How to Get Started with a Tech Side Hustle - Self-Made Web Designer
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How to Get Started with a Tech Side Hustle

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There has never been a better time to start a side hustle in a tech-related field. There are so many opportunities out there to find work you can do right from the comfort of your own home.

Best thing? You don’t have to have a ton of experience to get started. In fact, you can gain experience while you are side-hustling in whatever area you’re focusing on.

That’s exactly what Laurence Bradford of Learn to Code with Me did. She went through a few free online courses and then started looking for small projects online to earn money and increase her skills in web development.

A few years later and she has worked for some big names like Teachable and runs a podcast and blog to help people learn how to find the transformation she did.

Today’s Guest

Laurence Bradford

Laurence is the creator of Learn to Code With Me, where she helps people learn how to code so they can get ahead in their careers and ultimately find more fulfillment in their lives. After teaching herself how to code at 22 years old, she discovered the abundance of professional opportunities that technological knowledge can offer. Today, she shows others how digital skill acquisition can open doors to new professional possibilities. In addition, she is passionate about EdTech and using technology to break down barriers in the education system. Her writing has been featured on Mashable, SitePoint, The Muse, and more. You can find her at learntocodewith.me

If you’re kicking the tires of starting a side-hustle in tech, this podcast is for you. It can feel daunting but it doesn’t have to be. Laurence tells you her story and gives great insight into how anyone can get started with their freelance side-hustle in tech.

You’ll Learn

  • How to get started with a side-hustle
  • Where to find web development jobs online
  • Strategies to land the tech job of your dreams
  • How to get paid while you’re learning web development
  • How to price your freelance services

Resources

Laurence:
I was doing these little jobs to kind of, I thought of it as like stepping stones towards my greater goal. And along the way I was able to, you know, get some real experience, I could reference on my LinkedIn or my resume or in other jobs that I was reaching out to in the future, like freelance jobs. And it also gave me a way to make money while I was still learning these skills. And there's been several other benefits too beyond that, but those were kind of like the main ones.

Chris:
When you're first getting started in the web design field, especially if you're someone who's learning on your own, it can be a little bit intimidating. There are so many courses out there and so many opinions on what to do or not to do, which online courses to take and which to stay away from, what's worth it and what's not worth it. We're talking today with Laurence Bradford of Learn to Code with Me.

Laurence started on her web development journey years ago on her own, as many of you, she didn't go to school for it. She wasn't doing anything related to the tech industry whatsoever. But she gave it a go. She started taking online courses, and she figured out a way to do it. And now today, she runs a great platform to teach you how to do the same at learning to code with.me. I want to encourage you to go there and check it out. As you listen to this next episode. Hey, I just want to say I'm so thankful that you're here with me today on the self-made web designer podcast, take a second and subscribe and leave some feedback and a rating for me. It will help me to know how to help you better in the future and it will help other people to find this podcast to help them on their journey as web designers as well. All right, I don't want to take any more time before we jump into this conversation with Laurence because I know that you are going to benefit from it. Are you ready? Here we go.

Awesome. We are here with Laurence Bradford Laurence is the leader and creator of Learn to Code with Me. She's been called the patron saint of coding. Just an awesome person who has done a lot for people who are trying to learn how to break into the tech industry and learn to code Laurence. Thank you so much for being with us here today on the self-made web designer.

Laurence:
Hey, Chris, thank you for having me. I'm laughing at that quote, cuz I know exactly who said that. And I know it's on my website. And I was one of my podcast guests who I well I later had him on the show. His name is Brian and he just has such an awesome story. And I love that you're like you have a podcast to helping people get into tech and helping people get into design and I love how we're able to help people change their lives through technology.

Chris:
Yeah, 100%. I'd love to hear some of your background in the story of how you got to where you are today?

Laurence:
Yeah, for sure. So I was not technical whatsoever growing up. I played some computer games on the computer that we had as our home computer. Funny enough My dad was in technology he is he's always worked in technology my whole life, but maybe because I was like kind of a rebellious teenager and preteen I didn't want to do anything that like my parents thought was cool, because, you know, like, you know, I've had that sort of attitude. I think I was younger. I just was never drawn to it until after college. So in college, I studied history and economics. I tell the story fairly often because I think it paints a picture of how not savvy I was, or unsavory, I was with tech. For my freshman year of college, I was put in this remedial computer like basic computer usage.
course because I did so poorly on the computer competency like um orientation exam you know when you when you're a freshman in college they give you these like exams to see your placement on a few core things and most people will just place high enough they don't have to take these courses and it was like a no credit course that I had to take because I did so bad on the computer literacy part. So that's I was really bad with technology. And after I started college, I ended up going to Southeast Asia, Thailand specifically to teach English. At the time, I thought I wanted to pursue a career in economic development specifically in Southeast Asian countries. After I was done teaching, I ended up getting an internship at a Thai Think Tank called Oh boy. It was called TDRI the Thailand development of Oh gosh, I try to remember the acronym out Thailand Development Research Institute, and I went there afterward in Bangkok. Within two weeks of being at that internship, it was like I guess it was maybe a little more than an internship because it was paid. But it was something like that. I realized I did not want to be there. I was like, Oh my goodness, this is not the kind of career that I want to pursue, I cannot see myself working in this area for my life, like, I'll be miserable. Heck, I knew I would be bored out of my mind if I stayed there even just like a few more months. So I was like, oh, my goodness, you know, what am I going to do? Because my plans are derailed, and I have this degree in history and economics. I don't want to go back to grad school because I don't know what I even want to do. And I don't want to spend more money, you know, going back to school to do something else and getting a degree when I don't know what I'm going to use it for. So I began googling and just like seeing what kind of jobs I could get without going back to college that was high paying. I mean, that was kind of like my only real criteria was something that can you know, has a high earning potential and something you don't have to go back to college for or I'm
master's degree or whatever because I was just really done with school, I had spent a few months studying to go to graduate school. But to get into graduate school because again, I thought I was going to go to graduate school for economic development. So I was just like, I'm done with school, I'm done with studying for these exams that have no real-world value, like the jewelry, and I want to learn something that I can use and get paid for. So of course, I stumble upon technology encoding probably within like two minutes of googling. And one thing led to another and Well, a lot happened between then and there. That would have been back in 2013. But yeah, here, here I am today.

Chris:
That's awesome. So tell me about the process where you went from knowing that I want to do this and coding and development to feel like okay, I'm now ready to jump out and try to find some work for
This.

Laurence:
Yeah. So when I started learning, I was still working at this position in Thailand. And it was advantageous. I guess now, looking back on it, because at this point, I was living totally by myself like I had other friends in Thailand that I met while teaching but all of them for the most part left or they lived far away, like a few hours away. So I couldn't like just hang out with them on weeknights, or whatever. So I was in this foreign country alone without any friends and painted a great opportunity to spend a lot of time learning and taking these online courses, which is what I started doing. Also bear in mind like the time difference is like 12 hours so all of my like family and other people I would talk to back in the United States were on a different schedule than me. This was unintentional that I think it just did end up working out my favor as far as learning goes.
So I spent the next few weeks I was working, I was also learning these coding skills. I ended up then going back home, knowing that I wanted to pursue this further and their kind of wasn't a point for me to keep staying in Thailand at this point. I'd been in Thailand for nine months, I was also sort of ready to head back on home and see everyone. So I ended up going back home to Pennsylvania. I grew up in this town called Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which is about an hour and 15 minutes north of Philadelphia. It's on the East Coast side. So it's like pretty close to New York, far from Pittsburgh. And I started to apply to jobs online as soon as I got back, more or less. Now, these weren't jobs like full-time tech jobs at Google. No, nothing like that. I would just use Craigslist to find little website jobs in my area or remote. I looked at both, but I was trying to find little things that I could do.
To have someone give me a chance, and start to just build up my work experience in this area because one lesson I learned from my whole like GRV, studying economic development, all of that debacle, which I was pursuing for two years, I think since my junior year of college, that's what I thought I wanted to do until about a year after I graduated. So actually juniors, maybe even three years, I knew I need to get real work experience in this field before I fully commit to it. I do not want to make a similar misstep that I did with this whole economic development thing. So it was like I was like, on a mission to get some kind of real-world work experience to see if this was something I could do or not.

Chris:
Yeah, that's awesome. So so you jumped into it fairly quickly, after only having what it sounds like a month or two of learning and you were just ready to go looking for jobs?

Laurence:
Well, yeah, yes, but I have to emphasize that these were small jobs. These were like whatever you want to call contract work side gigs, freelance small jobs, these were not where I was not working full time at a tech company as a software engineer, I was doing these little jobs to kind of,
I thought of it as like stepping stones towards my greater goal. And along the way, I was able to, you know, get some real experience, I could reference on my LinkedIn or my resume or in other jobs that I
was reaching out to in the future, like freelance jobs. And it also gave me a way to make money while I was still learning these skills. And there's I mean, several other benefits beyond that, but those were kind of like the main ones.

Chris:
Yeah, that's, that's great. And, and, you know, I appreciate the fact that you were going for smaller jobs and things that probably weren't too daunting, but I can imagine that there was probably some fear when you first reached out to these folks. How did you ever come
What gave you the confidence to just go for it?

Laurence:
Yeah, I feel like, at that point, I didn't have any other option. So I knew I couldn't use my history degree. As sad as that makes me say because I spent all this money getting this history degree. But I knew that if I were to really like use it, I would either have to go back to graduate school to get some other kind of degree to supplement it or do a career switch that would be even harder to break into because I think I did just keep reminding myself that there where there's a huge demand for tech workers. So I think that just helped me feel more confident like okay, like the jobs that I'm going after, maybe I'm under-qualified, maybe I don't have the experience yet. But there is this industry demand for people with these skills. So if there is so much like demand and not enough people to fill these positions that could give me a better shot. And another thing that helped me feel better. And this is, this is interesting because I feel like someone could take this statistic or this fact and go two ways with it, but I knew that and again, this would have been in 2013 that the number of women compared to men in tech roles was significantly less at the time it could have been like 8020 I think it depended on which profession specifically we're looking at. I don't know the current numbers with 2020 I do think it's a bit more even now. Um, you know, for the last seven years I at least I think it is I'm not 100% sure I may not be but anyway knowing that also made me feel more confident because I knew that I would perhaps stand out more compared to other people that were maybe going forward if it was so male-dominated the fact that I was a woman could help me stand out in the people making the hiring decisions eyes.

Chris:
Yeah, that's great. And I think the lesson for everybody there is to figure out what's the key component that differentiates you from the rest of the pack? You know, what makes me different? And how can I use that
to influence the people that I'm trying to find projects with?

Laurence:
Yeah, I yeah, I love that. Yes, definitely. And I didn't think of
I'm trying to find the right way to word this. But I do feel like there are things in people's lives and it could be like experience. Or maybe it's the fact you don't have a college degree. Or maybe it's a fact you didn't even fit, you didn't finish high school. But that could be your advantage. And you could spin that to make it something that makes you more memorable because I'm telling you right now when I just think of even past podcast guests that I have on, the ones that stand out to me are the ones that have like overcome some kind of trial or obstacle, or, you know, it felt like the odds could really against them, but they actually spun that around and ended up doing more, you know, even though they were in a certain circumstance. So I think that you can use whatever you want to call it disadvantage or adversity to your advantage when it comes to looking for roles and all that.

Chris:
Yeah, absolutely. Because we all come with such unique giftings and skills, for instance, that the place that I work at, Show It, it's a desktop application, drag and drop Website Builder. And but we run a conference every year and I didn't even realize this when I applied for the job.
And that made me a good candidate coming from a musician church background where all I knew was conferences. And so you know, without knowing it, my background helped me
that my background that wasn't related in tech helped me to get a position in something tech-related.

Laurence:
Yeah, that's such a great example. Yeah, I feel like there are so many people with stories like that where they have this piece from their history that isn't tech-related but it's somehow can relate to whatever tech job they're going after. And yeah, that's a great example.

Chris:
Great so so you've got you to come back home in Pennsylvania, you start looking for side projects. What does the process look like for you? Were you able to find a lot right away? Did it take a lot of time? Where were you looking? What methods Did you find works and what methods Did you find it and work so much?

Laurence:
Yes. So I wish I had some story of how I spent months without any, you know, bites with what I was, you know, putting out on my fishing line, but that wasn't the case. I ended up getting my first position like my little side gig or freelance position relatively soon after I came back home. I can't recall the exact like the time it was between but it was only a matter of weeks, I would say. And the position that I ended up getting was in my local area was about a 30-minute drive from home. So it was a few towns over. And I was essentially just helping a web developer build an e-commerce site for this local business in my area, they were trying to put their inventory online. And I was just helping them do that. And the business is its funny cuz it's random, but it was a fireplace company so they would sell different kinds of like fire features for indoors or backyards, and then other supplies to go with that. So like, my gosh, I'm blanking on the name now, but like the pellet is the right word. But there are different things that you can put like these fire materials you can put in your fire feature and then you can like to light it on fire and it looks pretty like things like that. So that was all the stuff that I was helping upload and get into the website and doing other stuff like really simple stuff for this e-commerce site. And I found that once I had that first position, under my belt in that website that was online that I could say, I helped build that right. I didn't build it by myself, I helped another person nailed it. But it was it became easier and easier to get new in new positions as time went on because I started to have more experience, you know, in my toolkit that I could reference for future jobs. So as far as what worked and what didn't work, now, I feel like side gigs and or like freelance gigs, whatever you want to call it. When I say that, I mean the same thing. So like smaller projects that you do for money versus a full-time job. There are some different strategies. There are similarities, but what I found is that for the smaller jobs, it's usually a lot more informal. So usually they're not asking you for a resume a cover letter.
All that. So what I would do is I used Craigslist I think pretty much exclusively when I was trying to find work, or, or I started to then get referrals from people I worked with previously. And they would, you know, send me to their friend who also had a business or what have you. But yeah, that was pretty much all use was Craigslist and the word of mouth referrals for Craigslist. I love using Craigslist because I could just send an email through Gmail, I would make it short, I would just tell them like, well, it depended on what the listing as if they asked for any specific information, but I would always keep it super short, just all about how I could help them and give them value for whatever problem they were trying to solve. And then I would usually link to some of the things I had done. So I would link to sites I built for myself like not even because someone paid me to do it just like personal websites if I didn't have like enough to list out and then I started to as I got more special
Also, list the ones that I had built for clients. And I wouldn't even send a resume or cover letter unless the listing specifically asked for it. So it was really easy. Or I should say easy cuz I did put time into cracking the email message to make sure it was really short because I knew the person on the other end of reading it was a small business owner or they worked at a small business, they probably have a lot of these emails coming through and they don't have a ton of time. And I just wanted to get the information that was important to them across in a really short manner. And I would track the listings I reached out to in a spreadsheet just so I knew like my response rates and if I ended up getting the project or not. So I've kind of like, I guess there's like software tools you can use to do this like CRM, cool, I guess client relationship managers, where you can have these at different sales pipelines or whatever. But I would just use a spreadsheet to track the different listings if it worked out or not, if I heard back or not, and different stuff like that. So that's kind of what my process looks like.

Chris:
Yeah, that's, that's pretty awesome. And there's, there are a few things I love about that is, you know, number one, when you reach out to them, it sounds like you tried to understand where they were coming from, you know, so you knew they were small businesses, they didn't have a lot of time. So you cut straight to the point and showed proof of concept. And you were you're going into an avenue that probably a lot of people don't even consider Craigslist as a place that you'd be able to find a lot of good work, you know, they're going to the heavy hitters like Upwork or, you know, trying to find things on LinkedIn or pro finder or whatever. But you found a great market. And you just learned how to reach out to your specific client.

Laurence:
Yeah, and you know, I can't speak a ton for what Craigslist is like in 20
20 from what I've seen, because I have gone back and looked at the listings online recently, like in different cities in the United States, the way I used to back when I was actively applying for these different freelance gigs. And it looks very much similar to what I experienced in the past, like similar kinds of listings, similar kinds of opportunities.
So it seems to me, it seems like not much has changed as far as what's available on there, and the number of things available on there and all of that. And yeah, I feel like I don't know I just really like Craigslist. I also like it, because I can just send it as an email. After all, a lot of the other websites, you have to create a profile or you have to I don't know, there's just like a lot more barrier to entry. So, I just found Craigslist to be the simplest now saying that I have hired contractors and freelancers on Upwork So now that I have my own business, I've hired people on Upwork I have to People actively doing stuff for me right now through Upwork. That's like the platform and I pay them through there and all of that. So I do think Upwork can be effective as well. And I'm trying to think if there are any others that I've used to hire or get jobs on, and I don't think so I think those are the main two but there's, there's, you know, a ton of different sites, and I feel like it just I'm sure they all, for the most part, can work in some way. I think it just depends on what you like, what your preference is.

Chris:
Yeah, absolutely. Okay, this might be a sticky question, but I'd love to hear any nightmare stories you have with a client that you have that you've been contracted by in the past.

Laurence:
Well, so, fortunately, I've had some bad experiences, but nothing that crazy, thank goodness because I never would do that much work without being paid for it. But there was one time where I was building a site.
For it was like a friend of a friend of a friend, which should have maybe been more of a reflex. I didn't know these people that that well and I sort of maybe act the way I sort of handled it was almost like it was close, like a family member but I, in reality, I didn't know them all that well. So I probably should have had my guard up more. And I will try to remember exactly what happened, I think, oh, so they, it was almost like they were a middleman in some ways. And I was building this website for one of their clients, and they didn't specialize in websites, but they did this other stuff. And anyhow, so it just ended up just not they just like stopped contacting me I think early I was doing work for them and then they just like kind of gets it gets ghosted me is the right term, and then they didn't get back to me and then I didn't know where they were. And then that was kind of that and that Yeah, that was that. But fortunately, I hadn't done like too much work by the time that happened, and I had already been paid for some of it. So it wasn't like, you know, I'd built some like $10,000 website and then never got paid a dime it was it was much smaller scale than that. But then after that experience, it taught me a lot about just running like things more like an actual business and just making that like having more I guess, like processes involved and contracts and making sure I was more adamant about getting paid and getting paid on time and not doing work. Especially if it was someone new, who I didn't know, you know, because I feel like if it's like a long term client and they don't pay your invoice right away, that's different than someone new that you're working with, you know?

Chris:
Yeah, absolutely. And I feel like every most horror stories with clients starts with a friend of a friend of his you put your guard down and you're like, oh, man, this turns out to be like a really bad situation.

Laurence:
Yeah, it again, I wasn't even doing work for them very long, but it was very early in my freelance career. I'm not even sure if I had started to learn to code with me at that point, honestly. So I started to learn to code with me in 2014, about a year after I started learning to code, and it actually could have happened even a little bit before I started this site. I can't recall the exact timeline, but I do know it was pretty early on. Yeah. Well, let's talk about learning to code with me because you have some great resources for people who are looking to start side gigs in the tech space. Yes, yes. And we're putting together more as we speak. So we hope to cover this topic in more detail in the future as well. But yeah, a few things that we have. We have, again, we have one article, and we're doing more articles. We're gonna have multiple articles in the future. We also have this awesome ebook, and let me get the exact
So I don't read it incorrectly give me a second. Oh, yeah, 20 ways to earn a side income while learning how to code. And this goes through, as it says 20 different ways. And we break them down by category. And we, like, tell you how you can get these jobs, what you need to do, like different skills to learn what the average pay is, and all this other information for these 20 different 28 different things in tech. And probably like, the most informative thing that we have is training is video training. It is about an hour and a half long title. And in that training, I go through a framework for finding technical side gigs, and it's not just your first gig, it is multiple gigs after that because for most folks, they don't want to just have one, they want to have multiple and slowly, you know, build their way up over time. And I get into that and I can give you the URLs to all this stuff when we're done. So we can link it in if you have show notes or whatever. And people can easily get I find this stuff.

Chris:
Yeah. Yeah, that's great. Well, let's talk about pricing. Because that seems to be a question with a lot of freelancers or people who have side hustles. How do you determine to price? Have you done hourly? Do you do do you suggest per project and what has that looked like over the growth of your career as a freelancer?

Laurence:
Yeah, so like, there's a lot of different information out there. Heck, I know I can give you a link to this too. We have an article on the blog. It was a guest post that someone writes for our site, but it's called 10 different ways you can price your freelance projects or something like that, and it goes over 10 different like pricing strategies that you can use as a freelancer. But what I would use and to this day, how I pay so So anyway, so it's what's funny is, I used to do all these side gigs, right? And I used to work for a bunch of clients. But now I have contractors who like to work for me and them either freelance full time, but there is one person for I think there's more who I'm like her side gig. So she works full time at a really big tech, JOB, JOB board, website, platform, whatever you want to call it. And she's a content writer for them. And then I first started working with her though before she had that job and she still helps me five hours a week, which is awesome because I love her. She's great. And it's funny because it feels so like, it goes around like in a circle because now her side gig is helping her to code with me but then I said the side gigs than me right about side gigs. Anyway, it's just, it's just funny to think about it. But, um, as I got a little sidetracked there, but as far as pricing goes, this is how I pay most of my contractors today, I would say all of them except for one. And the way I would charge when I was doing it would be hourly. So I just found hourly to be the most straightforward, especially when you're first starting because it can be complicated to figure out how to charge for like a whole website. After all, it's hard to know how much time it may take you to do that. And I also found with hourly, it was a lot easier for me to slowly increase my rates over time. So what I would do is, like every new client that I got, especially early on, I would slowly increase my rate. So I started only charging like $15 an hour. And then the next rate I or the next client I had I may be charged $18 and then I went to 22. And I slowly increased it over time, and I thought that to be like much easier when I was doing it hourly just to kind of figure that out.
Yeah, and just for me, like it just made sense. If I work this many hours per week, I know I'm gonna make this much it was a lot easier just to track things and with finances and all that so I like hourly. I also really like our hourly as someone who's paying contractors, so
That's my preference.

Chris:
Yeah, so you were doing side hustles for a while? Did the projects ever become more than just a side hustle? Did you ever go full time into
what you were trying to do with coding?

Laurence:
Yeah so so I never had a side well, okay actually learn to code with me was a side hustle
for oh man for four years until I decided to do it full time. So when I first started learning to code with me, I was freelancing outside of Learn to Code with Me. And then I ended up getting a full-time job in tech at a company called teachable which is software for people that are making and selling online courses. And I still did learn to code with me on the side while I worked there, but I stopped doing other freelance projects because I probably would have lost my mind if I tried to do freelancing, learn to code me and work full time.
And then when I left teachable in 2018 to do learn to code me full time that became like my full thing then but when I started working at teachable it wasn't a side gig first. So it wasn't like I was freelancing for teachable and then I ended up getting hired full time. I just applied to a job on their website Funny enough and ended up getting the position that way. But there are a lot of people and heck at teachable there were a lot of people who would start as contractors, or they would start as Yeah, I guess contract to hire is the right word, I think to use. So they would be in a contract agreement and then maybe after a month or three months, they would become a full-time employee if things worked well. So I think for people listening like that is something really common that companies may be particularly startups and not 100% sure that they'll do that the contract to hire full-time role.

Chris:
Yeah. So let's talk about people who are maybe trying to do take the route that you have taken with going from, you know, starting with side gigs, you know, starting your platform with learning to code with me and then going essentially full time. What would your advice be to somebody who's like this? This is my, this is my dream one day, I want to be working full time at a tech company. But I don't quite know where to get started. What would you say?

Laurence:
Yeah, so for someone who wants to work full time at a tech company like that's like their end goal, or at least their end goal for right now, I do think that doing side gigs is an awesome approach to baby-stepping or these little stepping stones into a full-time tech position. Another great thing to do though, if you're able to, is to start taking on more technical responsibilities at your current full-time job, so say if you work right now in customer support. And there's an opportunity to do more tech-related support tickets that come in like say, if you are a customer support person for a software product or any kind of like a technical product, if you could somehow like maneuver yourself to do those kinds of things like internally with the company, that's another great way to eventually pivot or transition into a full-time tech role. Another helpful thing, I think, for people that want to eventually work full time in tech, and there's trying to get experience Well, there are several things. Another thing you could do is be a volunteer. So this, depending on how it looks, could have a few different it could look a few different ways, but two main ones come to mind one would be like for a nonprofit or for a church or something to help them build their website. Now with that, you may be working more in a silo, I guess it depends on the organization and how everything is set up. Maybe it would give you the chance to work with other people like more on a team environment if it was a group building the website. The other way I think of volunteering, though, is to, like, get out into the real sorry, I'm laughing because it's just like get out in the real world, but maybe volunteering at like a hackathon. And being the person who greets people at the door or does the name tags or registers people. And that way, you're interacting with people in tech. So yes, you're volunteering? No, maybe you're not building like actual like projects to add to your portfolio. But you are in a room with a bunch of tech people. And you're not just there attending, you're volunteering and contributing to the event. So that I think could be another great way to you know, make connections and get yourself in the industry and that can ultimately help lead into some kind of full-time role to the volunteering.
The side gigs that's another option. building your project projects, if you aren't able to find something paid or the volunteer one doesn't work out, and oh, internal moves. So like doing like finding ways in your current job that you're doing to take on more technical responsibilities, and there are several ways to position yourself into a full-time role, but I think those are probably like my four favorite ones.

Chris:
Yeah, that's awesome. And I know you'd mentioned to me one time, if you have a specific either place, you want to work for a career in mind to begin looking at their job postings and see what types of skills and experience that they're looking for and kind of reverse engineer what you're doing in your side gigs to make sure that you're lining up with what they're wanting.

Laurence:
Oh, yeah, yeah, that's like one of my favorite. My favorite, I guess, strategy to do and I wish this was something I did earlier on in my tech career journey because I would have saved a lot of time, and I would have had more of a plan in place. But essentially, it's, as you said, looking up, like jobs that you think you'd like to do at companies you think you'd like to work for. I'd also strongly recommend looking for ones that are in the city you live in, or the city you want to live in. Because one interesting thing is there are certain like different companies use different technology stacks. And there are some cities like geographically in the United States, at least were one city, like they'll all the tech companies there may use a certain tech stack and then another city may be different. So that's why I tell people also look at the geographic location of the job opening and if it's somewhere you know want to be and you can put together a little spreadsheet or list or Evernote or whatever you use to look at these different listings and find similarities amongst them, so maybe you're looking to be a web designer and you see certain skills like HTML, CSS, maybe they're also mentioning certain tools like Adobe Illustrator, or Photoshop or sketch or one of the other ones out there. And you can you know, after looking at a handful of listings, you can put together themes of what these positions you want are looking for. Then you could do some research if you're not familiar with some of the stuff on the list to see like if it's more beginner level or intermediate level or advanced level. And with that information, you can put together a little learning plan for yourself of the different skills you need to acquire and roughly the order that you can learn them in. And that way, it ensures that you're learning things that are aligned with your future career goals and
Also not just to learn so most of the time, I tell people that when they don't know what to learn, like what skills and languages and software specifically, but you could also use that as what you just said to find side gigs or to build your projects or to get volunteer work that ultimately aligns with whatever your greater goal is.

Chris:
I've heard it said that if you try to freelance too soon when you're learning to code, it can be a negative thing. And I don't agree with this at all. But I want to just get your perspective, especially for everybody listening. Because not only you're having to learn how to code but now you're learning how to project-manage, you're learning how to be a salesman, you're learning how to work with clients, rather than just learning the skills of coding, what would your response to that be?
So I can understand why.

Laurence:
You're trying to jump into freelancing full time, it could be a lot to learn
And a lot to think about and do it once. Because as you said, there are a few other components to essentially managing your own business and managing multiple clients at once. Project Management, other sales, as you just said, things with legal stuff and contracts, and it could easily become perhaps a bit overwhelming. But if someone is doing freelancing on the side, and they're only working with one or two clients at a time, while they still do their main full-time job, or maybe they have other full-time responsibilities, like their stay at home parent or they're in school full time or you know, something else. I don't think you know, I don't think that would be, yeah, it would be a risk. I feel like there's way more upside than downside as far as learning how to work with clients getting this experience that you could reference on your resume or future job interviews. Also, tons of work can come just through her
referrals. So these early clients that you have could bring you more clients in the future. And especially if someone is working full time and they're doing this, I wouldn't expect them to have multiple clients at once I feel like it would, you know, they have other full-time commitments they would be doing just, you know, one or two clients at a time. Well, I think one of the things when it comes to ultimately finding a lasting career as a developer or program software engineer, it's, it's more than just about your ability to code or the technical skills that you have. It's also about these soft skills that are super important. They're a huge part of the process. And you can't learn those things by just sitting in front of your laptop going through a course or hacking out some application or website. So I think it's it's super important to do like what you've done with funding.

Chris:
Side gigs and freelance work. Yeah, a hundred percent. And even if a person isn't going out and doing volunteer work or paid side gigs or what have you, thousand percent agree that you just like me to step away from the course of the tutorial. I love online courses don't get me wrong. But if you're working on something like in the real world, I'm doing little air quotes right now, you're going to learn so much more than if you're just following a course step by step. So that could even just be building your website for you know, whatever. It doesn't even need to be super valuable just building something on your own, that you're not following a step by step guide that's taking you through. Well, Lawrence, thank you so much for being on Self-Made Web Designer today. It's been so encouraging to hear you and I've learned so much and I know everybody listening has so just one more time can you tell us how to connect with you?

Laurence:
Yes, definitely. And thank you again, Chris, for having me on. It was a pleasure to talk to you as always, the best way to find me is just on my website it's LearntoCodewith.me and then as far as social media goes, I feel like I usually just tell people now to find me on Instagram, but I have to be honest, I'm not super active on any social media right now because at the time of this recording, I have moved relatively recently I'm also planning a wedding for myself. That's a specified like play away not for some I was planning my wedding, and several other like life things are going on. So I'm not as active on social media right now. But typically, most times of the year, you can find me on Instagram and that is just my name, which is Lawrence Bradford.

Chris:
Awesome. Well, we're looking forward to seeing more of what's to come with learning to code with me and everything else that you're doing. Laurence. Thanks again. Thank you again for having me. Wow. What a great conversation with Laurence Bradford Learn to Code with Me. If you
haven't already I want to encourage you to visit her website, it's Learntocodewith.me. You'll find a lot of great free resources and content to help you along the way on your journey to becoming a self-made web designer. Hey, we've got more episodes coming up right away. That's right, we're launching with four episodes for you to consume and enjoy. If you haven't already, I want to encourage you again. Go ahead, subscribe, leave a comment, leave a rating and get ready for the next episode with Mr. Anthony good round who's going to talk about what it takes to break into the tech industry and get a career when you're just getting started. I will see you in the next episode.

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