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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

Discussion in 'General Entrepreneur Discussion' started by adiakritos, Apr 23, 2018.

  1. adiakritos
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    adiakritos Bronze Contributor

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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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  2. 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?
     
  3. adiakritos
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    adiakritos Bronze Contributor

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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.
     
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  4. AustinS28
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    AustinS28 Silver Contributor Speedway Pass

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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?
     
  5. adiakritos
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    adiakritos Bronze Contributor

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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.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2018
  6. AustinS28
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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.
     
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  7. adiakritos
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    adiakritos Bronze Contributor

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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.
     
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  8. Satvik Gupta
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    Satvik Gupta Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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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?
     
  9. Penguin
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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.
     
  10. adiakritos
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    adiakritos Bronze Contributor

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    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.
     
  11. adiakritos
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    adiakritos Bronze Contributor

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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.
     
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  12. Argue
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    Argue Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Love your posts man, they’re great. Keep em’ coming.
     
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  13. Penguin
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    I wish you well in finding your mastermind group. :smile2:
     
  14. Roli
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    Roli Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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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?
     
  15. macq
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    macq New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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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.
     
  16. Ninjakid
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    Ninjakid Platinum Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Hey, this is awesome thanks for sharing!

    Do you focus solely on web development with RoR? Any other technologies?
     
  17. AustinS28
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    AustinS28 Silver Contributor Speedway Pass

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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.
     
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  18. adiakritos
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    adiakritos Bronze Contributor

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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.
     
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  19. adiakritos
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    adiakritos Bronze Contributor

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    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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  20. adiakritos
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    adiakritos Bronze Contributor

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    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.
     
  21. adiakritos
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    adiakritos Bronze Contributor

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    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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  22. Amber E
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    Amber E New Contributor

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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.
     
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  23. Roli
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    Roli Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    What you describe is best summed up in a book called Dreaming In Code.
     
  24. Roli
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    Roli Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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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!
     
  25. 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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