Brand Marketing Yourself
Marketing is required to get people’s attention, to get them to notice you or your product. Good marketing connects a need or wants with a product or service that can fulfill that desire. It seeks to give value first before asking for anything in return.
Marketing yourself begins with developing a personal brand something that you represent. This blog explores 100+ Best Ways for Brand Marketing Yourself in 2019.
In this blog, we talked about how you should treat your career as a business, and of course, all businesses need some kind of marketing to be successful.
Marketing basics for code monkeys
The real difference between great musicians and superstars is nothing more than marketing.
Marketing is a multiplier for talent. The better the marketing you have, the more it magnifies your talent. That’s why it’s critical for you, as a software developer, to learn this crucial skill.
What marketing yourself means
At its core, marketing is just connecting a product or service with someone who wants or needs that product or service. So marketing yourself is really connecting people who want what you have to offer with you. Even though marketing often has gotten a bad rap, there’s nothing wrong with marketing yourself if you’re able to do it in the right way.
The right way to market yourself is to provide value to others. We’ll talk more about later, but the key to successfully marketing yourself in a way that makes others like you and wants to work with you is to do it in a way that provides them value.
Whether you realize it or not, you’re marketing yourself all the time. Anytime you’re trying to convince someone of your idea, you’re essentially selling it to them, and as we talked about in blog on people skills, we know that how you package an idea is often more important than the idea itself.
When you apply for a job, your resume is essentially an ad that is marketing your services. Even the things you post on social media or your blog—if you have one—are giving out some kind of marketing message about you and what you have to offer.
The problem is that even though we’re all marketing ourselves, most of us aren’t doing it at a conscious level. We’re leaving things up to chance, letting other people and circumstances define us and our message.
Marketing yourself is all about learning how to control the message you’re sending out and the image you’re portraying and amplifying the reach of that message.
When you’re marketing yourself, you’re actively managing your career by purposefully choosing how you want to represent yourself and actively promoting that representation to people who are interested in hearing what you have to say, hiring you, or buying a product or service from you.
Why marketing yourself is important
In the first example in this blog, I talked about how a cover band might be just as talented as a famous rock band, but there’s a great disparity between their overall success levels.
I attribute this disparity mainly to marketing. The extremely successful rock band usually does a better job of marketing themselves than the cover band playing random gigs wherever they can.
Now, we can’t know for sure that the cover band didn’t do a good job of marketing themselves, but if we assume the talent level is pretty close, then aside from plain luck, that’s the factor that they have control over. Marketing yourself doesn’t guarantee success, but it’s a very important element that you can control.
You can find the same type of pattern in many other fields as well. Take professional chefs. There are many chefs who possess a high level of talent and can cook exceptionally well, but most of them are relatively unknown.
Yet there are some celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay or Rachel Ray who make millions of dollars, not because they’re necessarily more talented, but because they’ve learned how to market themselves correctly to take advantage of their talent.
Don’t think the field of software development is any different. You could be the most talented software developer in the world, but if no one knows that you exist, it won’t matter much. Sure, you’ll always be able to find a job, but you’ll never reach your full potential unless you can learn how to market the skills you possess.
At some point in your career, you’ll likely find that you’ve reached a skill level that’s on par with many of the top developers. Many software developers can reach this level in their career in about 10 years.
Once you reach that point, it can become very difficult to advance, because you’re grouped in with the rest of the pack. Your individual talents become much less important because you’re competing against all the other software developers who possess similar skills.
But there is a way to break away from the pack. By learning how to market yourself you can stand out from the crowd, and just like a famous rock star or celebrity chef, earn a much higher income and have many more opportunities than you would otherwise.
Landmine: I’m not an expert at anything; I’ve got nothing to market
Just because you don’t consider yourself an expert doesn’t mean you can’t start marketing yourself. In fact, trying to figure out how to market yourself can push you in the direction of becoming an expert or specializing in a particular area of software development.
Almost every developer has something to offer. You might have a unique perspective or you might come from a different background than other software developers. Perhaps you have passions or other hobbies that other software developers or clients would relate to.
Even being a complete beginner or amateur can be an advantage if you market it well—plenty of people want to learn from someone who’s just a few steps ahead of them because they can relate to that person.
The point is, don’t let not being an expert be an excuse for not marketing yourself. No matter where you are in your career, you can benefit from trying to control and shape your brand and from spreading the word about it.
How to market yourself
Hopefully, I’ve already convinced you that marketing yourself is important, but now you may be wondering how you actually do it. How can you become the Gordon Ramsay of software development?
I’m not going to pretend it’s easy. Success isn’t something that’s achieved overnight—at least not a long-lasting success. But any developer can do it, and if you’re willing to do the work, it can seem easy.
Marketing yourself begins with developing a personal brand—something that you represent. You can’t be all things to everyone, so you have to make conscious decisions about what you want to be and how you want to present that image to the world.
You also want to create a sense of familiarity when someone is exposed to you or something you created multiple times. Branding helps you do that.
Once you have a brand of some sort and you know what message you’re trying to convey, you need to find a way to convey that message. There are many different mediums you can use to get your message out there, but one of the most prominent ones I recommend for software developers is a blog.
I consider a blog to be your home base on the internet. It’s the one place where you completely control the message and you aren’t at the mercy of someone else’s platform or rules.
I adopted a strategy from an entrepreneur I follow and highly respect, Pat Flynn. Pat has a strategy called the “Be everywhere” strategy. The basic idea of this strategy is to be everywhere you can in the space you’re trying to market yourself in.
Whenever anyone in your target audience looks around they should have a good chance of seeing you. You might show up on their Twitter feed. They might hear a podcast that you were on. They might see your video online. Everywhere they look, they can’t help but run into you.
Channels for marketing yourself
Either through your own blog or guest posts on other people’s blogs.
Create your own podcast or are interviewed on an existing podcast.
Create topical videos or screencasts and tutorials on sites like YouTube.
Write an article for a software development magazine.
Write a blog, like this one, or self-publish your own blog.
Most code camps will allow anyone to speak.
A great way to network, and if you can speak at one of these events, even better.
This strategy takes time and consistency to execute. Over time, every blog post you write, every podcast you’re interviewed on, and every blog or article you produce contribute to your marketing effort and the recognition of your personal brand.
You eventually become an authority in your area and build a following. And that reputation translates to bigger and better opportunities and ultimately a more successful career.
I mentioned it before, and we’ll talk about it more in depth, but I want to emphasize that this all depends on your ability to bring value to others. The primary mechanism that you’ll use to get people to follow you and to want to hear what you have to say will be by bringing value to them—giving them answers to their problems or even entertainment.
If you attempt to do constant self-promotion without bringing value to others, you won’t get very far, because everyone will just tune you out.
Building a brand that gets you noticed
Brands are all around us. Everywhere you turn, you see Pepsi, McDonald's, Starbucks, HP, the Microsoft…the list goes on and on.
But brands are more than just images. Most people associate brands with a logo. Think of the famous golden arches of McDonald's. But a brand is much more than a logo—it’s a promise. A brand sets an expectation that you, as a consumer, expect to have delivered.
In this blog, we’ll talk about what exactly makes up a brand, and I’ll show you how you can create your own brand that will help you get noticed in your marketing efforts.
What is a brand?
Think about some of the popular brands that exist today. Let’s take Star-bucks, for instance. Starbucks is a well-known brand that most people would recognize.
At first glance, it might seem that the Starbucks brand is merely the all-too-familiar Starbucks logo, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Starbucks logo is a visual reminder of the brand, but it isn’t the brand itself.
When you walk into a Starbucks, what do you expect to see and hear? How do you expect the lighting to be? What kind of layout and furniture do you expect in the building? You could probably close your eyes right now and imagine what the inside of a Starbucks looks like—what it feels like.
How about when you go to the counter to order a drink? What do you expect the barista to look like? How do you expect the barista to address you and what questions do you expect them to ask you? Are you familiar with the menu? Do you have an expectation of what the prices will be and the quality level of the beverage?
You see, a brand is more than just a logo. A brand is a set of expectations about a product or service. A logo is just a visual reminder of a brand. The key to the brand isn’t just the visual element, but what that brand makes you feel and what you expect when you interact with that brand.
A brand is a promise: a promise to deliver some sort of value that you expect in the way that you expect it.
What makes up a brand?
You need four things to have a brand: a message, visuals, consistency, and repeated exposure. All of these four components are required to create a successful brand. Let’s go over each one of them so you can see how you can create your own personal brand using these concepts.
First, and most importantly, is the message. A brand without a message doesn’t have a purpose. A message is what you’re trying to convey and the feelings you’re trying to invoke with your brand. When you create
VISUAL REPEATED EXPOSURE
Four elements of a brand your own personal branding, you need to have a central message that represents your brand. What is it that your brand is about? What are you about?
For example, my branding of Simple Programmer is based around the message of making the complex simple. My message is that I take complex concepts, break them down, and make them simple so that anyone can understand them.
Second, you need visuals. While visuals aren’t the brand itself, they’re important to a brand. Obviously, a brand should have a logo, because it’s a simple visual representation of that brand, but a good brand will use visuals everywhere it can.
A set of colors and a style that represents that brand help to make a brand recognizable and promote the message that represents it.
Even if your brand is your own name, you can create a logo out of it.
Next, there’s consistency. You can have a great message and visuals, but if you don’t have consistency, you’ll never develop an expectation about your brand—or worse yet, you’ll constantly betray it. Imagine what would happen if you went into McDonald's and every location had a different menu and different prices.
A large amount of the value of the McDonalds brand would be lost. When you go to McDonald's, you have certain expectations about what your experience will be like. If that experience is constantly changing, if it isn’t consistent, the brand starts to become meaningless.
Many developers trying to create their own personal brand make the mistake of not being consistent. They either aren’t consistent in the message they’re presenting or they lack consistency in how or when they deliver that message.
The more consistent you can be, the more successful your personal brand will be at getting your laser-focused message across to as many people as possible and the more likely they will be to remember it.
This brings us to the final component of a brand: repeated exposure. If you do everything else correctly, but someone is only exposed to your brand once, it won’t do you much good.
Your logo might look nice and it might be eye-catching, but if someone only sees it once, what good did it do you? The whole point of a brand is to establish a set of expectations so that when someone sees your logo again or hears your name, they can instantly remember who you are and what you represent.
You have to actively work to spread the word and get your name out there as much as possible. You do this by blogging, writing articles, speaking, creating videos, podcasting, or using any other medium you can to get your name out there.
The more you’re able to get your brand out there and the more exposure you get for it, the more likely someone will be to remember it and to remember who you are.
Creating your own brand
When you set out to create your own personal brand, your first step should be to define your message. To define your message, you’ll need to decide what you want to represent.
You can’t be all things to all people, so you need to narrow down your audience and pick a niche. Basically, you need to pick some smaller market that you’re going to target or some unique spin you’re going to apply to your brand.
Pick some kind of niche and build your brand around it—the more specific the better. You’ll be able to speak directly to your audience and you’ll have a much easier time building up brand recognition if you can be narrowly focused.
Deciding on a niche isn’t always easy. You can choose based on what you’re passionate about, but that may change over time. Often, the best way to make the decision is from a purely strategic perspective.
What advantage do you have that you can exploit through a specific niche? Take some time and think about this. Don’t be afraid to change your niche later if you have to.
STEPS FOR CREATING A BRAND
Define your message. Pick your niche.
Create a tagline.
Create an elevator pitch. Create visuals.
Once you have your niche figured out, it’s time to work on your message. You should start with a tagline that represents your brand in just a single sentence or two. For example, my tagline is “Making the complex simple.” Someone can quickly figure out what I’m about by reading my tagline.
Next, you should put together what’s known as an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a quick description of what you do and what you are about that could be delivered in the time it takes to ride an elevator. Think about it as what you would tell someone when they ask what you do at a dinner party or actually during a ride on an elevator.
To create your elevator pitch, think about what exactly is the value you provide. What is it that uniquely defines you? What can someone expect of you? In your elevator pitch, you want to clearly communicate what it is that you do and the unique value you bring.
Having this elevator pitch thought out ahead of time will ensure that you’re consistent with your branding efforts and that you always convey the same message when you talk to people about your brand or you represent your brand in whatever medium you’re using to promote it.
Only after you’ve figured out the core of your brand is it time to create visuals for the brand. The visuals you create should represent everything about the brand that you’ve defined so far. They should help to convey the message and serve as a visual reminder of what your brand represents.
You don’t have to spend a large amount of money to get visuals for your brand, but I’d also recommend not trying to do it yourself unless you happen to have very good graphical design skills.
I have several brands I’ve created for different products and services, and for many of those brands, I’ve been able to get logos created for as cheap as $5 using one of my favorite services, Fiverr.
It’s amazing the kind of talent you can find cheaply. You can also use a service like oDesk to hire a freelancer to do the work for you. I’ve had great success using both of these methods to get logos and other design work done for cheap.
And that’s it. If you take the time upfront to work on creating a clear and consistent brand with a narrow focus and a thought-out message, you’ll be far ahead of the game already. But like I said before, just having a message and visuals isn’t enough. You need consistency and repeated exposure to really make a brand that has an impact.
In the next few blogs, we’ll look at how to add some consistency to your brand and spread the message through mediums like blogging, social networks, speaking engagements, and more.
Make a list of some of the popular brands you're familiar with. Pick one or two to study in depth. Try to determine what their message is and look for how they use their logo and other visual elements to convey it.
Brainstorm a list of niche ideas for your own personal brand. Come up with at least 10 to 15 ideas and then narrow down the list to your top 2 or 3. Try to come up with one that you’ll use for your personal brand.
Creating a wildly successful blog
As a software developer, one of the best mediums you can use to market yourself is a blog. It’s my firm belief that every software developer who cares about their career should invest in creating a blog.
You can only meet so many people in person, so you need another primary way to market yourself and network. Think about how many people you’ve met in the tech industry over the past year. That number might approach several hundred, or even a thousand, but a successful blog could introduce you to hundreds of thousands of people.
A blog is a cheap and easy way to market yourself and it’s extremely valuable for getting your name out there. A successful blog can attract hundreds or even thousands of visitors per day, which can give you many opportunities ranging from job offers to consulting gigs or even an audience to sell a product to.
Quite honestly, I owe most of the success I’ve experienced in my career to my blog. If I hadn’t created a blog and figured out how to make it successful, it’s unlikely that you’d be reading this blog.
Why are blogs so important?
When you apply for a job, your resume typically is only going to be about two pages long. When you go into an interview, you’re typically going to talk to an interviewer for about an hour or possibly two.
It’s very difficult to assess the skills of software developers from their resume and a short interview, so many employers have a difficult time knowing whether or not someone is a right fit for a job.
But imagine what happens if a software developer has a blog that has been updated regularly. That blog might contain a wealth of information about that developer, including code samples and in-depth technical analysis of various aspects of software development. I can tell more about a software developer by reading his or her blog than I can in almost any other way.
If you’re a freelancer or you’re interested in doing freelance work, you’ll find that a successful blog can bring many clients your way instead of you having to go out and look for them. Clients that come to you directly will be much more willing to pay a higher rate and will take much less convincing to hire you for a job.
And if you get enough blog traffic, you can use it as a platform to sell your own product. If you have a steady stream of visitors to your blog, you can build a product around their interests and convert that traffic directly into customers.
Let’s not forget the reputation a successful blog can bring you in the industry. Many famous software developers got their fame directly from the success of their blog. One good example is Jeff Atwood, one of the founders of Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange.
His blog, Coding Horror, became wildly successful and the audience he built from that blog directly contributed to the success of Stack Overflow. The blog itself opened up the door for him to partner with Joel Spolsky.
And even if you discount all the financial benefits blogging can bring you, one intangible benefit that isn’t easily dismissed is the improvement in your communication skills. Organizing your thoughts and putting them down into words is a difficult but valuable skill.
Regularly writing helps you hone that skill, and the benefits you gain from being a better communicator will help you in many areas of your life. Plus, if you force yourself to blog on a regular schedule, you’ll also be constantly forced to refresh your skills and stay up to date in your area of expertise.
As a software developer, learning how to write might actually help you to write better code because you’ll have an easier time communicating your intent. It will also help you to communicate your ideas and make them seem more compelling.
Creating a blog
Are you convinced you need a blog yet? Good. Then your next question might be how to get started.
Getting started is pretty easy nowadays. You can create a blog in about five minutes using a free service like Wordpress (WordPress.com or Blogger (Blogger.com.). But before you go ahead and sign up for those services, there are a few things you’ll want to consider.
A free service is the cheapest and easiest way to set up a blog, but it might not be the best way. One issue with free services is that they typically don’t give you much control over the theme and layout of your blog.
You can do some customizations, but you might not be able to add paid advertisements or shopping carts or other things to your blog. Those things might not be important to you right now, but later down the road, as your blog becomes more popular, you might want to have the capabilities you can’t get from a free service.
Fortunately, there’s an easy alternative to the completely free hosting platform. You can find many paid hosting services that allow you to easily host a blog with the popular WordPress.com software for prices as cheap as $8 to $10 a month. (By the way, I’d highly recommend using the WordPress.com software for your blog, because it’s so widely used and it has a huge eco-system.
You can find plugins to extend your blog and themes to customize its look very easily if you choose WordPress.com) These paid hosting services offer you much more flexibility for a fairly cheap price.
You might start your blog on the free WordPress.com: For a while, being on WordPress.com might be fine, but eventually, you might reach the point where you want to customize your blog by adding plugins and want to be able to advertise on it.
You might end up having to move to paid hosting to do this, and it could be somewhat of a hassle, so you might be better off starting with a cheap paid hosting service.
If you go the paid hosting route, you can find many services that will allow you to do a single-click install of the WordPress.com software and you can be up and running in minutes. It isn’t any more difficult than free hosting and you get much more power to customize your blog as you see fit.
You can also host your blog on a virtual private server (VPS). A VPS basically gives you a full operating system in the cloud that you can install on your blog yourself.
It’s the cheapest option in terms of what you get for what you pay, but it’s also the most difficult option. I currently host my blog, Simple Programmer on a VPS, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re just starting out.
If you do decide to go with free hosting, I have one word of caution: make sure you register your own domain name. By default, free hosting services will give you an address to your blog that’s part of their domain.
You’ll want to register your own domain and pay the fee to have your blog use it instead of the default one. A large portion of the traffic you eventually get to your blog will probably come from search engines like Google.
Google assigns what they call a page rank to certain web pages and domains on the internet based mainly on how many sites are linking to that domain. If you switch your blog to paid hosting in the future, you’ll want to make sure you’re able to carry that search engine relevance, or page rank, with you, so definitely make sure you start out with your own custom domain.
(It’s possible to work around this issue later on, but it isn’t worth the hassle. It’s much easier to start out doing things correctly.)
STEPS TO CREATE A BLOG
Decide on hosting: free, paid, or VPS. Set up or install the blogging software. Configure any themes or customizations. Start writing!
Keys to success
Okay, so you’ve got your blog set up and you’ve written a few articles—now what? It doesn’t do much good to have a blog if no one is reading it, so you’ll want to figure out how to get some traffic. After all, isn’t that what this blog is about—creating a successful blog?
The largest portion of your success as a blogger will depend on one thing and one thing only: consistency. I’ve talked to many successful bloggers and they’ve all had one thing in common: they blog a lot. Some of the most successful bloggers I’ve talked to blog every single day and have been doing it for many years.
But don’t worry. You don’t have to write a blog post every single day (although if you’re just starting out it doesn’t hurt to write two or three blog posts a week for the first year). What’s more important than anything else is picking a regular schedule and being consistent with it.
The frequency will determine how quickly you’re able to become successful. I’d highly recommend blogging at a frequency of at least once a week. At that frequency, you’ll add 52 blog posts a year.
This is critical because, as I said earlier, a good portion of your traffic—most likely a majority of it—will be coming from search engines like Google. The more blog posts you have, the more traffic you’ll get from internet searches.
Unfortunately, being consistent alone isn’t enough to make your blog wildly successful—although I’m pretty sure if you wrote a blog post every single day for several years it would be difficult not to be. You should also make sure you’re writing quality content. There are two reasons why the quality of your content matters.
First, and perhaps most importantly, the higher the quality of your content, the more likely people will come back to your blog or subscribe to it in their RSS reader or via email. You’re going to have much more success building an audience when you’re giving people something of value.
Another important thing quality content will do for you is provide you with the oh-so-valuable backlinks. Most search engines judge the quality of a web page based on how many other web pages are linking to that page. The higher the quality of your content, the more likely it is that it will get shared through social media and linked to from other websites.
The more websites that are linking to your content, the more search traffic you’re going to get on that content—plain and simple. You want to actually write stuff that people want to read and share.
Before you get all stressed out about this, don’t worry. Your stuff doesn’t have to be perfect. When you’re just starting out, it will most likely be … well … pretty bad.
But as long as you’re trying to produce good content and not just throwing whatever comes to your mind on a page without any thought for formatting, organization, or typos, you’ll be fine. Just publish the highest-quality content you can each and every week and you’ll get better and better over time.
Valuable content can come in many different forms. Just sharing your experiences or an interesting story might help someone who comes to your blog or provides them with some entertainment.
If you do these two things—consistently writing and producing quality content—you’ll most likely be successful. How do I know this? Because I give talks to software developers all the time, and whenever I do I ask developers to raise their hands if they actually have a blog and keep it updated each week.
Out of a room of 100 developers, I’m lucky if I see a single hand. Just writing good content, consistently, will easily put you in the top 1% of developers—at least in terms of marketing yourself.
How to Write?
Many would-be bloggers never get started or end up quitting quickly after starting, because they either don’t know what to write about or find they don’t have anything to say.
Many would-be bloggers never get started or end up quitting quickly after starting, because they either don’t know what to write about or find they don’t have anything to say.
The best way to combat this problem is to brainstorm many different ideas ahead of time and keep a running list of possible blog topics so that you always have a pool to choose from.
Also, don’t be so worried about writing that stellar post or about what people will think. Sometimes you just have to write a post that you know won’t be your greatest hit, but will get something posted to your blog. I’ve written many posts that I thought were horrible, yet turned out to be some of my most popular posts.
One technique that might help you think about what to write is to have a conversation, or even an argument, with someone about that topic. Often, I’ll find that I can write the best about something that I had previously discussed in a conversation. Call up a friend and start debating and you’ll find you have pages’ worth to write about a topic.
Of course, there are some other ways you can make your blog successful. Let’s talk about a few of those next.
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Getting more traffic
When you first start out blogging, it’s going to be difficult to get traffic to your blog. You won’t be getting much traffic from search engines and it’s unlikely anyone will be linking to you, so what do you do?
One of the first strategies I’d recommend is to start commenting on other people’s blogs. Find other developers who are blogging about similar topics as you and write meaningful comments on their blog, and when you have the opportunity, link back to your blog. (Often when you register to leave a comment, your profile can contain a link to your blog, so you might not even have to do this directly.)
It will take some work to make this strategy effective, but it will also help you make connections with other bloggers, who will appreciate your thoughtful comments.
Try to write a few comments on different blogs each day, and, over time, you’ll start to see some traffic flowing to your own blog from people who visited other blogs where you left comments.
The higher the quality of your comments, the more likely that people will be interested in checking out more of what you have to say on your blog.
Another good way to get some initial traffic is to, of course, share your blog posts on your social networks and put a link to your blog at the bottom of your email signature and anywhere you have a profile online. This won’t generate nearly as much traffic as you might expect, but it’s still worth doing.
You should also make it easy to share your content so that others will spread it. If you’re using Blog Tool, Publishing Platform, and CMS, you can find many different plugins that add a share button to your content.
WordPress.comsoft-ware even has some of this sharing functionality built in. You might even put a direct call to action at the bottom of your blog post asking readers to share the content or to subscribe to your blog.
Finally, if you’re brave and you think your content is either good enough or controversial enough, you can submit your own posts—or have someone else submit them—to social news sites like Reddit or Hacker News A word of caution though: some of the people who hang around these sites are just plain to mean.
I’ve written posts that I’ve shared on Hacker News that have been torn to shreds by angry commenters who just wanted to stick people with forks. You have to have a bit of a thick skin to withstand some of that kind of abuse.
But if you do end up having one of your blog posts become popular on one of these sites, you could get tens of thousands of views in a single day and many backlinks. Overall, it’s worth it.
I can’t guarantee you success
Well, I’d like to say I could guarantee you success if you follow everything in this blog, but unfortunately, I can’t. I can only say that by following the advice I give you here, you’ll be much more likely to find success.
There’s a bit of luck and timing involved in having your blog become wildly successful, but it’s rare to find a successful blogger who doesn’t at least write good content consistently.
What are your favorite developer blogs? Take a look at some of the blogs you read and see if you can figure out how often those blogs are updated with new posts and the average length of each post.
If you don’t have a blog already, start one. Sign up today and create your first blog post. Come up with a schedule that you’ll stick to for writing future blog posts.
Commit to keeping your blog up for at least a year. It takes time and commitment to get results. At about the one-year mark is when most people start to see some traction.
Create a list of running blog post topics. Every time you think of a new idea, add it to this list. Then when you need to write a post, you’ll have plenty of ideas handy.
Your primary goal:
Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. —Albert Einstein
You can do everything right as far as marketing yourself and still not be successful if what you’re doing only serves your own interests and doesn’t add real value to others.
You can write blogs posts, share your content on social media, speak at events, write blogs and articles, and promote yourself as heavily as possible, but if what you’re saying and the things you’re conveying don’t help other people, everyone will ignore you.
We’re all interested primarily in ourselves. No one wants to hear about your successes and why they should help you achieve more of them, but they do want to hear about how you can help them be successful. The primary way you’re going to achieve success in your marketing efforts is to help others to do the same.
Zig Ziglar said it best when he said: “If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.” This is the primary strategy that you should use in marketing yourself. It will be more effective than any other technique.
Give people what they want
To give people what they want, you have to know what it is that they want. But it’s not so easy to figure out what people want, because if you ask them…they’ll lie. They don’t mean to lie. The truth is most people don’t actually know what they want. They have a vague idea, but like a bride looking for the perfect wedding dress, they’ll know it when they see it.
It’s up to you, then, to figure it out for them. You have to be able to read the signs and see where things are going and then find a way to provide value to that area. If you have a following already, it’s a bit easier. But if you don’t, you have to go out and see what people are interested in.
What topics are being talked about in internet forums related to your niche? What trends are you seeing in the industry as a whole? And perhaps most importantly, what fears do people have and how can you address them?
The content you produce should be squarely aimed at providing value in the areas you identify from your research. You might be particularly interested in a certain aspect of a framework or technology, but if your target audience isn’t, it won’t do you much good. On the other hand, if you strike a nerve with what you blog about or some content you create, you’ll know it pretty quickly.
If you can find a way to address a real need or concern with the content you produce, you’ll be creating real value for others. You’ll be giving them what they want.
Give away 90% of what you do for free
Some people balk at all the content I give away for free. Every week I produce three blog posts, a YouTube video, two podcasts, and other content that’s all completely free.
But I’m a firm believer that 90% of the content you produce should be completely free. There’s nothing wrong with charging money for your hard work, but you’ll find the most success when you’re giving people solid value mostly for free.
Free content is much more shareable than paid content. If you’re writing blog posts, producing videos, or perhaps a podcast, and you’re giving that content away for free, someone is much more likely to share and spread that content than if you’re charging money for a product.
Sharing free content is as easy as tweeting a link or sending an email. You’ll reach a much larger audience with your free content than you will with anything you charge money for.
By giving content away for free, you’re giving people a chance to see how valuable the content you produce is without having to invest any money first.
You might not even have plans to sell anything, but if you ever do, you’ll have a much easier time convincing people to buy what you’re selling if they know that the free content you’re providing is of high quality. It will also give them a feeling of gratitude so that they may want to pay back to you someday by supporting a product you create.
It can seem like doing all this work for free is a waste of time, but you have to think of it as an investment in your future. By marketing yourself through creating value for others and giving it away mostly for free, you’re creating future opportunities for yourself by building up a name for yourself as someone who provides value to others.
It’s hard to put a price on the value of building this kind of reputation, but it can benefit you in many ways. Your reputation may help you get a better and higher-paying job or more clients, or to successfully launch a product.
The fast track to success
Every time you set out to do something, whether it be creating a blog post, recording a screencast, or another activity, you should look at it from the perspective of how it’s creating value for someone else.
As I’m sitting here writing this blog, I’m constantly thinking about how the words I’m writing are going to benefit you. How can I convey information that will be useful to you? How can I provide you value?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of talking about yourself and trying to demonstrate why you’re worthy, but you’ll find much more success in solving other people’s problems and genuinely being helpful.
It does no good to tell someone why you’re the best Android developer in the world, but if you can help that person solve the problem he’s facing when writing his own Android application, he’ll consider you great.
You should carry this attitude through whatever medium you use to market yourself. In the following blogs, we’ll talk about how to market yourself using many different mediums, but you won’t be successful at any of them if you don’t know how to connect with your audience by solving their problems and providing them value.
Offering more of yourself
You might think that altruistic motives would be a questionable way to get ahead, but it turns out some of the most productive people are the most helpful. Why? Well, personally, I believe it’s a combination of factors. The more you help others, the more problems and situations you’re exposed to and the more connections you make.
People who are always helping others solve their problems often find that it’s a bit easier to solve their own problems with all that practice, and when they really get stuck, they usually have several people to turn to.
It’s not just me who believes this, though. I read an interesting article about a 31-year-old professor at the Wharton School who is one of the most productive and helpful people.
He’s one of the most prolific professors in his field, organizational psychology, and he’s done some studies to show why helping people can actually help you get ahead.
What kind of content do you find most valuable? Is there a particular blogger whose blog posts you read every single week or a podcast that contains such valuable content that you don’t ever want to miss an episode?
What is the biggest value you can provide your audience or your niche? What kind of content do you think would be the most valuable to the audience you're trying to attract?
Today social media is a big part of many people’s lives. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and sites like LinkedIn are important for connecting with people and sharing information.
As a software developer looking to market yourself, you need to have some kind of a presence on these social networks and learn how to manage the image you portray through what you share and how you share it.
Lately, there has been a huge emphasis placed by social media experts on how important social media is to branding and marketing, and while I agree it’s important, I don’t think it’s quite as effective as some people would lead you to believe. Regardless, though, if you want to have maximum exposure and engage your audience, you need to know the basics of using social media to promote your brand.
In this blog, I’ll help you develop a social media strategy, take you through each of the major networks, and show some ways you can use social media to spread your message.
Growing your network
The first thing you’ll need to do to be able to make use of social media is to get followers, or basically get people into your network. It does little good to stand on the corner with a bullhorn shouting your message if no one is around to hear you.
There are many different strategies you can use to build up your social networks, and how you do it will generally depend on the particular network, but for most social networks the easiest thing to do is follow someone else or ask them to join your network.
Seems pretty obvious, but there are many developers who sit out there and wait for people to follow them or interact with them. Remember, people will be more interested in you if you show an interest in them.
You can also gain followers by putting your social network profile links in places like your online biographies, at the end of your blog posts, or even in your email signature. Make it easy for people to connect with you and they will. And don’t be afraid to ask, either. There’s no harm in ending a blog post with a call to action to follow you on Twitter.
It can take some time to build a large network, so don’t rush it. It can be tempting to buy followers from one of those shady services offering to increase your following in a matter of days, but most of the time, you’re just wasting money getting fake accounts to follow you or join your network. Those fake accounts won’t be worth anything, because they don’t represent real people.
Using social media effectively
Your strategy with social media should be primarily focused on building an audience and moving the temperature of that audience from cool to hot.
You want to get people to go from follower to fan so that they’ll be more engaged in your content, share it with others, and actively promote you. That’s how you’ll build up a reputation in your industry. But how do you do that?
Again, it comes down to a matter of value. If you’re consistently providing value to others by what you’re sharing on your social networks, you’re going to gain respect and credibility.
But if you constantly post inappropriate, offensive content or content that’s all about you and what kind of eggs you had for breakfast, you’re likely to turn people away.
So, what do you post on social networks so that you can add value to others? The simple answer is anything that you’d find useful or interesting. Chances are that if you find it valuable, someone else will as well.
Just make sure you set your bar reasonably high. If you’re known as an excellent curator of information, especially about a particular niche, people will pay more attention to what you’re saying on social networks and be more likely to share your content.
I try to provide a mix of useful content every week that I think is likely to interest the people following me in my social networks. I usually include some blog posts, news articles, inspirational quotes, tips and tricks related to software development, and some questions that challenge my followers and cause them to engage me in conversation.
Content to share via social media
Find popular blog posts or share your own.
News articles Post interesting articles related to your niche if possible or
software development in general.
Famous quotes, especially inspirational ones, are usually very popular.
Any special knowledge you might have that someone else might appreciate.
Some humor is okay, but try to make sure it isn’t offensive and is actually funny.
A great way to engage your audience and interact with them.
Promotion for your own stuff
Obviously, you should be posting any new blog post or other content you create, but if you’re selling a blog or some other product, or you’re offering consulting services, you should put those kinds of advertisements into your social media streams sparingly.
Just like you should be giving 90% of what you create away, 90% of what you send out should be valuable to your followers, not advertisements for you.
One big challenge with social media is staying active. You’ll lose a large amount of your effectiveness if you aren’t consistently active on your social media accounts, but it can be a burden of trying to manage Twitter,
Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and whatever other social networks you belong to while still getting actual work done.
You aren’t going to be able to be extremely active and engaged on all the social media platforms unless you’re willing to devote a large amount of time to those activities every day, so most likely you’ll have to choose one or two platforms where you’ll be the most engaged.
Personally, I don’t like to spend a large amount of time on social media. I feel like it can easily suck up my whole day, so I try to avoid it as much as possible. But I still need to stay active, so how do I do it?
I currently utilize a tool called Buffer but there are many other tools out there that do the same thing. What Buffer does for me allows me to schedule my social media posts all at one time.
At the beginning of each week, I’ll run through a checklist of the different kinds of posts I want to put out on my social media channels. I’ll create a mix of different types of content, and I’ll schedule all that content to be released at different times during the week.
I may add more content during the week as I find something interesting to share, but every week I know that I’ll be sending out at least two pieces of content each day on each of my social networks. I also make it so that whenever I post a new blog post or YouTube video, that content is automatically shared on all my social networks.
I’d highly recommend adopting some kind of similar approach to managing your own social networks so that you don’t have to spend so much time each day trying to manage everything. I end up spending about an hour or less a week and I’m able to be pretty effective.
Networks and accounts
As a software developer looking to market yourself, you should have a presence on all of the major social networks, especially the ones that tend to be more tech-related or career-focused.
You may also want to create special pages or profiles that directly represent your brand— although if you try to maintain personal and professional accounts, it can be a bit overwhelming.
I’d definitely recommend having a Twitter account as many developers utilize Twitter, and it’s a great way to connect with people you might not otherwise be able to reach. You can mention someone in a tweet, even someone fairly famous, and there’s a decent chance they’ll reply back to you because it requires minimal effort.
The same person might have ignored an email from you, but replying to a tweet just takes a few seconds. I also find Twitter to be a great place to share blog posts and tech-related news. The limited size of messages helps to keep conversations short and to the point.
Next on my list would be LinkedIn. You should obviously have a LinkedIn profile because LinkedIn is really the social network for professionals. On LinkedIn, you can create an online version of your resume and connect with other professionals.
It’s a great site for networking and your professional content, like blog posts, will hit the right audience there. You can also utilize the groups on LinkedIn to make connections with people who are directly interested in or involved in the specific niche you’re targeting.
Perhaps one of the most underused features of LinkedIn, though, is the ability to ask for endorsements from your connections. This is a great feature which you should definitely utilize.
For every job you have listed on your LinkedIn profile, be sure to ask former coworkers or managers for an endorsement. It might make you feel a little uncomfortable to do so, but having endorsements on your LinkedIn profile can make a huge difference in how you’re perceived.
Endorsements provide social proof, which is a powerful tool for shaping your image. Think about the last time you shopped for something on Amazon. Did you read the reviews and look for products that were highly recommended? That’s the primary way I shop online now—and I know the same is true for many others.
Facebook and Google+ aren’t nearly as important as Twitter and LinkedIn, but I’d still recommend having a presence there as well. For either of these platforms, you can either use your personal account or you can set up what’s called a page, which is basically a profile for a business or a brand.
You can also find valuable groups on both Face-blog and Google+ that can connect you with your target audience and allow you to share directly to people who are interested in a particular programming language or technology.
How are you using social media right now? Take a look at your social media timelines and try to figure out what impression someone would have of you and your brand if they just read what you put out via social media.
Come up with a social media plan. Decide what kind of content you want to share on each network and put together a strategy for sharing that content each week. Pay attention to what kind of content you share that's most popular.
Writing blogs and articles that attract a following
If you want to be successful at writing, you have to connect with your audience. Hopefully, as you’re reading these words, that’s exactly what I’m doing right now—with you. I could have started off this blog in a much different way, but I chose not to because I wanted to create a more powerful connection by talking directly to you.
If I’m doing my job correctly, right now, as you read this text, you’re starting to feel like I’m talking to you, not at you. Words aren’t just information. Words are a powerful canvas to carry your voice to another person. Sometimes when you read what I write, it’s more real than when I speak the same words to you.
Through your words, you can convey your voice, and if that voice is interesting, grabs your reader’s attention, and provides them some value along the way, they’ll connect with you and you’ll win them over.
Why blogs and articles are important
Have you ever heard the phrase “He wrote the blog on the subject?” Blogs, in particular, carry a certain weight to them. There’s a certain amount of credibility a person assumes just by writing a blog. It makes sense that if you want to be seen as someone credible in your industry, you should write a blog.
The same applies to a magazine article published in a software development magazine. Most people assume that if someone wrote a blog or had an article published on a particular subject then they’re probably an expert of that particular subject. If you’re looking to market yourself, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be seen as an expert.
But beyond the clout you generate from having your name on the spine of a bunch of bound pages of paper, a blog is a vehicle for delivering your message in a very targeted and focused way. When someone sits down to read a blog, you’re getting their focused attention for a long period of time.
A single blog could take 10 to 15 hours of time to read. You’d be hard-pressed to find another medium where someone will devote that much time listening to your message. With a blog, you have the ability to deliver your complete unabbreviated message to your readers.
Although magazine articles don’t allow you to deliver quite the same amount of content to your readers, they also allow you to spend quite a bit of time delivering your message—typically much more than a blog post—and the circulation can be pretty large.
Blogs and magazines don’t pay
Many software developers get confused about the reasons for writing a blog, assuming that most blog and magazine authors must make a large amount of money from their writing. The simple truth, though, is that you don’t write a blog to make money. You write a blog to increase your reputation.
It’s very rare for a blog to make a substantial amount of money, and an author only keeps a small portion of the proceeds. Most magazines only pay a small stipend for an article that can take a long time to write and edit.
Don’t count on making a fortune directly from writing a blog or magazine articles, unless you happen to get very lucky and knock one out of the park with a bestseller.
But just because you don’t get paid directly, doesn’t mean publishing isn’t profitable. As I mentioned before, the real benefit to writing a blog or magazine article is in the wide distribution and the credibility you get from being published. The publishing industry acts as a sort of gate-keeper for quality.
If you can pass through that gatekeeper and make it to the other side, you’ll find that there are all kinds of other lucrative opportunities that indirectly present themselves by becoming published.
Published authors find it easier to get invited to speak at conferences and can establish themselves as an authority in a particular subject area, which can lead to more clients and better job offers.
I have to admit, this is my first traditionally published blog, but I know from speaking with many other published authors that getting published isn’t easy—especially for your first blog.
Not too many publishers want to take a risk on a completely unknown author, and there’s a big risk that an author won’t even complete a blog—because it isn’t exactly an easy task to do.
The best way to give yourself an opportunity to get published is to have a clearly defined topic that you know there’s a market for and you can demonstrate your knowledge as an expert in that area. If you’ve created a niche for your brand, you’ll have a much easier time doing this, because you can carve out a small area of expertise where there isn’t much competition.
The more focused and narrow your topic is, the easier it will be to prove your expertise in it, but the smaller your potential audience will be, so you’ll have to find the appropriate balance that appeals to a publisher.
You should also do some legwork ahead of time to establish yourself in that market. I’d recommend starting with a blog and submitting articles for smaller magazines. You can build up to bigger and bigger publications as you establish a track record and your reputation in your area of expertise increases.
Blog and magazine publishers like to publish authors who already have a fairly large audience because it means that they’ll likely have guaranteed customers for the blog. You can make yourself more appealing to any publisher by demonstrating how large your audience is.
Finally, you should have a solid proposal (or magazine abstract) that are well written and clearly outlines the purpose of your blog, its target audience, and why you think it will be successful, and your own credentials that show you’re the best person to write your blog. The better case you can make, the better chance of your proposal being accepted.
Landmine: I’m not good at writing
Neither am I, but I’m writing this blog. All throughout my school years, my weakest subject was always English. I was in all the advanced classes for math, science, and even history, but I was only average or slightly below average in English. I never imagined that I’d spend a large portion of my career writing—like I do now.
What happened? Well, I just started writing every day. I started mostly with blog posts. At first my blog posts were horrible, but eventually, I got better. I’m still no Hemmingway, but I can now effectively communicate my thoughts and ideas in the written word—at least most of the time.
My point is: don’t worry about not being good at writing. It doesn’t matter if you’re good right now. What matters is that you start writing and you write consistently. Over time your skills will improve.
Traditional publishing isn’t your only option. More and more authors are finding success through self-publishing—especially if they have an existing audience. I self-published my first few blogs and was able to do well selling them on my own.
I didn’t have the resources and distribution of a large publisher, but I didn’t have their overhead, either. I was able to keep almost all of the proceeds I made from the books.
Self-publishing is a great way to start out because you can do it completely on your own and it’s easy to do. It’s also a good way to find out if you actually have what it takes to write a book before entering into a contract with a publisher that will have deadlines that you’ll be required to meet.
There are many services you can use to help you self-publish your book. One popular service with programmers is Leanpub. This service allows you to write your blog using a simplified formatting language called Markdown and then Leanpub takes care of formatting the book nicely.
You can also easily list your book on Amazon with the Kindle Direct Publishing program or even use a service like Smashwords to have your blog distributed to multiple marketplaces. These services can even help you convert your blog to an e-book format.
Two good friends of mine are both self-published authors and they are able to make from $10,000 to $20,000 each year from the sales of their books. This can be some good supplemental income, as well as a great way to get your name out there and build some credibility—although traditional publishing will always carry a bit more weight.
Go through the Amazon best-sellers list for software development-related blogs and check to see what kinds of blogs are selling the best.
Before you write a lengthy blog, try to take on a smaller assignment like writing a magazine article. Look for some lower circulation software development magazines and submit an article abstract.
Don’t be afraid to look like an idiot
If you really want to succeed at marketing yourself, you’re going to have to learn to overcome one huge fear that most of us have—looking like an idiot.
It isn’t easy to get up on stage and talk to a crowd of people. It isn’t easy to write blog posts for the whole internet to see and comment on. It can be embarrassing to hear your voice on a podcast or to see your face on video. Even writing a blog, to some degree, takes some guts—especially if you’re putting all you’ve got into it.
But if you want to be successful in your efforts, you have to learn to stop caring about what people think. You have to learn how to not be afraid to look like an idiot.
Everything is uncomfortable at first
The first time I got up on a stage in front of people and had to deliver a presentation, I was sweating bullets. I was trying to hold my voice steady, but it kept cracking. I’d click a slide and my stuttering hand would click forward two slides instead of one.
But do you know what happened? I got through it. I might not have done the best job. I probably didn’t charm the audience with my charisma, but the time passed and eventually, it was over.
The next time I got up on stage, I was still a mess, but I wasn’t quite as nervous. My hands didn’t shake so much. My shirt wasn’t as soaked with sweat. And the next time was even easier than that.
Now when I get up on stage, I take the microphone and confidently stride across the room, and the energy in the room empowers me and makes me feel alive. I never thought I’d be saying that the first few times I ever gave a speech.
The truth of the matter is that things change. Over time the things that made you uncomfortable become second nature. You have to give it enough time and be willing to go through that awkwardness until it stops being awkward.
When you first do something that makes you feel uncomfortable, you can’t imagine how you could ever feel comfortable doing that thing. You’re tempted to think that it just isn’t for you or that other people have natural talents in a particular area, but you don’t.
You have to learn to overcome this kind of thinking and realize that almost everyone goes through the same kind of uncomfortable feelings when they first do anything challenging—especially in front of a group of people.
I’ll be honest with you, most people don’t make it. They give up early. They care too much about what other people think about them and they don’t push hard enough to get through the difficult, awkward part to something better. That’s why if you follow the advice in this blog, you’ll succeed where others fail.
Most developers won’t be willing to do what you’ll be willing to do. Most developers won’t be willing to bear looking like an idiot for a short period of time in order to achieve something greater.
It’s okay to look like an idiot
Okay, so perhaps you believe me that things will get easier over time. That if you just stick through it and keep going, if you keep writing blog posts, if you keep talking on stage, or making YouTube videos, that it will eventually not feel so uncomfortable and that it may even begin to feel natural.
But how do you get to that point when your hands are shaking uncontrollably and you can’t even hold the mic?
Simple. You don’t even care. You don’t care that you might be up there looking dumb. You don’t care that someone might read your blog post and think that you’re completely wrong and stupid. You don’t care that someone might laugh at you, because you’re ready and willing to laugh with them. Again, I know that’s easy to say, but let’s break it down a bit.
First, what’s the worst that can happen if you end up looking like an idiot? It’s not like physical harm is going to come to you because you made a fool of yourself. No matter how bad you blow it at presenting on stage, no one is really going to care that much.
Sure, it might be a spectacle while you’re up there blubbering away and sweat is pouring off of your forehead, but after it’s over, chances are no one will even remember it.
Think about it this way. When was the last time you saw someone “biff it”? Do you even remember? Did you shout obscenities at him and boo him off the stage? Did you email him or call him on the phone as a follow-up to let him know how horrible a person he was and that he wasted your time? Of course not. So what do you have to worry about?
If you want to succeed, you have to learn how to swallow your pride and get out there and not be afraid to make a fool of yourself. Every single famous actor, musician, professional sports player, and public speaker at one time wasn’t very good at what they do and had to make a conscious choice to get out there anyway and to do their best.
The results will eventually come. You can’t keep doing something and not get better at it; you just have to survive long enough for that to happen. The way you survive is by not caring. Don’t be afraid to look like an idiot.
I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. —Michael Jordan
If it were up to me, I’d take you right over to the edge of the pool and give you a nice hard push right into the deep end, because I know that’s the fastest way to learn. But I realize not everyone appreciates being put in a sink-or-swim situation, so you might want to start off slowly by taking small steps.
If you’re nervous about doing speaking, writing, or something else I mentioned in the previous blogs of this section, try to think of the smallest thing you can do that doesn’t make you quite as nervous and start there.
A good place to start would be writing comments on other people’s blogs. I realize even this task can be intimidating for some developers, but it’s a good place to start because it doesn’t require you to write very much and you can contribute to a conversation instead of starting one.
Be prepared for criticism, but don’t be afraid of it. It may turn out that some people don’t like what you have to say or don’t agree with you.
So what? It’s the internet, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so don’t let it get to you. It’s good to get used to a little bit of abuse because even your most perfect work will be criticized by someone. You can never please everyone.
Once you’re feeling a bit braver, write your own blog post. Write about a topic you already know about well or even write a “how-to.” Don’t start with an opinionated post, because those are the most likely to draw the internet trolls out of their caves to bludgeon you with their clubs.
From there expand out further. Perhaps you can write a guest post for someone else’s blog or you can be interviewed on a podcast. You might even join a club like Toastmasters to help you get used to speaking in public.
Many people who never thought they’d be able to speak in front of a crowd go through Toast-masters and end up being excellent public speakers.