If you want to learn how to code, taking the first step can feel difficult and even overwhelming. There’s so much technical terminology to catch up on and the more you look into it, the more jargon you discover. So, how to start learning coding the right way?
Luckily, there are a few helpful tips you can use to make things easier for you. The trick is to get into the right mindset and to make yourself a solid plan to follow.
In this post, I’ll walk you through 6 simple but powerful tips on how to start learning coding without prior experience. By the time you finish this article, you’ll know exactly where to start and how to work your way towards your goals, step by step. You’ll save heaps of time, allowing you to see results faster along the way.
Also, I’ll share with you some of the best tools and resources I used to learn coding from scratch.
Here are a few related articles you may find helpful, too:
- 8 Things You Should Know Before Learning Programming
- Beginner’s Guide: The Best Way to Learn Programming
- The Best Websites to Learn Coding and Web Development in 2019
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!
Step #1: Figure out why you want to learn programming
This first point is by far the most important thing you need to consider.
Why are you interested in learning coding?
Try to be aware of and analytical about the reasons why you wish to learn programming. I don’t mean that you need to spend days or weeks figuring this out. But take some time and make sure you know what’s motivating you.
Once you figure out what your “mission” is, you will know what steps are necessary to achieve your goal.
Remember that learning programming is a process that will tie you up for a long time. And things will not always go the way you plan, trust me.
Hence, you need to be able to find your motivation over and over again. You will need at least several months or even years to reach your goals.
Nevertheless, the journey towards your goal will be amazing, I promise.
Let’s look at two different scenarios here. These two are the top reasons I’ve heard why people want to start learning coding.
Reason #1: I’m in it for the money
Obviously, the prospect of making money with coding is a big motivator for learning coding these days. After all, skilled programmers are some of the most sought-after employees worldwide – and also some of the highest-paid ones!
That said, the investment you make when you buy a coding course online can pay itself back sooner than you think. Learning how to code is so easy nowadays with all the resources available to you online.
The best part?
You don’t even have to wait until you’re ready for a full-time developer job! You can start making money with your coding skills while you’re still learning.
Find small freelance jobs online or in your area and slowly build a portfolio for yourself.
Then, as your skills improve step by step, you can start applying for developer jobs – anywhere in the world.
Reason #2: I think coding is fun
If this is the case, then congratulations! You will most likely keep going even when times get rough and achieve your goals in the long run.
When you’re enjoying coding as it is, you’re much more likely to keep going when you hit a rough patch. Since your motivation is stemming from a “real” source instead of just making money with coding, you’ll find it easier to focus on solving any problem you may face along the way.
The driving force behind this is something called intrinsic motivation. It’s what keeps you going even when you’re not getting any direct rewards or incentives for your efforts.
With intrinsic motivation, you simply enjoy what you’re doing and you’re curious to see what’s headed your way next.
The bottom line is: Whatever your reason for learning coding is, just be aware of it. When you have a clear idea of what’s motivating you to learn, you’ll find it easier to develop a robust learning routine to stay focused on your goals.
Step #2: Know what you want to create with coding
Now that you know why you’re interested in learning coding, it’s time to figure out what you want to build with your skills.
If you’re just getting started, you may feel like it’s way too soon to know what you want to create in the long run, I know.
But here’s the deal: In order to choose your first programming language to learn, you need to know what you’ll use it for in the future.
And don’t worry if you’re not 100% sure about your plans for the future. You can always switch to another programming language as you go.
When you’ve learned the basics of one language, it’s much quicker to learn the next one.
What to specialize in?
So, what can you create with coding then?
Your possibilities are almost endless, really. You can use coding for a bunch of different projects, like:
- Web applications and websites
- Mobile app development for Apple or Android devices
- Game or desktop software development
- Data analysis and visualization
- Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
I know, it’s a lot to choose from. Based on what I’ve done and heard, you should just go with your intuition. Whatever it is that you wish to create, just be mindful about it.
All in all, when you’re thinking about how to start learning coding, knowing what you’ll use it for in the future will help you learn faster. You’ll already know what sort of problems you need to solve with your skills.
Seeing the big picture is going to help you put everything you learn into context right away.
Step #3: Choose the right programming language
Once you have a clear idea about what you want to build with coding, you come to the next question:
What skills do you need to learn to achieve your goal?
In other words, it’s time to choose your first programming language. You see, knowing what you wish to create is a problem you need to solve. And a programming language offers you the tools to solve that problem.
Read more: What Programming Language Should I Learn?
For example, let’s assume you want to learn web development. When you’re building a website from scratch, your project has two main components:
- The Front-end – That’s what your website users can see: Design, styling, and layouts.
- The Back-end – This is what happens in the background: Databases, technical functions, and user accounts, for instance.
Now, both of these areas have a specific set of programming languages you need to learn. Let’s take a look:
For front-end or client-side web development, you need to learn a few different languages:
- HTML or HyperText Markup Language will create the structure and contents for your website.
- CSS or Cascading Style Sheets changes the look and feel of your HTML elements – that’s where you’ll use your design skills.
Creating a beautiful front-end for a web project is just the tip of the iceberg, really. The engine that powers all the different functionalities and features behind a website is called the back-end or the server side.
When you build a web application from scratch, you can use back-end languages like:
You’d use these programming languages to create the logic behind a web project. For example, when you create an account on Facebook, they store your user data on their servers. The rules and logic for user account management are created using back-end programming languages.
For more details, check out this helpful article about the differences between front-end and back-end web development.
Step #4: Start small, track your learning
Ok, now you know which programming language you need to learn to achieve your coding goals.
The next step is to create a solid learning plan for yourself. I know most beginners skip this step and start their first online coding course right away. After a while, they start feeling confused and overwhelmed.
And here’s why:
They don’t know if they’re making any progress.
I mean, if you don’t have a plan with a clear path towards your goal, you’ll never know how far you’ve come already.
Having a plan with realistic targets and milestones will help you learn coding much faster. You’ll find it easier to stay focused and motivated when you get some instant gratification from completing one milestone at a time.
Here’s what you should do:
Whatever your long-term goal with coding is, break it down into smaller bits.
For example, if you want to start freelancing as a front-end developer in 6 months, your learning plan could look something like this:
- Month #1: Learn coding and web dev fundamentals
- Month #2: Learn and practice HTML and CSS
- Month #3: Launch your portfolio website
- Month #5: Build 3 practical projects for your portfolio
- Month #6: Sign up for UpWork and start looking for first gigs
When you have a monthly plan like this, it’s much easier to focus on one thing at a time. And as you progress to the next month, you can use what you’ve learned so far as a solid foundation for your new skills.
And remember: With each problem you solve with code, you’re making progress. Even if it sometimes feels like your goals are so far away, don’t forget how far you’ve come already. Focus on your milestones and you’ll see your skills improve little by little.
The more you practice, the bigger projects you can build and the more complex problems you can solve with code.
Step #5: Understand Computer Science basics
Here’s another important point most beginners neglect – leading to lack of motivation and feeling overwhelmed. When you’re looking for the best to start learning coding, learning Computer Science basics will be your best weapon, trust me.
When you learn how to code, you’re telling computers what to do. But do you know how they perform the tasks you give to them? Do you know what’s happening under the hood and behind the scenes?
Having a basic understanding of how computers work will help you learn coding faster. When you know what computers are capable of, you can write better, more efficient code.
Recommended: 6 Best Online Computer Science Courses For Beginners
True story: When I started learning coding, I jumped right into my first online course. But just a few lessons in, I started feeling like something was missing.
I was enjoying the exercises, but I didn’t really understand what I was doing.
So I reached out to a developer friend of mine for some help. Right off the bat, he told me to take this free Computer Science course as soon as possible.
And you know what? After just a few video lectures and exercises later, I felt something go “click” in my head and everything just fell into place.
Even though some of the topics were somewhat technical and theoretical, I had a better idea about what I was doing, simple as that.
The best Computer Science courses for you:
- Computer Science 101 – this is a beginner-level course on Udemy that will teach you everything you need to know about Computer Science in order to see quicker results while learning how to code.
- Computer Basics – this course at Team Treehouse is excellent for getting to know what Computer Science is all about and how computers actually work under the hood. If you’re not familiar with Treehouse, try their FREE 7-day trial!
- Computer Science E-50 – this beginner-level course is taught at Harvard College. Needless to say, the professor does an amazing job with the course – and it’s free!
Step #6: Start an online coding course
Ok, now you got a clear goal in your mind, you’ve chosen a programming language to learn, and you know a bit about how computers work.
Next, it’s time to actually start learning coding, finally!
Luckily, you will not have difficulties in finding enough resources online to get you started. The Internet is so packed with coding tutorials, guides, and courses that it’s hard to find the best ones out there as a beginner.
If you’re thinking about how to start learning coding from scratch, here are a few helpful tips:
- Start with a free online coding course – See if you like it in the first place. Try out a couple of programming languages and find the one you enjoy working with the most. Try Codecademy, for example.
- Invest in a paid online course – I know you may not want to spend a fortune on learning. And you don’t, trust me. I spent a whopping $20 on two courses before I started making money as a freelancer and became a web dev entrepreneur. Investing a few bucks in a quality course will pay itself off.
- Build meaningful projects – Throughout your coding course, build your own real-life projects, too. Try to break away from your video tutorials as much as you can and experiment with new solutions every day.
- Avoid course-hopping – When you start one course, make sure you finish it before starting the next one. Here are some practical tips for finishing every coding course you start.
To help you find the best online coding course to start with, check out my post with 5 amazing web development course for beginners.
Final thoughts: How to start learning coding?
Ok this was a long post, but I hope I managed to give you some helpful pointers on how to start learning coding as a total beginner.
The main point is: you’re not going to learn how to code by sitting down and saying that you want to learn programming.
Instead, your mindset should be more like this: you want to create something or solve a problem, and learning a programming language will be your tool for that.
Thus, coding itself is a journey, not a destination.
Just like a cook doesn’t learn how to prepare a dish simply for the fun of it, but instead in order to cook delicious meals for us hungry customers and offer us a great dining experience, for instance.
Similarly, a taxi driver doesn’t learn driving just to cruise around town all day. Instead, they want to offer other people a service for getting from one place to another.
So try to be more aware of why you’re interested in learning programming. Simple as that.
Once that’s done, you will find the right resources for learning and you will be well on your way towards becoming a developer.
There are so many opportunities out there for skilled developers that you won’t run out of work anytime soon. Learning web development changed my life completely and I think it can do just that for you, too.
Here are a few related posts you might find helpful, too:
- Why Learn Coding? 12 Essential Benefits from Learning Programming
- 10 Tips for Learning Coding More Efficiently
- Recommended Resources for Learning Coding and Web Development
If you enjoyed this post on how to start learning coding, please share your thoughts in the comments below!
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I’ll see you in the next post! Happy coding!