The Best Way to Learn to Code in 2021: Beginner’s Guide


updated Dec 15, 2020


I think you will agree with me on one thing: learning to code is really difficult! When you’re a beginner, how do you even know where to start? How can you find the best way to learn coding from scratch?

After all, you don’t want to waste your precious time learning skills you won’t need in the future. Let alone waste your money on the wrong resources.

But here’s the deal: You can use a few simple tricks to avoid feeling overwhelmed altogether while achieving better results – in less time.

In today’s post, I’m going to walk you through 6 practical steps to help you teach yourself to code faster. When you follow them, you’ll know exactly what steps you need to take to achieve your coding goals.

I’ll also share with you the exact learning resources I used to become a self-employed Web Developer.

Here are a few related articles you may want to read, too:

Please note: This post contains affiliate links to products I use and recommend. If you choose to purchase using these links, I may receive a small commission for referring you. But please, only buy products you believe will help you achieve your goals faster. Thank you for your support!

The best way to learn to code: 6 simple steps

If you want to start learning to code to become a full-time developer or start freelancing, you want to follow a clear plan to achieve your goals as fast as possible.

To help you plan your learning more efficiently, here are 6 practical steps you can follow to get closer to your goals without wasting your time:

  1. Know your goals
  2. Understand what coding is
  3. Choose your specialization
  4. Start an online coding course
  5. Solve real-world problems with code
  6. Build meaningful portfolio projects

Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

The best way to learn to code - How to learn programming and web development for beginners

Step 1: Know your goals

Let’s start with the very basics. If you want to teach yourself to code, the first thing you need is a clear goal.

I mean, if you don’t have a goal, how could you ever achieve it?

Setting a clear goal is something most beginners tend to neglect. They start learning one programming language and feel happy when they see some progress. But before long, they start feeling confused. They lose their motivation and quit altogether.


Because they don’t know how far they’ve come.

Without a strategy and milestones, they can’t track their progress.

And when you can’t tell if you’re making progress, how could you maintain your motivation?

Therefore, take a few moments to figure out what you want to do with coding. Why do you want to learn how to code?

Your goal might be financial freedom, spending more time with your family, or starting your own business in the future.

Whatever your goals are, just be aware of them. Once you know what you want to achieve, it’s so much easier to find a way to get there. You’ll always know how far you’ve come and what you need to do next to get one step closer to your goal.

Related: How to Start Learning Coding? 6 Easy Tips for Beginners

Step 2: Understand what coding is

This might sound like a no-brainer, I know. But you don’t want to neglect this point.

I see lots of beginners who jump right into their first online course and start learning. They go through a few lessons and make nice progress. So far so good.

But as the lessons get more demanding, they soon feel lost and confused.

You see, most online coding courses have a very subtle learning curve in the beginning. But, as with anything new we learn, that curve gets pretty steep all of a sudden at some point.

The easiest way to prepare yourself for this is to learn the fundamentals of programming and web development. So, before you start with your first coding lessons, you should figure out the bigger picture of how coding works and what you can use it for.

Related: Learning Computer Science Basics Before Coding

Thus, if you’re a total beginner, head over to my Free Coding Guide. I’ve gathered together a few helpful chapters on topics like:

  1. What is coding?
  2. Introduction to programming languages
  3. Front-end vs back-end development
  4. How the Internet works
Free Coding Guide for Beginners - Learn programming and web development for free

Now, if you’re taking an online course and the topics suddenly feel difficult and too demanding, just take a step back. Go through my guide and understand what coding is all about first.

Step 3: Choose your area of specialization

This is the final step you should take before you actually start learning how to code.

Now that you know what you want to achieve with programming and what it’s all about, you can choose a field you want to specialize in.

In other words, it’s time to choose your first programming language to learn.

Recommended: 4 Easy-to-Learn Programming Languages for Beginners

I know, it may feel like it’s way too early to know what you want to do with coding in the future.

But don’t worry: You can always switch to another specialization later on.

And your efforts so far will not be in vain, trust me. When you know the basics of one programming language, you’ll learn the next one much faster.

Related: 14 Programming Languages and Their Uses Explained

So, what would you like to do in the future? Do you have a dream job in mind already?

When you learn coding to start a new career in the future, you can choose from a variety of fields to specialize in:

  • Web development
  • Mobile app development
  • User Experience (UX) design
  • Game development
  • Data analysis
  • Machine learning etc.

You’re free to choose whatever you like, of course.

However, depending on where you live, you may not find jobs in the field you’d want to work in.

In other words: do some research online to look for interesting employers in your area. Are they looking for developers with the skills you’d like to specialize in?

If you feel confused about all the choices you have, don’t worry. Nothing is set in stone at this point. It’s perfectly normal to start learning one thing and suddenly feel like it’s not your thing after all.

In fact, that happened to me, too. I started with a heavy focus on data analysis and back-end development with Python.

But only a few months later, I found myself having started my own web design business, focusing on front-end development and WordPress

Related: 5 Beginner-Level Web Dev Courses for Fast Learning

Step 4: Start an online coding course

Alright, it’s time to pull out the big guns!

Now that you know why you want to learn coding and what you want to specialize in, you’re ready to start learning.

The most difficult part of starting out is to find the best resources for beginners. You can choose between online courses and books or find a beginner-level tutorial online.

But with hundreds of courses and tutorials out there, most newbies just feel overwhelmed and confused at this point.

I remember spending hours and days looking for my first coding course. I ended up paying a big buck for a course that was just rubbish, wasting both my money and my time.

When you find a course you like, just stick with it. Trust me, one course or book is more than enough to learn the basics. You’ll soon feel comfortable enough to start solving problems with the language your learning.

I found the best coding courses on Udemy when I first started learning how to code. The first course I took was The Complete Web Developer Course 2.0, which paid itself back in just a few weeks: After learning and practising my HTML and CSS, I got my first small freelance gig online. Money well spent!

Related article: 10 Critical Reasons Why You Should Start an Online Coding Course

Step 5: Solve real-world problems

Coding is all about solving problems, right?

And if you want to become a professional developer, solving problems will pay your bills in the future.

Thus, the best way to land a developer job is to show how well you can solve problems for your potential employer. And hey, practice makes perfect, right?

Therefore, while you’re going through your online course, make sure you take a break from your lectures every now and then. Whenever you can, take a few moments (or days) to apply your skills to real-life problems.

You should use your new skills to solve some problems you deal with daily. When you see how you can help yourself or others with your coding skills, you’ll instantly feel more motivated and confident.

For example, here are a few ideas to apply your skills to real-life problems:

  • Create a small program to sort your emails
  • Update a website of a friend or relative
  • Automate a daily report at work
  • Write a program that organizes your photos
  • Build a small Twitter bot program

Depending on what your first coding course is about, you can come up with much better ideas than I can.

You shouldn’t have any problems finding ideas for small projects if you followed the steps in this article. When you’re learning tools you want to use in the future, you should already have a few project ideas in your head.

Recommended: 10 Simple Tips to Learn Coding More Efficiently

Step 6: Build meaningful projects

Ok, I saved the best for last!

When you apply for developer jobs in the future, your employers only want to see what you can do. Unless you have a solid portfolio to show what you’re capable of, you can forget about the job.

But if you hit them with an amazing selection of practical projects you’ve finished, you’re much more likely to get a callback.

If you’re not sure where to start, read these smart tips on how to find the best coding projects.

As you saw in the previous point, the best way to learn coding is to solve real-life problems. And whenever you do that, you should think about how you can showcase your solutions to potential employers.

So, how do you do that?

First of all, you need a portfolio website. You can build one from scratch if you’ve learned HTML and CSS. However, I’d recommend using WordPress. Knowing how to use WordPress is just another skill to add in your CV.

In the beginning, upload even the smallest projects into your portfolio. Don’t forget to mention how carefully you planned and managed the project. And if it was for someone else, remember to emphasize your communication and coordination skills, too.

As your skills improve, you’ll be able to build bigger, more demanding projects.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to know what your dream employer wants. That said, browse through a few job descriptions from companies you’d like to work at. See what skills they are looking for. Then, make sure you use those skills in your portfolio projects.

That job will be yours for the taking!

Read next:

Remember: Find learning methods that work for you

I hope you’re still with me! Did you find a few helpful tips above? Drop me a line in the comments section and share your thoughts!

When you start learning how to code, just remember to take it slow. You can follow the steps above to find the best way to learn coding that works for your.

I know it’s a lot to take in if you’re just starting out. But trust me, these steps work.

If you have a solid plan and you know what you want to achieve, you’re already halfway there. Don’t let your goals get out of your sight. You will achieve them. It’s not going to happen overnight and you will go through a few rough patches. But you’ll always know what to do next to get one step closer to where you want to go.

Also, keep in mind that we all have our own ways of learning new things. Even though we all want to learn how to code, our journeys are very different.

Therefore, remember this: What works for someone else doesn’t have to be the best way to learn coding for you.

That said, don’t be afraid to try different learning methods and resources. It’s all about patience and finding the optimal learning recipe that you feel comfortable with.

Recommended: Learning Programming: Online Courses vs Coding Books

Final thoughts: The best way to learn to code in 2021

Learning how to code doesn’t have to be difficult. Even if you’re a total beginner, you can learn coding from scratch easily with the helpful strategies in this article.

When you want to find the best way to learn coding, you need to start with a robust plan. Let’s recap:

  1. First, think about why you want to learn coding from scratch.
  2. Then, understand the basics of programming and computers.
  3. Next, you should pick an area to specialize in. Websites? Mobiles apps? Games? Data analysis? What will it be?
  4. Only then are you ready to start your first coding course. It’s much easier to stay focused and motivated when you’re prepared for what you’ll learn.
  5. As you work your way through your coding course, apply what you learn to real-life projects. Start by using code to solve small problems for yourself or for someone you know.
  6. As your skills improve, move onto bigger projects. Upload them into your portfolio one by one. Then, rinse and repeat!

Alright, are you ready to start? I know you’ll nail it!

Whenever you feel ready, here are a few helpful articles to get you started:

If you enjoyed this post on the best way to learn coding, just drop me a line in the comments below! 

P.S. Please share this post with others if you liked it! Thanks!

I’ll see you in the next article! Happy coding!
– Mikke

The Best Way to Learn to Code in 2021: Beginner\'s Guide

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About Mikke

Hi! I’m the creator of, a platform where I help beginners learn how to code. I’m here to share my favorite tools, resources, and strategies to help you learn the right tech skills faster. When I’m not blogging, you will find me sipping strong coffee and biking around town in Berlin. Learn how I taught myself tech skills and became a web dev entrepreneur here. And come join me on Pinterest and Twitter!


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