The 5 Steps I Used To Teach Myself To Code And Sell Something At 17 Years Old

The first thing I ever built that I charged for was an MP3 burning app.

I had just learned Visual Basic in one of my elective programming classes in highschool, and I wanted to see what I could create.

The problem I wanted to solve was simple…

As one of the few people at the time with a CD burner, I would always have my friends come over to my house and spend hours going through all of the MP3’s I had downloaded from Napster to create the ultimate playlist for themselves or their girlfriend…

(K-Ci and JoJo was always a crowd pleaser)

So after a few weeks of this, I built a simple app that anyone could install at their house.

It would connect to my computer using FTP, download a file of all the MP3’s I had on my computer, let them create the playlist at their house, and when they were ready, they could “order” the CD (pay me $20 bucks) and I would burn it overnight while I slept.

So technically, that’s the first time coding made me money, even before (a vacation rental site I started in 1999).

I share that story because learning to code is not hard.

It just requires a strong enough motivation and some resources.

That’s what I cover in this week’s video.

The crazy part is learning to code literally saved my life.

As the world evolves, I believe learning to code is going to be a powerful skill to have…

It’s why I’ve been teaching my two little boys to code ever since they were 2 years old.

But how do you learn while sidestepping overwhelm?

Here are 5 tips to get you (or your kid) started:

  1. Use your weekends: block out some time, schedule it, and commit to start when the clock hits that time!
  2. Wireframe a simple app: keep it simple. Blank printer paper and a marker works to outlining the apps interface.
  3. Front-end, backend, database: understanding these 3 specific pieces will make the whole process way easier!
  4. Pick a language: Ruby, Python, Php, Javascript… now this one can be debated and I’d love to have that below in the comments.
  5. Consume tutorials: there are sooooo many free online training videos to help you get going, but there’s also next level training by folks likes

If you want some feedback on your app idea, just leave a comment and I’ll provide some thoughts on the best way to build it.

Excited to hear how your first app comes along… something simple can take less than a couple hours!

Do it. Get coding :)

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. (Get the free 3 videos to grow your business here.) He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and You should follow him on twitter@danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

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