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Top 10 Steps To Get Started In Web Development

Ahhhh so you have the web 3.0 bug. You want to launch a career as a web developer. Now is the time to do it, the amount of resources online and careers needed to be filled are blooming. But before you turn yourself into the ultimate coder you may be thinking how to actually get started in web development. If so, you’ve come to the right place. This top 10 list will feature tricks and tips beginner web developers can use to get their skin in the game.

Top 10 Steps To Get Started In Web Development

1. What Type Of Web Developer Are You?

The very first thing I want you to do is ask yourself what type of web developer are you? Now to make this easy we will break this down into two sectors. Frontend vs backend.

Frontend web developers – this is where all the designs, layout, imagery and user experience can be found. It’s what web traffic generally interacts with when coming to a website. It is the frontend of a website.

Frontend developers tend to be a bit more visual and have a passion for design. They also take into consideration the user experience as design and UX go hand in hand. Some programming languages you’ll want to know for this field are HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Jquery.

Keep in mind, just because you may have some skills in this area often times web developers are expected to understand frontend and backend elements. You may specialize in one field but you will want to know a bit about both.

This brings us to backend web developers –  if you are data-driven, live and die by processes, understand how applications work – this is where you want to be. Backend development is all about the “how” a website functions.

The best backend developers are logical thinkers and all about the numbers. They are pretty solid problem solvers and generally live on the server-side of requests. Programming languages you will want to know in this field are Python, Ruby and PHP.

2. How Much Work Goes Into Learning Web Development Skills?

Coding takes time, practice and hard work. There are no two ways about it. If you think you as a newbie developer you will pick up a computer and create the next Facebook you are sadly mistaken. But I suspect if you are reading this article you are ready for the hard work – great.

There are a ton of resources both paid and free online that can teach you everything from how to convert a PSD to a website to advance CSS tricks. Before you dive into that I recommend coming up with a basic plan and hold yourself accountable to it. Give yourself around seven months (at minimum) to get your hands into the world of coding.

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A web developer plan can look like this:

Month 1: Decide on what type of developer you want to be and learn programming languages relevant to that sector.
Month 2: Learn the fundamentals of design, HTML, and CSS
Month 3: Get your hands dirty and start building practice sites. These are development sites you can throw online and mess with.
Month 4: Take a good month learning Javascript
Month 5: Create a web developer portfolio showcasing your different skills and interests.
Month 6: Reach out to Meetup Groups and network with more advanced developers
Month 7: Look for small low paying web developer tasks you can do as a freelance web developer

This isn’t the only way to go about the launch of your web developer career. The key thing to keep in mind is time. You really need to put in the time to learn the fundamentals of how to code before you actually begin to code. Keep reading as we will dive into the other bits below.

3. What Type Of Portfolio Should Beginner Web Developers Have?

Obviously, when you jump into coding you will be thinking when can you get that first job. In order to get work as a web developer, you have to establish credibility first.

You can offer to do work for free for local businesses in exchange for a testimonial. Note: No one likes working for free so don’t make this a habit and don’t take on a job you aren’t ready to do. Also, not every testimonial is created equal. We strongly recommend offering to do work in exchange for a video testimonial as this piece of marketing is something you can add to your own website.

Let’s say you aren’t about that life – you’re not interested in offering freebies. That’s fine. In that case, just like a blogger should actively be blogging or a YouTuber always creating videos you should always be coding. Throw up different websites that focus on five different niches ie medial, insurance, business, entertainment and blogging. This will give prospects reviewing your work an idea of your range.

4. How Much Should Entry Web Developers Charge?

As time goes on your value will increase. When you starting your career as a web developer be prepared to take a hit in the paycheck arena. Traditional US workers trade hours for dollars ie come in five days a week for forty hours and get paid. As an entry web developer, your skill set may not be there to commit to a fulltime job.

If you are an entry level freelancer in the US have your rate be around the $17 mark. Remember as time goes on and you pick up more skills you can charge more. As a freelance web developer, you can also offer to do job as flat rates. The problem here is although it may seem like a big paycheck if you underestimate the amount of time the job takes you may actually end up hurting your bank account in the end.

Alternatively, if you can get an entry level steady job take it. We live in a world where freelancers across the world are charging $2 an hour to set up a WordPress site. That’s a tough rate to stand up against. We recommend if you get a chance to start a job take it but make sure to fight for perks – ie health benefits, vacation – things you’d need to figure out on your own as a freelancer.

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5. How Can Web Developers Make Money As A Freelancer?

Freelancing isn’t what the movies make it seem like it is. You need to hustle. When you’re just starting out you’re always hunting for that next job. Things like medical, vacation, sick days, and more are all elements you need to sort out on your own. If you are going to be a freelancer understand that you have a business and need to treat it as such.

When you’re starting out as a web developer in the world of freelancing take on projects that fit within your skill set. Offer deals, communicate with your clients often, go above and beyond. Your goal here shouldn’t just be about making money, but getting an excellent testimonial you can leverage down the road.

If you want to make money as a newbie freelancer your best bet will be to have multiple clients. This will ensure you have hours to bill and work to knock out. There are freelance websites out there but I actually would recommend starting with your internal network first. Ask friends, family, everyone you know on Facebook if they could use some support.

6. Where Can Web Developers Find Work?

Start with the people you know.

If you want your freelancer web developer career to really work and truly be effective don’t send a blank spam message. Actually, reach out to people and catch up and let them know what you are doing and see if they can offer you a recommendation/lead.

By this time you should have a basic portfolio and intermediate skills in coding. Take what you learned and reach out to old friends and show them. We recommend not approaching this as asking for a handout but connecting with people who know and trust you.

You’ll learn as your freelancer career picks up that referrals are a great form of business. They are not bulletproof in getting you steady work, but when you are starting out you’ll find a couple leads here and there.  Don’t be afraid, to be honest when reaching out and let people know your intent. Remember if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

7. What Type Of Protection Should A Web Developer Have?

I wish we could say being a web developer will be easy and you will never come across a situation where a client is angry at you and/or refuses to pay you. The sad reality is, every developer has a horror story and several scars that make up their career. There is no way around it. But there are things you can do as a web developer to protect yourself.

What we recommend is having documentation of every request. You’ll notice on your first few jobs clients email, Skype, even text you website changes. It’s really easy for those requests to get lost and forgotten during the scope of the job. That’s why we recommend using our issue tracking tool – The Bug Squasher. With it, you can manage support requests, share tickets reports with clients and streamline how clients report bugs to you.

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Don’t and we repeat do not go into a job thinking you won’t need an issue tracker. That is a rookie mistake. Clients love it when you have a process that’s easy to use and can make the job faster and smarter to track. In our case, The Bug Squasher gives clients the option to video record bugs with just a click – how easy is that?

8. What Traits Do Companies Look For In Web Developers?

Communication is key. At the end of the day, you can be the greatest web developer in the world but if you can’t clearly communicate what is going on with the backend of a website you are doomed.

Be clever when talking with clients. Leverage a bug report outlining the issue and setting an expectation of when it can be resolved (yes this is within The Bug Squasher platform). Be proactive, ie don’t wait for clients to ask you what’s up. Don’t hide from them. Reach out and give them updates.

Finally, respect everyone you talk with – big or small. It’s easy to let ego get in the way of great partnerships. Don’t let it. Companies want team players that can work together. If you can show that you are a team player who can communicate a website bug and solution simply you are worth gold to your client(s).

9. How Much Should You Contribute To Open Source Projects As A Newbie Web Developer?

Never stop learning. A mistake we often see in almost every field is the idea that once you have your dream job you are done. This is the wrong type of thinking. You want to actively be looking for ways to challenge yourself and learn more. The best way to do this is to search for forums and opens source projects you can contribute too and ask questions.

You can find these types of groups on Facebook, Twitter threads, even Quora has some solid options to connect with others looking to spread value. The great part about this is when you make a connection now you have someone you can refer a job too and they can send work your way as well.

10. How Can You Be Social As A Web Developer?

There is a myth that web developers sit in a dark room all day and talk with no one. Yes, web developers tend to be coding non-stop and it can be a lonely job but don’t forget to be social. Everyone needs human interaction in one way or another. In this case, we recommend using Meetup (it’s free) to find groups you can blow steam off as well as connect with others.

Final Thoughts…

Make sure to click around our other articles as we offer different actionable items you can use when launching a career as a web developer. A little pro tip for those who have gotten this far – try The Bug Squasher, we offer a free trial. Whether you stay or not make sure to join our private Facebook group to network with other developers looking to squash bugs just like you.

– The Bug Squasher Team

P.S. If you’re looking to reduce support tickets and the never ending back and forth messages from you and clients make sure to check out The Bug Squasher.

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