Summary of my first year writing code.

How I went from a broke college student to a broke freelancer.

Bram Donovan's photo
Bram Donovan
·Dec 3, 2021·

5 min read

Hello fellow bloggers,

Looks like I finely got around to writing my first blog post. I always enjoyed writing, but it has been a little while so bare with me.

Let's go back to the good times shall we?

It's January 2020 and I just turned 20 years old; I'm a Forestry major at the University of Montana and life is pretty much normal. I had never even written a single line of code back then, simply dismissing programming due to some of my friend's bad experiences with it and never even giving it a chance (oh how I wish I could go back in time).

Now, let's flash forward to October of that year. Due to some large global events (wink wink) I had a major change in heart and decided by the end of the summer that I was never going back to college. Before the rona came, I was already pretty hesitant about it and I believe going certainly cemented certain beliefs I hold about the modern state of education in the United States, but ultimately, I really had no idea what else to do. In general, I was very lost. After rona came, I was not interested in wasting my time at school pursuing a degree for a career I never wanted. It was time to pursue my own thing. Well that was the plan at least, in reality it wasn't quite that simple.

In hindsight, I barely got by but it seems like things always worked out one way or another. Whether my TSLA calls came through or I made money through odd jobs, life was pretty much okay. By now I was desperate to make my time more valuable and I finally started doing some programming with khan academy. I spent a lot of time with tutorials but ultimately, I wasn't completely head over heals in love with it just yet.

It's January of 2021 and my best friend and I get the idea to start working on our first startup... SweatsBets. The idea was that we would allow users to bet crypto on themselves in battle royal games but they're so embedded with hackers that the potential for fraud is too high (not to mention all of the legal hoops one has to jump through for that particular industry). While the project ended up not being successful, I started learning to code in order to build it and was dedicating substantial amounts of my time to freeCodeCamp and watching youtube videos trying to learn as much as I could.

By June I had got my first freelance client! A locksmith out of Alaska that my dad met randomly. It was my first real world project and in hindsight, looks like something an 8th grader built. I had no sense of modern web design but I still gave it my best shot and ended up putting out (alaskakeyman.com) . I ended up making 3k out of it (awfully overpriced I know but hey, a man's gotta eat don't he). With that money I started an LLC for web design, bought a monitor, mechanical keyboard, and a beautiful logitech mouse to create my little personal nirvana to pursue my craft. By now, I am more than fully invested into coding and can only imagine doing this as a career.

Now it's September and I realize that I just started a whole company without even a real portfolio of websites to show potential clients... I have multiple possible clients fall through the cracks and I realize that it's time to go back to the drawing board. I start the process of research and am determined to make things work.

Enter the birth of Metatech Digital. I took me forever, but I finally redesigned the website and have invested a lot of time into distinguishing between what makes a really nice website and what makes something mediocre. The hard part wasn't the website but discovering the niche I want to pursue, the goals of the company, my processes, my business model, my products, and all the other things that come with starting a company. I still haven't officially launched yet and I'm going to be more than diligent to make sure I do it the right way with an ample amount of real world projects that are actually impressive. For now, the website is sitting on dev server and I'm working on building a website for my friends business. I don't foresee this website taking as nearly as long as my company website did, although I plan to make it better. I'm going to reach out and build more websites for friends, family and maybe a couple local charities / foundations to get more of my work out there. I'm trying to make each project a little better than the last. My goal is to relaunch before I turn 22 on January 13th of next year. I think I can get there but I'm not going to sacrifice quality in order to reach that goal. I'd like to reach out to a couple local businesses by then because this is the time of year that they have the most extra cash lying around.

From my research, it seems like most agencies survive off of referrals so I'm not going to invest too much time into marketing, mostly reaching out to people in person and some guerilla tactics. My plan is to do freelance jobs on the side while I work on a startup full time. I love the Saas model and really want to build an awesome product. More importantly, I want to build something that's actually useful. I'm very much over wasting my time and really just want to add some value to the world in the hopes that I can get some money back for my efforts. In all honestly, it's pretty likely that I'm going to copy a successful business model and apply it to a different area. Most importantly, I'm going to focus on marketing and getting validation from the get-go. Not wasting a year building something only for it to come out and be used by absolutely nobody.

Overall, my first year coding has had a lot of ups and downs but I feel confident in saying I've found something that is going to help me get to where I want to go in life and I'm not slowing down anytime soon!

Well that was a jumbled mess wasn't it? I supposed everyone's gotta start somewhere.

If you took the time to read this, I give you a massive thumbs up and can only assume that you're an alpha chad!

Cheers!

 
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