OWS Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush Blueprints (Part IV)

freelance WordPress developer

freelance WordPress developer

Welcome to One Woman Experiments, where daring business women experiment with different parts of their business in order to find best practices. We hope these experiments help improve your business and inspire you to test-drive new strategies. Have an experiment you want to test out and document? Check out our ideas and guidelines!

This experiment in web design + business building is currently being embarked upon by OWS community member Ashley Rustad, who is on her second Skillcrush Blueprint and is kindly documenting the process for us here! Take it away, Ashley.


(Editor’s note: In Part I of this series, Ashley broke down how a Skillcrush Blueprint works for us as she was completing the Web Designer Blueprint. In Part II, she introduced us to the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint, which she took us deeper into as she learned the WordPress Professional Best Practices in Part III. Below is Part IV, the final step in her current Blueprint!)

We’re at the last month of the Skillcrush WordPress Developer Blueprint and man, is it jam packed with lots of info. This last class in the three-part Blueprint walks through how to find, land and manage a client.

What is Skillcrush 303?

The final session of the Skillcrush Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint is three weeks long. It starts with scheduling a 1-on-1, 20-minute consultation via Google Hangout with a Skillcrush Career Counselor. The consultations are to answer any career, coding, or client questions. Tip: Being prepared with questions for the counselor is a great way to make the most of your time with them.

The rest of Skillcrush 303: WordPress Apprenticeship (now called Industry Crash Course) is made up of three weeks:

  • Week 1: Finding a client
  • Week 2: Landing a client
  • Week 3: Managing a client

Each week includes webinars, downloadable slides, and templates that help to guide you through the different aspects of getting clients. The lessons are broken up into support, work, learn, and earn sections. Here’s more about each one:

Week 1: Finding a client

Support section: This module is all about the 1-on-1 consultation with a career counselor. When I had my consultation, all my questions about working as a freelance web designer were answered and I was able to feel more reassured about going into this line of work.

Work section: Included two webinars — Overcoming Imposter Syndrome and Scoping a WordPress Project. Overcoming Imposter Syndrome is about how to gain confidence in your abilities and not being afraid to call yourself a WordPress developer. It can be really hard in the beginning because your skills are so new. Scoping a WordPress Project is about estimating all that is involved in creating a WordPress website.The instructor’s’ slides were given to us to take notes with and refer back to, which was helpful.

Learn section: Made up of the Responsive WordPress Workshop. This workshop came with slides as well. I do feel the responsive workshop could have been expanded on with more lessons in a different area of the WordPress Developer Blueprint. I don’t think one 45-minute workshop on responsive WordPress design is enough.

Earn section: AKA “The Fast Track Formula” — A breakdown of how to reach out to your inner circle, with a guide of great examples for emails and social media posts to help you in the beginning. If you’ve gone down the route of taking the whole blueprint and not just one or two classes; you’ll know this fast track formula was already taught in Skillcrush 203.

Week 2: Landing a client

Support section: It’s all about portfolio hours. You can join a Google Hangout with your instructor and other students to talk about what you plan on putting in your portfolio, how you’ll set it up and who your potential target clients are. You’ll be able to talk about your work and get feedback from your instructor and your fellow students. It’s really informative and helpful in getting other people’s opinion about your work and how you’ll go about it.

Work section: The webinar topic here was Building a Healthy Client Relationship. The workshop walks you through your first client meeting from prep to the meeting and after the meeting.

Learn section: There were two webinars here. The first is Ecommerce Solutions. The webinar goes over three common solutions for selling products with WordPress — offsite, onsite, and the five-minute solution.

The second webinar is the Proposal Writing Workshop. Once you’ve found your first potential client, you’ll need to write a proposal. The webinar goes over everything you need to know about the proposal from why you should be writing them to what needs to be included. The templates provided here are invaluable.

Earn section: Continuing from last week, they focus on the next step in The Fast Track Formula: reaching out to your outer circle. There are templates for doing this, building on the work done last week.

Week 3: Managing the client relationship

Support section: Reminds you to sign up with your career counselor, about the grad party and the ongoing Slack alumni group.

Work section: Includes one webinar called Getting Paid for Freelance Work. This webinar covers it all: prepping estimates to dealing with money and sending contracts and invoices to time tracking.

Learn section: Covers three case studies of businesses built with WordPress. Freelancing isn’t easy, but these quick case studies gave us a glimpse at how three different women are using WordPress in their business.

Earn section: Goes through the last step in The Fast Track Formula, which is about expanding your reach. It teaches different ways to reach out to strangers and tell them about your freelance business.

My overall takeaways

The Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint is packed with lots of great information. This Blueprint really lays the foundation for your freelance WordPress developer career because it’s all about how to get clients. The only limitation is that the information comes almost completely in the form of webinars. If you don’t learn well from lecture format, this really won’t work for you.

The biggest problem I had with this portion of the Blueprint is that all but two webinars (Responsive WordPress and eCommerce Solutions) had previously been in the “Career Path” section of Skillcrush. While they certainly fit here, I do wish they were re-filmed with updated material. What sets this run-through apart from the “Career Path” section is the one-on-one consultation, case studies and a portfolio review. The “Career Path” section has even more webinars and downloads geared toward getting a job with a company, not freelancing.

Who Skillcrush 303 Is For?

Anyone wanting to freelance. It takes you through all the steps of preparing you to become a freelance WordPress developer, minus the coding (which was covered in the first two classes of the Blueprint).

All the skills in the world won’t get you anywhere if you can’t land clients, which is that makes this class crucial.

Who isn’t Skillcrush 303 for?

This isn’t for anyone that already knows how to find and manage clients. If you’re moving careers and have already dealt with finding and managing clients in a different creative field, I think those skills would transfer. If you’ve taken previous Skillcrush classes, you can get 75% of this class’ webinars in the “Career Path” section.

Are you interested in taking a Skillcrush class?

If you’re interested learning more about Skillcrush, you can dip your toes in with their free, 10-day bootcamp. If you want to take this class alone it costs $175, but I highly recommend looking into the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint, which includes three classes and keeps you on a track that provides context for everything you’re learning for $149/month. To find out when the next enrollment session is, scroll down to the bottom of this page.

What questions do you have about Skillcrush and/or tech skills, in general? Leave ’em in the comments below!

We are affiliates of and may receive commission from sales of Skillcrush Blueprints. As always, we only promote products and services that we love and/or think you might benefit from — and Skillcrush is among the best of the best!

Learn How to Code: The Why and the How

learn to code

Learn How To Code

Learning to code is more than just a passing trend right now. Because of that, there’s been a small explosion of startups teaching people essential digital skills; especially ones aimed at women. With options galore, where is it safe to start? As always, with the why.

Why would you want to learn how to code?

Technology is everywhere. Nearly everyone has a smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop. Soon, lots of people will be wearing smartwatches while driving their smart cars around their smart cities.

Lots of people’s jobs already depend on technology, and that number is only increasing. Even if yours doesn’t, it’s important for everyone to reclaim their right to have mastery over the technology that governs our lives.

How learning to code enabled me to become a solopreneur

Learning to code can open previously closed doors. This is especially helpful for those seeking to balance their work with family life, or others who are returning to the working world after time away.

For me, learning to code was one of the crucial milestones that enabled me to leave my 9-5 job and embark on my career as a freelance blogger in tech. Prior to this, I’d been working full-time in digital communications, and I was certainly never ‘techie.’

To build my professional confidence, I learned to code for free with a non-profit, UK-based organization called Code First: Girls. During these courses, I also gained experience in collaborating with others to build websites. Even when the work was very difficult, our shared goal motivated each of us to complete our project.

The new knowledge gained gave me a strong dose of confidence and helped me to understand the tech and startup industry for the first time. Because of that, I picked tech as my blogging niche, and have since been learning as much as I can about the industry. I was able take blogging, which I had been doing for free for years, and make a career out of it.

As a result, I recently quit my job to take the plunge as a full-time freelance tech blogger. So, let’s overcome one of society’s most ridiculous stereotypes, which is that only white male ‘nerds’ can understand computers, and all start learning to code!

Different types of coding skills you can learn — and the purpose each serves

“Learn how to code.” That’s a lofty goal, no doubt, and it can be overwhelming to consider all your different options – especially if you don’t know which language you want to learn.

Many people find it helpful to start with HTML and CSS, which are the front-end coding languages of websites. They are probably the simplest ones to pick up as they’re responsible for styling the visual elements of webpages, and require little-to-no understanding of programming.

As a solopreneur, learning HTML and CSS will give you a lot more confidence when you’re trying to set up your own website, because even if you use a website platform like WordPress or pay a developer to build your site, you’ll still be able to make small edits yourself.

You’ll also be empowered to understand what’s possible in terms of web design. This can be anything from the importance of responsive design (when a website resizes across different devices such smartphones or desktop computers), or when to use bits of code such as H2 tags (the subheadings that break up your page text on your website).

If you want to get a bit more techie, you can learn programming languages such as JavaScript, PHP, Ruby or Python.

These are languages used to program the backend of websites (although JavaScript is used for both frontend and backend). They provide extra functionality such as a website database, or enable you to sell things on your website.

There are a huge variety of languages used to build different types of websites. To start, Google the purpose of each language to see which might be most applicable for you.

The different ways to learn coding

Most people who want to get really serious about learning to code end up paying for a service. This is really useful as it enables you to have that contact with experienced professional developers who can advance your learning and kickstart your career.

This is really useful as it enables you to have that contact with experienced professional developers who can advance your learning and kickstart your career.

Paid courses

Skillcrush is one such resource where you can join a thriving community of like-minded individuals and target your learning with tailored Blueprints. All courses are taken online and they offer a free introductory bootcamp. Amanda has chronicled her Skillcrush journey on the OWS blog in several parts, starting here.

Likewise, you can take singular courses like Sarah Eggers’ HTML & CSS Crash Course.

Many, many other groups exist, like Decoded, which teaches you to code in a day in HTML, or Mums in Technology, which specifically caters to women with children who are looking to advance their careers.

Free options

If you don’t have much money to play around with, or just want to dip your toe in the water, there are some free options available. I’ve created a fully comprehensive list of free UK coding groups on my website.

Groups like Rails Girls offer free day coding bootcamps to teach any women the coding language Ruby on Rails. Another great group aimed at university students and recent graduates is Code First: Girls, which I took part in, myself.

In addition, there are lots and lots of online resources available, including CodeAcademy, General Assembly, and Coursera, to name a few.

A note on bootcamps

A stigma has sprung up in the web development community among some hiring managers against coding bootcamps. This term refers to full-time intensive courses that you pay for. This option is typically for aspiring web developers, rather than the amateur coder.

If you want to become a web developer and are considering a bootcamp, remember they will vary in quality, so do your research and always make sure you have a genuine enthusiasm for building your own portfolio. Maker’s Academy is a good place to start looking at bootcamps.

How to pick the right course for you

Unless you want to become a professional web developer, you don’t need to invest large amounts of time and money in learning to code.

Think about key factors like financial cost, difficulty level, distance to travel, comprehensiveness of the course, contact with experienced developers, and fitting it in around commitments like work and childcare.

Aim for a basic understanding of and curiosity about the nature of technology. Learning to code helps push you past the fear and mystery around technology and empowers you to make the most of it.

Overcoming obstacles and moving forward

Learning to code opens the door to taking control over the digital aspects of your business, and often comes with unintended side benefits, like being able to build your own digital products, launch a startup, become a better designer, or take the plunge as a full-time blogger specializing in tech (like me!), among other things.

If nothing else, dipping your toe into the coding world may help you realize how beneficial hiring a professional developer can be. One Woman Shop published this super handy post about what to ask as you interview a professional developer before you jump into a relationship with them.

I hope this post has shown you some of the ways you can dive in and learn to code — no matter your situation.

Don’t let negative self beliefs hold you back. Just like learning to write, anyone can learn to code. The aim is not necessarily to become a professional programmer or developer, but simply to enter a whole new world of opportunities.

 

We are affiliates of and may receive commission from sales of courses mentioned above. As always, we only promote products and services that we love and/or think you might benefit from.

OWS Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush Blueprints (Part III)

OWS Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush Blueprints (Part III)

OWS Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush Blueprints (Part III)

Welcome to One Woman Experiments, where daring business women experiment with different parts of their business in order to find best practices. We hope these experiments help improve your business and inspire you to test-drive new strategies. Have an experiment you want to test out and document? Check out our ideas and guidelines!

This experiment in web design + business building is currently being embarked upon by OWS community member Ashley Rustad, who is on her second Skillcrush Blueprint and is kindly documenting the process for us here! Take it away, Ashley.


(Editor’s note: In Part I of this series, Ashley broke down how a Skillcrush Blueprint works for us as she was completing the Web Designer Blueprint. In Part II, she introduced us to her current Blueprint, the Freelancer WordPress Developer Blueprint. Below is Part III, where we continue to follow her journey!)

To say the second month of Skillcrush’s Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint was packed with new learning and immense progress would be a crazy understatement. It was during the second phase of the Blueprint that I learned all about the WordPress Professional Best Practices: GitHub, command line, child themes, professional workflow, and advanced themes customizations. (Sound like gibberish? This might be the perfect course for you…)

It was definitely a big month of learning. This class has been harder for me than the past classes I’ve taken; I’m still practicing what I’ve learned, and will be for a while. But that’s not to scare you off — let’s jump right into what you can learn in Skillcrush 203 of the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint so you know if it’s right for you.

My major takeaways from Skillcrush 203: WordPress Professional Best Practices

Takeaway #1: Community is key

Skillcrush 203 kicks off with a five-day crash course on Git, GitHub and command line. In all honesty, this section was definitely the hardest for me to learn, but one of the great things about Skillcrush is that they have Mightybell message boards to post on. The community there allows you to learn from others who are going through the same coursework. The collaborative spirit that they promote is great.

Takeaway #2: WordPress customization is endless

Following Git, GitHub, and command line, we really dug into WordPress child themes — which is how you’re able to turn WordPress into an awesome CMS. We learned how to create custom post types, custom fields, and custom archives, and played around with 404 (error) pages, custom about pages, and contact forms. In simple terms, you learn a lot about changing WordPress into exactly what you want it be.

You also learn a professional workflow for setting up/deploying WordPress sites for clients (or yourself). It’s been really fun learning how to deploy a site the correct and professional way.

Takeaway #3: You get “hands-on experience” with a fictitious client

While learning all of this, you work with a fictitious client to get her site re-designed. Instead of getting your typical email from your Skillcrush instructor, you get an email from “your” client. It’s been fun learning this way, and it’s great practice for working with clients in the future. It was definitely different getting emails from the “client,” but I looked forward to the changes. Truth: I’m not sure I’ll always feel that way when working with actual clients.

Takeaway #4: Skillcrush remains career focused

Like every class I’ve taken so far, Skillcrush 203 includes career content sections. In this class, we focused on how to package and price freelance work, find and land clients, and the fast track way to get clients now. The career content sections come in the form of webinars, which are about an hour long each. The ones I have watched so far are super informative.

Who Skillcrush 203 is for

Skillcrush 203 is for the person that wants to take their knowledge of WordPress to the next level to customize their WordPress site, and work with others to build unique sites. Also — if Git, GitHub, command line, mobile optimization, and professional deployment are terms that aren’t familiar to you, this class might just be the perfect fit.

Who Skillcrush 203 isn’t for

If you’re not interested in learning the next level of WordPress or you’re already a pro at customization, this class might not be for you. Additionally, if you’re not interested in working with clients or other developers on WordPress sites, you may not need all of the material taught here.

Are you interested in taking your knowledge of WordPress to the next level?

I’ve learned so much in this Blueprint so far, and while there’s still more to learn, I’m already feeling empowered to truly customize my own site and start working with clients.

If you’re interested in learning more about Skillcrush, check here for more information. You can take the WordPress Professional Best Practices alone, but I highly recommend looking into the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint, which includes three classes and keeps you on a track that provides context for everything you’re learning. To find out when the next enrollment session is scroll down to the bottom of this page.

Next up for me is Skillcrush 303: WordPress Apprenticeship. I will be learning all about finding, landing and working with a client. Check back here soon for my recap!

What questions do you have about Skillcrush and/or tech skills, in general? Leave ’em in the comments below!

We are affiliates of and may receive commission from sales of Skillcrush Blueprints. As always, we only promote products and services that we love and/or think you might benefit from — and Skillcrush is among the best of the best!

OWS Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush Blueprints (Part II)

One Woman Shop Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush, Part II

One Woman Shop Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush, Part II

Welcome to One Woman Experiments, where daring business women experiment with different parts of their business in order to find best practices. We hope these experiments help improve your business and inspire you to test-drive new strategies. Have an experiment you want to test out and document? Check out our ideas and guidelines!

This experiment in web design + business building is currently being embarked upon by OWS community member Ashley Rustad, who is on her second Skillcrush Blueprint and is kindly documenting the process for us here! Take it away, Ashley.


(Editor’s note: Last month, Ashley broke down how a Skillcrush Blueprint works for us as she was completing the Web Designer Blueprint. Now, she’s on to the Freelancer WordPress Developer Blueprint, and is letting us following along!)

April was all about transitioning from the Web Designer Blueprint I completed during the winter and beginning the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint. The first class? Introduction to WordPress. This class is the primer on all things WordPress: It teaches the history of WordPress, how to install it, the WordPress Admin (which includes Posts, Pages, Setting, Widgets, Themes, and Plugins), Introduction to PHP, the WordPress loop, debugging, creating a homepage, QA, launching WordPress, and security.

Also, throughout the course there are “career sections” which include revamping your resume, using Adobe Photoshop, using social media to get hired, and writing cover letters. Needless to say, there is a ton of stuff packed into this first month of the three-month Blueprint. Below, I’m sharing my takeaways, as well as who this class might be a good fit for (and who it might not be).

Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint: Takeaways

I have one overall takeaway that I should share first: This class is the primer for the rest of the Blueprint. That being said, if you already know certain aspects of WordPress, some sections may be more of a review for you than others. That was the case for me.

Takeaway #1 – If you know the WordPress Admin, be prepared for review. If you know nothing about WordPress, there is a big learning curve, but everything is explained very well.

By “knowing” the WordPress backend, I mean you can create a post and page, you know what all the settings are and what they do, you know how to create and organize widgets in the sidebar and footer, you can create menus for the navigation bar, and you can download and install themes and plugins. If that’s all in your wheelhouse, those parts will be a refresher, which was the case for me. But…that’s all I knew.

Takeaway #2 – The bigger learning curve comes with an introduction of PHP. (Already know PHP? This may be a review for you, too, but can be a really good refresher.)

I didn’t know any PHP, which is the programing language that WordPress uses. (It’s amazing.) The Blueprint taught the sections by recording Adda write PHP, having us then copy her on our computer. (It sounds much easier than it is because if you miss one character, it won’t work.) Since this was all new to me, I had to go back and watch a few sections over again to see what I missed. I was never worried about not being able to figure it out — Skillcrush also provides the written out pieces of code to compare against, so I could easily see where I may have gone wrong. Truth: It could be frustrating at times, but when I got it right on the first time, it felt amazing! There was no better thought than, “I’m actually getting this.”

Takeaway #3 – The videos are well done, but be prepared to pause, rewind, and rewatch when it comes to the actual PHP programming.

One thing I didn’t like about the PHP videos is that they went too fast for a beginner like me. Adda is a pro-programmer, so her mind works quickly, sometimes making it hard to keep up with her. Having the video at my fingertips to watch at my own pace meant rewinding to go back and see exactly what she typed. And when all else failed and I couldn’t quite figure it out, the Blueprint provides the actual code to install if I just wanted to move on. Patience is key in learning code.

Takeaway #4 – It’s not just about learning to code; it’s about learning how to apply it as a career.

The program is broken up into weeks and days. There’s homework each weekday for three weeks, then the fourth week is filled with what Skillcrush calls “Career Content.” These weeks have information-packed webinars about the career side of becoming a web developer.

There are three Career Content sections: revamp your resume, Photoshop & social media, and cover letters. Each of the career content sections have a webinar-style video that’s at least 45 minutes long. Skillcrush includes the webinar slides and sometimes an e-book type of download for further reading. I haven’t actually watched all the webinars yet, but ones I have watched have been super informational and helpful in the career aspect of the class. Since they are webinar style, they don’t have the extra graphics and video quality like the rest of the videos from the class, and I do wish they were divided up into shorter segments since they are so information rich. I would have preferred to watch four, 15-minute videos over the course of a week about cover letters.

Who is/isn’t this course for?

The introductory class of the Skillcrush Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint is great for anyone who has little-to-no knowledge about WordPress and/or PHP. With an introductory level knowledge of WordPress and PHP, this course would be a good review. Since I’d worked with the WordPress Admin in the past, that portion was a review for me, while the PHP section was brand new, and more challenging for me to learn.

Overall, I really enjoyed the course and learned a lot. Learning all about WordPress and PHP are the building blocks of becoming a great WordPress Developer — and I can’t wait to go through the next two courses of this Blueprint. Before long, I’ll be building websites for clients and helping them get their message out into the world.

Stay tuned for next month, when I share the behind-the-scenes of the second course in the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint: Git, Github and the Command Line.

What questions do you have about Skillcrush and/or tech skills, in general? Leave ’em in the comments below!

We are affiliates of and may receive commission from sales of Skillcrush Blueprints. As always, we only promote products and services that we love and/or think you might benefit from — and Skillcrush is among the best of the best!

OWS Experiments: Learning to Code with Skillcrush Blueprints (Part I)

learning to code skillcrush

learning to code skillcrush

Welcome to One Woman Experiments, where daring business women experiment with different parts of their business in order to find best practices. We hope these experiments help improve your business and inspire you to test-drive new strategies. Have an experiment you want to test out and document? Check out our ideas and guidelines!

This experiment in web design + business building is currently being embarked upon by OWS community member Ashley Rustad, who is on her second Skillcrush Blueprint and is kindly documenting the process for us here! (For those of you who were around this time last year, OWS co-head honcho Sara was test driving the Blueprints — check out her breakdown here. She’s now passed the torch!) Take it away, Ashley.


Starting my own one woman shop has always been a dream of mine. But despite reading this blog for a while and being endlessly inspired by other women solopreneurs, it wasn’t until recently that I decided I wanted to build a business as a web designer.

I’ve always loved working on and customizing my own WordPress sites in the past, but had a barrier to being able to build a business around helping other women with their websites: I needed to learn a lot more about coding and web design beyond what I had taught myself. So I started searching online — and, well, there a lot of places to go! I was completely overwhelmed until I stumbled upon Skillcrush.

Skillcrush is an online coding company teaching a plethora of digital skills. Skillcrush Career Blueprints are each made up of three classes to teach you the exact skills you need to become a web designer, web developer, WordPress developer, Ruby on Rails developer, and more.

I dipped my toes in with Skillcrush’s free 10-day bootcamp: fun, informative videos, interactive lessons, and a dive into HTML. It wasn’t long before I fell in love with their classes. After completing the bootcamp and watching a few Skillcrush webinars, I decided to sign up for the Skillcrush Web Designer Blueprint.

Skillcrush Web Designer Blueprint

In October of 2015, I started the Skillcrush Web Designer Blueprint. Like all Skillcrush Blueprints (except Front End Developer), the Web Designer Blueprint consists of three classes. The Web Designer classes include UX & Web Design, HTML & CSS, and JavaScript & jQuery. All three classes, which run for a month each, were informative and helpful in giving me a jumping off point into web design — especially since I’d never really dabbled too far into any of it before.

What’s in a Skillcrush Blueprint

All Skillcrush Blueprints are set up similarly. Here’s what you can expect:

  • The classes are self-paced. Each morning, you receive an email with a link to that day’s materials (videos, downloads, worksheets) and often a few supplemental materials, as well. You can expect to spend about 30 to 40 minutes per day on the class work. If that doesn’t work with your schedule, you can spend a few hours batching the work each weekend. Since the classes are self-paced, it’s truly up to you.
  • You have lifetime access to the classes, so you can always look back if you get stuck in a later class — and if you fall behind, you can choose to catch up or just pick up where you left off. Honestly? In self-paced classes like this, I don’t really think there is a “behind.”
  • The lessons come with suggested homework for each day, and an interactive platform where you can upload or save what you’ve been working on.
  • Each Blueprint has an associated community on Mightybell where you can turn to get your questions answered. The questions are answered by the designated teacher, teacher’s assistant and other class members. It’s very community oriented.

What do you need before starting a Blueprint?

Depending on the Blueprint, there may be a prerequisite. The Web Designer Blueprint and Front End Developer Blueprint do not have any prerequisites, but all the other Blueprints have a prerequisite of at least knowing HTML & CSS. (Not at an expert level, but a comfortable level.)

Even without a prerequisite, you will need to make sure you have the time to invest in doing the Blueprint. While you can take each differently — for example, on one of the classes, I worked ahead on and learned as much as possible because I was going out of town, whereas another I did the class as I received each email — each one will still require a designated time investment.

Beyond the Blueprint

Skillcrush truly builds a community around each Blueprint. Beyond your Mightybell community, there are also weekly “office hours” held via Google Hangouts, where your teacher can answer any questions related to the projects you are putting together in class.

The teachers are current web designers and developers. Some of the teachers work at other companies, plus teach Skillcrush classes, while some teachers own their own businesses. The teachers are pretty interactive on Mightybell. Your level of engagement on Mightybell is entirely up to you.

In addition, once per month, there is a “Circle Chat” — a big group chat/forum where you can ask questions and meet other people in your class. It’s a great time to meet up and start collaborations, if that’s what you’re looking for.

They also have monthly Master Classes, where they interview someone from the tech industry like Adda Birnir, Randle Browning, and Rachel Papst. They teach classes about writing resumes, social media, project management and more. You also have access to the backlog of Master Classes. The interviews give great insight into the tech industry and have been helpful in teaching new skills like how to transition from a non-tech job to a tech job.

Setting you up for a career

Skillcrush isn’t just about teaching you the skills — they are all about helping you launch a career based on them. Each Blueprint comes with an additional program taking you step-by-step through what you need to do to jumpstart a career in tech, called a Career Path.

The Career Path takes you through building a portfolio, getting organized, and tips and strategies on finding a job. Learning how to create a portfolio and a website to advertise my new skills as a web designer will help me to promote my one woman shop. These same skills can help someone just looking to transition to a new career in tech.

Who the Web Designer Blueprint is for

Skillcrush is a great way to get started if this is the first time taking a class on web design or you’ve just dabbled in web design. The Blueprint is a comprehensive approach to learning web design: It doesn’t just teach foundational HTML & CSS. In the UX & Web Design class, you learn wireframing, user experience, a little Photoshop, and how to create and use sitemaps. (And if you don’t know what any of that means, then the class is perfect for you because you’ll learn it all!) The thing I love about Skillcrush is that you’re not jumping from site to site wondering if you’re learning it the right way or learning it well. I felt comfortable that I was learning what I needed to know to design a website from scratch.

After going through the Blueprint, I now know what I need to prepare for a meeting with a potential client, how to outline a sitemap for them, and where to start on the layout of their site — things I had no clue on before.

Who the Web Designer Blueprint isn’t for

Like any course, one Skillcrush Blueprint cannot possibly teach you everything you need to know about web design. You have to be willing to hit roadblocks and run Google searches.

In addition, if you’ve dabbled in HTML or CSS before or have built a website from scratch, the Web Designer Blueprint may not be advanced enough for you. Advanced Blueprints from Skillcrush include a Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint, Mobile Web Designer Blueprint and Ruby on Rails Developer Blueprint that may be more suited for someone that is familiar with HTML and CSS. It’s also possible to take individual classes, so if you know HTML & CSS, but not UX & Web Design, you could just take that one class.

The team at Skillcrush is great in helping you get on the path you need. If you ever have any questions you can always email someone at Skillcrush or use the chat box at the bottom of the page when you sign in.

Are you interested in Skillcrush?

If you’re curious about Skillcrush and how the Blueprints are run, take their free 10-Day Bootcamp. It will give you a great taste for what the paid classes are like.

What’s next for me

The next step for me is take the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint. I’ve always loved the WordPress CMS and I’ve always wanted to build sites on that platform. Since Skillcrush has classes teaching all about being a Freelance WordPress Developer and that’s what I want to be, it’s the next logical step. I’ve really enjoyed learning with Skillcrush and am so excited to start my business soon with the skills that I am learning. The WP Blueprint outlines exactly what you need to do build a freelance business, plus the skills to make it happen.

Stay tuned: Over the next three months, I’ll be walking you through the Freelance WordPress Developer Blueprint here on the One Woman Shop blog!

What questions do you have about Skillcrush and/or tech skills, in general? Leave ’em in the comments below!

We are affiliates of and may receive commission from sales of Skillcrush Blueprints As always, we only promote products and services that we love and/or think you might benefit from — and Skillcrush is among the best of the best!

One Woman Experiments: Coding With Skillcrush (Part I)

Welcome to One Woman Experiments, where daring business women experiment with different parts of their business in order to find best practices. We hope these mini-experiments help improve your business and inspire you to test-drive new strategies. Have an experiment you want to test out and document? Check out our ideas and guidelines! This experiment in web development is currently being embarked upon by OWS head-honcho, Sara Frandina.

I’m a multipassionate. I don’t believe in confining yourself to a niche; I aim to learn as much as possible about many different things; and I sure as hell don’t ever find myself bored.

Being a multi-passionate, to me, means constantly evolving and trying new things. I’ve learned to overcome my fear of public speaking and won a campus-wide contest. I’ve learned to speak fluent Italian and traveled there as part of a full-immersion program. I’ve researched carboys and the best oak to use as I learn to make wine.

My Type-A personality lends itself well to learning, sticking with something, and getting pretty good at most things. (I’m not bragging. It’s a blessing and a curse.) But there’s one thing that’s been on my bucket list for far too long now, that I simply have not been able to grasp: coding. (Web developers: you have my undying envy + awe.)

Learning to code as a One Woman Shop

I’ve putzed around with the self-teaching route for coding. When I launched my business in late 2013, I even set out to build my own site. As a copywriter + editor, it was a complete mindset shift from the creative, free-flowing words to the rules-laden, no-room-for-error world of code. But still, even after embarking upon the process and keeping the best notes possible, I just wasn’t getting the hang of it.

A lot of that came from being a One Woman Shop who really needs to spend the majority of my time doing the things I’m good at to keep my business growing — and therefore not being able to devote consistent time to a “non-essential” skill like coding. But the desire to learn to code hasn’t escaped me — especially as I have client after client ask me how to put the web copy I write to its best use.

So when one of Cristina’s online contacts connected One Woman Shop to the ladies at Skillcrush suggesting we collaborate, it seemed a match was made in heaven. What’s Skillcrush? Oh, just a company that aims to teach tech skills to people who are complete newbies in a non-invasive, self-paced way. (And it’s a company built + run by a team of women — even better.)

Learning to code, the Skillcrush way

Skillcrush has designed what they call Career Blueprints: comprehensive, three-class plans that you purchase as a package. They currently offer Blueprints for Web Design, Web Development, Freelance WordPress Development, and Ruby on Rails Development.

I know what you might be thinking: how is Skillcrush any different than the classes I can find, most likely cheaper, on Skillshare, Udemy, and the other online learning platforms that we love? Now that I’m nearly two weeks into the first module, let me count the ways:

Structure

The thing I lacked most in teaching myself to code was structure. Even going to frequent Girl Develop IT classes put on by our local chapter just didn’t provide the structure needed to learn, implement, and keep learning. With Skillcrush’s Blueprints, you have set lessons to follow — whether you do it for an hour daily, as they suggest, or at your own pace — and a road map for where you’re going. Suddenly, I understand the pieces of what I’m learning and how they’ll all work together.

Support

The community around the Skillcrush Blueprint is amazing. Not only do you have the support of your teachers, but you have constant access to fellow students running through the same program you are. They’ve built the Skillcrush community via Mightybell (basically a social intranet), which takes some getting used to, but it’s fantastically active.

Syllabi

The Blueprint is fantastic in that I know what’s coming next — and the lessons drop into my inbox every day, so I don’t have to remember to go log in and check them out. I’ve just dipped my feet in the water with the first monthly module, HTML and CSS, and I’ve got a full four weeks of lessons to help me fully immerse myself and put it into practice before the syllabus calls for the next modules, JavaScript and jQuery, and Ruby, Git, and Sinatra. Do I even know what half of those things mean at this point? Nope. But that’s the beauty of the guided syllabi — I’ve got the path laid out for me.

Why this is truly an experiment

Skillcrush makes some big promises: on the landing page for the Web Developer Blueprint, it tells me that I’ll have “everything you need to know to become a kick-a$%, take-no-prisoners, digital native.”

After years of trying to learn, I’m excited to see how true that is. And with the structure, support, and carefully-thought out syllabi, I’m dedicated to taking my hour each day to see it to fruition. Will it be perfect? I doubt it. Will I struggle? For sure. But that’s the purpose of this column: so you can learn from my mistakes and see if Skillcrush is the answer to your tech-savvy dreams.

Stick with me — I’ve started off strong and now I need you to hold me accountable. I’ll be sharing the ins-and-outs of learning to code with the Skillcrush Web Developer Blueprint over the next three months!

PS – Skillcrush isn’t just a pay-to-play learning site. I’ve encountered countless fantastic resources via the Skillcrush blog to help me in both learning to code and learning to excel as a solopreneur.

PPS – Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links + Skillcrush has comped the Blueprint for me as part of this One Woman Shop Experiment. (Aren’t they awesome?) That being said, everything I share is made of up my candid, honest opinions as I move through the Blueprint.

Study Up: 4 Sites for Solopreneurs to Continue Learning

OWS goes back to school

Study Up: 4 Sites for Solopreneurs to Continue Learning

The beauty of the age we live in is that we have a multitude of opportunities at our fingertips each and every time we sit down at a computer. Gone are the days of sifting through encyclopedias or trying to figure out the Dewey Decimal system at the library in order to learn something new.

Instead, we have hundreds, if not thousands of resources we can turn to in order to further our education. And we’d be downright silly not to capitalize on that.

Why perpetual learning is imperative to a One Woman Shop

Constant learning is crucial as a One Woman Shop, where we rely heavily on ourselves and our own knowledge. It goes without saying that when we launch a side hustle or a full-time solo biz, we are putting ourselves on a path of perpetual learning. We’ll encounter necessary tasks that we simply don’t know how to do, and run into to-dos that we just don’t feel we’re good at. (I’m looking at you, accounting.)

While we’re all about asking for help, seeking out experts who can lighten your load, and surrounding yourself with communities that can answer questions at the drop of a dime, it is also vital that we keep learning.

The good news about being a perpetual student today is that it doesn’t have to come with an astronomical price tag, exorbitant school loans, or the stress of making it to class three times per week. Instead, we can take advantage of the wealth of online opportunities to choose what we want to learn, and how and when we want to learn it.

Here are four sites to help you do just that:

Skillshare

Skillshare is an online learning community with a mission to “reunite learning with education and make it accessible to every single person on this planet.” Classes are created to teach real-work skills, and all courses are project-based; that is, they’re designed around a student project that carries throughout the lessons. Each course is split into modules, making it easy to complete classes over a few days or weeks.

Skillshare has two ways to take part in their community. Monthly membership gives you access to the library of courses for $9.95 per month, or you can simply sign up and purchases classes on an individual basis. Paid classes range from $15-$45 each, but the library of free courses is delightfully extensive.

My favorite part of Skillshare? Instructors are incredibly engaged in the courses — I regularly receive check-ins from Andrea Goulet Ford, content whiz behind BrandVox and leader of “Become a Better Blogger,” and Gary Vaynerchuk’s team for his social media course. Skillshare courses give you access to great minds who truly care about your learning.

Skillcrush

Skillcrush is focused on developing technical skills, so if you’ve been considering building a knowledge foundation in web design or development, this is the site for you.

Skillcrush offers its courses on an individual basis, but is better known for its packaged content in the form of “Career Blueprints.”

Courses and career tracks through Skillcrush come with a heftier price tag than that of Skillshare (a Career Blueprint course is $399), but promise a comprehensive education that is still undeniably affordable compared to a university’s tuition. Another notable differentiator: Skillcrush’s courses run on a calendar, but are designed to be completed with an hour of work per day.

CreativeLive

CreativeLive’s focus is on “unleashing the creative potential of millions.” Classes are geared toward creative endeavors: photography, video, design, music, business, software, and more.

Naturally, the majority of courses put on by CreativeLive are, well, live. While most run on a calendar, the site also hosts classes that can be accessed on demand.

One Woman Shoppers will be especially interested in CreativeLive’s business courses, but I particularly enjoy dabbling in extracurricular interests like photography with CreativeLive. Courses are priced in a range from under $100 to over $250, with bundles available.

Quistic

Quistic is the newest course provider on my radar. It was launched by influencer and serial entrepreneur Penelope Trunk, and takes a unique approach to creating course paths for students, basing it on your Myers-Briggs personality type and focusing largely on career advancement and lifestyle design.

The course catalog for Quistic is unique in that it’s varied among different aspects of life, teaching hard skills in courses like “Grow a Six-Figure Coaching Business” and focusing on softer skills in courses like “Make Your 20s Count.”

Most classes in the Quistic lineup are priced at $195, with lifetime access and a money-back guarantee.

Keep learning

Consistently sharpening skills and learning new ones expands our value, indirectly betters the way we do things we’re already good at, and, as 99u describes it, “bullet proofs” our career. And, when we’re in the thick of solopreneurship and our day-to-day activities, learning something new can simply be fun.

Tell me, One Woman Shoppers, where do you turn when it’s time to learn something new? I’d love to hear about sites or courses that have inspired or taught you along your solopreneur journey below.