100% the way I would be looking to go. Getting a “job” would be fine if it happens, but that is not what I would actively pursue.

On the other hand, I know really nothing - zero, zilch! - about this business so I will be needing a lot of advice about everything anyway.

My plan at the moment looks like this: Learn all the basics, starting with the code camp here.

Thats it… I have obviously thought further, but, as I said, I know nothng, so I am certain that things will change as I go. I will do the entire FCC course, and that looks like it will take me at least a couple of months (I am done with html and CSS already). I will probably go back and do a number of things again to help cement the concepts, but I also want to get to the point where I am building, and from there I want to build.

My thinking is, plan as I like, things will happen as they will, so goal #1: Learn all the basics and start to use them. Thats it for now.

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Awesome!

That sounds like 100% the right attitude and a good plan to me :slight_smile:

And the community here is always around to help too.

Good luck!

Hi @studiofletch . You undoubtedly have a lot of personal assets that can help you break into freelance web work. My suggestion: take an inventory of those assets for yourself.

  1. Your professional and personal contacts. These people are potential customers, and certainly sources of referrals for customers.

  2. Your knowledge of the businesses you’ve been in. Every musician needs a website with a discography (or whatever it’s called in this era) and links to spotify, soundcloud, and the other online music purveyors. Every independent tour guide needs a web site where foreign visitors can book tours. You know a lot of those folks’ needs, because you are them. Purveyors of other wedding stuff (photogs, caterers, etc) need web sites.

  3. Knowledge of your customers / fans / audience. What do they want? How do they find it on the web? You know the answers to those questions. You certainly know who to ask.

  4. Capability for steadfast hard work. Independent musician for many years. Yup, you know how to keep going. For sure.

  5. Language skills. You can do multilingual work. You probably have many contacts in the tourism trade who want to reach English-speaking prospective customers. They need you.

  6. You’ve done some tricky stuff with WordPress, successfully.

Can you get really good at the stuff taught by Free Code Camp in a short enough time to put bread on your table in the time of coronavirus? HOPEFULLY vaccines will be generally available before you get expert in React and all that.

Can you do useful work with WordPress, today? YES YES YES.

Keep it simple. Concentrate on search-engine optimization for your customers. (Learn to use WordPress’s Yoast SEO plugin https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-seo/ ).

(Many good websites don’t need radically customized themes, so maybe putting your time into learning Yoast rather than Elementor is wise.)

You CAN do this.

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