Should I even start?

Thank you all once again for taking time to answer! I would like to reply you all personally, but I’m extremely strapped for time this week, so I will just address couple questions quickly, but I really appreciate all your stories and I can’t even put it to words how inspiring they have been :smile:

Regarding what I really want to do - I am more drawn to website and web and mobile app development. Development more than the design itself part, although I have a BA in architecture, so art and design are not foreign to me. And when it comes to mobile apps, then android not iPhone. So far I have had no experience with back end development, so I can’t say for sure yet which end I prefer :wink:

You are right, I don’t find hardware exciting at all, I just worry that even when you apply for a software related job, many employers seem to expect you to also be a hardware expert, or at least will give the position to a candidate that also knows hardware well.
The thing is I live in a small town, there are almost no programming jobs here. Even for the nearest cities I would have to commute minimum 2 hours a day and the only few jobs I saw that were available had a long list of requirements, mostly demanding a computer science degree, 2+ years professional experience in the same field even for an intern or apprentice positions and a looooong list of programs some of which I had never even heard of.
It looks like my only chance would be to go the online only job route.

@geekysmurf - Thank you for the suggestion, I signed up for the course you recommended. I think actually someone might have recommended that course to me a long time ago, but it was $200 then and I couldn’t afford it. It’s 95% off at the moment and only $10, so it was pretty much a no-brainer :wink: I looked at some of the beginning intro videos and it looks really good, I’m excited :smile:
I just wanted to ask you - after you took the course, how did you find your first projects? Did you have to go and work in a local company? Did you start your own online company? Did you go to a website to find projects? I’m a little lost on how to get started. I thought about going to some local mom and pops companies and offer to fix their shitty websites for free in order to get experience and build up portfolio.

That was hilarious and the two of you are awesome!


I started out by making a couple of my friends’ sites for free to add to my portfolio. Then I bounced around through sites that list web projects and started taking PSD files and making them into websites. After that, I did a 3-month paid internship with a media company.

I struck out on my own after that because I never wanted to be in a traditional workplace. I have adult ADHD and I get really distracted by other people, random noises, and people that would break my concentration when I am in “The Zone”.

I realized very quickly that I needed to be freelance or work in positions that would allow me to be a remote employee. This is way more common now, so it isn’t really that hard to find a remote position. I even worked for a digital agency in Germany from the comfort of my home and wore sweats the whole time. It was fun doing video conferencing where all they could see was my button up shirt, but didn’t know that I was still in sweats. Lol. It made me way more comfortable with the chats.

One thing that you do NOT WANT TO DO is something for free. When you offer to do free work, people tend to think it’s a hobby for you. I charged for everything but also gave some discounts on things that I wanted in my portfolio.

People are weird. It was hard getting work when I was charging around $500 for a static html site. Once I upped my fee to roughly $3k per site, I started getting more work. I know it seems crazy, but when you charge more, it makes clients realize that you are actually a professional and they tend to trust you more.


People are weird. It was hard getting work when I was charging around $500 for a static html site. Once I upped my fee to roughly $3k per site, I started getting more work. I know it seems crazy, but when you charge more, it makes clients realize that you are actually a professional and they tend to trust you more.

This is true only if you have had established yourself in the field. A newbie with no track record to show won’t be in the position to set a high asking price from day 1.

With regards to free work, depending on the circumstances, sometime it is necessary to do some free work in order to land the next paid gig - it certainly won’t be a ‘NEVER EVER’ situation, IMHO.


Yes, both of you guys @geekysmurf and @atan4583 are correct.

I started my accidental business by doing FREE web dev stuff to non-profits, churches, elementary school. I basically just trying to build up my portfolio of “real clients.” – which led to landing a big client who saw my work… that was 17yrs ago, and they’re still my client up to today.

I also get what @geekysmurf is saying… sometimes the low-ball clients are the hardest to please, the slowest to pay, and the most demanding of your time. They suck up your time and energy! Compare this to the high-end client that pays on time, pays more, is easy to work with, and very professional.

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@ atan4583 – I disagree. I was just starting out and took a couple of online courses which had you make a couple of things that were tangible that you could throw in your portfolio when you finished them.

I also built a few different Bootstrap sites since Bootstrap is really simple. Once my portfolio showed some skill, I was able to start chagrin $500/ HTML site. I was NOT established and there was no “track record” of my work when I got my first client.

$500 for the site, not established, and showing no track record.

So saying that my experience would be “true only” with those things sounds like you are saying I made it up. You may have had a harder time than I did, but that doesn’t make my experience any less true. Yes, I got that from day 1.

Anyone can do what I did, with a good portfolio. It can be filled with things that you create in a class or you can just Google for web development portfolio ideas.

Here are just some examples:

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So saying that my experience would be “true only” with those things sounds like you are saying I made it up

I’m sorry you felt my comment infers you made up things, when I was merely stating a beginner with nothing to show won’t be able to command a high price tag like $3k.

You also just wrote you built something (of good quality but not from real paid gigs) to show prospective customers when you had a $500 (a relatively low) asking price. To me, having something (good) to show people is having established yourself in the field and a track record - though that may not be at professional league level yet.

Anyhow, my sincere congratulations for your ability to command $500 for your first paid gig , and sincere thanks for sharing portfolio building ideas.

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“There just seems to be SO much to learn with html and JS already, but it seems to me that in order to get a programming job, the companies expect you to be overall IT genius as well - you know the one that fixes everyone’s computers, be it software or hardware issue, be able to figure out network issues with routers and so on.”

Think of “Software Engineering” and “IT” as two sides of a venn diagram. On the one side, you have Software Engineering which embraces the devs, QA, program managers, etc. On the other side of the Venn Diagram you have “IT”. These include functions like network engineers, DBA’s, Help Desk Techs, etc. In the middle you have the intersection between the two. Engineers need to understand the basics of networks, databases, etc. The same goes for how IT guys need to understand basic software engineering principles.

There is absolutely NO WAY you can be good at everything. You just have to be good at one thing.

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This thread is now a bit over a week old with over FOURTEEN THOUSAND VIEWS!! and less than one hundred replies.
Which tells me a lot of people are probably feeling very similarly, and that there is some really good advice in here.

One of the things that gets me through my very not fun job is hearing my co-workers having the same issues as me. Knowing I’m not the only one frustrated and fed up makes it somehow easier to deal with those feelings, that alone relieves a bit of stress.

Also stuff like this[quote=“lionel-rowe, post:24, topic:123623”]
Did it make you look like you had your backend on your frontend?
[/quote] :clap::clap::clap::clap:

(that’s a slow clap BTW)

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…I would love to learn programming, but I feel very discouraged…
…I’m not a natural IT nerd…
…I AM the wife…

even if you will not be able to make it as a top notch superhero developer (you’ll definitely be able to perform as a part of a team), just imagine how much you could support and be connected with your offsprings by possessing knowledge (as much as you can handle) of how this stuff works by the time when they grow up.
you don’t have to be passionate about IT, you don’t have to know it all, just be passionate about your kids - not the worst motivation imo.

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@geekysmurf Thank you so much for all your answers, you’re amazing :slight_smile: You are right about the doing stuff for free, it’s especially an issue for me, because I have a tendency to always offer my help for free and sometimes refuse even when people offer me money.
Regarding to charging hundreds or thousands of dollars for websites, would you say people are more inclined to hire somebody that has more computing related education vs somebody that has no degree in programming or computer science?
And another thing I am curious about (sorry for piling so many questions on you) - as a freelancer, how much SEO stuff do you need to know or how much SEO stuff do clients ask you for?

Thank you everyone else for encouragement!

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@Fuzzymouse To be honest, when I was starting out and only new Photoshop, HTML, CSS, jQuery, and WordPress Admin, I did offer my services for free. I didn’t get one person that was interested. That’s how I learned about that.

The second I started charging, I got clients. I think it’s a psychological thing where if a service is free you are doing it as a hobby. When you charge, it says that you are a professional. I started finding little jobs on various sites just turning in PSD files into HTML/CSS/jQuery static sites.

As far as what clients like to see, in my experience, was just my website and portfolio. If you have one that is badass, that’s pretty much all you need to get a client. I have a Bachelors and it has literally never come up.

As far as “real” jobs go, once you start getting into the area of 3-5+ years of experience, employers DO want a degree. This is simply old school thinking by employers. Most have started to realize that with development you want someone who can do the job, not just be educated.

Also, if it comes down to 2 of them same applicants, a degree will win over in that specific scenario. I don’t plan on working for someone ever again and am going to stay freelance or work a contract. With this being my focus my degree won’t really help any accept if I am trying to get one and there is someone as qualified as I am. Besides, programming isn’t development.

I personally don’t offer SEO because there is so much to keep up on, SEO if a full-time job in my opinion. You could offer that with your services. The more abilities you have in specialized areas, after development, the more roles you can fit.

For example, I have a general understanding with PHP, and haven’t gotten into WordPress Development yet. I am starting to find more and more clients that need this. I am kind of stuck between WordPress Development and Python as my next to tackle.

I will probably go the WordPress route because the boost in pay will be nice. Also, you can generate some passive income by having your clients pay you a monthly retainer fee to keep their sites up to date and handle issues that they have.

If you know WordPress, you know how easy that would be. If you charged $10/month for the four clients you worked on this month, that would be $40 next month, for practically nothing. Also, you could charge more if there is an emergency and you need to move them ahead of the projects you are working on. There are so many ways!


Thank you @geekysmurf for all your help and support! I hope one day I can be as good as you :smiley: (Although I don’t have 10-12 hours to study now, so it might take me a whiiiiile lol, also, every time I see your profile icon, I think it’s Sheldon Cooper, so I automatically assume you are an out of this world genius :smile: ).

@paulcarroty I just wanted to say that is an awesome song! Thank you for sharing!

@Fuzzymouse I am a genius lol.

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Its okay to have that fear of the amount of things to learn, i am currently in your shoes, got a very good degree in chemical engineering which i love, but i still choose to write code afterwards and its scary leaving my comfort zone to take on unknown grounds but i can assure you that it takes one step at a time, maybe slowly but steadily. Consistency is also key, always learn a new thing everyday, or read a new thing or familiarize with existing things or tools and with time you would find out maybe how you bothered about Javascript Array methods too much!. I would also encourage you write, about anything and everything, helps a lot with the confidence, try MEDIUM. I hope this helps, Cheers.

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I definitely felt the same way in the beginning. I’m a student, so my dilemma was “Okay, sure, this is cool and all, but it’s unreasonable to start learning if I’m gonna have to take a break for finals and take a break when my workload gets too heavy and I’ll never be able to be consistent.” But then I started. I decided that even if I cannot commit all my time to it, it’s something that brings me joy, and I would like to make a future in it. I think starting is super worth it, even if you feel like you are learning slower than everyone else.

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Do you love working with Excel? I work with it a lot, on a daily basis and knowing advanced Excel is really valuable…

Yes just jump right in. I made the decision just last month to start learning front end development. My background and schooling is nowhere near the tech field, however I find it fun to learn plus the job out look looks promising. I’m still learning a lot. You can do it!

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