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WEB SCHOOL How do you get the most out of tutorials/Udemy courses?

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VicFountain

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I bought different courses on Udemy in the past on JavaScript and it always ended up bad.
Bad in the sense that every course seems to be filling your head with lots of theory which is very hard to apply in a real life context and application.

I'm currently following a Node.JS course and I'm experiencing the same thing, once again.
I realized copying what the teacher does isn't the solution. That's a waste of time.

Now, instead of watching the lessons without using my head and actually putting some mental effort into understanding the relation between the code, functions, etc. I'm spending hours on a single lesson/exercise, trying to truly understand what's happening.

I wonder if any of you have particular methods to get the most out of coding tutorials and courses.
I also realized documentations are often the best way to go, and they are free.
 

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drahz

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If you are a total beginner to programming (not just NodeJS) try another course (it doesn't have to be paid one). I think having some background and a tiny bit of theory is not bad.

You mentioned you can read documentation, so if you are just starting with Node in particular, just choose a small project and learn while building it. You can google everything you need on the go. It is the best approach, at least for me. Your code will not be best at the beginning, but with more projects, you will get better because you will discover new concepts, features, frameworks, etc you can use.

Learning a new thing takes time.
 

VicFountain

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If you are a total beginner to programming (not just NodeJS) try another course (it doesn't have to be paid one). I think having some background and a tiny bit of theory is not bad.

You mentioned you can read documentation, so if you are just starting with Node in particular, just choose a small project and learn while building it. You can google everything you need on the go. It is the best approach, at least for me. Your code will not be best at the beginning, but with more projects, you will get better because you will discover new concepts, features, frameworks, etc you can use.

Learning a new thing takes time.
Thank you, I'll try finding a project based course on Node. I picked Node in particular to create some back-end stuff and make websites actually functional and useful. I've heard PHP is not the best way to go in 2020.

And that's true, it takes a lot of practice. I believe it's normal to get extremely confused at the beginning but if you keep pushing you'll eventually understand it.
 

Jasper S

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About a year ago I started learning the Django framework on Udemy. While I was going through the course I had a Word document open where I would type all of the steps taken to do certain tasks. For example, how to connect a new .html file to a button on the home page.

I found that writing it down after seeing it in the video and trying it myself has helped me better retain information and even get a better understanding of the process as a whole. Writing processes down step by step in a way you can revisit it and implement it really makes you think about how it works. Not to mention it's a great resource to have when you start your next project!

Best of luck with JavaScript and node.js! I am currently a bit torn between learning JavaScript for React and Express, or getting a better understanding of CSS and Bootstrap.
 

VicFountain

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About a year ago I started learning the Django framework on Udemy. While I was going through the course I had a Word document open where I would type all of the steps taken to do certain tasks. For example, how to connect a new .html file to a button on the home page.

I found that writing it down after seeing it in the video and trying it myself has helped me better retain information and even get a better understanding of the process as a whole. Writing processes down step by step in a way you can revisit it and implement it really makes you think about how it works. Not to mention it's a great resource to have when you start your next project!

Best of luck with JavaScript and node.js! I am currently a bit torn between learning JavaScript for React and Express, or getting a better understanding of CSS and Bootstrap.
That sounds like an awesome idea. Basically translating the process into simple words.

In the past I've always told myself "ah it's too hard, I guess coding is not for me", but in reality, I wasn't even pushing myself and was just making excuses. I guess that's what stops most people from learning how to code.

It's a process where you get discouraged every 10 minutes and if you aren't aware of that you will quit very quickly.

Taking the time to write the process in simple steps might seem boring but it should really help you cement these processes in your mind. I'll try it now, thank you for that.

I want to learn React and Express as well, actually. I picked this Node course for this exact reason.

For CSS I recommend DevEd on YouTube. I've learned a lot from him. Also www.css-tricks.com
 

Jasper S

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That sounds like an awesome idea. Basically translating the process into simple words.

In the past I've always told myself "ah it's too hard, I guess coding is not for me", but in reality, I wasn't even pushing myself and was just making excuses. I guess that's what stops most people from learning how to code.

It's a process where you get discouraged every 10 minutes and if you aren't aware of that you will quit very quickly.

Taking the time to write the process in simple steps might seem boring but it should really help you cement these processes in your mind. I'll try it now, thank you for that.

I want to learn React and Express as well, actually. I picked this Node course for this exact reason.

For CSS I recommend DevEd on YouTube. I've learned a lot from him. Also www.css-tricks.com
Coding is certainly frustrating and I have given up on it before. However, for whatever reason I would come back to it. Each time I did I felt like I knew more than before and whatever problem I was having seemed to be easier to solve. It's easy to get burnt out especially while learning, but sometimes that 'break' is exactly what is needed.

Thank you for the course recommendations. I will definitely be checking them out!
 

VicFountain

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Coding is certainly frustrating and I have given up on it before. However, for whatever reason I would come back to it. Each time I did I felt like I knew more than before and whatever problem I was having seemed to be easier to solve. It's easy to get burnt out especially while learning, but sometimes that 'break' is exactly what is needed.

Thank you for the course recommendations. I will definitely be checking them out!
I know that feeling. I often stare at the code it took me 3 hours to create only to realize it's actually nothing special and I still have a shit load to learn. Learning to code is a process after all. It can last 2-10 years.

What keeps me going is the image of me knowing how to code anything and being able to use my acquired business knowledge during the years and merge all the skills together. It's like building a puzzle. There are many coders, but how many actually know business and marketing?

Most coders would never even want to start a business on their own and prefer the slowlane. I honestly started 100% because I wanted to be able to create an app myself without having to spend $50k on a team. If you have a high paying job already you can do that, but if you are still young, you might as well invest your time learning to code. You'll get the dividends in a matter of few years.

Spend 5 years learning marketing and how to create a blue ocean, spend another 5 years learning to code and you have a skillset only 0.001% of the population has.
 

mon_fi

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Try codecademy, i think the best is to learn through practice, udemy etc should be there to help you solve a problem, not to learn
 

Jasper S

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@VicFountain I started learning programming for the same reasons!

When I was in college I started learning how to program (on my own, college not necessary) I didn't understanding why a lot of people who already knew how to build websites, apps, etc weren't building their own projects for themselves. I suppose that is my own bias where we think other people are like us.

Also, I haven't actually finished the Django course I was taking. However, I figured I at least knew enough to build out one of my simpler projects and that has already been a learning experience like no other.

I really like what you say about learning business and marketing. I think the technical expertise along with the business savvy is a surprisingly rare and valuable combination. Keep at it!
 

latterdaysamurai

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I bought different courses on Udemy in the past on JavaScript and it always ended up bad.
Bad in the sense that every course seems to be filling your head with lots of theory which is very hard to apply in a real life context and application.

I'm currently following a Node.JS course and I'm experiencing the same thing, once again.
I realized copying what the teacher does isn't the solution. That's a waste of time.

Now, instead of watching the lessons without using my head and actually putting some mental effort into understanding the relation between the code, functions, etc. I'm spending hours on a single lesson/exercise, trying to truly understand what's happening.

I wonder if any of you have particular methods to get the most out of coding tutorials and courses.
I also realized documentations are often the best way to go, and they are free.

I have bought many Udemy courses since 2017 specifically focusing on coding.

The best way to learn is get all you need in terms of the foundational theories and concepts like variables, functions, classes, etc. Once you are done with that pick a small project and just start. If you get stuck look up ways to solve it using books or Google. You can easily get stuck in a tutorial loop (also known as Tutorial Hell) and never come out of it otherwise.

Quote from John Carmack on learning programming:
34974

And yes this applies to web dev. Find projects and begin cloning them for learning and then create your own.
 

beswaax

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I think that after a while you will just understand how it all fits together, but there are better resources out there. Don't use Udemy courses to learn how to code, they are generally a waste of time and it is hard to follow them. I can suggest these two resources if you quickly want to learn to code.
If you are a beginner you will learn everything you need to know to get started by doing this course: Learn Web Development Free (HTML, CSS and JavaScript) through the Frontend Masters Online Bootcamp
After that go ahead and finish this one:
And after that finish this project:
Now you know Web Development. These courses are all outstanding and clearly outclass all those Udemy courses combined, and you won't have to struggle to learn stuff because it is all explained so well. Really when you get to learn React and Node and see how it all works together it won't all seem that hard anymore.
 

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VicFountain

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@VicFountain I started learning programming for the same reasons!

When I was in college I started learning how to program (on my own, college not necessary) I didn't understanding why a lot of people who already knew how to build websites, apps, etc weren't building their own projects for themselves. I suppose that is my own bias where we think other people are like us.

Also, I haven't actually finished the Django course I was taking. However, I figured I at least knew enough to build out one of my simpler projects and that has already been a learning experience like no other.

I really like what you say about learning business and marketing. I think the technical expertise along with the business savvy is a surprisingly rare and valuable combination. Keep at it!
I think it's an innate thing.

All the coders I know who are ambitious started trying different stuff and creating since then when they were kids. For me it all started with Visual Basic when I was 10. I did some simple programs back then simply by following tutorials. I then dropped the programming thing and focused on graphic design.

I think what stops most people is fear. Fear of competition. Fear of failure.

It's like playing basketball with your friends but being scared to try to compete with real players. That's the same with coding. Again, I think it's an innate thing and related to high levels of testosterone.
 

backslash

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The best way to learn is get all you need in terms of the foundational theories and concepts like variables, functions, classes, etc.

You are onto something. I have been a web developer for many years and I have some thoughts.
- One thing is to learn to "just code" like you say: variables, functions, objects.
- Another thing is to learn web, like - what is really going on when stuff flies back and forth over the network.

It's not easy to combine learning both coding and web at the same time, imo.
Not impossible of course, I just think there is a faster way.
When starting to learn to code I would do simple command line programs, just input/output in the terminal. That will remove a lot of the fuzz.
Concepts of variables and functions I think most people would master pretty fast in any programming language.

I don't know if the courses discussed here does pure command line examples, but I suspect they might include web stuff - that might cause the confusion...?
I might be off target here :)

In web you have a lot going on.
I found out that when I understood fundamentals, things got way easier.
Right here people can save some time.

Especially the topic of how the web server and browser communicates is important,
by that I mean understand the request/response flow. When you have some notion - then try the theory with the simplest possible Nodejs program, and you will get aha moment, eventually.

Use debuggers both server side and client side to inspect variables is a very helpful skill to learn early as well.
 

MrTrash757

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That sounds like an awesome idea. Basically translating the process into simple words.

In the past I've always told myself "ah it's too hard, I guess coding is not for me", but in reality, I wasn't even pushing myself and was just making excuses. I guess that's what stops most people from learning how to code.

It's a process where you get discouraged every 10 minutes and if you aren't aware of that you will quit very quickly.

Taking the time to write the process in simple steps might seem boring but it should really help you cement these processes in your mind. I'll try it now, thank you for that.

I want to learn React and Express as well, actually. I picked this Node course for this exact reason.

For CSS I recommend DevEd on YouTube. I've learned a lot from him. Also www.css-tricks.com
This is similar to the book I am reading -> Automate the boring stuff with Python. It helps to translate complexity into simple words. Many video and regular courses STRUGGLE to do this.

Idk what it was, but reading how the syntax works & seeing the visual breakdowns made it click more than video courses I have taken in the past. Weird.
 

Melvintas

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I bought different courses on Udemy in the past on JavaScript and it always ended up bad.
Bad in the sense that every course seems to be filling your head with lots of theory which is very hard to apply in a real life context and application.

I'm currently following a Node.JS course and I'm experiencing the same thing, once again.
I realized copying what the teacher does isn't the solution. That's a waste of time.

Now, instead of watching the lessons without using my head and actually putting some mental effort into understanding the relation between the code, functions, etc. I'm spending hours on a single lesson/exercise, trying to truly understand what's happening.

I wonder if any of you have particular methods to get the most out of coding tutorials and courses.
I also realized documentations are often the best way to go, and they are free.
Try the courses on "freecodecamp.org". After each topic you have to make a test to continue and it's very easy to learn with these good explanations and practice tests. I would really recommend!
 

NewManRising

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I bought different courses on Udemy in the past on JavaScript and it always ended up bad.
Bad in the sense that every course seems to be filling your head with lots of theory which is very hard to apply in a real life context and application.

I'm currently following a Node.JS course and I'm experiencing the same thing, once again.
I realized copying what the teacher does isn't the solution. That's a waste of time.

Now, instead of watching the lessons without using my head and actually putting some mental effort into understanding the relation between the code, functions, etc. I'm spending hours on a single lesson/exercise, trying to truly understand what's happening.

I wonder if any of you have particular methods to get the most out of coding tutorials and courses.
I also realized documentations are often the best way to go, and they are free.

I've taken a few Udemy courses on copywriting, graphic design, marketing, and a little coding. I too have fallen into the trap you've described. What is happening is I am focusing too much on finishing quickly rather than having a solid understanding of the lessons.

The solution that has worked for me is to:
1) Slow down and take my time in each lesson.
2) Take some step-by-step notes in an MS Doc on the techniques/procedures.
3) After going through a lesson, apply what I learned on my own with the notes I took.
4) If I am still struggling, I will go back to the lesson and/or look up additional resources.

You just need patience and practice.
 

Kedmond

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I bought different courses on Udemy in the past on JavaScript and it always ended up bad.
Bad in the sense that every course seems to be filling your head with lots of theory which is very hard to apply in a real life context and application.

I'm currently following a Node.JS course and I'm experiencing the same thing, once again.
I realized copying what the teacher does isn't the solution. That's a waste of time.

Now, instead of watching the lessons without using my head and actually putting some mental effort into understanding the relation between the code, functions, etc. I'm spending hours on a single lesson/exercise, trying to truly understand what's happening.

I wonder if any of you have particular methods to get the most out of coding tutorials and courses.
I also realized documentations are often the best way to go, and they are free.

I've completed a few Udemy coding course and the info doesn't seem to stick for me. I would recommend checking out The Odin Project or App Academy Open for a bootcamp-like curriculum; The Odin Project has a Node.js track. Both platforms are free and have projects that you must complete on your own; however, App Academy Open has a weekly mentor group subscription for $29/month. In my opinion, the best way to use a Udemy course is to check out the project, come up with your own spin-off, then start the course and apply the material.
 

whyphilip

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My background: I have a CS degree, worked as a software professional for over 20 years, and have learned 16 different programming languages. I also ran a tech interview study group and the largest Java user group in SoCal.

The following is not meant to be discouraging, just honest.

I think that if you really enjoy programming and want to take it up as a career, go for it with reasonable expectations. The typical student takes 4 years to get a CS degree and is still a complete junior programmer when they graduate. You certainly can accelerate that process by learning on your own, but need reasonable expectations.

That CS degree was expensive, but I had the benefit of probably 30+ professors and TAs to go to for help, plus fellow students. I don't think you get that with the Udemy courses. You get what you pay for.

Furthermore, most of those courses are designed for people like me, someone who is already a software professional. That is why you are getting frustrated. When I get frustrated while learning, I realize they are skipping over fundamentals or underlying technologies, so I drop down a level. Some frameworks are built on others, which are built on libraries, which are built on core language features. Less you know, the more confusing it is. Those who skip ahead write bad code.

But the biggest red flag is that you say you're doing this to avoid paying a team $50K. And $50K isn't even enough to build many MVPs. Moreover, the best startup expert in the biz, Paul Graham, says you should start with 2-4 trained programmers and 1 should be CEO who will spend half his/her time searching for funding.

Having been in this world a long time now, it's way easier to find a great idea and get it funded than it is to become a software engineer so good they can code an entire app from scratch. I've seen multiple people get funding without coding experience and without even a workable idea. But they were able to convince investors to give them hundreds of thousands or millions. You need that skill set anyway to sell whatever you build.

Good luck, happy to answer any questions no matter which way you go.
 

VicFountain

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My background: I have a CS degree, worked as a software professional for over 20 years, and have learned 16 different programming languages. I also ran a tech interview study group and the largest Java user group in SoCal.

The following is not meant to be discouraging, just honest.

I think that if you really enjoy programming and want to take it up as a career, go for it with reasonable expectations. The typical student takes 4 years to get a CS degree and is still a complete junior programmer when they graduate. You certainly can accelerate that process by learning on your own, but need reasonable expectations.

That CS degree was expensive, but I had the benefit of probably 30+ professors and TAs to go to for help, plus fellow students. I don't think you get that with the Udemy courses. You get what you pay for.

Furthermore, most of those courses are designed for people like me, someone who is already a software professional. That is why you are getting frustrated. When I get frustrated while learning, I realize they are skipping over fundamentals or underlying technologies, so I drop down a level. Some frameworks are built on others, which are built on libraries, which are built on core language features. Less you know, the more confusing it is. Those who skip ahead write bad code.

But the biggest red flag is that you say you're doing this to avoid paying a team $50K. And $50K isn't even enough to build many MVPs. Moreover, the best startup expert in the biz, Paul Graham, says you should start with 2-4 trained programmers and 1 should be CEO who will spend half his/her time searching for funding.

Having been in this world a long time now, it's way easier to find a great idea and get it funded than it is to become a software engineer so good they can code an entire app from scratch. I've seen multiple people get funding without coding experience and without even a workable idea. But they were able to convince investors to give them hundreds of thousands or millions. You need that skill set anyway to sell whatever you build.

Good luck, happy to answer any questions no matter which way you go.
I appreciate your input.

I agree, most Udemy courses are made for people who understand the foundations.
However, I disagree with the fact that you "must" go to university to understand these things.

There's a list of the books recommended in the top universities like Harvard or Stanford.
If you want to learn something, you'll find a way. And that way doesn't have to be university.

You can buy the books and decide you'll learn from them no matter what.

I myself am in university but study Economics/Management and while the teachers help you, what they do is simply synthetize what you'd find written in books. It's not that they have some secret recipe to make you rich.
 

whyphilip

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First, I have to apologize. I should have looked at your profile. I didn't realize you were 20 and in university. That's a great place to be, lot of potential and energy. I do want to clear up two things though. I never said nor implied you must go to university, nor that professors have "some secret recipe to make you rich." Nobody does.

Can I ask what your short and long term goals are? You mention learning to code, and the thread subject is "web design as a hustle." But I don't want to make any assumptions. I do feel confident I can accelerate your journey in software (that's what I do for a living).

Also, what country are you in? That can make a difference.
 

VicFountain

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First, I have to apologize. I should have looked at your profile. I didn't realize you were 20 and in university. That's a great place to be, lot of potential and energy. I do want to clear up two things though. I never said nor implied you must go to university, nor that professors have "some secret recipe to make you rich." Nobody does.

Can I ask what your short and long term goals are? You mention learning to code, and the thread subject is "web design as a hustle." But I don't want to make any assumptions. I do feel confident I can accelerate your journey in software (that's what I do for a living).

Also, what country are you in? That can make a difference.
No worries. I live in Italy.

My long-term goal is being able to create web apps which are unique and functional. I don't intend to create the next Facebook, even though aiming high can only serve you good.

I did a huge mistake and that was studying economics when I actually wanted to study computer science but for several reasons didn't manage to (I didn't pass the entry tests for CS).

That's why I'm trying to both study my university material which has nothing to do with CS and on the side study CS on my own. I'd love to do both and I'm sacrificing every minute of my day to do this.

At the end of the day, most nowadays techpreneurs started as kids and university wasn't the cause of their success. It was correlated to their passion. That means that they learnt coding and computers on their own. Think of Elon Musk. He created a videogame at 10 years old.

I agree with you on the importance of the foundational aspect of CS and that's why I plan on buying some books on the basics of computers. I've heard of "how computers work" and "networking". I think that's what most coders should focus on before learning to code.

I honestly think anything is possible if you put on the effort and give it time.
 

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whyphilip

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I'm sorry for the late reply. To be honest, I had to cut this down and it's still long. Big subject.

Challenge #1 for all learners is the tradeoff between learning how to do something useful and being frustrated at a lack of understanding of the useful code. All good programmers go through this. Lousy ones are never frustrated because they don't care that they don't understand what they copy.

Challenge #2 is choosing a path that allows you to do contract work and get paid (Upwork, etc) sooner rather than later. That extends your runway and funds your learning (or product development). The solution is shrinking the domain until you can understand it deeply, then expand it step by step.

Challenge #3 is having a curriculum with a clear path that minimizes teaching you stuff you won't understand. And offers support to ask questions when you don't understand (from both teachers and fellow students).

Given that, it really does look like Free Code Camp has put together something truly useful. Early on I was not impressed, but clearly they have been taking feedback and improving.


Suggested route:

  1. Free Code Camp: Responsive Web Design
    1. When finished, team with a designer (Italy is full of amazing ones) and try to create/sell a theme/template on Envato. Or just put together a great showpiece.
  2. Learn Git, Github, Github flow
    1. Version control is a critical skill for any programmer, even solo devs.
  3. Free Code Camp: JavaScript Algorithms and Data Structures
    1. If this gets tricky, I helped people learn using Khan Academy, which has great material for this: Computer science | Computing | Khan Academy
    2. See what you can apply to the project you did in 1.1
  4. Master your IDE
    1. JetBrains makes the best IDEs hands down (Webstorm, etc) and the Ultimate version is worth the price.
    2. Seriously spend a week or two reading the manuals, learning shortcuts, etc. You will be shocked at how much faster this makes you.
  5. Read all the top HTML, CSS, JavaScript questions on Stack Overflow by votes
    1. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/javascript?sort=MostVotes&edited=true
    2. This will help you discover so many "gotchas" and best practices it will really put you ahead of the game and prepare you for the next step.
  6. Free Code Camp: Front End Libraries
    1. Repeat Stack Overflow reading for each library and framework to save tons of future pain.
  7. Learn the latest front end ecosystem tools
    1. build, test, etc
    2. Things like Webpack, Gulp, Grunt, NPM, etc - but whatever the pros are using at that time. It changes constantly with front end.
At this point, you have a couple options.

If you want to be an employee, learn Node.js, Express, Postgresql, etc. This will be an enormous time suck and will take forever to get truly great at both the front and back ends. Most projects these days hire specialists for a reason.

If you want to be independent, build products quickly, or get paid consulting work, then learn a low-code tool that does that for you. A few examples:

  • Firebase
  • Drupal
  • WordPress
  • Shopify
React Native + Firebase makes you a mobile developer, gets you stuff in the App and Play stores. Lot of potential there.

Consultants for the others can be paid tens of thousands for a single website once you master sales/marketing.

Even better, team with a backend programmer. Most really don't want to do front end.

Best of luck!
 

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