What It Actually Means to Market Yourself as a Software Developer

Written By John Sonmez

Today is your lucky day!
No, really it is. I am going to tell you exactly what it means to market yourself as a software developer and why it just might not be such a bad thing.

Believe me, I know what you are thinking.

I get a lot of flak about the idea of marketing yourself or doing any kind of self-promotion.

Many programmers—perhaps you are one of them—view any kind of marketing or self-promotion as kind of sleazy, and if I may use such a bold word, “douchebaggy.”

[pullquote type=”right”]Many programmers—perhaps you are one of them—view any kind of marketing or self-promotion as kind of sleazy and if I may use such a bold word “douchebaggy.”[/pullquote]

And don't get me wrong, I understand your point. I've seen the douchebaggy kind of marketing that you are talking about. I've seen someone shamelessly promoting themselves or their product with no real thought about the benefit for the person they are promoting their product to. I've gotten those unwelcome emails from so-called marketers trying to sell me their knock off Viagra pills at steep discounts.

 Cool Story Brogreen pills

As a side-note here. I have a confession to make. One time I did actually buy one of those fake Viagra pills—hey I was curious.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure they just sold me a bunch of toxic dried blue paint, because it didn't really do anything. But, the huge mistake wasn't opening that email and buying their pills. It was giving them my actual phone number. I now get a call every day on my cell-phone asking me to reorder Viagra pills. I'll probably eventually have to change my number.


So, the reason I tell that story is not to highlight my poor judgement or over-share personal details—although I am pretty sure I did both—but, instead to point out that, I too, understand how annoying and inappropriate spammy, belligerent marketing can be. (I also wanted to use that cool content box that my new WordPress theme for my blog supports.)

In all seriousness though, marketing doesn't have to be douchebaggy. It really doesn't.

Giving value

Up to this point, this post might not seem like marketing, but it is.

How is it marketing? Well, hopefully because it is providing some value to you.

Let me unpack this a bit.

"Oh Mommy, it's a blog post! About programming!"
“Oh Mommy, it's a blog post! About programming!”

I have a purpose in writing this blog post. I have a purpose in writing all of my blog posts.

The purpose is to provide you some sort of value, and I'm not doing it just because I am a charitable guy.

No, instead, the reason why I am providing a large amount of free value is because it is what I consider the tasteful—and most effective—way to do marketing.

Now, I don't have any advanced degree in marketing and I don't come from a sales background, but I do know that when someone gives me something that I find valuable—especially when they do it for free—I'm much more interested in what they have to say and if they happen to be selling a product, I'm a lot more interested in hearing about that as well.

[pullquote]To me, this is the basis of marketing: Give away 90% of what you do for free and charge for 10% of it.[/pullquote]

To me, this is the basis of marketing: Give away 90% of what you do for free and charge for 10% of it.

I'm not saying that you'll never see me make a sales pitch or try to promote a paid product of mine—in fact, you will see me do it in this very blog post—but, what I am saying is that when you go and look at all the content I produce and the things I give away for free, you'll find that it outnumbers anything I am trying to sell by at least of factor of 9 to 1.

You can't get value if you don't give value.

Wait, wait… hold the presses, it's time to quote Zig Ziglar here—I just love that guy.

[blockquote cite=”Zig Ziglar” type=”right”]You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.[/blockquote]

(Notice how this was also another opportunity to use another cool feature of my new WordPress theme. Ah… so nice. By the way, as I was trying this I thought, “perhaps you would like to know what new WordPress theme I am using for my blog and perhaps they have an affiliate program. It turns out they do and the new theme I am using is called X | The Theme. See how that works.)

How this applies to marketing yourself

So, you might be wondering two things right now:

  1. When am I going to tell you how this actually applies to you
  2. When am I actually going to pitch you my product

The answer to the first one is: right now. We'll get to the second one in a bit.

I want to take a moment and separate technique from theory. We are going to talk more about theory. We are going to concern ourselves with the general idea of how and why we need to learn to market ourselves and if you are interested, later, I'll give you a bit more guidance on how to learn the techniques involved.

So, let's talk about what this means to you, as a software developer, sitting there at your desk cranking out code.

[pullquote]Most software developers are what I call career developers. It means that you just want to find a good company to work for, enjoy what you work on and get paid a good salary at the same time.[/pullquote]

Most software developers are what I call career developers. It means that you just want to find a good company to work for, enjoy what you work on and get paid a good salary at the same time.

If this is you, then there are three things that you'll be most likely interested in:

  1. Getting a good job with a good company
  2. Commanding the highest market value possible for your skills (getting paid mo' money)
  3. Getting raises and promotions (mo' power, mo' money)

The single most effective way to do all these things is to make yourself more valuable—more sought after. (You should be nodding your head at this point thinking “well duh John, you haven't said anything that I don't already know yet.”)

How to make yourself more valuable

Ok, well get this. There are two main ways you can make yourself more valuable.

The first way is to increase your skills. The more valuable your skills are, the more valuable you will be.

[skill_bar heading=”Nunchuck Skills” percent=”95%” bar_text=”95%”]

[skill_bar heading=”Bug Fixing Skills” percent=”80%” bar_text=”80%”]

[skill_bar heading=”Dirty Dancing Skills” percent=”90%” bar_text=”90%”]

(Again, I get to use a feature from my new Theme.)

man in suit with nunchucks

Anyway, even though your nunchuck or dirty dancing skills might be extremely valuable, they are only going to take you so far.

What I mean is that all those skills are not really valuable at all if nobody knows about them.

[pullquote]Think of marketing as a multiplier that multiplies the value of your skills.[/pullquote]

That is where the second part comes in… Enter marketing.

The second way to make yourself more valuable is essentially to make yourself more known. The more people know about you, the more you are known for your skills, the more sought after you'll be and hence the more valuable you'll become.

Think of marketing as a multiplier that multiplies the value of your skills.

[skill_bar heading=”Nunchuck Skills * Marketing” percent=”120%” bar_text=”120%”]

So, by using the right kind of marketing—which remember is primarily based on providing free value to others—you can multiply the value of your skills by building a solid reputation and reaching a lot more people.

The net effect of this will be a lot more opportunities for jobs.

The more opportunities you have for different jobs, the higher percentage chance that you'll find that perfect job and land a much higher salary.

Plus, once you are in that perfect job, becoming perceived as much more valuable is going to make it that much more likely that your boss is going to give you that raise and promotion to prevent you from going elsewhere.

So, you see our end goal is not to be some sleazy door-to-door, fake-Viagra-pill-salesman, instead it is simply to make ourselves more valuable by learning how to market ourselves, primarily by giving value to others.

Now, I don't want to paint too simple a picture of all this. It isn't as simple as creating a bunch of free content and putting it out on a web site. There is a lot more to marketing yourself than just producing content. You need to build up a personal brand, have a platform to publish and distribute content from, spread your content through social networks and other mediums, and a bunch of other things as well.

But, hopefully, you at least understand the concept of the kind of marketing I am suggesting and why it can be so valuable.

What about freelancers and entrepreneurs?

Oh, and I didn't mean to leave out you freelancers and entrepreneurs. You, of course, can benefit from marketing as well—there are just a lot fewer of you.

If you are a freelancer, you probably want to do three things:

  1. Get more work
  2. Get more desirable clients (non-pain-in-the-assers)
  3. Charge a higher hourly rate for your work (mo' money)

The same exact prospective of value exists for you. The way you accomplish all three of these things is by increasing your perceived value. And the way you do that is by both having valuable skills and marketing them well.

You can sit in your room all day practicing your nun-chuck skills, but if no one ever knows you have them, you'll never get hired as a bodyguard for Beyoncé.

In fact, in your case, marketing yourself is much more important, because you have to constantly go out and find new clients and new jobs. A career developer only has to find one employer at any given time, but a freelancer has to always be looking for work.

But, let me ask you a question: Wouldn't it be great if clients came directly to you instead of you having to go after them?

Yes, of course it would, don't be silly. What, are you eating dried lead paint that is being passed off as knock-off Viagra pills?

[pullquote]You can sit in your room all day practicing your nun-chuck skills, but if no one ever knows you have them, you'll never get hired as a bodyguard for Beyoncé.[/pullquote]

And finally, if you are an entrepreneur, you should know that the best way to sell any product or service is to first build an audience and then offer the product or service.

Unfortunately though, most entrepreneurs do it the completely opposite way. They try and build a product and then after they have built it they try to market that product to people who they think will want to buy it.

I'm not saying it's not possible to do it that way—of course you can—but, is it really the most effective way?

Isn't it much better to market yourself to the point where you have your own audience and then launch a product into that audience full of people who are eager to buy what you are selling?

Speaking of which—now is the time where I do a bit of marketing myself—I did that very exact thing with my How to Market Yourself as a Software Developer course.

I didn't build the course and then try and find an audience for it. Instead, I already had an audience from this blog and from all the other things I do in the software development community. By marketing myself first, I was able to build an audience that wanted to buy my product as soon as it was released.

So, what does it actually mean to market yourself as a software developer?

Ok, so now that you understand why marketing yourself is important and how it can benefit you, regardless of what kind of developer you are, the big question is “what does this actually look like?”

Like I said earlier, we aren't going to go into technique in this post, but I want to give you a general idea of what it looks like to market yourself as a software developer–it's probably a lot different than what you might suspect.

The first step is a costume. You are going to need a costume—preferably something leather. You'll also need an alter ego and some kind of awe-inspiring name. Something like “Algorithmo.”


Ok, I'm just kidding, but superheroes are actually a great way to think about personal branding—which is one of the key components of marketing yourself.

You need to develop some kind of unique personal brand that helps people recognize you and what you are all about, quickly.

Again, there is a lot to go into in how to do this, but details aside, realize that this is an important part of marketing yourself, because in order to be effective you need to build some kind of brand recognition.

So, once you have some kind of a personal brand, the next step is to start creating valuable content that you can share. This content can take many forms. Here are a few possible types of content you might create:

  • Blog posts
  • Books
  • Magazine articles
  • Podcasts
  • Presentations
  • Videos
  • Webinars

Probably the largest portion of marketing yourself involves creating this kind of mostly free content.

But, it doesn't end there. All that content is no good if no one actually sees it, so you have to learn what channels to use to get your content to as many people as possible. One popular way to do this is to use social media, but that is not the only technique—and in fact, it's not even the most effective.

So, marketing yourself as a software developer generally looks a lot more like being involved in the software development community than it does pushing erectile dysfunction ads or spamming people's in-boxes.

And now the pitch…

Ok, so here is the moment you've been waiting for.

Notice how I told you about why marketing yourself is so valuable and gave you a hint of how to do it, but didn't provide the details?

Well, obviously I have some way to actually provide the details, right? Right.

If you are reading this post on the day I published it—or the day afterwards—you are in luck. I am actually doing a Cyber Monday sale on my How to Market Yourself as a Software Developer course. You can use the code: CYBERMONDAY to get $100 off—but it is only good until tomorrow at midnight (Tuesday, Dec 2nd, 2014.)

In that course I go into all the details of how to actually do the things we talked about in this post.

I show you how to create a carefully crafted personal brand that will get you noticed. I show you step-by-step how to create a blog and how to start creating valuable content. I tell you how to actually get your name out there and distribute the content you create. And, I even give you some valuable material on how to craft a much better resume and the right way to network—most developers get this wrong.

It's not just my idea either. I put together a collection of 10 different interviews with some pretty big software developer names like:

  • Bob Martin
  • Jeff Atwood
  • Jon Skeet
  • Rob Conery

To name a few. (Name drop! Boom!)

[promo image=”https://simpleprogrammer.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/combo-image-pippity.jpg” alt=”How to Market Yourself as a Software Developer”]
[callout type=”center” title=”How to Market Yourself as a Software Developer” message=”4 books, 2 complete video courses, 10 video interviews with top developers and more.” button_text=”Click here to get it now!” circle=”true” href=”http://devcareerboost.com”]


I also offer a 30-day money back guarantee, because I'm not interested in taking your money for something that won't genuinely help your career. Buy it now—especially with the discount—and if you don't immediately see how this course is going to more than pay for itself by raising your earning potential, just email me and return it. Seriously.

Anyway, enough of the pitching. I hope you found this post valuable and I'd appreciate if you'd share it. (Especially while the Cyber Monday deal is going on.)

If you have any questions, just leave a comment below.

Also, since this is really my first post with the redesign of Simple Programmer, let me know what you think of the new design. Did you notice it is mobile friendly and responsive now?