Everyone – meet Laurence Bradford.
Laurence is a kickbutt coder, a stellar content creatrix and a Product Educator at Teachable, working to improve the overall experience for users. If you haven’t heard of Teachable yet, this is how we’ll be hosting the courses we create like our new cPanel course (otw soon!) Everything Laurence touches turns to awesome – she’s been a friend of WH4S for some time, so we’re excited to bring you some of her insights about coding, content creation and life.
First things first – if you haven’t seen it yet, check out Laurence’s blog, Learn to Code With Me.
In addition to her awesome coding blog, Laurence is a regular contributor to Forbes. Check out some of her writing about how to level up in technology here!
This will be the first in a two-part series about Laurence.
WH4S: Laurence! What made you want to start coding, or how did you become interested in the process?
Laurence: I first began teaching myself when I was living in Thailand – I was in Bangkok and I thought I wanted to pursue economic development, specifically in Southeast Asia – a very niche kind of field. I ended up getting an internship at a place in Thailand I thought was going to be perfect and would be setting up the path for the rest of my life. Turns out it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. I found it extremely boring – I was there for about 3 months. So I started teaching myself how to build websites while I was working there and that kind of got the ball rolling.
I came back to the US and was doing a bunch of development workshops, online learning of the various platforms. After learning for a year and a half it was pretty frustrating and on again, off again. I decided to start the LTCWM blog as a way to hold myself accountable.
It’s totally evolved so much since I started it. Some of my early posts were personal – I’d write about what I was learning, my goals – then it ended up being about helping other people teach themselves how to code. So less about me, more about creating value and information for others.
WH4S: So what motivated that shift?
Laurence: So honestly, it was when I began getting more traffic to the site. I always wanted people to read it – it was sort of always in the back of my head so I started the blog in 2014 or so. Then in that same year in about October/November is when this sort of shift started to happen where i was more strategic about creating stuff people would like and share – and getting more traffic, building the audience.
And I think part of the reason why I became more interested in doing that is because I realized I didn’t want to work full time as a developer. For the first 1.5 to 2 years when I was learning that’s what i thought my end goal was. It kind of hit me that I didn’t want to write code all day. I didn’t want to build websites all day.
I really hated freelancing. I like it in some ways because it gave me freedom and mobility. I could travel in Asia and build WordPress sites, but ti isn’t fulfilling to me. It was definitely not as fulfilling as the things I’m doing right now. It was a combination of factors … I had this realization i didn’t want to be a full time web developer.
I said to myself, “Yes i love technology, I love making it accessible for people – but do i want to build Ruby on Rails apps for a startup or big company?” No.
WH4S: So you learned to code. so if you’re not doing it for other people is all the coding for you? Do you build your own sites? How do you utilize coding for yourself?
Laurence: For Teachable, I am working with people on the engineering team figuring out how we can adjust things in the interface … so having that understanding definitely helps when communicating and working with engineering people. Even if your job isn’t coding, even if you’re doing marketing or product stuff/customer support, a lot of the stuff is technical at Teachable. so having that understanding can help you be better in any job.
WH4S: So where do you recommend people start if they want to learn to code?
Laurence: Some people want to build mobile apps and that’s a different story – but for most people who aren’t sure what they want to do and want to see what it’s like, I tell people, start with HTML because it’s a great entry point. It’s not technically programming but it’s still web markup and a lot of positions look for people who know those skills. It’s a foundation. So if you’re in web develpment you have to know things like HTML/CSS before moving forward.
There are so many places – and honestly aside from HTML and CSS, it’s like, pick something and stick with it. Don’t bounce around. When I started I’d go from, “I’m gonna learn python, I’m gonna learn Ruby “- and it’s just like learning anything in life. If you try to learn multiple things at once, you’r’e gonna fail. Imagine learning Mandarin, French and 14 different language sat the same time. It’s impossible.
So start with something, learn it well so you know what you’re doing and then move on to the next.
The same goes with resources – stick with one. If you have some training and are working on a project, unless it’s absolutely horrible, stick with it.
Check out these articles from Laurence!