Welcome Gina! So what was your first point of entry into the world of development?
I have a rather nontraditional route to development. I was initially working in email marketing for a nonprofit, and oftentimes the designs coming from the team were more complex than the template could handle. At that point I realized I had to learn how to customize the templates on my own, which required coding knowledge. Coding for emails is super old school, it’s like building websites in 1995… mostly HTML tables and inline CSS.
Once I had a taste of real web development, I reached out to friends to see who I could help. And a friend reached out to me. She sells greeting cards with her original illustrations and needed help migrating from Squarespace to Shopify. So I did… and building that first custom theme was really tough, but it was the best way for me to learn Shopify. And from there, I worked on more similar projects and later found Storetasker and the rest is history!
How exactly did you level up at each stage? What were some of your favorite resources?
I’m completely self-taught. I did leverage some courses, including a certificate program that Udacity had built with Google. And then as I got into Shopify, I did one Udemy course specifically on theme development.
And when did Storetasker come into your life?
I had a few Shopify projects under my belt already, but I was actively looking for new leads and was trying to avoid going to Upwork or Fiverr. I had done a bit of freelance writing a few years before and had a really bad experience on Upwork, so I didn’t want to go back to something like that. And then I stumbled upon Storetasker on a job board.
I applied, and it started from there. This was almost 2 years ago now. I really liked the application process, which was more focused on getting to know me. It’s been a really positive experience since then. I especially like the internal software where I can do invoicing and billing - it keeps my workflow very smooth.
That’s great to hear Gina! I’m seeing lots of emerging niches within Shopify itself. Is that something you’re doing too?
Right now I mostly focus on theme work, and more and more I am doing some consulting work when clients need technical guidance. But beyond that, I haven’t considered specialization besides perhaps tool specialization.
For example, lots of clients are requesting to customize their Recharge integrations to make it look more branded. Those are really fun projects and they do get very technical. What’s nice is that Recharge seems welcoming of developers to get involved and customize their applications. Their documentation is extensive, and quite specific to them - So building a niche sub-Shopify skillset could be interesting.
One last question: What’s your advice for younger developers out there?
My advice is the cliché advice for development: Just build stuff.
I remember when I first was working with Shopify, I was learning the Liquid language and I couldn’t make sense of it from the documentation alone. It wasn't until I got in there and started doing it myself, using Liquid myself that I was able to make it work in my head. Break apart the Shopify template themes and put them back together: That's the best way to start.
Thanks Gina! Appreciate your insights and wishing you the very best.