From Poker Player to Software Developer

From Poker Player to Software Developer

Hey, so can you introduce yourself?

Hi, I am a self taught web developer that started building websites back in 2007 or so. Before that I had a short online poker career. The highs and lows of poker got me longing for some less stressful and more predictable income. I got into buying domains and my first website was just a blank page with advertising banners on it.

Since 2007 I have been doing different things, including studying and working while keeping the dream alive of becoming a solopreneur and being my own boss. In 2018 I finally was able to do so. And since then I’ve been able to put in a lot more time and effort into my website projects.

Why did you learn to code?

As a web developer that started from knowing nothing at all, code remained a mystery for me for years. I was able to get by Googling and copy-pasting solutions, usually from Stack Exchange, to build what I wanted.

It has been only about a year since I decided that I wanted to finally learn to code myself. The main reason was not because of my websites but because I got interested in crypto,  which people refer to as programmable money.

Being interested in both finance and tech, the crypto space has really got me excited about the future and I wanted to see how I could participate. Being a solopreneur, I am investing all of my money into the business and I can’t really talk myself into sitting on passive crypto investments right now, but I figured that I might be able to do something in the space if I learned to code.

How did you learn coding?

I took my first baby steps by just copy-pasting from Stack Exchange. After that I decided to try some online courses and checked out a couple of the different alternatives. I decided to go with Code Academy and purchased a year of Pro access to all of their courses. The learning material and coding tests they offer are great.

YouTube has also been very helpful for me. I actually started out wanting to learn Rust to be able to create things for the Solana blockchain and there’s lots of educational videos on YouTube for that. However, I pivoted from learning Rust to learning PHP and Javascript, as that was an easier start for me and something I could use right away when building websites.

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How has your life changed since learning to code?

After about 15 years of building websites with WordPress and not knowing almost anything about coding myself, it feels like I’ve reached another level after learning PHP and Javascript. I can now build much more advanced websites, and do so easier, quicker, and with custom CMS solutions specifically built for each website, instead of using WordPress for everything.

My salary has not changed yet, but I am able to spend less hiring freelance programmers to help me out, so my business is making a bit more profit already. I do expect that my portfolio of websites will be able to generate more income as they receive updates with more features and more performant code over time.

What also has changed since learning to code, is that I am having so much fun with it. Even though it can be really challenging sometimes, it is simultaneously really rewarding when I find workable solutions.

What does a typical day as a Software Developer look like for you?

I work from home and I usually try to get straight to work after waking up. Since I am a solopreneur I do a lot of different tasks, not only programming. But luckily, I can spend most of my time developing websites and coding with PHP, Javascript - and HTML, Javascript, and MySQL.


Do you have tips for people who want to learn to code without doing a degree?

I would suggest using Google and YouTube to learn a bit about potential coding languages to learn. After that I would use Code Academy or something similar to start learning and testing your knowledge with practical examples along the way.

I also really like to learn by doing. So, I would start coding things on your own straight after, or at the same time, as you are following courses.

What are your career goals for the future?

What is most important to me is to be able to continue being my own boss and hopefully to grow my business over time. What I will do in practice to try and achieve that is to continue and develop new website projects. I am also eager to update / rebuild  many of my earlier websites now that I know much more about coding.

Right now, my most recent website project is called Crypto Headline Aggregator. I am very passionate about it and I am happy that it incorporates crypto. It is a website that I know will help myself to stay on top of the latest news in crypto. Whether or not other people will use it remains to be seen. I know that I do create a lot more websites that don't get any traction than those who do. No matter how much I believe in them while they are being developed.

I first created this website (on a different domain and with a different name) a year or two ago. At that time it was created with WordPress and a premium plugin for importing content from RSS feeds. That plugin did cost about $150/year and it was about a month ago, when it was about to be renewed, that I was inspired to try and make the website from scratch.

I wanted to make it without having to pay for that plugin and with a custom PHP solution instead of WordPress, a custom MySQL database with just the tables needed for the website, and just the minimum amount of JavaScript required. Coding the website has been a lot of fun and the website is now in beta. I plan on removing the noindex tag and officially launch the website in a week or two.

My biggest project, however, is an informational online shopping network called Oshoppo where I work with a handful of freelance writers.

That network features a website called Ostoi where we write about online stores and rank them for each of the product categories they offer. Currently we look for about 500 product categories in total for each store and rank them manually according to a handful of parameters. This website is currently using WordPress, but I hope to be able to replace WordPress with a custom solution sometime this summer or fall.

Currently, we are working on 4 GEOs for Ostoi and hope to expand into more countries if those first GEOs gain good traction. I am seeing good signs already that the concept can work pretty well.

In addition to Ostoi, there are a couple more websites in the making that will be part of the Oshoppo network.

About the author
Pete Codes

Pete Codes

Hey, I'm Pete and the creator of this site. I am a self-taught web developer and I'm based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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