Determined to turn a hobby into a career, Greg Ellis enrolled in a university web development course. Disappointed by the course, Greg turned to Treehouse to continue his studies outside the classroom. He only returned to take exams and submit his final project, both of which resulted in Greg graduating with a first-class honours and landing a job in a web firm.
Greg continued to build on his skills and confidence, while working on freelance projects in his spare time. Two years after graduating, he was able to step away from his job at the web firm and take up freelance full-time. What’s more, Greg has also fulfilled his ambition to design and build his own game. What started as a learning endeavour has resulted in Swipe to Kill, a fantastic HTML5 Mobile Game & Development Tutorial. Check out the campaign on Kickstarter for more details.
We caught up with Greg to hear more about learning with Treehouse, transitioning into a freelance career and the experience of building Swipe to Kill.
What first drew you to the web industry?
What work were you doing when you first joined Treehouse & what encouraged you to learn with us?
I was at John Moores university in Liverpool studying Web Development, but was disappointed in the simplicity of the course and the way it was taught, so I stopped going; I felt that I learnt more on my own on the internet. A classmate then told me about Treehouse having a scholarship competition, I acquired the scholarship, and Treehouse became like a virtual tutor. I did all my learning at home and went back to university just to take the exams and hand in my final project. I graduated with a first-class honours, the second highest score in the year, just behind the guy who told me about Treehouse.
You’re now a full-time freelance developer. Tell us about the experience of transitioning into freelance.
I had been doing a small amount of simple freelance development whilst in other jobs, but then just before completing the university course I got a job for a web firm, whilst working there I built up a private-client base, after about two years I looked at how much I was earning from private web development, and it was evident that I didn’t need the full-time positions. I had the confidence in my services, and future viability because I knew I could learn what I’d need to online, so I quit and now work from a home office.
You also recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for your awesome game, Swipe to Kill. Tell us about the experience of building your first game, the campaign and what’s in store for the future.
What has the value of a Treehouse education meant to you?
It helped me get a good degree, it gave me the confidence to offer clients my services, and ultimately led to me being self-employed, having a lot of fun and working from home.
“I looked at how much I was earning from private web development, and it was evident that I didn’t need the full-time positions. I had the confidence in my services, and future viability because I knew I could learn what I’d need to online, so I quit and now work from a home office.”
What’s up next on your learning path?
It’s sad to say that my learning is less guided by whimsy these days and more by client requirements, but it’s still quite fun. However this means for the last year or so I jump into random sections of Treehouse modules and skip to the parts in videos that I need, rather than being able to enjoy the complete pathways like I’d want to. That said, my whimsy is strong, and it’s telling me to complete the Node.js Basics and AngularJS courses.
Is there any advice you’d like to share with new students who are aspiring web designers and developers?
If you put the effort in the complete at least the Front End Web Development and PHP Development Tracks, you’re already employable. Make something cool from what you’ve learnt, send it to a company with your resume to get a job, or learn about starting your own business and do that instead.
To read more awesome student success stories, check out the Treehouse Stories Page.