Learning how to code: find your motivation

TL;DR: find out your motivation and start by building small things

Since everyone today wants to learn how to code and the internet is full of those tutorials, adding yet another tutorial is pretty much useless at this point. But since I also have an opinion on this (TM), I thought of sharing my story in the hope of aspiring someone trying to learn how to code.

Wow making things is so cool, also $$$

First thing I’ve coded was a personal website with a guestbook form that I built with a microsoft frontpage template. At that time, building that website felt so good. Later on I tried to learn HTML, Javascript and basic PHP to modify the website a bit. Then a friend asked me to build something similiar. Next thing I know I started to get paid for building cool things for other people.

How to start?

For me, the most important part of learning how to code was perseverance, because I liked to build things and kept trying even though I didn’t know much. So when things got hard or when I got stuck, I kept trying different things and googling my way out (btw this is still the case, it’s just that I got much better at what to google.)
This is why I think you need to understand your motivation first. It could be anything. Getting a job as a software developer. Building that cool app you always talk about. Building a business. Being able to understand your programmer friends. Whatever it’s, you need to sit down, do some self-introspection and find out the real reason and it’s worth it for you.

First steps?

Now that you know the real reason why you need to learn programming, start programming. Ideally, you’d have a very small project in mind that you want to ship. Starting small and being able to ship it is important to keep momentum and motivation high while learning basics. For me, it was a personal website with frontpage. For you, it could be a landing page about some cool idea you have with a simple form for saving emails. The goal is to not be overwhelmed and keep shipping cool things. They won’t look amazing at first, but whatever. Perfect is the enemy, focus on shipping and building a basic understanding of HTML, JavaScript and later on add a scripting language like PHP or Ruby. It helps if you have programmer friends using one of those because you can ask them for help. Otherwise focus on small wins: tiny projects that you can finish by copying  & pasting weird characters that you can try to understand at some point.



For me, programming is one of the most rewarding activities ever. Both intellectually and financially. If you decide it’s for you and something worth pursuing, make sure to always have fun while learning it and keep shipping and sharing cool projects.


stackoverflow.com : nice place to ask a question related to programming
github.com: nice place to search for code and post your code
learncodethehardway.org: if you’re into courses, this is quite good