there's an idea floating around that one cannot charge $$ for their coding skills until they are "proficient." let proficient be the ability to write code with similar ease as writing a blog post.
this is false.
i began picking up freelance clients long before i was proficient in programming. to deliver those gigs each feature was just as painful as completing a tutorial. the key difference is i was paid to learn.
coding is about breaking up big problems into a bunch of tiny problems that can be solved with "true" or "false."
the client pointed me to a government website where one can punch in a person's full name and medical ID number, then click Verify. on the following page was a "success - valid" or "error - not found" type of message, along with a green or red background respectively.
my client gave me some sample names + IDs for testing, so first i simply used the website like a normal person, in the browser. i then noted the differences described above... red background + "not found" vs green background + "valid."
i cracked open my Ruby terminal and read a few pages of documentation on watir.com. within 20 minutes i was filling out the government website form, browser-free, and geting back a page of HTML.
next i browsed documentation for scanning text with Regex and was able to parse out whether a results page was successful or invalid.
finally i deployed this to Heroku with a free boilerplate rails app, dropping the code into a service file and attaching a form input (HTML) to the "lookup" variable in my script.
within 90 minutes i had a working checker that handled bulk "lookup" of California resident medical marijuana eligibility. my client cut the check, ecstatic.
i was way over my head with this gig, but i probably 2x'd my coding chops while building it.
since i was already working full-time at a venture capital firm i think version 1.0 took about 3 weeks. then i spent another couple months improving it, and we switched from the $3k flat fee to a monthly retainer. so, probably made closer to $10k for this project over 4 months.
basically i built "Mailchimp for SMS," which tapped directly into the ecommerce store's API and synced customer records.
at one point this app drove several thousand dollars per month in sales, so i think it was a win-win for all parties.
since this project is public, i'd rather "show" than tell:
once you build a few things, and particularly after you capitalize on them with a Projects page, you'll have more inbound leads than you can handle.
i spent the next couple years toggling between paid (contract) vs personal (passion) projects, as well as continuing my studies (on and off) via online bootcamps.
there are still many things i don't know, but today i am "proficient" and make more $$ than i ever thought i was capable of.
if you want me to teach you to code, go here.