Coding Tutorial Hell? Don't Worry (too much)

Tutorial Hell 1

tl;dr Worried about being stuck in tutorial hell? Trust yourself and you'll know when it's time to cut the cord to tutorials

Publish Date: 2021-07-31

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My Experience with Tutorial Hell

I started to learn coding/web development/programming (throw in whatever word you want) about a year ago. For context, I knew pretty much nothing about coding then. I had taken one class on Java back in high school over 10 years ago, but that was basically it.

I didn’t want to drop $10K or more on a coding boot camp since I didn’t know if I wanted to do coding seriously nor did I have any intention of going back to school for a computer science degree. So, it was onto YouTube, Udemy, and other websites to try and learn how to code. At first it was hard and frustrating, of course, but after a few months things started to get better and I actually started to feel like I could understand what was being taught — and was able to start producing stuff on my own.

However, when it came to making something with even a little complexity or fancy looking, I was still stuck. I still felt like I didn’t really know what to do with Javascript or more advanced CSS. So, inevitably, it was back to YouTube or Udemy or wherever to look for a tutorial that did what I was looking for. That, or it was where’s a tutorial project I like that I can simply modify to get what I’m looking for.

The point, is that I was beginning to seriously think that I was getting stuck in ‘tutorial hell’. I needed tutorials to get anything done or that there was always one more skill I needed to learn in order to make a project that I wanted or something that may impress a potential employer. From there, that of course led to a mild-case of imposter syndrome. Am I really cut out for coding? Why is it taking so long for me to grasp these concepts? When will I be able to make something without just following along with someone else? 

Fortunately, I pushed on. And, a few months later, things began to improve. I’m still not an expert by any stretch, but I’m starting to be able to make projects that I want, and any slowly starting to be able to offer web dev services to people in a business way. Which, looking back feels pretty incredible given how much I was struggling just a short while ago.

The key thing that I’d like to share with others who may be at this point in their coding development or who may be worried about tutorial hell, is… don’t be. At least not too much. 

Important Tip #1: Trust Yourself

When you’re ready to ‘cut the cord’ and really begin to remove yourself from tutorials, you’ll just know it. You’ll start to find them a bit dull and you’ll find yourself skipping large sections because you’ll already be familiar with the points being demonstrated in those parts.

Important Tip #2: Pick Your Stack

I say stack, but really I mean pick the language/framework that you will use as your main go-to for development. For me, that was Javascript/React/Next JS. But if you want to learn Angular, Vue, Svelte, Python/Flask/Django, PHP or whatever, that’s fine. Just pick the one you want to go with relatively early on and go all-in. This can be hard because you’ll hear good things about some framework and you’ll think “Oh maybe I should take a look. Maybe it’s better than what I’m using.” Might be true, but probably not significantly. Try not to spend a lot of time going around and around trying to learn every framework that’s out there.

Important Tip #3: Learning Is Good

Don’t confuse a desire to learn with being in tutorial hell. Even though I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with the stack I use, I still watch tutorials every now and then that are related to my stack. This is because I believe that I can still pick up a small tip or trick here and there. These are things that may help me become a more efficient developer rather than just ‘learning how to code’.

Important Tip #4: Have a Small Group of Favorites

There are a lot of amazing developers and programmers out there on YouTube and the internet in general. While probably a less common issue of tutorial hell, don’t feel like you need to watch every developer’s video on the topic you want to learn about. Just pick a few that cover a range of uses or styles. For example, I like to watch Traversy Media’s videos for introductory uses of tech because I think he does a great job at going over the basics of different technologies. If I want to see a more complete view of a technology I prefer to watch Net Ninja’s video because he tends to take a project from start to finish and include more useful outside libraries that work well. If I want to get a detailed but limited view of a technique I like to watch Web Dev Simplified. Anyway, you get the idea.

Important Tip #5: Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself

It’s easy to get wrapped up in comparing your perceived ability with others. You’ll see all those targeted ads telling you it’s possible to become a full-stack developer in 3–6 months. For some that may be possible, but for most I’d wager that’s quite a bit on the fast side of things. Even the people you see on YouTube and follow along with have already spent a lot of time reading documentation and playing around with their code to get it in a position where it’s it looks good and is useable. 

Also consider how much time you’re investing into learning and actually coding. Coding an hour or two a day is great, but for me it wasn’t until I was coding almost 6–8 hours a day every day that I saw a really big jump in my ability.