I want to share my personal journey to web development. My path to development was not particularly direct. I don’t have a computer science degree or a background in tech at all. I’m largely self-taught, and I’ve learned a lot by trial and error. When getting started in web development, things were less than ideal financially for my family. I hope that by sharing my story it can encourage others who feel like their background or situation precludes them succeeding at web development. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in poetry. I worked for Barnes & Noble when I was in college, and I continued to do that after I graduated. I managed to find a couple online jobs in my field. One job was as a copywriter for LivingSocial. The other was as a teaching assistant for an online university grading papers. I wouldn’t say I was deeply passionate about either job, but they were good jobs, and I was pretty pleased with them. These online jobs were perfect when my son was born. They offered a lot of flexibility and didn’t force me to choose between working and caring for my son. Around the time my second child, my daughter, was born, I lost both jobs in a couple of months. I didn’t get fired or anything. The companies just restructured and decided to stop outsourcing those positions. This was not a great time for me to lose my job, though is it EVER a good time to lose a job? My husband was going back to school and working as many hours as he could when he wasn’t in class for about $10/hour. In addition to having a small income, we were also paying cash for his tuition, because we didn’t want to go into debt. We were always able to cover our bills, but finances were very, very tight, and money was a big source of stress for our family. The loss of my income predictably made this worse. I really wanted to get back to work, but I had no clear career path. At that point, it was virtually impossible for me to go back to school. I didn’t have any particularly marketable skills. It didn’t really make much sense for me to take a job outside the home because anything that I would make would not offset the cost of childcare. I think a lot of people can relate to this situation. This solution was another online job, but I just couldn’t find anything. With virtually no options on the table, I decided to take a stab at starting my own business. Maybe I could write a blog or something like that. I knew that there was the rich option, but I figured that getting started and making a little bit of money was better than nothing. I had a couple initial business ideas, so I set up WordPress sites for those. This was my first time using WordPress. I watched a lot of tutorials and Googled like crazy to figure out how to get the sites up and running. I found, though, that I would be SO excited and motivated while I was actually building the website. As soon as it was done, though, I lost all interested in the business idea. Then I would start to build another site for another idea and get ALL excited again. Eventually, I started to wonder if it would be possible for me to get a job just creating WordPress sites since that was the part I really liked doing. I honestly had no idea that web development was a job. Somewhere in all of my research, I stumbled across the website of Zoe Rooney. She was a WordPress and Shopify web developer. I could not believe it! Here was a mom running her own business developing WordPress and Shopify sites. Her blog offered a lot of great information about what it’s like to be a web developer. This is how I found out that that the term actually existed. I knew that this is EXACTLY what I was looking for. Zoe Rooney no longer does web development, and I’m happy for her in her new career, and I really appreciate how instrumental her work was in getting me started. So now that I knew that web development was a real thing, I got serious about learning it. I signed up for Team Treehouse, which is a subscription service with tech tutorials. What I liked about Team Treehouse is that they presented the information in sequential tracks. They would start with the most basic skills, move into the intermediate, and eventually the advanced. I did the Web Developer Track, the WordPress track, and the PHP Track. At this point, I decided to launch my freelance web development business called Purslane Web Development. I made my own simple portfolio website, and it only had two projects in it, and both were self-initiated projects that I had just done for fun; they weren’t even for real clients. At first, I had a couple projects that never really went anywhere. But then I got my first big break. I was in a Facebook group for entrepreneurs. A web designer in there made some comments that really encouraged me. They weren’t about web development or design or anything, but I still really appreciated them. I didn’t know this designer, but I sent her a private message just thanking her for sharing and letting her know how much her comments helped me. This blossomed into a longer conversation. As it turns out, this designer has been doing her own web development from the beginning, and she was getting to a point where she really wanted to outsource that part so she could just focus on the design. She knew I was brand new to web development, but she generously gave me a chance. She wanted me to develop using the Genesis platform, which I had never done before. I was honest about that, but I promised her that I would learn it. It was a stressful first project. I had SO much to learn. The designer Amanda, though, was really supportive and she gave me help along the way when I needed it. Ultimately, the project was a huge success! The website is still live, and Amanda and I have worked together ever since. Since then, I’ve worked with different clients and in different contexts, including working remotely for a small agency based in New York state. I’ve gotten more involved with the web development community, including being a contributing writer for The Women’s Coding Collective, attending Girl Develop It! meetups in Minneapolis, and volunteering for Word Camp Minneapolis.