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Being a Web Developer: Expectations vs. Reality

Hold your horses before heading to the Maldives!

artimir @ Freepik

Okay, I’m pretty sure the majority of the aspiring web developers have already heard quite a lot of fairy tales regarding their future career endeavors. I’m not saying some of them aren’t true, but let’s be real: there are tons of expectations when it comes to web development that usually turn out to be slightly different in reality.

Let’s picture Bob for a second.

Bob is this curious hard-working guy who has always dreamt of making it big. Ever since he was a kid, Bob couldn’t wait to grow up and build a successful career that will help him feel fulfilled, inspired, and that will do more than just pay the rent.

So, once Bob decided it was high time he starts looking for a career path, he began doing his research.

What job would be equally satisfying and profit-oriented?

What career could give him the possibility to have flexible working hours?

What would that job be that could allow Bob to build a name for himself out there?

Also, Bob has always been quite an artistic person — so the perfect fit would be a job that had a creative element as well. So many questions, so many career possibilities.

As Bob continued to search for the perfect business niche, he heard a story about a fellow aspiring web developer who began making the big bucks after only two months in the field. Let’s call him Mathew. Besides money, Mathew had managed to create some significant professional connections and earned enough so that he could go and work in the Maldives during the summer season.

“Ding ding ding,” said Bob to himself. — “That’s the one! That’s the perfect career!”

Do you know what the main difference between Bob and Mathew could be?

three white paper airplanes versus one red paper airplane
diloka107 @ Freepik

We’ve all been Bobs at some time in our lives and I’m pretty sure we all had this Mathew mythological figure in mind.

What’s important here is to never forget the possibility that Mathew could be the product of this urban legend called “mouth to mouth exaggeration”.

By all means, I’m not saying people who witness overnight success don’t exist. Sure, those lucky beasts most definitely are real, and they represent a strong reason for our professional and spiritual awakening. Being led by example is great. To have an inspirational role model in mind is also great. What’s important is not to allow this image to convince you you’ll soon skyrocket as an expert and after a month you’ll wink at people from the New York Times cover.

Every Bob should implement hard work, patience, durability, and constant learning and development to turn into a Mathew.

As it turns out, when we talk about web development, we are not immune to the never-ending expectations vs. reality battle. That’s why I decided to take a look at some of the most common misconceptions that a person may stumble upon when researching about web development career.

Being a web developer: expectations vs. reality

  1. Money, money, money, always sunny in the web dev’s world~
  2. Let me get back to you once I get my reception back!
  3. Implementing that code is a piece of cake!
  4. Dude, I’m telling you, I have so many multi-million-dollar-businesses projects that I have to put them on hold (insert a random celebrity name here)
  5. Ah, it’s been a month already, it’s high time I establish a company!
  6. What do you mean by investing? I already have a killer laptop.
  7. What do you mean by upgrading my knowledge?
  8. I better spend four nights searching for a solution than ask a coworker for advice. Or Google. Yeah, definitely!
  9. I’m so sleepy! I better postpone today’s tasks for tomorrow, the deadline is so far ahead!

Money, money, money, always sunny in the web dev’s world

Okay, here’s the thing: yes, one can earn good money with web development. The common misconception here is that many people expect to earn the big bucks immediately upon nailing their first project. For you to establish yourself as a great developer and businesses to start approaching you, first, you need to work your a** off. Essentially, gathering experience and building knowledge, work ethic, and developing expertise require time and multiple projects implementations.

So, my advice is to take off with the eagerness to earn well but also with the readiness to give what it takes as a matter of hard work, patience, and constant grinding.

Let me get back to you once I get my reception back

Sure, nailing a job in the web development industry usually means freedom of working from wherever. While this is true to some extent(it depends on your company’s policies if you are not a freelancer that is), you can be sure that there’s no such thing as “wherever place”.

Being a web developer means having a constant stable connection and impeccable online presence. What if a client approaches you with a request of immediate urgency? You definitely must be able to do your job on the spot. Certainly places with poor reception and lack of stable internet connection are a big no-no. So forget about that secluded villa up there in the mountains.

Implementing that code is a piece of cake

There’s this common misunderstanding among aspiring developers that once you’ve learned a certain programming language or software, you are good to go and nothing can surprise you anymore.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Web development is so dynamic and ever-changing that sometimes new stuff comes out every other week. Each and every project is different and each and every initial task can require different work approaches. The fact that a developer has mastered C, Python, or JS doesn’t necessarily mean they would never face difficulty. That’s why keeping yourself up to date is so important.

Dude, I’m telling you, I have so many multi-million-dollar-businesses projects that I have to put them on hold (insert a random celebrity name here)

Perhaps a time would come when you indeed would have a dazzling and mind-blowing portfolio of remarkable clients. I strongly hope you’d be able to achieve this!

But one should not expect to nail the big fish out there from the very start. Big enterprises and companies prefer to rely on well-established professionals for pretty much anything. So, before hoping to get on board on this huge project, you better ask yourself if you are professionally ready to do so. Usually, it takes quite an experience for fellow developers to nail a starring client for their portfolio. Don’t rush into things, use the time to learn and prosper instead.

Ah, it’s been a month already, it’s high time I establish a company

Okay, I completely understand one’s impatience, but let’s get real for a moment. Do you honestly believe a month or even a year in web development is enough for you to establish your own web development company?

Let’s refer to the reputation for a minute. What would differ you from all the other web developers in your area for example would be your professional approach, problem-solving skills, and excellent communication with clients. With time, you’ll begin creating a name for yourself that people would link to success. But it takes numerous happy and fulfilled clients! Sometimes building an excellent reputation can take years, especially if the business field is quite crowded (as the case is with web development). Take your time and be sure to have created a name for yourself in the niche before establishing a whole company.

What do you mean by investing? I already have a killer laptop

Many people believe a web developer doesn’t need to make any investments as long as they have a killer laptop by their side.

That’s certainly not the case. Even if your hardware is great and up to date, there are plenty of other investments one could make upon career development. I’m referring to buying software, plugins, lifetime licenses, enrolling in different courses and seminars for additional education, etc. In reality, web development requires constant improvement so it’s only natural for a developer to be ready to invest in updating both their technologies and knowledge.

What do you mean by upgrading my knowledge?

Another huge misconception has to do with knowledge upgrades. See, web development really requires a constant update of education. One could not simply rely on what they learned five years ago.

The golden rule is to try understanding programming and development as a whole and always refresh your current knowledge with new information. Sure, every developer has their own field of expertise but an overlook won’t hurt anybody.

I better spend four nights searching for a solution than ask a fellow coworker for advice. Or Google. Yeah, definitely!

I honestly believe that one of the worst expectations and misconceptions regarding web developers out there has to do with the idea of them being these godlike creatures who know everything. This belief leads many web devs to utter denial about seeking help and advice from others.

In reality, many web developers use a coworker’s help or even Google when things go downhill. Don’t torture yourself with spending days staring at the screen searching for a specific bug. Instead, search for possible solutions and teach yourself the smart way to get things fixed. It’s both time and energy-saving. Besides, this way you learn new things and grow in your career and experience.

I’m so sleepy! I better postpone today’s tasks for tomorrow, the deadline is so far ahead!

If you are a web dev freelancer who doesn’t have a manager to gnaw at them about “filling up those full 8 hours with work” daily, then it’s likely you’re prone to postponing and procrastinating.

Sure, there are days when one simply needs rest and some fresh air, but my advice is to avoid postponing today’s work for tomorrow too often. This actually kills your work tempo. Plus, you never know if a project is about to meet some obstacles — it’s better for you to have enough time for fixing all the issues instead of waiting for the last possible minute. Flexibility in working hours in web dev is a great advantage, but it comes with responsibility and accurate distribution of work and duties.

In a nutshell

I think it would be quite useful for aspiring fellow developers to take a look at the real specter of things.

Sometimes we can get caught up in this fairy tale scenario of fast climbing the career ladder and earning the big bucks. When reality turns out to be slightly different, there’s a huge chance we get disappointed and even call it quits. Having a reality check is a great approach instead — know what’s ahead of you so you can be as prepared as possible to build an exceptional career indeed.

Hi, guys, I’m Ivan and I’m here to share with all of you my passion for words, great content, entrepreneurship, personal development, management, hobbies, and everything in between.

I serve as the CEO of my WordPress Development Agency @ Vipe Studio where I have the pleasure to lead a diverse, wonderful and energetic team of experts. Feel free to contact me anytime — I would love to exchange new ideas and inspire each other!



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Ivan Popov

Ivan Popov


i was once an athlete. then a journalist. now i am a ceo of vipe studio. still running marathons though.