The Busy Dad’s Simple Guide to Learning Web Design

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Hi, I'm Chris and I'm super glad you're here. 7 years ago I taught my self-web design and freelancing. Now, I do my best to teach others what I've learned so they don't have to struggle as much as I did.

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The Busy Dad's Simple Guide to Learning Web Design|| Me holding my son, Dean

That’s my son. Dean.

A chip off the ole block. At least, I think he is. He’s only 4 weeks old as I write this. He could turn out to be a jerk. Fingers crossed ??

I’M KIDDING! He’s awesome.

I love my son…a lot. But, having him after a 7 year stretch from my last kiddo has reminded me that babies take a lot of time and emotional energy.

The truth is most of us have a lot going on in our worlds. I’ve never really talked to anyone that’s said, “I just can’t believe how much free time I have!”

Instead, I hear phrases about how “there’s never enough hours in the day,” or “to much week and not enough weekend.”

If we are ever going to see the breakthrough that we’re hoping for we have to do it ON PURPOSE.

You won’t learn web design on accident, especially as a busy father.

Thankfully, there are some simple things that you can do to help you along the way.

The Busy Dad’s Simple Guide to Learning Web Design

1. Talk to your Wife

I know I’m starting out strong. But, bear with me.

Here’s the thing, anything you do as a dad is a family affair.

Your time is not your own. And, that’s okay.

The trade off is raising happy, healthy kids and having a meaningful relationship with your wife. Of course, it’s worth it.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t spend time to yourself or make room for growing in your career or as a person. In fact, it’s actually pretty important that you do.

But, you can’t do it if you don’t make sure your significant other is on board.

A Quick Story

I’m a very quick processor and my wife is a very slow processor.

I came up with a plan to launch Self-Made Web Designer after not having thought or talked about it before on a 3 hour plane ride home from a staff retreat in Mexico.

I got off the plane and excitedly told my wife everything thinking she would be just as excited as I was.

But, she wasn’t.

And, it wasn’t because she didn’t think it was a good idea OR because she didn’t want me to do it.

It’s just that I had never talked about anything like this before to her…or anyone, in my whole life.

She needed time to think about it, to weigh the cost of what it meant and how that affected our family.

I was seeing all the awesome benefits. She was seeing all the things it would take away.

It took spending a lot of time talking and processing for her to see it like I did. And, she definitely does now.

BUT, this blog wouldn’t be a thing if I hadn’t spent time planning and working things out with her.

So, make sure you spend time with your spouse about what you’re thinking and better yet come in with a game plan that she can speak into.

2. Pick a Path

Before you begin you’ve got to make some decisions on what exactly you want to focus on learning. Web design can be a pretty broad path.

I love what my friend Laurence Bradford says at Learn to Code With Me.

To know what you should do start at the end.

Do you want to be working at a company like Google or Facebook. Look at their job postings and see what types of things they are looking for.

What skills do they want? What kind of experience are they looking for?

Then you pick a path that gives you all of those skills and experience.

In web design you could go the route of:

Once you’ve picked which path you want to be on it’s time to start building the runway.

As a frontend developer, you will definitely need to have some development skills.

Thankfully, there are a few great options to learn for absolutely free.

Codecademy is what I started with and something I highly recommend. But, there are also Free Code Camp and The Odin Project.

Find one that you like and stick to it.

As a UX or Visual Designer it’s helpful to know a bit of development but it’s not 100% necessary.

It’s more important that you know things about User Testing and User Personas.

You also need to know how to use design tools like Sketch or Adobe XD.

There are some great courses at It costs $13 per month but the price is worth it. I’m not an affiliate there, BTW.

There are also some great blogs out there with a ton of information.

Are some of my favorites.

I also have a free course to get you started in the right direction:


My Step by Step Process to Learning Web Design

I’ve made navigating the endless sea of online tutorials simple in this 4 video course. You get it free of charge. Start your journey to a new career or freelance business today.

Thank you for subscribing!

3. Have a Plan

Wanna know something weird about me? I’m a free spirited person BUT I love making schedules.

I know that seems contradictory. But, oh well.

I work on my schedule every week. My current method is from “The 12 Week Year.”

A schedule might seem restrictive BUT it actually frees you up to do more of what you ACTUALLY WANT TO BE DOING.

Without thinking strategically about your time it’s easily wasted.

So, if you want to learn web design as a busy father you are going to have to make a game plan.

My suggestion would be to make time blocks every week that you devote to work on learning web design. The more consistent you can make them the more likely you’ll be to stick with them.

For instance, I block out certain hours every week that I devote to working on Self-made Web Designer. Each day has a different focus.

On Monday’s I work on one thing, Tuesdays another, Wednesdays another and so on.

So, every night when I sit down to work on it I know exactly what I’m going to be doing and how long I have.

You need to do the same for learning web design. Have a weekly plan and a time frame for when you’ll take the next step.

You don’t want to be endlessly learning before you go out and either try to find a freelance project OR apply for a job.

It typically takes people about 1 year to go from absolutely no knowledge to hirable at a company. So, if you’ve got a web design career in mind, plan for the long haul.

Finding freelance projects as a web designer can come much sooner. And, in fact it’s probably good to take on a few before you apply for a full-time position to see if you like it and to gain some real world experience.

Bottom line, be intentional about your time and your plan. You won’t be able to learn web design as a busy father if you’re not.

4. Make a “Not To-Do List”

Most of us have more than a few To-Do lists lying around but neglect our Not To-Do Lists.

A Not To-Do List is a list of things that you are planning on saying no to while you learn web design as a busy father.

You’ll need a Not To-Do list if you’re going to make it all the way to the finish line. In other words, you’ll need to have some things that you cut out of your life for a season.

It might be things you enjoy like going out on weekends with friends or not being caught up on every season of Stranger Things.

But, it could also be things like keeping your garage or lawn immaculate all the time.

The thing about the Not To-Do List is you don’t have to have it forever. You just need to have it for the season you’re trying to learn web design as a busy father.

If you talk to your spouse and communicate that you need to spend a little less time making sure all of the weeds are pulled so you can spend a few extra hours learning web design they’re likely to be understanding.

But, you have to frame it in a way that she knows you’re not trying to skip out on responsibilities. You’re trying to move you and your family forward. And, that might mean you don’t win yard of the month this year.

I’ve had seasons where I knew if I got 6 hours of sleep it was a luxury. The only wiggle room I had in my schedule was the time I’d normally be sleeping.

And, that was okay because it didn’t last forever.

So, find some things that you are willing to give up and say no to for the season you’re learning web design.

5. Be Realistic

Contrary to popular Disney movies, we can’t do everything we set our minds to.

You’re human. You have very real limitations.

That’s ok. We all do.

It’s much better to be realistic with yourself about what you can and can’t do than it is to shoot for the moon and fail.


Because when you fail, it’s really easy to get super discouraged and give up all together.

It’s better to be sober minded about your season in life and make a game plan that might actually happen.

I love what Jon Acuff says in his book “Finish.”

“If you’re unhappy with your progress, you have three different dials you can adjust. The goal, The timeline, The actions”

Any of those dials can be turned up or down depending on where you are.

The main dial that’s handy to you when learning web design is the timeline.

Maybe it doesn’t take you 1 year to learn web design and find a full-time job. Maybe it takes you 2. Maybe it takes you 5. Who cares?!?

All that matters is that you keep going and keep working toward your goal until you make it to the finish line.

If you don’t quit, you win.

The Busy Dad’s Simple Guide to Learning Web Design

It’s not impossible to learn web design as a busy father. It’s not impossible to change careers or find freelance work despite being super busy making sure your kids are fed.

It just takes some intentionality.

How do I know? Because I did it.

I did it as a single dad. And, listen, I’m no web design genius.

The difference between me and people who didn’t make is I kept going. It’s as simple as that.

And, if I hadn’t have done these things along the way, it would have been a lot more difficult to actually see it through.

But, I’m so glad I did. And, I know you will be too.

A Busy Father's Guide to Learning Web Design|A man on the beach with his son


Hi, I'm Chris and I'm super glad you're here. 7 years ago I taught my self-web design and freelancing. Now, I do my best to teach others what I've learned so they don't have to struggle as much as I did.

Every week, I write an article and release a podcast episode. Sign up if you want to get notified when that happens.



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