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General Discussion

Freelance programming tips and direction

Hi guys,

I have a strong background in computers and how most things pc/mac/unix work; however, I have almost NO background experience other than building a calculator in Java back in college (which I have no clue how I did that looking back)

Does anyone have any advice for what language to learn first as a newbie? I have played with PHP in wordpreses for a lot of hours, and know the basics of HTML (I couldn't whip up a site from scratch or anything, but I can definitely navigate CSS, HTML, and PHP). I hear javascript is also essential for web development.

Bottom line: I'm trying to become a freelance programmer; however I am not sure where to start. I Hear Python can be profitable, and the C's are core as well; however, I just have no idea what I'm doing or who to listen to.

. Any suggestions would be ideal! I have used odesk a good deal for hire contractors who work for extremely cheap and this concerns me with the whole freelance thing.

I have 3 questions:

  1. How long would it take to learn the language well enough to create simple applications and navigate code? (Assuming full time dedication)

  2. How long would it take to get to the point where I can make "some" money working in that language

  3. What is the best way to find jobs assuming I do not want to be employed?

I'm currently an SEO director, where I manage over 40 clients on php sites but the stress is too much for me. I know a lot about SEO so I would be happy to answer any questions related to that as well :)

Hey Andrew, I am having a go at freelance programming as well so we are in the same boat. I have many years experience programming but have become pigeon-holed spending too much time maintaining one legacy application that is still profitable but I need to move fast to something else, learn some new languages and not sure where to start. I read an article suggesting mobile apps are where the money is at now. Let's get in touch, let me know what you find out and I will do the same.

3 Answers

Lukasz R
Lukasz R
707 Points

Re: 1/ 2 hours. Start with Ruby as it's most intuitive for beginners. Re: 2/ One year and 2-3 "bigger projects". Why I've mentioned ruby - you have Ruby on Rails framework which is pretty popular ( I have a weird feeling that this website has been built using RoR as well ). So - create your own website, create a website for friends to share links ( reddit like ) and you'll get some experience :) Just forget that your first job will be on £50k level, little steps for the win :) Re: 3/ Recruitment agencies. Announce yourself as a contractor / freelancer. They'll do the job for you ( and that's what they're actually for ).

John Locke
John Locke
15,479 Points

Hi Andrew:

I would start with HTML and CSS. From there, it depends whether you want to be more of a back-end developer or front-end developer. Back end code would be PHP, Ruby, Python, or C#. Front end would be more like HTML, CSS, Sass, jQuery and JavaScript. You can make money either way, it depends on what you have aptitude and passion for.

Lukasz R
Lukasz R
707 Points

Main problem with frontend is that you need designer skills as well ( at least at the beginning, because you need to build your portfolio ). No such problems with backend :)

Thanks guys- And yes I have a certain level of creativity and a ton of ideas for websites. I just wonder if competing with sites (like this http://www.teaminindia.com/) Where programmers get paid $15-$18 would be profitable. I mean it seems like a lot of work to make that little money. I was under the impression programmers would make well into the $60-$75k range with some experience. Correct me if I'm wrong...If I could make half that programming starting out for a couple years freelancing on my own, i would be happy.

Any other suggestions would be nice!