June 16, 2016

The Fastest Way to Learn PHP

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Today, I wanna go back to the question I asked that started this whole discussion about how to go about learning PHP.

That question was:

What if I told you I could help you master PHP… to the point you could start earning your full-time income as a developer… in the next few months, what would you say?

The responses I get so often to this question go like this:

Where do I sign up?

I would LOVE that.

That’s why I’m here.

Let’s do it!

I would be SO appreciative.

So, it’s clear to me this is what you want.

But, there’s a problem.

What I see sitting on top of a YouTube channel that’s got nearly 3 million views and 30,000 subscribers… a mailing list of nearly 20,000 developers… a website that gets between 30,000 and 40,000 visitors/month…

Is the way developers go about learning PHP is all wrong.

It costs you so much time.

And look, I did the exact same thing. It took me almost five years (!) to finally get PHP down to the point I could get paid to write it.

Now, that’s an insane amount of time and not necessary at all.

And, it’s because I made the same mistake so many of you are.

The worst part is when you continually fall victim to these same mistakes… and it just keeps taking you longer and longer to get anywhere… it kills your spirit.

I’m sure you’ve had those moments.

  • Where you were so frustrated you want to snap your keyboard…
  • When you were so overwhelmed you felt like giving up on it all…
  • When you were so disillusioned you started to wonder if you were “smart enough” for this…

I’m here to tell you… YOU are not the problem.

That’s not because I want to make you feel good… it’s because it’s true.

See, most of you’ve been sold a lie about how your learning path is supposedto go. It’s supposed to be hard. You’re supposed to learn this mountain of skills. And, specifically for today’s email.. you’re supposed to do it a certain way.

Now, hopefully yesterday’s email killed those first two lies.

Let me now kill the third.

There are three things you need to learn PHP at light-speed:

  1. An integrated program of instruction
  2. To build real applications while you learn
  3. A mentor to help you over the stumbling blocks

(As a side note: I recently give this exact same answer to a question on and it quickly became the most upvoted answer there with 210,000 views of my answer, 449 upvotes and virtually no one disagreeing. So, developers who’ve been through it know this is the fastest way to learn.)

Now, very quickly let me show you how learning PHP following this pattern will free you up to learn as fast as humanly possible.

An integrated program of instruction…

This is the big problem with “free”. So many developers are hung up on this notion that they should never pay a single penny for any development training.

It all has to be free.

Do you know how much free costs you?

I’m the perfect example. It took me almost five years to learn PHP. I’m convinced today anybody could do it in one. But, let’s be generous and say I invested in a course that helped me learn PHP in three years.

That’s two whole extra years of getting paid to code.

Now, I have a 6-figure income… so those two years literally cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars. If I could go back, knowing what I know now, I’d invest in a 200 or 300 dollar course in a heartbeat.

The problem with free is…

When you scour the internet for free tutorials… you get a loose collection of unrelated instruction that costs you time. Lots of it.

But a good paid course will have a systematic approach to teaching you PHP. One lesson builds upon another and are taught by the same instructor… so you there are less “gaps” you have to fill in on your own.

Don’t be afraid to invest a couple bucks on your education… to get anintegrated program of instruction.

It will save you tons of money (and time and frustration) in the long-run.

This is probably the single biggest mistake I see new developers make.

Next, to build real applications while you learn…

If you just take courses or tutorials and don’t build anything with them, you’ll lose a lot of what you’re learning,  you’ll have to go back and re-learn things and it’ll take you longer.

When you build real applications as you learn… the learning sticks, you remember more of it and learn faster.

Always make sure every new skill you learn is used as a part of building some bigger application. So you retain the information better and see how to fit it into an overall application (the things you’ll ultimately be building).

Finally, a mentor to help you over the stumbling blocks

This was a real epiphany for me.

I can remember the exact problem and project I was working on. I had a multi-dimensional array I’d pulled from a database and I needed to loop through that array and build a new one that I’d then use in the rest of the application.

And, I had no idea how to do it.

I fumbled with it for a few days and then I finally swallowed my pride and asked our lead developer at the time what I could do.

He sent me this:

foreach($array as $key=>$val) {

$new_array[] = $val['key'];


There’s not much too it… but those two little brackets at the end of $new_array[] changed my life. Lol!

Ok, maybe a bit dramatic… but that was what I needed.

And, I got my answer in about 30 seconds.

That day I learned the power of having a mentor. And, I imagined how much faster I could have learned PHP if I’d had someone like that available to me from the start.

So, find someone who knows more than you and beg, plead, pay, barter… whatever you have to do to get them to mentor you.

Now, I promise you…

If you do those three simple things as you learn PHP, I’m convinced you will learn PHP in a fraction of the time it’d take you otherwise. I’ve just seen it time and time again. The people who do these things simply get where they wanna go faster.

And, that’s why I created my new PHP 101 course. To give you all three while you learn. I believe it’s simply the fastest way to learn PHP. You can enroll here:

P.S. If you liked the show, give it a like and share with the communities and people you think will benefit. And, you can always find all my tutorials, podcast episodes and more on, @jpmorris on Twitter and

Also published on Medium.

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