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Cover image for Taught myself to code 1y ago & recently released my first solo product. My biggest tip for learning...🧠

Taught myself to code 1y ago & recently released my first solo product. My biggest tip for learning...🧠

threehourcoffee profile image marie ng ・1 min read

I spent 10yrs in a career of branding/advertising and went from knowing no programming to launching my first product in a year.

Super proud to share I just hit a personal milestone of 150 paying customers.

It's been quite an emotional ride but wanted to say if you're just starting out, keep going, it's totally worth it, whether you want to build your own business or switch to a career as a software engineer.

The biggest tip I can provide is to figure out your learning style. I tried first with books, but I'm terrible with reading and originally gave up telling myself I didn't have time. Then I moved on to watching videos and something magical just clicked.

I learned by doing a short course on Udemy and then just watching a ton of YouTube.

For context, here's what I built: https://llamalife.co

(It's a productivity application which helps provide structure and focus to get work done).

Feel free to ask anything about the journey.

Not going to lie, it was a hard slog, but extremely happy I did it. And the feeling you get from knowing you built something, by yourself, is amazing :)

Discussion (63)

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darkwiiplayer profile image
DarkWiiPlayer • Edited

For context, here's what I built: llamalife.co

The site is just blank for me. Having a quick look at the console, it seems the whole JS just silently fails because I block local storage by default. No error page, no message telling me to enable it, no nothing. Just the good old about:blank-feeling.

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threehourcoffee profile image
marie ng Author

Oh wow. That's not good. Thanks for letting me know! I'll look into that.

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darkwiiplayer profile image
DarkWiiPlayer

I'm used to it by now. Most websites just silently fail with a blank screen when local storage or cookies are completely disabled.

Many of them don't even do anything that really needs those features, which I find even more annoying.

Very few of them even start redirect-loops where site A misses a cookie and sends me to site B which tries setting the cookie (which gets blocked) and sends me back to A

In comparison, this one is a very minor oversight, as I don't expect the site could work at all without storing data locally in some way.

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Mark Okoh

Hi Marie! Thanks for your post - very interesting knowing how you learned to code. Llama Life is great! Haven't tried it yet, but it looks super stylish and well designed. Did you just use CSS for the layout or did you use a framework like Bootstrap or Tailwind? Looks like you really grasped Javascript and React. Where did you get the Llama illustrations - did you do them yourself?

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threehourcoffee profile image
marie ng Author

Thanks Mark! I used React Bootstrap for the grid layout of the landing page and a few modals, but the rest is custom. The llama illustrations I got from Adobe Stock but then edited them. Adobe Stock gives you a 30 day free trial (I think) and 10 images included with that. Even if you cancel you retain the licences for whatever you download.

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Mark Okoh

Ok cool. Will checkout Adobe Stock. I'll probably write post like yours about how i learned to code (mainly self-taught too). Here's the first project I did - onyourfrequency.com/
It's all vanilla Javascript - learning Vue JS now to keep the project more organized in the future.

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threehourcoffee profile image
marie ng Author

Just took a quick look. Great stuff and congrats for pushing the project out!

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kildareflare profile image
Rich Field

I've been a full-stack developer for more than 10 years and getting a product live with paying customers is still something I've yet to achieve.
That you've taught yourself to code, shipped something and got paying customers all within a year is super impressive and inspiring.
Nice work :0)

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threehourcoffee profile image
marie ng Author

Thanks for the encouragement!

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dynamicsquid profile image
DynamicSquid

Wow, I do low level development, and I'm always impressed by web/app developers! They can make amazing products, and generate revenue too!

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sentinel1909 profile image
Jeff Mitchell

Amazing job! I signed up for a free trial to give it a spin. Looks terrific!

I'm just beginning my journey into web development, nowhere near ready to release anything useful to the world. Kudos for taking a dream and pushing it to fruition!

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threehourcoffee profile image
marie ng Author

Thanks Jeff! It's comments like this that really keep me going! Appreciate you taking time to give it a spin!

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panditapan profile image
Pandita

the "give me focus" button is genius!! good luck in your first product launch! :D

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threehourcoffee profile image
marie ng Author

Thank you so much. The funny thing is I almost didn't include that because was initially worried people couldn't read it 😊

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kildareflare profile image
Rich Field

I must admit, I was just about to let you know you had a fuzzy image; then realised it was of course by design :0)

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threehourcoffee profile image
marie ng Author

haha! that was what I was originally afraid of :)

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barelyhuman profile image
Reaper

Amazing,
Kinda bummed I didn't build something like this.
TillWhen exists but it's no where close, maybe because I never "focused" on building it to be a business model.
Nice Work, human.

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threehourcoffee profile image
marie ng Author

Hey Reaper,
Don't be bummed! I took a look at TillWhen and absolutely LOVE your design aesthetic. Llama is no where near a successful business. Will have to see how it goes!
Thanks for checking it out :)

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barelyhuman profile image
Reaper • Edited

I'm not really bummed, just had to add the focus pun in there somehow.
Oh thanks for checking it out.
Trust me , the landing page sold me to the app instantly.

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kaueburiti profile image
Kauê Buriti

How much time did you had studied per day?

I'm trying to guide my wife in a career transition and I need tips of how to do it :D

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threehourcoffee profile image
marie ng Author

Hey Kauê!

I'm all for career transitions! I read somewhere that people nowadays make 2 or 3 transitions over the course of our lifetimes. That has certainly been the case for me. Keeps things interesting!

I did spend quite a lot of time on learning. In the beginning about 4-5hrs a day. Appreciate not everyone can do that though. But...it's not a race!

The most important thing is to do some EVERY day. Especially at the beginning, I found that if I took a few days off I'd forget stuff.

And, as soon as you get some basics under your belt, just start building because it's very satisfying to make stuff that 'works'. That kept me going. Wes Bos has a good site that focuses on building small projects. It's called Javascript 30. I believe you build 30 projects in 30 days. I didn't personally do it but I've heard good things: javascript30.com/

Good luck!

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kildareflare profile image
Rich Field

I've only done a couple of the projects on javascript30.com, but I still learnt something; even after working as a web developer for 10 years

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Andrew Brown 🇨🇦

I like the lama, If you haven't ready, indie hackers really like these kinds of stories. Maybe it will bring you a few more sales.

indiehackers.com/

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threehourcoffee profile image
marie ng Author

Thanks Andrew! Yes am on Indie Hackers :) Just followed you over there!

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yobretyo profile image
Bret

What was your route of “learning”? Did you learn vanilla vs frameworks?
I started with vanilla with Html, css, JS... but JS was been tough because people don’t really truly use what there teaching, it main ends at “console.log”. I then focused on React, then Django and Python. Django DRF, and now I’m focusing on MERN+ Apollo/GraphQL + Strapi CMS

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marie ng Author

Hey Bret, I did: html, css, JS. Then React and node.js/Express. I'm taking a jamstack approach, so I focus mostly on front-end. I'm using Firebase for db and authentication.

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Nikki

Love the post and your general energy as a human being. Signing up for a lifetime mainly as kudos because lord knows I'll probably procrastinate actually using the app :)

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threehourcoffee profile image
marie ng Author

Thanks Nikki! That means a lot and I appreciate the support :)

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haruanm profile image
Haruan Justino

I'm just starting to check it, got this detail here:

Not sure if Llama is for you? Pay monthly. Cancel anytime (Coming Janary 2021)

But it is not open yet.

It seems to be a nice project, I will give it a try this week.

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threehourcoffee profile image
marie ng Author

Hi Haruan, yes still building out subscriptions, that's my next step. After this the Lifetime deal will be removed though ;)

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otumianempire profile image
Otu Michael

Can you share some tips on branding/advertising

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threehourcoffee profile image
marie ng Author

Hi Otu,

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Be clear what your brand stands for - what is your main message?
  3. Make sure you have a point of (meaningful) difference
  4. Remember to communicate emotional benefits as well as factual ones
  5. If you're just starting out, focus on a winning a niche vs large audience - it's very hard to cut through to a large audience in the beginning, especially if budget is constrained

Hope that helps!
Marie

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Kimono90

Hey Marie,
This looks pretty cool! :) I was wondering: did you learn programming next to a (fulltime) job? Or did you take more time for it? Also curious to hear your learning path.
Happy Monday,
Kim

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threehourcoffee profile image
marie ng Author

Hey Kim,

I was between jobs at the time. I'd just failed at up a previous startup (I was the founder but it was not a tech-based startup) and was trying to decide what to do next. I'd always wanted to learn how to code, and had tried once before with books, but didn't get far. That's why I tried video learning this time.

When you say learning path I'm guessing you mean the order in which I learnt? If so, I did html, css, vanilla JS, React, then node.js/express. Also learned things like flexbox, styled components, boostrap and git.

What also helped was that Llama started as a basic todo list then I iterated on it from there. eg I first coded it in vanilla JS, then refactored it using React. That meant I was very familiar with the project I was working on, which helped a great deal.
Good luck!
Marie

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Kimono90

Really cool. Thanks for sharing! I myself am a year in (started learning C# January 2020 and picked up some Js/Ts + React on the job. I'm fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to start as a Jr dev with almost no experience or skills at all. I do have to admit it's tough finding time to learn the theory properly (next to working). I hope I will be able to find a good balance in that this year :).

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marie ng Author

Thanks for the reply and best of luck to you. That's fantastic you were able to get a job as a Jr dev! Congrats!

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Matt Heslington

Nice one, Marie. Excellent stuff. What payment solution did you use for Llamalife?

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marie ng Author

Thanks Matt. Am using Stripe. Their documentation is awesome. Currently I'm using them for a one-time payment (Lifetime deal) but Stripe also handles subscriptions which will be handy as I'm moving llama to a subscription model soon.

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justinnn

Great inspirational read! Thanks for sharing!

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maxsvensson profile image
MaxSvensson

Very cool man. Good job!😊👊

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arunmurugan78 profile image
Arun Murugan

Great Job!
But the website is not accessible through keyboard. Consider improving web accessibility for the best experience for all users!

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threehourcoffee profile image
marie ng Author

Thanks for the tip. Will do

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EhsanRahi

Congrats Keep success and learn and spread knowledge

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Wessel Buchling

Wow Marie, well done this is a great achievement indeed! I love the give me focus button :)

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marie ng Author

thanks Wessel! haha the button - that almost didn't make the cut. Took it out and put it back in several times before deciding to leave it

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Julie Larsen

What Udemy course did you take? And do you have any specific youtube videos to recommend?

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threehourcoffee profile image
marie ng Author

Hi Julie!

I did 2x Udemy courses both by Jonas S.:

  1. html / css
  2. vanilla javascript

Youtube...I love these guys:
Wes Bos, Traversy Media, Dev Ed, Academind, Net Ninja, Web Dev Simplified

For me it helped to start with Udemy as I got a basic foundation, then supplemented it with YouTube.

Definitely just start building too, as there's nothing like putting it into practice. This was my first iteration of what became Llama, about 4 months into the journey and it evolved from there: twitter.com/threehourcoffee/status...

Good luck!

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jhd235

I know this great feeling, when your code works=)

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shonhomez93 profile image
Shon

Amazing. I am inspired Marie. Just started a month ago and its stuff like this that I love to see. How much time out of that year did u spend of html and css?

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threehourcoffee profile image
marie ng Author

Thanks Shon. About 2 weeks for html/css basics. That said, css is a beast and to master it is a whole other level. My css is still very beginner level.

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Débora Robles Pérez

Congratulations!

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Pradeep Pradyumna

Great stuff man! Inspiring!!!

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Evgenii D

Really impressive!

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kabeer1choudary

It inspires me to do something... Thanks for the post

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Ibrahim Bin Bakare🥑

The site you provide is blank, I clicked on it and it displays null. kindly work on that, I'd like to see what you have done thus far, and very glad you transit to tech industry. Happy coding.

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Ashley Randall

Very proud of you!

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threehourcoffee profile image
marie ng Author

thank you 😃

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Andrew Baisden

Cool well done!