April 17, 2019

Finally making the switch: How would you do it?

Miguel Alejandro Morales @Migueealejandro

Hey there!

Long time lurker of IH, Product Hunt and other places where makers meet.... and finally I'm engaging, this time to ask a very important question (for me, of course).

I have a career in digital marketing, a promising and rising one. I'm honestly satisfied with my current job yet, for many years, I have felt that there's something missing. Also, for many years, I have been incredibly interested in learning how to code.

However, I have failed in every single attempt.

Previously, I started studying on myself with an unpassionate yet common goal: get into a high-paying career.

In the last few months, my personal life has dramatically changed and I'm seeing things from a different perspective. I had always shown an entrepreneurial spirit and have been involved with different businesses since I was 15.

Nonetheless, in the search for a more stable life (I had to flee from Venezuela by myself, leaving friends and family, now living in Spain), I took the path of getting a "secure" job (no job is ever secure in this world but still) at a fantastic company.

But there is a decisive, confident voice in my head that keeps telling me, basically on-repeat, that I need to create things, that I need to learn how to code and build things. So, there is a growing unsatisfaction in what I do, which is just marketing.

So that's it: I decided to learn how to code (on my own, like everything I have learned so far professionally). I will continue to work in marketing and I don't expect to learn to code on a professional level in the short term. No, I expect this process to take a few years of hard work.

Slowly but certainly. I'm just 24 years old, so I'm aware that I have time to do things properly.

Now, knowing that I'll continue my career in marketing until I can probably do the switch, how would you do this? Which learning path would you take? What are your thoughts on freeCodeCamp?

I'm highly interested in building apps but also fascinated by beautifully-designed websites and apps. Don't know yet if going front-end or back-end but the goal is to properly build software that serves a purpose, that solves problems that are constantly popping up in my mind.

I know that this is a long post and I'm not sorry about it. Honestly, I'm excited and wanted to hear from you, the makers that inspire me daily.

Thank you for everything ✌️

  1. 3

    To be able to sell something and build it yourself is a great skill to have. Most successful entrepreneurs are often a jack of all trades. So count it as an advantage. :-)

    Why do you think that it will you years to become a decent developer? In fact, you can learn so much in one year.

    Set focus. What exactly do you want to do? Do you want to build mobile apps or do you want to be able to build for both web and mobile? Once you set focus, find a language and skills that are necessary.

    If you aren't exactly sure. I would say, you may check NodeJS stacks. With Node, JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, you can build for mobile and web both.

    You haven't shared what you are learning at this moment. Are you comfortable with at least one backend language?

    1. 1

      Hey there! Thanks for your input.

      I haven't shared what I'm learning at this moment simply because I haven't kickstarted my learning just yet. I'm getting my head clearer in terms of direction, what path I should really take.

      I'm familiar with HTML and CSS because of my current responsibilities in marketing but nothing else.

      What I would like to do is to create mobile solutions. If they can work on web, that would be great but in my mind, mobile is the priority, on Android to be specific.

      Need to choose between switching to dev or becoming a technical marketer with greater capabilities to sell by leveraging tech.

  2. 3

    Hola, welcome Miguel. Well done on making it over to Spain and staying safe, sounds like it has been real tough.

    How technical is your current job? What kind of things can you do there? Have you thought about trying to get your hands on being more technical from a marketing perspective? Seeing if there is any way you can slowly start contributing to other parts of the product from a marketing perspective? This could potentially allow you to build up the skills you are after. Generally there is huge demand for marketeers with technical skills and you could benefit whether you stay in a job or start your own thing.

    1. 1

      Hola Rosie! Thanks for taking the time to reply.

      Being a more technical marketer is something that has been in my mind in the past few months as well. However, when I review my options, the truth is that it doesn't excite me anymore.

      Yes, I know, planning what to do professionally based on emotions and "excitement" isn't the smartest idea.

      For example, I began a pretty advanced Google Ads course recently (I'm a mid-level user of Google Ads but becoming an expert would boost my career significantly) and I was bored to death... I can't find the willpower nor the interest to get back to it.

      My current job is mostly strategic and creative but there are plenty of technical tasks going on. Yet, I wouldn't dare to say that I get too deep in technical matters. To give an example, I'm responsible for the web to be in good shape, always working. This sometimes involves getting into server-side settings or making minor changes in its code. I usually browse online and solve the issue with some tutorial.

      If it gets too difficult or has to do with Javascript or complex CSS, I call our dev and delegate. That said, I can defend myself very well when it comes to HTML and CSS.

      Truth be told, I have become a jack of all trades over all these years (got into marketing 6 years ago, when I was in college studying International Trade), covering everything from content marketing (writing, designing, and distributing) to SEM/SMM and data.

      My knowledge at most of these matters is enough to get the work done yet superficial. I don't know if that's an advantage or the contrary.

      At the end of the day, I'm unable to truly create anything on my own and that feels like a major limitation. Regarding becoming a technical marketer, it's a possibility, of course, but I have no clear roadmap for that.

      1. 3

        You might like being a non-technical founder. It's like a combination of product, marketing, support, and you need to know the technical side enough for decision making.

        If I need an expert (i.e., Google Ads Expert), I outsource it.

        On the flip side, there are a lot of engineers that are in the same boat as you and feel like their lack of marketing keeps them from creating anything on their own.

        1. 2

          This sounds right. Today or tomorrow, as your business grows, you have to get comfortable trusting others. You must know who and what to delegate to. Don't feel like you have to learn and do everything.

          But, if it's the code you are truly after, you already know what to do. :-)

  3. 2

    Props for your perseverance my man! Glad you made it safely to Spain. A couple of quick things:

    I like to think of stable jobs as angel investments but better :)

    Doing marketing for someone else didn't feel creative for me. Doing the marketing for my thing did.

    Learning to code is a great thing to do but don't feel like it's a requirement. I went down that road a few times and always realized that I can bring way more value to the biz by doing what I am good at. I partnered with a technical co-founder and I do all the marketing, sales, support, etc.,. Neither of us could imagine doing the other's job. We've been launching and growing products for 4 years and still going. Finding a co-founder is it's own thing with challenges but just know it's an option. On the flip, if you can do it all... that's F'ing awesome and impressive.

    Listen to that little voice in your head. It's usually right especially if it's been telling you something over a long period of time. You don't want to have regrets down the road.

    Think about progress in term of years rather than months (like you mentioned). Don't let months stress you out or keep you down. Take it slow and alternate back and forth between learning, building, and experimenting until you hit something special.

    It might not feel like it but you ARE doing the right things. You are building skills, experimenting, learning, etc., Just keep looking for problems to solve and you will find one that hits home.

    Hit me up if you need perspective from a non-technical founder: baird at wavve dot co

    1. 1

      Hola Baird! (almost sure that's you name 😁)

      Thank you very much for your answer, I find it encouraging.

      It's true for me as well: marketing doesn't feel creative and I'm having these creative urges since a while ago. That little voice has years telling me to learn how to code in order to satisfy that urge and actually DO THINGS. Yet, so far I have been unable to do so.

      Now, maybe I'm doing things wrong when it comes to marketing and that's why it doesn't feel "creative" not "fulfilling".

      I know that's a lot to ask but I would be very happy to know your profile as a founder marketer, your responsibilities and skillset. Maybe I can be inspired by the way you do things.

      During my short yet dynamic career, my bosses and clients have told me that I have a talent for this, so throwing everything away may not be the smartest move.

      I'm taking a week off to read and meditate in Northern Spain. When I come back home, I want to have a clearer picture of my carrier's future.


  4. 2

    You're in a very special place. A place where you actual want to learn how to build products. With your marketing background, you only need to become average at building it in order to create something really special.

    Both of these skills are incredibly vital and you discovered that you like and enjoy them both, congratulations! Most builders hate marketing and most marketing hate building.

    That being said. Here's how to learn fast:

    Think of a project. Anything. Maybe a simple grocery list item app you can use when you're grocery shopping. Maybe a workout planner app that allows you to input your sets and reps in the gym and go back and view logs of past workouts (if you workout). Any idea will do. The key here is to come up with something that is valuable to YOU and that you will enjoy building.

    Then, start building it. That's it. Think of how it will look, think of each screen, what features should it have? Write them down one by one. Then immediately start googling "how to do X in Y" where X is the feature and Y is the language/framework you are working in.

    Do. Not. Stop. Working on it. Until you have something working that you are satisfied with.

    Continue honing your marketing skills. Continue thinking of new ideas to build. In 6 months you'll come across an amazing idea and your marketing background will give you insight into a business opportunity that may change your life.

    Good luck.

    1. 1

      Hola Jay! Thank you very much for replying.

      I think your approach to learn how to code is fantastic and it's probably what I will implement in order to learn. I'm one of those who learn by doing.

      Regarding to this, I'm still studying where I should begin in terms of language. It seems like, due to my marketing background, front-end would be the obvious choice.

      However, going front-end isn't too helpful in terms of building products.

  5. 2

    Hello Miguel, Welcome to the IH community.

    First of all, I want to say that I relate to almost everything you just said.

    A little bit about me:

    I'm actually 24 years old as well and I've been looking forward to joining co-creation and development communities to learn and stay motivated. I've been working as a front-end Developer for the last 3 years, now working as a Web UI Designer. I started off as a Graphic designer in a print shop meanwhile I was finishing my CS Bachelor's Degree.

    Now, I’ve always been a creative person with interests in product development but never dive into it. Now I’m focusing on that aspect of myself.

    Now, as a design-oriented person, I can tell you that making the switch from design to development is kind of a rough patch if you're on your own. This is why I decided to create resources and help people in the same circumstances. You can absolutely make the switch and use your current skills as leverage, you just have to focus your time and efforts on learning programming. As I said, I personally prefer front-end dev, as I'm a design-oriented person. So I would recommend you do the same if you are a more visual person. While knowing back-end stuff will be a huge plus for product creation, being a front-end dev also helps a lot because there’s already a ton of services that allow you to set up a fully functional product without being a pro in back-end dev.

    Now, everything is based on my own experience of course, so I’d recommend checking out both paths and determining which is better for you.

    I’d recommend checking out these articles:
    By https://twitter.com/javinpaul

    By https://twitter.com/agnelnieves (Me)

    Wish you the best, you can always reach out via DM in twitter. I always reply!

    1. 2

      Hola Agnel! Thank you very much for your input.

      Indeed, I'm a very visual person. I truly appreciate a well-designed website and I find current trends in web design precious and fascinating.

      However, I think that becoming a UX/UI designer and web dev isn't what suits me best, despite of how much it actually attracts me. I say this because I desire to create and launch my own products and becoming a front-end dev is a game of working with clients doing websites (I'm speculating here).

      I see that you have a CS career and that's a major advantage, I think. I have nothing like it, so I'm planning to learn how to code without any "proper" or "traditional" foundations.

      Now, I find very interesting what you mention about services that allow you set up fully functional products, leaving front-end in your hands. I actually don't know any of this and if you can tell me something else, I would greatly appreciate it.

      I'm taking a week off to visit northern Spain but it's actually to meditate and come back with a final decision about my career's future 😁

      1. 1

        No hay de que! ALways glad to help man! Feel free to reach out anytime! Good luck!

  6. 1

    Me siento muy parecido a ti! si quieres podemos hablar y hacer brainstorming o lo que quieras, cualquier cosa hablamos :)