Can't make a living writing/PR - thinking of learning to code. Anyone a programmer?

(17 Posts)
fourlegstwolegs Thu 09-Jan-14 21:01:54

I've been a freelance writer but recently lost a major and regular commission. I can't survive without it and need to do something that pays a decent chunk on a freelance/contract basis.
I do a bit of PR but again not enough to live off, even though what I do have is for a very good client. I have a mind to push the PR but don't fancy it on my own.
I thought about learning to write Objective C. I have bought some books and I think eventually I can get my head around it but it's going to take ages.

I don't want/can't do a full time job as I have a small farm to run and a 1yo baby, hence wanting something I can do here and there....

ErrolTheDragon Thu 09-Jan-14 21:10:01

I write software - but I'm employed (part time, from home) not freelance. I write scientific software so in my field the subject is even more important than the language. So, PhD and more or less picked up the coding on the hoof. So very different to freelance/contract scenario I think...

Do you know what sort of software you might be interested in writing, and is Objective C (never heard of it myself - I mostly write in C++!) the most appropriate language to learn?

NatashaBee Thu 09-Jan-14 21:16:06

I had to google Objective C. I work with a lot of programmers but have never heard of it before. Is it used in a specific industry? It might be worth looking at something more widely used.

fourlegstwolegs Thu 09-Jan-14 21:37:32

Objective C is the language that all Ios apps are written in (ie Mac applications, Iphone and Ipad apps) so I think it is a useful one to learn as Apple so popular. My DP is a Java Developer but I want to do something different to what he does.

CajaDeLaMemoria Thu 09-Jan-14 21:41:59

I work with a lot of IOS developers as part of my day job, but they use java rather than objective C. We had one remaining 'emergency' objective c programmer until December, but it had been 8 months since they'd done anything then, so they mutually decided to leave.

I'd be a bit concerned that if you don't think you'd learn it quickly, it might not be useful anymore.

This feels very critical, please don't take it that way - I'm trying to be helpful!

CajaDeLaMemoria Thu 09-Jan-14 21:43:28

Oh no we don't. We have java designers on the Web team, and general programmers on the IOS team. I think. I'll check tomorrow.

I only really know that we don't use objective c much because the guy was so bored that he was doing some extra work for me!

Procrastreation Thu 09-Jan-14 21:44:20

Especially if its your first foray into coding, I wouldn't turn my nose up at learning the same language as your DH.

A lot of coding is debugging - and these can be soul destroying for a beginner - a least you'll have an in-house consultant to help.

Also you can work as a partnership & pick up the slack on each others projects, to make sure you don't disappoint clients.

You can add extra languages in due course.

fourlegstwolegs Thu 09-Jan-14 22:03:04

Yes DP spends hours and much muttering/swearing de-bugging!
Objective C is the 3rd most used language so I'm not worried about it becoming defunct any time soon. Java is also objective oriented so he will be able to help me a bit.

montgomeryburns Fri 10-Jan-14 19:38:33

From the small bit of info I found, it seems that most programmers work onsite via contracts. Is freelancing any other way possible?

m0nkeynuts Fri 10-Jan-14 22:25:51

What does your DP think to your idea?

I do some programming on a freelance basis from home and I'm entirely self-taught. BUT I started learning to program when I was about 10 on a ZX81 (learning BASIC) so I've been at it a very long time!

Have you done any programming at all before? I learn new languages & technologies from books initially too but I also do a massive amount of personal projects and prototyping before I'd even consider taking on any paid client work. You're right that it does take a LONG time to master programming - learning the syntax is one thing, but knowing how to craft efficient code, do memory management, test for every possible failure and debug problems takes lots of experience that books can't provide (my experience of ObjC and xCode is that the debug error messages are often of no help whatsoever!). And before any of that you need to be confident enough with what you're doing to be able to properly scope, plan and cost out a client's project.

Presumably you have a Mac if you're planning to go down the ObjC route? You need a Mac (or a Hackintosh at the very least) to submit Mac or iPhone/iPad/iPod apps to the Appstore.

I wouldn't describe programming as something I do "here and there" either, as per your OP. When I'm working on a project, I'm usually at it for hours on end (think: most of my waking hours!) and several days at a time. Much like you've described your DP as spending hours muttering and swearing ;) I'd be frustrated having to look after a farm and a 1 year old at the same time tbh.

If you have a gap in your finances NOW (which your OP suggests) then I don't see how programming can fill that gap any time soon. By all means learn programming as a future venture, but if time is of the essence then I think working with the skills you already have would be wise.

Parietal Fri 10-Jan-14 22:34:05

look on odesk to see what freelance programming skills are in demand and how much money you can make.
https://www.odesk.com/info/uk/welcome/

it can take a LONG time to get fluent in a language (if you are starting from no coding skills at all) so this is not a quick way to make money. there are other software packages (?Photoshop / Filemaker?) where you might be able to pick up the skills quicker.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 10-Jan-14 23:29:09

As you've already got skills as a freelance writer, it might be worth thinking about documentation rather than actual code. My company used to employ contract people periodically to help with this sort of thing - it required writing skills but also some technical ability (exactly what would vary depending on how the company did it - until recently ours entailed a lot of html for instance, and I'm sure our main doc guy has to write scripts to do stuff (perl or python maybe)

Hm. I work in IT (though not done programming directly for years) but I wouldn't say most programming is something you can do bits and bobs of here and there, though there may be exceptions.

Are you geekily minded? Good at logic puzzles? Know any foreign languages or read music (apparently these are good predictors for being good at IT!)? I wouldn't put loads of effort into learning it unless you think you would be reasonably good at (and hopefully be interested in) it. What does your DH think of the idea, he should have some idea whether it would be up your street or not?

Also worth mentioning that in the fields I've worked in, more and more of the actual programming work has ended up going overseas to cheaper locations (India etc). Mostly it's either the more niche/specialised stuff, or the more business-oriented side of things (rather than the very technical jobs) which have stayed in Europe/US.

Errol's suggestion of documentation could be a good one though as you've already got good writing skills?

I would never outsource a project to a fresh coder without experience.

I post ad hoc projects on http://www.freelancer.co.uk/.

You can also set yourself up as a freelance writer there, and bid for projects.

fourlegstwolegs Mon 20-Jan-14 13:29:18

DP thinks its a great idea. Obviously I don't expect to learn from a book and then immediately go and pick up some work....

PlinkyPlonker Sat 22-Feb-14 15:24:42

Does DP use objective c? I agree with others above and if it's your first programming language then learning a language he's proficient in would be a help. I did a computer science degree and it's sole destroying spending hours on an error that you just cannot fix, and then a second pair of eyes on your code spots your problem! Maybe HTML5 and php would be another option and easier to build up a portfolio of work? I'd also recommend java or C and once you have learnt the basic principles then go onto objective C. Good luck with it all!

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