The Learn Coding From Scratch Challenge ($0 Spent, Zero Experience)

Have you had an idea for an app, but you got stuck because you didn’t know how to start?

What if it was possible to learn to code websites and apps without spending any money and with zero experience?

That’s the challenge I’m taking on.

Here’s the rules:

  • Not allowed to spend a single dollar learning
  • Start with zero coding experience
  • Must document every days learning and share all of the resources
  • Must launch a website or an app that I’ve completely coded on my own

Video Walkthrough of This Blog Post

Go here to see my daily videos documenting each day's progress.

Problems I’m Trying To Solve

#1 – Learn To Create Instead of Consume, To Act Instead of Think

My theme for 2020 has been to create more.

I’ve had this screensaver on my phone since August 2019 as a reminder, but things got serious in 2020:

I was (and remain) frustrated with what I’ve been able to create and achieve. When I asked myself “Why aren’t I as successful as I want to be?” I learned it was because I wasn’t creating enough and then sharing it with the world.

James Clear’s graphic illustrates this perfectly:

Since that I’ve launched:

All while working full time on client projects, not bad.

I’ve also stopped doing all client work so I can focus on creating more. I’ve literally been turning down $3,000 projects to focus on this – it’s that important to me.

I work really fast at the start of a project. I’m a creator and I need to work alone to get a first version of my idea live and without being able to code I constantly have to stop to get developers to help me.

#2 – Finishing What I Start

I’ve rarely finished what I’ve started.

I justified it to myself by saying “if you’re driving down the wrong street, why keep going?” – and whilst that’s true, I allowed that to cover me while I killed my new baby business before it had a chance to grow up.

I realised most of the “baby killing” happened when I got stuck with technical issues and had to hire a developer. I’ve hired hundreds of freelancers over the years, but wasting days interviewing and getting them up to speed sucks.

I want to work while I’m inspired and get the thing finished.

Being able to code will allow me to do that.

#3 – I’m Tired of Paying Expensive & Slow Developers

Developers are expensive and often slow.

The fast ones are even more expensive, easily $100 an hour. I don’t have that kind of budget and a lot of the things I need doing I’m sure are pretty easy.

Instead of slowing down to explain it to someone else, it feels more valuable for me to learn > build > test > refine.

#4 – Marketing vs. Creating Cool Shit

After helping business owners grow their businesses for so many years, I’m tired.

I realised I was making other people more successful, instead of myself. I was building their empire, not mine.

I had allowed myself to be a (albeit high paid) hired gun – available to anyone who had the money.

The problem with that is I was selling out my dreams. My soul knew it – the seeds of discontent grew stronger and stronger until I couldn’t ignore them anymore.

Also, the thing with marketing is – good products market themselves. The best marketing in the world can’t fix a shitty offer. 💩

So why not create something really fucking cool, that helps a lot of people and watch it market itself.

#5 – Get it To Market & Get Feedback

Instead of spending months and thousands of dollars perfecting something to launch it, its more useful to launch it as quickly as possible and see if the market likes it.

  • If they do – persevere
  • If they don’t – pivot

The Lean Start Up (one of my favourite books) calls this a Minimum Viable Product:

For example, did you know AirBnB started out as an Obama-themed Cereal company? Honestly.

The faster you get your idea to market, the faster you learn what the market wants. And success in anything is about giving the market what it wants.

So my simple logic is:

More Things Built + Launched = More Chances To Be Successful

I look at it like a fisherman with multiple lines to catch a fish:

#6 – Just in Time Learning

I’ve gone from reading a book a week, to almost no learning.

I realised most of my learning was to make me feel like I was achieving something, because I wasn’t really achieving anything meaningful.

The end result was I know a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff, but what’s it all worth?

I don’t want to be the most educated corpse in the graveyard.

I want to leave something behind. Something that lives on beyond me, and that comes from what you create. Our creations live on beyond us, occupying some small space in the world we leave behind.

And at 35, it feels like the clock is ticking. It feels like its time to step out of being the apprentice, to step fully into creation.

To do that, I’ll be resuming learning, but only to solve a specific problem. Anything I learn needs to be IMPLEMENTED immediately or documented to embed the learning.

The bottom line, after every session I’ll come away knowing more, being more, doing more.

How Much Coding Do I Already Know?

Back in 1999, I started my first online business – selling VHS videos on eBay for 99p.

I noticed other sellers making more money than me and I wanted to know why.

Digging deeper, I realised their stores had coloured backgrounds and different fonts.

In that moment I decided to customise my own basic store. I Google’d:

I learned all I had to do was add two pieces of text to the headline:

  • <b> before the headline
  • </b> after the headline

Like this:

<b>Here’s My Headline</b>

If you didn’t know that, congrats, you just learned your first piece of code.

I learned basics like that, bold, changing the size of the headline and about 5 other tiny edits to make visual changes to web content.

But one we got WordPress, everything became visual and I didn’t need to code anymore to build things.

Watch Me Learn To Code From Scratch

Every day I’ll invest sometime in learning and record a diary entry of what I learned.

I’ll share the exact videos and articles that helped me and I’ll teach you what I learned, because when you teach something it shows you the gaps in your understanding.

You’ll see me learn, get the idea of what to build and then actually start to build it.

You get to ride along, watching over my shoulder as I try to build my first app.

Want To Learn To Code Too?

If you’re interested in learning to code, I’d recommend before you do you learn the basics of building a WordPress website.

You don’t need to know how to code, but it will give you lots of the fundamentals you need.

I’m working on a free course that covers that as I type this, I’ll post it here once its ready.

My Learn Coding From Scratch Challenge Daily Diary

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