How To Become A Web Developer In 5 Easy Steps

Web development is a craft long sought after by countless individuals from around the world. It offers the freedom and flexibility to define your own hours, set your own schedule, and earn a decent income, even while traversing the world as a digital nomad. However, as simple as the title to this article sounds, becoming a web developer takes an enormous amount of effort.

Becoming a web developer and mastering the art of web development are two entirely different things. Sure, just about anyone with a burning desire could easily become a developer. But it takes a certain individual that’s attentive to the most minute details and keenly interested in creative problem solving, who will excel and succeed in this field.

You’ve likely come across countless articles by now about best software practices, good programming habits and a number of others related to the web development field. However, while many can offer up advice, not everyone will guide you in the right direction. I’ve been a developer for nearly 2 decades and I’ve quite literally immersed myself in this field for quite some time now.

In fact, I’ve also created some of the best tutorials on web development that you’ll likely find. But if you’re serious about become a programmer, there are some steps that you’ll need to take. If you’re drawn to the potential for an increased income or the ability to work from anywhere, then join the fray, because those are some of the perks of the job. But there are downsides as well.

Web development is an extremely time-intensive endeavor. While the concepts are rather basic and straightforward, once you begin developing, the smallest bugs can actually stifle your progress. I’ve spent hours on end scouring for bugs, looking for a needle in a haystack, so to speak. They’re often right there before your eyes but monumentally difficult to spot.

This is especially true when dealing with the white-screen-of-death. Don’t know what that is? Oh, don’t you worry. You’ll find out soon enough. It’s one thing to be able to debug your code when you’re dealing with proper error messages, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, that error message doesn’t exist for a number of reasons.

That’s when the real nail-biting and hair-pulling begins.

Okay. Okay. So, this isn’t meant to scare you off. You can actually learn web development in 5 easy steps. While it will take you time to master it, understanding and grasping the basic underlying concepts and actually putting yourself out there will be relatively straightforward. It will just require some time and effort.

Think about how it would be learning any spoken language. The basics are simple, but fluency (or mastery in this case) takes time.

Becoming a Web Developer

Before you get started, you have to set some expectations. Don’t kid yourself into thinking it’s going to be easier than it will be. That’s one way to get really disappointed. It’s going to be hard. Downright difficult even. As long as you set your expectations the right way, you won’t get discouraged, and you won’t throw in that proverbial towel.

Also, it’s important that you take this seriously. This isn’t some fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of career. It requires true grit and determination to see things through. And to the victors go the spoils. The best web developers can make an extraordinary amount of money. However, like any other field, there’s a great deal of competition. So be prepared.

Becoming a web developer isn’t just about learning how to write code; it’s also about finding jobs you can work on, especially in the beginning when you have virtually no track record. That’s the hard part. For those that are looking for an immediate full-time income, think again. That’s quite a ways down the road unless you already have some serious skill behind your belt.

Also, one other thing to mention here is that the web development field is multi-disciplinary in that it requires you to learn a number of different languages and operating systems. Of course, you don’t need to fully understand server architecture and the like at the outset, but a good working knowledge of things like Linux servers will most certainly come to your rescue down the road.

Okay, if you’re still reading, then you’re probably serious about this field. So, if I haven’t scared you off yet and I haven’t thrown up enough yellow flags about becoming a developer, then there are some steps you need to keep in mind. If you follow along with these steps, you can most certainly succeed and even excel in this field. If you ignore them, you might find it more difficult.

#1 — Set S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals

The first step in becoming a web developer is to set S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals. This acronym simply means that the goals should be:

  • Specific – You have to set a specific goal. For example, if you plan to learn PHP, MySQL, HTML, CSS and Javascript, then write it down. Write down specifically what you will learn about those languages and what types of projects you’ll be able to complete by the time you’ve achieved that goal. The more specific you get, the more likely you’ll be able to succeed.
  • Measurable – The goal needs to be measurable. You can’t just say you want to do something, anything, you have to be able to actually measure it. For example, if you plan to study for 2 hours per day every single day, then that’s one way to measure it. Or, if you plan to build one small project per week, that’s also measurable. Come up with a metric for tracking.
  • Achievable – Make sure the goals you set are achievable. Don’t set yourself up for failure. While the concept of ‘anything the mind can believe, the mind can achieve,’ is true, you don’t want bite off more than you can chew in the beginning. Set achievable web-development goals and build your momentum slowly over time.
  • Relevant – By relevant, you want your goals of becoming a web developer to fit within the overall framework of your life. Does it make sense and align with your core values and beliefs? Goals that go against our internal values and beliefs are far harder to achieve. Make sure that things sync up for you.
  • Time-bound – Your goal has to be bound in time. Meaning, you have to set a precise date that you will achieve each of your goals. Physically select the date from the calendar and write it down as part of your goal. This way, you have a fixed target of when you need to achieve that by.
  • Evaluated – Every goal needs to be evaluated. Measure and track your results as you push towards your goal. Just as a plane would measure and track its results as it flies from one city to the next, you have to constantly determine where you are on a daily basis. The more detail you put into tracking your goal, the more likely you’ll be to achieve it.
  • Re-adjusted – As you measure and track, evaluating along the way, you’ll be able to re-adjust your approach to ensure you reach your goal. If you see that something isn’t giving you the desired results you want, by constantly evaluating, you can quickly determine that your approach isn’t working, and you can take the time to re-adjust it.

Any time you try to rush into any endeavor without taking the proper time to set SMARTER goals, you’re more likely to fail. If you’re serious about becoming a web developer, take the time to do this and do it on paper. Write it down. That’s part of the process. You can’t keep this information in your mind. It needs to be written out in front of your eyes.

#2 — Learn Web Development Skills

Once you have your SMARTER goals setup, you need to go about learning the actual skills it takes to become a web developer. You need to locate the right course or class that you can put your effort and energy into. Yes, you can learn things by scouring the web and searching through YouTube videos, but it will lack the structure and depth that’s required in this field.

If you’re absolutely serious about web development, I would recommend taking my course. You’ll discover 16.5 hours of detailed and painstakingly-comprehensive video tutorials and exercises to help you learn all the fundamentals involved with becoming a web developer. This should be entwined into your goals on just how much of this content you’ll be able to complete each day.

Also, you could enroll at a local or community college, or find an online college where you can earn an advanced degree in computer science as well. Of course, that’s a much more serious undertaking and involves a significant investment of your time and financial resources. If you can afford to do it, then by all means you should. If not, you should opt for an online course.

#3 — Build Sample Test Projects

The best way to learn anything isn’t to just listen to it or watch it. You have to actually do it. There’s nothing better than actually immersing yourself in sample projects to help build the required skills necessary. Before you get to this stage, however, be sure you’ve educated yourself enough to gain an understanding of how things work.

Of course, it’s easy to scour the web and find test projects that you can build. But what I really love doing is trying to replicate a site or the functionality in a form or piece of web-based software without actually looking at the code or watching how it’s done. Now, this is great when building simple HTML and CSS pages, but far more difficult when tackling database-driven PHP code, for example.

What you’ll likely find is that any good online course or class anywhere will provide you with plenty of projects that you can do and follow along with to track the results. But it’s also good practice to simply build things on your own. In my web development course, I have plenty of test projects that you can follow along with, but you could also go out there and do them on your own accord.

All you have to do is locate a website and try to replicate that site’s design. That will help you to learn HTML and CSS. The harder part is trying to replicate some PHP or other database-driven code you might find. Why? Because server-side technology code won’t display to the end user. The only thing that will display is the final client-side output of that code.

#4 — Find Mentors

The next step in the process of becoming a web developer would be to find a good mentor. Get out there and see if there are any companies or people that you might be able to offer your services to do for free in exchange for mentorship. What you really want to do here is to learn the ropes.

You can’t run before you walk, especially in web development. If you try to go from zero to hero overnight, you might find yourself getting very discouraged. I would suggest that you find someone you can work with. Or, just do projects for free in the very beginning. It might seem counter-intuitive, but without the proper skills, you won’t gain much traction.

While becoming a web developer isn’t too difficult as it doesn’t take much to learn the fundamentals, becoming a seasoned programmer takes time. When you’re new, you just don’t have the resources or skill set to charge for your services. So learn the trade before you try to do that. Because the best way to succeed in any endeavor is by adding a huge amount of value, and you can’t do that when you’re new to a field.

#5 — Gain Real-World Experience

The final step to becoming a web developer is to actually gain real-world experience charging people for your services. Once you’re confident enough in the field, you should put yourself out there. Create an account on a site like Upwork or Freelancer or even Fiverr if you want to engage in micro-gigs.

Whatever you decide to do, just note that it will take time. You have to build a solid track record and work really hard at the outset. But, once you’ve established yourself, you’ll find it incredibly easy to make significant progress towards your goals. You can earn money online and work from just about anywhere you like as a digital nomad doing web development work.

Just realize that it will take time. Becoming a web developer is similar to any other monumental goal. You’ll make a little bit of progress each and every single day and you’ll eventually hit your target as long as you don’t give up and you don’t stop working towards that dream.

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