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The Benefits of Learning to Code - How It Can Change Your Life

Have you ever considered going to a coding bootcamp or taking coding lessons? 

My experience with coding is great, it is how I started living the life of my dreams.

BUT, I have a confession to make…

I'm not a software engineer. I don't have a computer science degree. In fact, I don't have any formal tech education. 

And I’ve never worked at FANG (aka Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google). 

I actually work for myself, I’m my own boss and I built a seven-figure business in less than three years.

And the first step I took to make this happen was learning to code. 

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How I Learned to Code As a Beginner

Fun fact! I started learning to code when I was in my thirties and I’m a strong believer that the right age to learn to code (or to learn anything new really) is now. It’s never too late!

The first time I came across code was by accident. 

I'm a military wife. I actually met my husband in Afghanistan back in 2008 when I worked for the government. We met, fell in love, I quit my job and moved to the UK. He's British. 

I bounced around a few different 9 to 5 jobs and in one of those jobs, my boss told me to add some functionality to the website.

I had no idea how to do what he asked for, so I did what anyone would do in that position. 

I googled it.

The result? Some random gobbledygook-looking code that meant absolutely nothing to me…

But I copied and pasted it into the website and sure enough, it worked. It was magical. 

Seriously, though, that moment was the start of my journey to my dream job. 

I dove in head first and learned as much as I could. I desperately wanted a remote job that I could do from anywhere. As a military family, we moved a lot. And coding jobs can easily be done remotely, so it was perfect!

Why is Coding Hard?

Here's the thing about learning to code. I always thought I needed to be a math whiz to be good at coding, which I definitely wasn't.

But the truth is, you don't have to be good at math! What you do need is good problem-solving skills. Plus, it always helps if you've got some gumption and aren't afraid of learning something new. 

After that magical moment when I first stumbled on coding, I was sure I wanted to learn more. I started with, of course, Googling how to learn to code.

After lots of research, I decided to go the free and self-taught route. 

I'd already spent tons of time and money on higher education - of which I wasn't using any of those skills in my 9 to 5.

I also wanted to make sure I really enjoyed it before investing too much. I was in my thirties and I didn't want to be the old person in the room who was starting at zero with a bunch of youngsters who'd been techy from birth.

Because my first interaction with code was with a website, I decided to go down the web development route. 

My first learning experience was with the Odin Project because I wanted to learn more about frontend development, backend development and full stack development. 

These were all brand new terms to me and the self-paced learning was really appealing as I still had my 9 to 5 job.

I learned HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Git, Command Line, text editors and then a bit of Ruby on Rails (long enough to know that this last one wasn't my cup of tea). So over the next two years, I binged as many free resources as I could find, from code academy to free code camp to all the YouTube videos I could consume.

I completed projects and built websites. I was finally ready to start applying for jobs!

200 plus job applications later and zero offers. 

It was so demoralizing. 

How I Started My Online Business

It was around that time that a friend was retiring from the military and starting his own business. 

He needed a website and he asked me to build it. By then I'd become familiar with WordPress and decided to use it for his website.

Seeing as he'd be updating the content, I wanted it to be relatively user-friendly. It was the same friend who suggested I start my own business building websites for small businesses. 

I was reluctant to start my job search but decided to give it a go. Can coding be a side hustle? Well, it turns out it not only can, but it would also become my full-time job.

Plus, I found the perfect combination!

Coding skills (i.e. troubleshooting and problem-solving skills) +  WordPress made me a sort of unicorn and I was able to more than triple my hourly rate in less than six months. 

A mentor once said to me - solve people's problems and you won't starve. 

That's exactly what I was able to do with my coding skills and WordPress skills. I was able to take on the techiest of the techy jobs when it came to WordPress customization and fixing issues, all because I knew how to code.

P.S. In addition to my techy skills, I also had good personal skills and communication skills which are super important regardless of the line of work you're in. 

So my side hustle quickly turned into a full-fledged business, and I replaced my full-time income within five months and made over six figures in my first full year of business.

Fast forward to 2018 and my husband is retiring from the military. I have a business I can do from anywhere, so we decide to sell everything and we move into an RV to travel the U.S. full-time.

While traveling and posting about our adventures on social media, lots of people wanted to know - How are you able to travel full-time? What do you do for work? 

When I told them about my coding journey and then specializing in WordPress, they wanted to do the same. 

So I started teaching them how to code, how to troubleshoot and problem-solve, how to Google, how to build websites for WordPress, how to find clients, and how to start their own businesses. 

With one big difference that I didn't have when I was learning how to code…

A community, but not just ANY community.

A supportive and encouraging community where there is no such thing as a stupid question.

Impostor Syndrome And The Importance of Community

Remember what I said before about how it took me two years to learn it before I started applying for jobs?

It took me that long, primarily because of imposter syndrome. I never felt like I knew enough and I was terrified to put myself out there.

I would get stuck a lot and I didn't feel comfortable asking for help, mostly because I'd been made fun of several times for asking questions. 

It wasn’t uncommon for me to get responses like: If you don't know the answer to that question, you shouldn't be doing this... 

Which is absolute nonsense, we all start somewhere!

I learned to code in a vacuum and it really stunted my growth. But it was also the biggest learning experience for me.

Who knew all that doubt and frustration and embarrassment would lead me to the dream job that I have now? 

When I started teaching others how to code, I was adamant that a supportive and encouraging community would come with it.

And that’s how GeekPack® was born. 

Now I get to teach others the same tech skills that enabled me to solve people's problems, live life on my own terms, and make more money than any job I ever had.

Now, don't get me wrong, my journey is definitely unconventional when it comes to the tech industry. But I wouldn't have it any other way. 

And it all started because I decided to learn to code. 

Now, if my journey sounds interesting to you, but you have no idea where to start. We've got a FREE Live Coding Challenge and we'd love to have you join us.

Free Coding Challenge
Join over 30,000 status quo crushing women!

We start at the very, very beginning. So if you're a newbie, it's perfect. 

All that being said, if you prefer to get a degree or go down the bootcamp route - awesome.

There are so many great opportunities when it comes to learning to code. The great thing about the tech industry is there's a place for everyone.

Find your tribe, feel supported, and get encouragement. 

Your people are out there!

About the Author:
Some people look at the sky and see stars; others see constellations. Some people look at lines of code and see a website; Julia saw a path to empower women in building their dreams. As a (former) military wife, self-taught web developer, and lover of location independence, Julia has taught over 3,600 women to say “YES” to any WordPress request, but not only that, “YES” to themselves, and “YES” to creating life on their own terms. Empowering women and seeing others succeed is the biggest motivator for Julia. And so, she created a program to teach others the skills that allowed her to take back control of her life and start living on her own terms.
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