Alex Bourlotos
Alex Bourlotos's Blog

Alex Bourlotos's Blog

I got stuck in “Tutorial Hell.” This is what I learned.

I got stuck in “Tutorial Hell.” This is what I learned.

Alex Bourlotos's photo
Alex Bourlotos

Published on Aug 19, 2020

5 min read

Avoid wasting time when learning new skills.

Photo by [Wes Hicks]( on [Unsplash]( by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

I started my journey to become a software developer seven years ago. Considering there are many people that become developers in six months or less, this is a problem. There’s nothing worse than constantly feeling like you’re not good enough to put yourself out there. I hope that I can save you time in your journey by helping you to understand why this happens and how to avoid it.

Two Problems

I have made many mistakes, but the most important one has been doing too many tutorials. This phenomenon has been referred to on social media as “Tutorial Hell.”

There’s also a popular term among existing developers and software engineers called “Impostor Syndrome.” Impostor syndrome is a general feeling that a person doesn’t actually possess the skill set to belong in their own profession.

Putting Them Together

What I’ve discovered is that the two are correlated when it comes to learning. We take tutorials because we don’t feel that we have the skills to perform a wanted profession. This is totally expected when you’re new to coding concepts, but impostor syndrome will appear every time you run into a new concept or problem.

This creates an endless feeling that you will always have to learn more before you can call yourself good enough to apply for that position that just opened up.

So what’s the trick? How do you level up your skills in less time? How do you know that following my advice is going to help?

Photo by [Emily Morter]( on [Unsplash]( by Emily Morter on Unsplash

My advice will be applicable to your own learning style. The only objectives I’ll ask you to complete are your own. The goal isn’t to tell you what to do, but rather to help you decide what brings you the most value in the least amount of time.

For this article we are using front-end web development as an example.

How to Avoid “Tutorial Hell”

The Formula

  1. Identify the niche that most interests you and stick to learning that profession.

  2. Research open positions and decide what skills you need in order to apply.

  3. Find one (and only one) resource for each skill you need to learn.

  4. Once the basics for that skill are learned, it’s time to start using them. A good way to continue this is to build new projects that use new concepts and features.

  5. Showcase examples of your work.

  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5.

Applying the Formula

  • A popular niche is front-end web development.

  • Common skills for most positions include HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and responsive design.

  • A very popular resource for learning front-end web development is It offers a certificate for this profession with incremental exercises and complete projects.

Completing the certification for responsive web design will teach you all of the basics for the skills you’ve chosen to learn. It also gives you five examples of work you’ve created that you can showcase to future employers. But what do you do after that? How do you differentiate yourself from other candidates?

Photo by [Tine Ivanič]( on [Unsplash]( by Tine Ivanič on Unsplash

The Solution

This is where step 6 comes in. Every new project will have concepts you haven’t learned before. Every bug in your code requires research to resolve. There really is no such thing as “learning it all.”

Working on new projects is the secret sauce of staying out of tutorial hell. The important thing is that you’re only ever learning exactly what you need to know to complete your objective. This saves you time by avoiding more “master class” and “complete guides” to becoming a web developer.

I applied this while learning by choosing a new topic that I needed to become a professional but haven’t practiced as part of the curriculum.

My goal was to learn version control using Git, since most agile development teams use Git to manage their projects. I started my account on GitHub and took their basic tutorial on how to make my first pull request. After that, I started my portfolio website repository and incremented my changes. I learned how to clone my repository to new machines, make branches, and commit code from my computer to the GitHub repository.

Coincidentally, my employer also made the switch from SVN (another version control method) to Git. Suddenly I was a QA Analyst who could pull the current project without having to ask for much help.

You’re only building on the foundations of what you already know in order to provide value to your customer or employer.

If you learn to ride a bike, you don’t need to learn the physics behind popping a wheelie if your goal is to ride the bike for delivering newspapers. If you find that your route is too slow, then you can learn to take shortcuts or train your endurance for faster riding.

If you apply this formula to any profession or skill, you’re likely going to pick up the skill and demonstrate a high level of knowledge in a short amount of time. It can be applied to any task, and the learning resource you choose can be built around how you learn the best.

Now go out there and build something. Then build something else!

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