People have brilliant ideas all the time. The difference between whether those ideas get implemented or not comes down to whether they have the right skills.

If you want to learn how to get into coding, you’re making a move that will help you accomplish all kinds of skills down the road. It’s a fun way to exercise your brain, but it can also open up a new career direction or help you create projects you never realized you could do before.

There are a few different ways to get started on your coding journey, and we’ll break down the steps in each one:

Coding Bootcamps and Online Classes

One of the best ways to get into coding is to sign up for a coding boot camp. If this sounds too intense for your tastes, there are plenty of online classes you can join that will let you work more at your own pace. Here’s how to get started:

Think About Your Personality

Any major programming language you can think of will have multiple instructional options available to choose from. It’s up to you to choose the right one for you.

Is this a hobby for you, or are you trying to build an important skill for your career? Some boot camps require applications and high tuition, which might make sense if this is an investment for your future.

If you know you want to go into a coding field once you’re done, you might even want to consider an income share agreement, where you learn for free with the promise that you’ll pay the school back once you get hired and start making a certain amount of money.

And if not, you can go with a cheap or free instructional website. There are a lot of options out there, and most are pretty user-friendly.

Do Your Own Thing

Even as you follow along with a class schedule, you can still put your own spin on things. Once you get the hang of how it all works, you can start exploring.

Find a favorite source code editor, like Sublime or Notepad++ (or a Notepad++ Mac alternative, for the Apple users out there). 

Learn By Doing

This is something that’s important across the board, but it’s especially good to know if you’re part of a boot camp or online class. The tutorials and lesson plans will teach you how to create something the teacher has prepared for you, and this is important at the start.

But you might not feel the true excitement of coding until you create something that is unmistakably yours. A good curriculum will have some solo building sessions built-in, but if not, you’ll have to figure this out on your own. When you start getting bored in class, budget in some extra time to create your own modifications to the lesson and make something that’s fun for you.

Become a Self-Taught Pro

Lots of people teach themselves new coding languages every day. If you learn how to code on your own, you’ll be at an advantage later on when you want to learn other languages. You’ll already have your own self-teaching system in place.

How to Get Into Coding By Yourself

If you want to teach yourself coding, the good news is that there are a ton of resources out there for you.

The (potentially) bad news is that you will have to be self-disciplined. If you already have this kind of personality, great. If not, it might be a good idea to set up a rewards system for yourself or code for set amounts of time at the start. Achieving self-discipline can be difficult when you’re learning to code because there’s a bit of a steep learning curve involved.

Once you get into a good coding flow, you might find that you’ll have an easier time staying on task for long periods. This is because when you start seeing cool results, the work itself becomes a great motivation to keep going.

Develop a Curriculum

Just because there’s no teacher involved doesn’t mean you should approach the learning in a freeform way. Having a focused, set curriculum will help you more than you realize.

Figure out what it is that you want to get out of your learning experience.

Do you have a specific project in mind, like a game or website? Is there a specific programming language you want to master? Whatever your major goal is, write it down and think of what you’ll need to learn in order to get there.

Online blogs and forums might help you get the vocabulary you need for these planning stages. Write down the names of techniques you’ll need to learn in order to get to each step. Then, when you’re planning your day-to-day curriculum, it will be easy to know what each day’s small goals are.

Have a Buddy

Self-teaching can get a bit lonely. If you have a friend you can talk to about your struggles and accomplishments, keep that connection close.

Talking to another person can keep you motivated and help you understand what areas you need to work on. It’s okay if they don’t know anything about coding, or if they’re so advanced at coding that you won’t talk at the same level of understanding. Even if you don’t feel comfortable going into detail about your coding journey, having someone there to listen to your feelings will be a great way to stay grounded.

Have a Non-Traditional Buddy

Just about everyone needs a buddy when they’re coding. But did we say this buddy had to be human?

Plenty of coders vent by talking to pets, inanimate objects, and their journals. It’s actually a very effective way to let your mind revisit tough problems at a new angle. If you’ve ever heard of “rubber duck debugging,” that’s exactly what this is.

This is a strategy coders use to help themselves understand what’s going wrong with their code. Often, they’ll be at a roadblock, knowing that their code isn’t working but wondering what the cause might be.

These coders will then turn to a rubber duck they’ve placed on their desk (or a stuffed animal, cup, or stapler), and explain what’s going on to them.

It works like magic. The simple act of going through the code and describing each step will help you see exactly where things start to go haywire.

So if you don’t have a buddy handy, or you don’t feel like bothering your roommates, stick a rubber duck on your desk and start talking.

Let’s Get Coding!

Coding is a skill that will sharpen your mental skills and upgrade your employability. As long as you go in with a determined mindset and a solid plan, you can have a lot of fun with the process.

So what are you waiting for? Start on your coding journey today! Share this post with someone in your life who’s wondering how to get into coding, and help them start the process right.