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A-M-A I'm a self taught developer in who started as a freelancer at $10/hr and now easily earn $90k/yr

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adiakritos

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I went from programming simple Wordpress templates and freelancing for $10/hr to working for a large enterprise as a Ruby on Rails developer with a decent salary and $100/hr side gigs which I routinely turn down so I can work on fast lane projects.

The stability and decent consistent income lets me work on those fast lane projects from a place of comfort. That being said, I'd love to share what I've learned along the way for anyone who's interested. I absolutely love to share and teach, so feel free to ask away.
 

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Penguin

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If you don't mind sharing, what kind of problems have you faced in your field or you know other developers have had that could be improved upon?
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

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May 30, 2011
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I'm more than happy to share!

I'll speak in terms of my experience rather than in terms of other developers unless I think of a common trait which I've seen.

When it comes to improving one's craft as a web developer, I noticed that some are lucky enough to get around some really experienced people, and they absorb knowledge from those guys. But I don't see them reading from the wealth of literature that exists in this field. Code Complete 2, Head First Design Patterns, Clean Code...etc or classics like "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs". Pursuing this kind of knowledge continuously, while not exactly a high value set of things to read as someone who's just trying to pump out a quick MVP, are hallmarks of a really really good developer. They think differently, see patterns that other developers can't see. They constantly improve their code to be readable by anyone, and write it so that it's harder to break and easy to extend. So to answer your question, one problem they face is a lack of continuous learning or reading, not from the 10 billion free resources or $10/mo videos that teach the shiny cool new thing.. but the fundamentals and the things that the very best in this field have put out.

Another problem I encounter myself is finding other technical entrepreneurs to talk to on a regular basis. I was thinking about creating a mastermind of tech entrepreneurs who meet twice a month to share where they're at and allow everyone else to brainstorm solutions. There is Indiehackers but it's not the same to ask a forum question vs asking a group of 8-10 people on video chat and being able to share screen and all that.

The tech world is full of info on startups, these people who want to solve some unique problem and raise a bunch of money to get paid to solve it. That's not me. I want to build a business, wether it's a unique problem or not doesn't matter to me, what matters to me is if I can compete well enough to be profitable, grow, and build it either by myself or with one other dev max, while also making sure we've got a solid marketer to guide product development, ad copy..etc

Finding jobs in places where there doesn't seem to be many jobs. I'm a RoR developer, and in Florida, there aren't that many Rails positions around. I noticed that the recruiters have no idea how our craft really works, and many times you only figure this out when you meet the company face to face.

Having a clear path to go from zero to a seriously top notch developer. Like if there were a course that could take me from 0 to world-class status in terms of development in like a year, and I'd have to take out a load of like $20k to do it, I'd have done that in the very beginning. It took tons of client work, eating pinto beans and rice in California living out of my brother's efficiency, and like 80+ hours a week of mind numbing effort over the course of 8 months to build up enough of a portfolio and experience to finally land a contract job that made the quality of my life finally not be misery while still being able to get ahead.

As a freelancer, I wish I'd have known about or found a clear path to a mentor who could PERSONALLY show me, or at least through a group setting, how to do all the things a *really* successful freelancer does to go from 0 to $100/hr as a freelance developer. I did buy the Double Your Freelancing program but for some reason I wasn't able to get that working for myself. A coach could have identified the exact thing I'm confused about and bridged that gap, something a book can never do. Same idea, like the one about development schooling, if I could purchase this kind of hands on, spot-my-blind-spots-where-they're-at, type of treatment in order to save a ton of time, I would have. When you're in that scarcity state of mind, alone, and, just grinding so hard you gotta go for daily runs like clockwork to blow off physical steam, it's hard to see or think creatively enough. It was like that for me anyway.
 

AustinS28

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Are you building your frontend views in rails with erb or making single page applications with another frontend library/framework layered on your rails app?
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

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Are you building your frontend views in rails with erb or making single page applications with another frontend library/framework layered on your rails app?
For my personal project currently I’m building a straight up Rails app with erb and a little JS using jQuery where ever needed. React is way more horsepower than is necessary at this stage in this project. I spent a year building a meal application to perfection with Ng1 to find out it wouldn’t catch on. So pure rails stuff with minimal tech requirements unless I have a good dev to co-found with is my general rule of thumb rn.

For the enterprise stuff at work, we have one core application that handles a ton of features the original developers began with. We’ve now moved a ton of the domain models into ruby gems that we pull into various rails engines as they are needed. Those engines are mounted on to the core application. In some of those engines we use React loaded in a single controller route. I’ve come to really like React with Redux. It’s 9,000 times better than angular 1 IMO. Easier to understand and reason about when debugging.
 
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AustinS28

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For my personal project currently I’m building a straight up Rails app with erb and a little JS using jQuery where ever needed. React is way more horsepower than is necessary at this stage in this project. I spent a year building a meal application to perfection with Ng1 to find out it wouldn’t catch on. So pure rails stuff with minimal tech requirements unless I have a good dev to co-found with is my general rule of thumb rn.

For the enterprise stuff at work, we have one core application that handles a ton of features the original developers began with. We’ve now moved a ton of the domain models into ruby gems that we pull into various rails engines as they are needed. Those engines are mounted on to the core application. In some of those engines we use React loaded in a single controller route. I’ve come to really like React with Redux. It’s 9,000 times better than angular 1 IMO. Easier to understand and reason about when debugging.
I’d have to disagree about React being too much horsepower.

In fact if you structure your app to take full advantage of one of React’s selling points, reusable components, you’d wind up coding a lot less as the project grows.

That’s what I’ve loved about a React/Redux front end.

It also lowers user experience needing to make HTTP requests anytime a button is clicked or a page is changed. AJAX requests solve this. It’s particularly useful if something does take a long time to load. The user can still use the website while that request is being completed.

Just food for thought.
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

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May 30, 2011
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I’d have to disagree about React being too much horsepower.

In fact if you structure your app to take full advantage of one of React’s selling points, reusable components, you’d wind up coding a lot less as the project grows.

That’s what I’ve loved about a React/Redux front end.

It also lowers user experience needing to make HTTP requests anytime a button is clicked or a page is changed. AJAX requests solve this. It’s particularly useful if something does take a long time to load. The user can still use the website while that request is being completed.

Just food for thought.
I use it every single day at work so I’m quite familiar with it. I didn’t say React wasn’t a good framework or too much horsepower in general, I said it was too much power for what I’m doing.
 

Satvik Gupta

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Great work! I do have one question for you.

What online resources (like courses) did you use to teach yourself programming? Also, how much time did it take until you started freelancing and picking up a $10/hr freelance gigs?
 

Penguin

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I'm more than happy to share!

I'll speak in terms of my experience rather than in terms of other developers unless I think of a common trait which I've seen.

When it comes to improving one's craft as a web developer, I noticed that some are lucky enough to get around some really experienced people, and they absorb knowledge from those guys. But I don't see them reading from the wealth of literature that exists in this field. Code Complete 2, Head First Design Patterns, Clean Code...etc or classics like "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs". Pursuing this kind of knowledge continuously, while not exactly a high value set of things to read as someone who's just trying to pump out a quick MVP, are hallmarks of a really really good developer. They think differently, see patterns that other developers can't see. They constantly improve their code to be readable by anyone, and write it so that it's harder to break and easy to extend. So to answer your question, one problem they face is a lack of continuous learning or reading, not from the 10 billion free resources or $10/mo videos that teach the shiny cool new thing.. but the fundamentals and the things that the very best in this field have put out.

Another problem I encounter myself is finding other technical entrepreneurs to talk to on a regular basis. I was thinking about creating a mastermind of tech entrepreneurs who meet twice a month to share where they're at and allow everyone else to brainstorm solutions. There is Indiehackers but it's not the same to ask a forum question vs asking a group of 8-10 people on video chat and being able to share screen and all that.

The tech world is full of info on startups, these people who want to solve some unique problem and raise a bunch of money to get paid to solve it. That's not me. I want to build a business, wether it's a unique problem or not doesn't matter to me, what matters to me is if I can compete well enough to be profitable, grow, and build it either by myself or with one other dev max, while also making sure we've got a solid marketer to guide product development, ad copy..etc

Finding jobs in places where there doesn't seem to be many jobs. I'm a RoR developer, and in Florida, there aren't that many Rails positions around. I noticed that the recruiters have no idea how our craft really works, and many times you only figure this out when you meet the company face to face.

Having a clear path to go from zero to a seriously top notch developer. Like if there were a course that could take me from 0 to world-class status in terms of development in like a year, and I'd have to take out a load of like $20k to do it, I'd have done that in the very beginning. It took tons of client work, eating pinto beans and rice in California living out of my brother's efficiency, and like 80+ hours a week of mind numbing effort over the course of 8 months to build up enough of a portfolio and experience to finally land a contract job that made the quality of my life finally not be misery while still being able to get ahead.

As a freelancer, I wish I'd have known about or found a clear path to a mentor who could PERSONALLY show me, or at least through a group setting, how to do all the things a *really* successful freelancer does to go from 0 to $100/hr as a freelance developer. I did buy the Double Your Freelancing program but for some reason I wasn't able to get that working for myself. A coach could have identified the exact thing I'm confused about and bridged that gap, something a book can never do. Same idea, like the one about development schooling, if I could purchase this kind of hands on, spot-my-blind-spots-where-they're-at, type of treatment in order to save a ton of time, I would have. When you're in that scarcity state of mind, alone, and, just grinding so hard you gotta go for daily runs like clockwork to blow off physical steam, it's hard to see or think creatively enough. It was like that for me anyway.
wow this is impressive. If you want my opinion for you I would tell you to start your mastermind group and I think that maybe able to help you and the others. Not continuing to learn is a MAJOR problem for all those developers especially in this field.
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

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May 30, 2011
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Great work! I do have one question for you.

What online resources (like courses) did you use to teach yourself programming? Also, how much time did it take until you started freelancing and picking up a $10/hr freelance gigs?
My journey started like this in few words:

- I'm a 16 year old kid trying to make money online
- I find out about affiliate marketing and start learning about throwing together websites with Wix, writing ad copy, I pirated material from every online marketing guru I could find...etc
- I meet this mysterious dude online who claims to make $100/day with internet marketing and that he's super generous and would love to answer everyone's questions.
- We end up talking after I reach out to him and he tells me to learn web dev with wordpress because I need cash to invest into my ad campaigns.
- I buy "Stylin' With CSS", and "Codin' With PHP" as my first ever programming books ever.
- I consume those books with a massive fury and then offer to do work for that mysterious guy. He gives me some easy work for $10/hr.

So to answer your questions, it took maybe a few weeks of learning and practicing at a very fast pace.

The mysterious guy happened to be an excellent designer, so I learned how to make things look great through him.

Then I wanted to build website applications for real, not just hack Wordpress themes. So I bought another book, Pro Ruby. Then after I finished that as fast as I could, I picked up Michael Hartl's Rails tutorial, and I even bought the videos with my financial aid from school. At this point my apps skills sucked big time, but I just kept going. It wasn't until I had rebuilt my first application like 3 times that the mysterious guy had already learned Rails and published a publishing website that was picking up steam. I worked on Rails stuff for his website since he made it in Rails, leaving an initial Wordpress version behind.

By the time I graduated college I was earning around $25/hr and I thought I was making "HOLY SHIT AMAZEBALLS" money lol. I didn't know how to figure out how much I was really worth.

For some reason it never occurred to me that all I had to do was look at what other people made, see how much they charged for it, figured out if I could make the same shit and boom, I'd at least have something to compare myself with. My eyes started to open more when I got on UpWork though. I'd see people selling these extremely simple landing pages for $1,000. But at the time I had major imposter syndrome. "I can't do that to people! It's price gauging!".

I was somewhat brainwashed by my own clients to believe my work was worth less than it was because it was convenient for them to do that. I was this naive kid doing $50/hr work for $20/hr lol. One guy was very nice and tried to explain that I'm worth more and even offered to pay me more. It's strange how the imposter syndrome gets into your emotional guts.

The fear that charging more will make all my clients vanish had me mentally stuck. At this point I was taking any job I could get and eating pinto beans and rice every day. That first year I made $30k after I graduated.

Eventually, though, I started to figure out my real worth, and emotionally felt the strength to back it up. Now I have offers from old clients willing to pay $100/hr and I have to turn them down because I want to get to a point where I'm making $1,000 hr while I travel and pick up chicks or spend time with family and friends.
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

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wow this is impressive. If you want my opinion for you I would tell you to start your mastermind group and I think that maybe able to help you and the others. Not continuing to learn is a MAJOR problem for all those developers especially in this field.
In my mind a great mastermind group I'd like to create would be one with people who:

- Mainly are focused on SaaS businesses
- A mixture of developers, online marketers, UX designers, and general online business owners. Just a variety of people in different fields which compliment everyone else. Maybe even people who are sales focused, or even biz development focused. As long as everyone's core skill set compliments everyone else's and they have a business they're working on which the group can contribute to from a variety of perspectives. Landing pages? Databases? Advertising? Sales or networking? Strategy? Research? The more varied and experienced the members the better.
- People who have the goal of earning at the very least $100k/mo through various projects.
- Willing to show face on video and make a personal connection
- Happy to get into the hot seat and show their business to the group and get answers to real problems.
- A variety of people who either already have successful businesses and people who are starting new businesses.

I'm only just getting started with this, and who knows, maybe I'll just join one if I come across something similar to this.
 

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Argue

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Love your posts man, they’re great. Keep em’ coming.
 

Penguin

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In my mind a great mastermind group I'd like to create would be one with people who:

- Mainly are focused on SaaS businesses
- A mixture of developers, online marketers, UX designers, and general online business owners. Just a variety of people in different fields which compliment everyone else. Maybe even people who are sales focused, or even biz development focused. As long as everyone's core skill set compliments everyone else's and they have a business they're working on which the group can contribute to from a variety of perspectives. Landing pages? Databases? Advertising? Sales or networking? Strategy? Research? The more varied and experienced the members the better.
- People who have the goal of earning at the very least $100k/mo through various projects.
- Willing to show face on video and make a personal connection
- Happy to get into the hot seat and show their business to the group and get answers to real problems.
- A variety of people who either already have successful businesses and people who are starting new businesses.

I'm only just getting started with this, and who knows, maybe I'll just join one if I come across something similar to this.
I wish you well in finding your mastermind group. :smile2:
 

Roli

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Thanks for this, I've just ordered Clean Code, and Code Complete 2 - I use Udemy a lot, I'm currently learning Solidity and React.

So my question is, what's your favourite way to learn, vid tutorials, books, etc?

Also how does RoR compare to something like React, as far as ease of understanding, clean code etc?
 

macq

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Thanks a lot for the post, it is actually the path I'm following right now.
I'm an embedded C developer, but I'm heavily getting into web development in order to be able to work as a freelancer (don't think my current field is viable for that).

I'm taking an intensive HTML/CSS/JS Codecademy course first since I never developed professional looking websites before.
So do you suggest continuing with Rails and start taking a look at UpWork?

About your fastlane aspiration I really would like to be a part of something like that after I got some success in my freelancing journey.
 

Ninjakid

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Hey, this is awesome thanks for sharing!

Do you focus solely on web development with RoR? Any other technologies?
 

AustinS28

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I use it every single day at work so I’m quite familiar with it. I didn’t say React wasn’t a good framework or too much horsepower in general, I said it was too much power for what I’m doing.
Got it. So do I. I was just curious why you wouldn’t opt to build your application with a foundation that’s easily scalable for future iterations. It’d suck to turn this project into something bigger and need to go back and change your entire frontend.

Sometimes more work upfront saves a lot down the line.

I have similar beginnings as you, so kudos on getting it done and teaching yourself.
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

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Thanks for this, I've just ordered Clean Code, and Code Complete 2 - I use Udemy a lot, I'm currently learning Solidity and React.

So my question is, what's your favourite way to learn, vid tutorials, books, etc?

Also how does RoR compare to something like React, as far as ease of understanding, clean code etc?
I learn from a combination of books, video tutorials, reading documentation, and source code. I've thought about watching people code on those live streams of people just building stuff and you can watch them.

At this point I've realized that the better you understand the language a tool is built with, the easier it is to learn and use the tool. Tool, meaning RoR or React. That being said, I'm fairly decent with both Ruby and Javascript. So learning React for me was much faster by just reading the documentation and working with it.

It's hard to say what's easier or harder to learn. I think DHH said that React is like 10 orders of magnitude harder to understand than Rails is mainly because he is familiar with Rails. Then again, he probably designed Rails to be easy to understand regardless, it took me like 4-5 Rails apps before I finally started to feel like I was doing routine things and organizing things in a clean way. The same is true for React. It took about a month to get a simple Dashboard created (I did this with the Material design framework, so THAT I can saw was a challenge and really is 10 orders magnitude more difficult to understand when you're first learning React). If you stick to the reading the documentation and trying to understand the philosophy and concepts behind the frameworks or tools they get easier to understand.

Since I'm not like DHH and I don't spend any time at all trying to figure out how to make a framework as easy as possible to understand I really can't say.

To me, clean code is something you can recognize and write when A. You already know what you're doing, and B. You're reading someone else's code for the first time and can understand even anticipate what it's trying to do.

If you know what you're doing because you've use the language forever and the framework and have a deep understanding of both, and you read someone else's code for the first time and you'e like WTF over and over, that's a sign the code probably sucks. But that's ok. Everyone has to write crappy code before they can get better.
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

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May 30, 2011
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Thanks a lot for the post, it is actually the path I'm following right now.
I'm an embedded C developer, but I'm heavily getting into web development in order to be able to work as a freelancer (don't think my current field is viable for that).

I'm taking an intensive HTML/CSS/JS Codecademy course first since I never developed professional looking websites before.
So do you suggest continuing with Rails and start taking a look at UpWork?

About your fastlane aspiration I really would like to be a part of something like that after I got some success in my freelancing journey.
Yeah, I mean that's what I did. So sure, if you like Rails go for it. Rails is a great starting place for building apps. I personally like it a hell of a lot better than the PHP frameworks out there because I think PHP is ugly. But I know people who like it cause they're used to it. So it's a matter of preference. That being said, you're asking a Rails guy, so my answer is yes.
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

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May 30, 2011
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Got it. So do I. I was just curious why you wouldn’t opt to build your application with a foundation that’s easily scalable for future iterations. It’d suck to turn this project into something bigger and need to go back and change your entire frontend.

Sometimes more work upfront saves a lot down the line.

I have similar beginnings as you, so kudos on getting it done and teaching yourself.
I hear you on the upfront investment / backend payoff point. The idea I have is this - get a simple idea making money first, and if I can get it to that point with the smallest possible upfront investment, then it'll be worth updating the frontend if that's necessary, and at that point I'll know it's worth it.

The mysterious guy I mentioned in my OP started a publishing business on Wordpress lol. He wrote the theme himself and launched. It caught fire, and at that point he build the entire thing again in Rails to his exact needs. That's a similar approach I'm taking here. Because the upfront cost with the unknown payoff is the biggest motivational detriment I have right now. I spent an absurd amount of time on a meal plan application, so long that I couldn't push to make it work when I started marketing it. I just gave up, especially when I saw SPREADSHEETS going viral and some weird google algorithm that could do what my app did but 10 times better AND the UI was totally confusing and horrible.
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

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Hey, this is awesome thanks for sharing!

Do you focus solely on web development with RoR? Any other technologies?
I use RoR to get things created quickly. My next projects will be small and are perfect for learning Elixir, the next framework I will want to work with for like 10 years probably. It's positioned to be like the successor to Rails, being that is has a similar syntax to Rails but the power of Erlang. The barrier to entry is the learning curve though, so in my mind I'm putting that learning curve off until I have something profitable that will buy me the time to learn the new framework.

I've also peeked at the MERN stack but it's a huge time investment to learn all these things together. My goal is to start a business right now, not learn every neat technology out.
 

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Amber E

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Great information given here. I am currently doing the same thing. Learning how to code on my own. And I really wanted to have my project done by the end of the month, but I will have to push it out. It is funny because as I continue along I am finding better/more efficient ways to do things. It is just frustrating trying to decide if you want to implement it and just toss the effort that you already put it. It is a learning experience though so I keep chugging along.

I have tried upwork as well, but haven't gotten any bites. I am curious to how you marketed yourself in the beginning to get clients? I feel it would be a great opportunity for me to test my skills and that it would enable me to learn quicker. I am not scared of the hard-work and I think the reason a lot of people fail is because they quit trying when things get tough. So I am going to keep at it. Any suggestions or advise is appreciated.
 

Roli

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. It is just frustrating trying to decide if you want to implement it and just toss the effort that you already put it
What you describe is best summed up in a book called Dreaming In Code.
 

Roli

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I learn from a combination of books, video tutorials, reading documentation, and source code. I've thought about watching people code on those live streams of people just building stuff and you can watch them.

At this point I've realized that the better you understand the language a tool is built with, the easier it is to learn and use the tool. Tool, meaning RoR or React. That being said, I'm fairly decent with both Ruby and Javascript. So learning React for me was much faster by just reading the documentation and working with it.

It's hard to say what's easier or harder to learn. I think DHH said that React is like 10 orders of magnitude harder to understand than Rails is mainly because he is familiar with Rails. Then again, he probably designed Rails to be easy to understand regardless, it took me like 4-5 Rails apps before I finally started to feel like I was doing routine things and organizing things in a clean way. The same is true for React. It took about a month to get a simple Dashboard created (I did this with the Material design framework, so THAT I can saw was a challenge and really is 10 orders magnitude more difficult to understand when you're first learning React). If you stick to the reading the documentation and trying to understand the philosophy and concepts behind the frameworks or tools they get easier to understand.

Since I'm not like DHH and I don't spend any time at all trying to figure out how to make a framework as easy as possible to understand I really can't say.

To me, clean code is something you can recognize and write when A. You already know what you're doing, and B. You're reading someone else's code for the first time and can understand even anticipate what it's trying to do.

If you know what you're doing because you've use the language forever and the framework and have a deep understanding of both, and you read someone else's code for the first time and you'e like WTF over and over, that's a sign the code probably sucks. But that's ok. Everyone has to write crappy code before they can get better.
Thanks for that info; just one more question; I find that I'm learning lots of theory, and I just want to get coding my own stuff, do you know of a good practice environment/bootcamp, preferably for JS, but I'll take anything at the mo, Python, Solidity, even C!
 

journeyman

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Very cool, I am going to follow this thread.
I don't know what's your opinion on learning too many technologies at the begininning??

I just finished a course teaching the MEAN stack, and I want to go deep with it and learn it very well instead of diluting my focus by learning other languages / frameworks. For now I feel the best thing for me would be to just start building (already have a very challening application in mind).
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

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May 30, 2011
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Great information given here. I am currently doing the same thing. Learning how to code on my own. And I really wanted to have my project done by the end of the month, but I will have to push it out. It is funny because as I continue along I am finding better/more efficient ways to do things. It is just frustrating trying to decide if you want to implement it and just toss the effort that you already put it. It is a learning experience though so I keep chugging along.

I have tried upwork as well, but haven't gotten any bites. I am curious to how you marketed yourself in the beginning to get clients? I feel it would be a great opportunity for me to test my skills and that it would enable me to learn quicker. I am not scared of the hard-work and I think the reason a lot of people fail is because they quit trying when things get tough. So I am going to keep at it. Any suggestions or advise is appreciated.
Personally I wouldn't get on UpWork and start charging for app stuff until unless you're 100% sure you can deliver the best possible value to the client. I got their "Rising Star" badge for a while because all of my projects won 5 stars. I recommend doing the best you can for clients on there and ASKING for 5 stars. Tell them UpWork is competitive, because it is. Anything less than 5 stars will make it harder to win enough confidence to charge higher prices. I was living off that income for a while so it was an extremely critical matter for me.

As a beginner on UpWork I'd try to get some quick contracts by keeping my rate low and my ratings 5 stars. I picked up 3 or so contracts that I could complete quickly. After that I upped my rate, got a few more upped rate again..etc until I was at $50/hr. What I'd also do was first get them to leave me a review with 5 stars, and if they wanted to keep working with me I'd move them off UpWork to avoid the fees. Then, even if the relationship went sour (Which they never did for me thankfully), I already had a good reference from them on UpWork.

You need to get feedback when you send proposals. I'd do whatever I could to get that feedback. I told people I had kids to feed and that their honest feedback would better help my business. They'd respond quickly with that.

Also, I just read a lot of copywriting material and used it in my proposals and in my profile. What I also did was shop for developers as well as if I were a client. Tried to get a feel for the ones that seemed on the ball and sharp and the ones who seemed incompetent. I also got a feel for the cliche. I even posted fake jobs just to see how people send proposals, how many come through, how they start out..etc All that helped me craft a unique and compelling proposal and profile that got me a decent response rate. I didn't measure the response rate but it was enough to keep my bills paid.

Lastly, I used up all of my free proposal sends. If I was finishing up some work, I'd use 25 or 50% of a day to just write proposals. My days weren't 9-5 back then they were 8am-2am lol with a 3 minute run around 9pm and maybe 1.5 hours to eat my 3 meals per day. Of course, I didn't utilize ALL That time 100% but I tried to. In retrospect that was a mistake because I was so deep in action that I couldn't see the forest for the trees. I could have been a lot more creative to make way more money but I just didn't have it at that time.
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

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Thanks for that info; just one more question; I find that I'm learning lots of theory, and I just want to get coding my own stuff, do you know of a good practice environment/bootcamp, preferably for JS, but I'll take anything at the mo, Python, Solidity, even C!
Nope, I've never taken a bootcamp for code stuff. But there are lots out there so if you really want to go down this path I'd say to just take the best possible one you can find and take a loan out if you need to. In truth if you want to make money with it in the short term as a freelancer, like as a 'fallback' in case anything else your'e doing goes to shit, I'd say to invest in the business side of things at the same time you build up skill. Learn to DESIGN really well, because you can code like total garbage but if you can make things look pretty non-technical people tend to feel it's of higher quality. As long as it delivers the value they're expecting in a reasonable amount of time. And deliver FAST, and respond FAST if you want client's heads to spin.

If what you want is to make a simple MVP then what I say as a Rails guy is learn Rails and Bootstrap and Javascript. You can make so much with the tools.
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

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Very cool, I am going to follow this thread.
I don't know what's your opinion on learning too many technologies at the begininning??

I just finished a course teaching the MEAN stack, and I want to go deep with it and learn it very well instead of diluting my focus by learning other languages / frameworks. For now I feel the best thing for me would be to just start building (already have a very challening application in mind).
I once turned down a job because the hiring manager was saying that he wanted me to be able to use any tool he put in my lap. While he's right that as long as you know the language you can learn the framework... if you want to be FAST, I say pick 1 set of tools that you like, learn the language and the tools inside and out for like 2-3 years. You'll crush projects so fast by then. That's what I've done and that's why I can work on enterprise level Rails applications.

Here's the thing... when you're starting out, your brain is trying really hard to grasp rudimentary things. When you've finally mastered those basic things you can come back to those fundamentals you started with and get a whole new level of understanding, a high level to so speak. But that's only because the basic stuff is now 'unconscious competence' and you have the available brain power to see patterns and stuff.

If you like MEAN, MERN, or whatever, stick to that. If you want a job paying $100k plus, stick to MERN. React devs are getting very well paid right now. idk about 2-3 years from now but it's better to be 'senior' in one set of tools than average and a whole bunch IMO.

Also, personally, I'm about 6 years or so into my Rails experience. So I'm starting to look for new tools and given everything I've said, I may take on Elixir as my next tool to master for the next 6 years. But really, I'd rather be paying programmers and have 6 businesses making me like $200k/mo.

That brings me to my last point. Becoming a great programmer removes you from business critical skills like selling, marketing, and managing people. Becoming a great programmer makes you a great RESOURCE. Just keep that in mind. If I could go back in time, I'd have taken a job as a sales person and focused 100% on internet marketing instead. I'd have paid programmers to make my projects and I'd probably be making a hell of a lot more money right now. But one can only wonder. Still, there are lots of ways to make good money with small dev projects, and I'm trying to crack that code now more than ever instead trying to survive
 

GoGetter24

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@adiakritos Could you lay out the rough timing of your rate increases in this profession? Also what originally directed you to pursue 'Rails' as a specialty vs other options? And ultimately what do you feel got you into the $100/hr region, i.e. what ducks did you get in a row between when you were working for $10/hr, and when people were reaching out to pay you $100/hr?

Finally, if you were to start all over again, enjoying hindsight, what would you have done differently to command that rate as fast as possible?

Thanks, interesting thread
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

Bronze Contributor
May 30, 2011
364
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@adiakritos Could you lay out the rough timing of your rate increases in this profession? Also what originally directed you to pursue 'Rails' as a specialty vs other options? And ultimately what do you feel got you into the $100/hr region, i.e. what ducks did you get in a row between when you were working for $10/hr, and when people were reaching out to pay you $100/hr?

Finally, if you were to start all over again, enjoying hindsight, what would you have done differently to command that rate as fast as possible?

Thanks, interesting thread
I could give all the details of the story but I'll try to keep it to a timeline like this:

2010 - 2012 ~$10
2012 - 2014 ~ $12 -$20
2015 - 2016 ~ $30 - $50
2016 - Present ~ $50 - $100

Another thing to note is that I don't pull $100/hr clients from UpWork. My profile isn't positioned for that well enough yet. It's at $50/hr atm as that's where I left off.

The way I get $100/hr clients now is from referrals from old clients. Basically what happens is that I'll have done a great job for someone before and then I have to say "hey, I'm sorry - I have a full time job now I can't work for you anymore.", and they'll go and try to hire other people. They'll compare those freelancers with me and think "damn these people suck I really need my original guy." So they'll come back and offer me work for $70 or $100 - same situation for different clients. Or a co-worker will tell me "hey, I met this dude who needs some work done can I give them to you?" and I'd take the work and charge $100 from the get go because I'm using my after hours time to do it. But now I don't do any of that work because it takes away from time on things that could rake in $1,000/hr which I hope to get to.

I think the biggest difference between the $100/hr clients and the $10/hr clients, in my experience, is mostly that the $100/hr clients respect my opinion a hell of a lot more - they trust me completely. They're also a lot more focused on getting an estimate at the start of a project, which I'll provide as best I can keeping in mind the complexities and unknown areas. I've only ever taken gigs at that high rate for maybe 10-15 hours estimates.

In theory, anyone can charge $100/hr if they can provide the value for it. Even if they are total noobs, they can learn just 1 thing that's hard to learn which has a high value, and do that one thing if they can find clients who will pay for it. Take for example email templates. You could figure out how to make template that look way way way above average, or at least figure out how to produce them anyway you know how, and then also figure out how to get them coded to work flawlessly, or as flawlessly as possible. Then charge for it because it really is worth something at that point. Just an example.

Which leads me to my next point about how I'd do this all again. I wouldn't do it like this. I would've put all my eggs in one basket of learning - sales and marketing, and I'd have found a way to pay others to do the work for me. When it comes to making money that's much more valuable of a time investment and much more 'portable' of a skill set. It doesn't feel good when all I want to do is go outside and chill in the sand while someone else codes some template for me. Plus, I can get 2-3 devs working for me at once while all I do is sell sell sell sell and manage a pipeline. Now I'd be multiplying myself. I did hire people to work for me at times and it was very gratifying to be able to give someone work which they were very appreciative. I could also show them how to get organized and how to manager their projects, passwords...etc if they were the 'open to learning' type. Those early years working for the mysterious guy while working for all the other clients shaped how I think at lot. Especially him. He showed me how to design and he was brutally honest with me almost 100% of the time because he knew I could take it and would learn from it.

To answer your question on how to get where I am as fast as possible... If I had made it my sole goal to be where I am now at the very beginning... I think I would:
- Choose to build with Rails from day 1 and build anything and everything
- At the same time begin selling my services online as soon as I can deliver real value
- I'd have started an online portfolio and shared my work with others
- Created and contributed to open source projects in any way I can
- Read about OO patterns, clean code, and do free work for a more experienced dev if possible just to learn from them, Pair Programming is AMAZING if you have a good partner
- Get into a dev shop as fast as possible, even if it means getting paid $8/hr. The rest of the payment is pure learning and that's worth much more in terms of saved time gaining valuable skills.
- Go to college for computer science

Had I done these things from day 1, by year 2 I'd probably already be ready for a $70k position. If I were taking online work I make even more, but because my sales skills and marketing skills would be so low from the intense focus on dev skills that taking a job would be the fastest path to cash.

If I wanted to become a freelancer again at that point - similar to where I am now - I'd start taking freelance work on UpWork again. Probably would exclusively charge $100/hr and do anything possible to win that work at that rate. Sorta like playing a game set on 'hard' from the start so I can learn faster. The ability to do that comes from the security I already have at my day job. I don't care if I lose a gig. Not the position I was in before.

I know of someone who was making $70k/yr freelancing and he didn't even know rails. He was a GREAT designer and he knew basic HTML/CSS/JS. So he got tight with internet marketers and did well by them. From there he constantly had referral work doing Wordpress stuff and could travel and live almost anywhere.
 
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