Web development is booming so inevitably growing numbers of people are wondering: how do I become a web developer from scratch?

If you are looking to build a career as a web developer, you will need to gain new a set of skills which involves programming languages and other soft skills like marketing and communications.

© David Hills
© David Hills

Now, if this seems intimidating to you, it’s actually not that difficult – as long as you put the work and effort into it.

It’s all in the preparation… if you are willing to see what is expected of you, it will make things a lot easier to understand and plan ahead for. Plus, it’s much more exciting to complete. Browse the latest tech jobs with Techworld

These eight steps will help you transition into becoming a web developer:

1. Is this your passion?

The word ‘passion’ is so commonly used that it means so many different things to different people.

The correct definition is actually: “a strong and barely controllable emotion.”

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Would this be an exciting career for me to do?
  • Does the thought of creating websites and web apps excite me?
  • Would becoming a web developer be in line with the lifestyle that I’d like to have for myself?

If you answered yes, you are on the path to becoming a web developer.

2. What do you love doing?

Do you prefer frontend or backend development? If you prefer design and visual, you will enjoy frontend web development. If you prefer logic and problem solving, you will enjoy backend web development.

Maybe you even like frontend and backend combined.

3. Create an action plan

Once you figure out which learning path you prefer, it’s time to create an action plan.

Create a plan that works for you. An example may look something like this:

“I only have one hour to study every day. I can’t spend more than £500 and I'd like to become a frontend web developer.”

After some research about which courses to study and where, an example outline would be:

Frontend web developer

Month 1 – Learn HTML & CSS

Month 2 – Learn Bootstrap

Month 3 – Make a website using HTML, CSS & Bootstrap

Month 4 – Learn JavaScript

Month 5 – Learn JavaScript framework

Month 6 – Make a website using HTML, CSS, Bootstrap & JavaScript

Month 7 – Create a personal portfolio website and build a personal brand

Month 8 – Contact businesses to create websites for them (even for free to start)

Month 9 – Improve your portfolio site, web development skills and personal brand

Month 10 – Must have a minimum of five websites on portfolio

Month 11 – Learn how to freelance and essential business skills

Month 12 – Contact prospective clients, promote your work and get clients

4. Act

This is the difficult part… TAKING ACTION.

One of the biggest ‘time-wasters’ I’ve eliminated in my life is watching TV – It’s been over two years since I’ve had a TV and it feels great!

If you want to be a web developer or freelancer and you are complaining that you don’t have time, then just look at your daily/weekly/monthly routine to see what you can remove to free up more time so that you can learn more, develop your skills and apply what you know.

Don’t procrastinate or make excuses… ACT and do it!

5. Create media social accounts

It’s important to build your online presence and social media is one avenue to grow it.

Make sure you have a profile on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Join coding communities, Facebook groups, Twitter chats and other platforms and don’t be afraid to ask questions even if they may appear to be a bit 'stupid'.

6. Create a portfolio

Your portfolio is your online CV.

It’s more important to show what you’ve done, rather than tell people what you can do.

If your portfolio is good enough, clients and/or potential employers will come to you. Build up a good list of projects/websites – even if you have to work for free for a short period of time.

Try this free portfolio course.

7. Socialise and go to meetups

I always feel uncomfortable when I read this section in other articles. It’s the part where it comes to getting out there and connecting with others.

I am a big introvert. Seriously. Almost like a hermit crab. Guess where I’d be in a group setting? – yep, in the corner…

If you’re an introvert like me, at some point you need to get out of your comfort zone and engage with others.

Added tip: don’t just go to meetups and events for developers. If you are a freelancer, go to business events as well. After all, how often do developers hire other developers?

8. Land a job or freelance

After you’ve built up a name for yourself and you have proven yourself to be an in-demand developer, it’s time to decide if you would like a job or if you’d prefer to freelance.

I’d recommend getting a job and doing freelance work on the side and eventually you can decide to do freelancing full-time once it starts doing better revenue.

Take initiative, be creative, plan accordingly and learn from what you can improve upon.

It may not come easy, but you have a brief blueprint of what it takes to become a web developer.

Kyle Prinsloo is the creator of studywebdevelopment.com where he helps web developers advance their careers and grow their freelancing business.