As a developer who mainly do remote work, its important for me to get my name out there. Because that’s the only way people would know if I’m actually any good or I’m just faking it. That’s the only way for potential clients to know if I actually have the skills required for the job or the project they wanted to build. In this post I’ll be looking into some of the things a developer can do in order to market themselves. I already apply some of these tips as a developer. And some are the ones that I wish to do in the future.
Okay so why a blog? Because that’s the easiest way you can prove to someone that you have worked with a specific technology in the past. And that you’re good enough to be able to write an article about it. Remember that popular quote that goes something like:
If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t really know it yourself.
That’s what blogging does. You know that you have understood a topic when you write about it. And it makes sense when someone other than yourself reads it.
If you are more of a talker than a writer. Or you don’t really like the idea of staring at your computer for hours constructing a blog post then you can do alternatives such as podcasting or screencasting. When I was new to programming this guy named Bucky Roberts was the authority. He’s like the programming god or something. His youtube channel thenewboston is full of screencasts related to programming. Android, IOS, Python, PHP, HTML5, C++, C#, Objective C. You name it he’s got it. And there’s this other guy (I don’t know what his name is) who is basically the authority when it comes to PHP mainly because of the amount of PHP screencasts that he has put out there in his youtube channel phpacademy.
If you want to start screencasting, all you need is a recording software, decent microphones (if it doesn’t sound terrible when you play back your recording then its decent), and a webcam (optional if you don’t want people to see your face). For Windows there’s CamStudio. For Ubuntu, there’s RecordMyDesktop. And for Mac there’s Screen Capture.
So how is all this gonna get me clients? Simple. It allows you to put yourself out there. And when you’re out there in the internet with all your free awesome content. People are bound to find you at some point when they google a specific problem they are having or they’re just browsing around looking for something.
After some time (maybe a year or two), you can now try writing for some of the most popular blogs or websites in your field. If you’re a web developer, you can write for Sitepoint, Tutsplus, or Smashing Magazine. There are some others which are also popular but those are the only one’s I can name on top of my head. The clear benefit is being able to reach a wider audience. Sitepoint and Tutsplus also pay their authors once an article is published. I’m an author in the Sitepoint’s PHP Channel myself so I can vouch for that.
An important part of having an online presence is social media. Have a new post on your blog? Tweet it. Liked a blog post by a fellow developer? Like it or +1 it. Heck comment on it too. Just make sure its a useful comment. You can also post links to the articles that you’ve read regarding development. You can use buffer or ahead (shameless plug) for that.
As developers normally we would work for a company or a client. So we don’t really get to show people the code that we write on a day to day basis. And that is why its important to have side projects and put them in Github or Bitbucket. That’s the only way for potential clients or bosses to have a clear picture of your coding skills. Just like with blogging, podcasting or screencasting your code doesn’t have to sparkle like a diamond. It doesn’t have to be perfect. If you are early on in your career as a developer, all those best practices like applying design patterns in your code, SOLID, YAGNI or DRY or whatever acronym wouldn’t be there. It doesn’t matter if you have applied TDD or BDD in your project. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t use LESS, SASS, Stylus, Bower, Grunt or Gulp. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t use browserify or requireJS. We all get to use some of those at some point in our career. What’s important is you put your code out there. Who knows it might help someone and then they give you money through flattr or paypal. You can also point out your Github or Bitbucket profile when applying for jobs or showing off what you can do.
Last but not the least is networking. Its the one thing that I ought to be doing but never really done. But now I’m trying my best to do some networking by joining the freelance team at slack, its a place where fellow freelancers can have a nice chat online and maybe schedule meetings offline. I also try to accept most of the invites on my linkedin account. And then try to be helpful by providing testimonials for the people that I personally know. Twitter is good for this as well. For example, you read an article which you found helpful. You can say thanks to the person who wrote the article through your Twitter account. Follow the person. And hopefully they will respond and that can start a conversation. Lastly, always try to be helpful. If someone comments on your blog, try to respond. If someone adds you on Skype asking questions about that article that you’ve written or that side-project you released on Github, accept them as a contact then respond to them. Who knows they might be the one bringing you a cool awesome project in the future.