By December 23, 2013

Marketing Yourself: Why You Need a Blog

What would you think if you were interested in buying some new product you heard about, but when you went to the company that created the product’s website you found it wasn’t there, because they didn’t have a website?

Today, we expect pretty much every reputable company to have a functioning website.

But, many developers—web developers included—don’t have any kind of online presence of their own.

Sure, you may have social networking accounts, like Facebook and Twitter, but do you have a website that you own which you can point people to as your castle on the web?

The importance of having a home base for marketing yourself

I’ve talked before about how important it is to market yourself as a software developer, but I’ve never really gone into the details of how.

Alicante castle

I’ll be creating a series of posts dealing with the subject of marketing yourself over the next few months, starting with this post on what I believe is the cornerstone to any success software developer’s self promotion strategy, building a blog.

As you’ll see in this series, it is actually pretty easy to get started creating a blog—probably simpler than you may think.  But, before we get into the details, let’s take a moment to talk about why it is so important to have a home base on the web, especially for a software developer.

It really begins with how you view yourself as a software developer and your software development career.  Many, if not most, developers view themselves as a software developer who does a job.  For the most part, there is nothing really wrong with this view, but it is not the best way to think about what you do.

Instead, you are better off thinking of yourself as a business.  Sure, it may be a one man or one woman business, but the truth of the matter is that you are providing a service to a client, even if that client happens to be your boss.

When you think of yourself and your career as a business that you are building, you suddenly are no longer exempt from needing a web presence.   Just like we might think it would be pretty bizarre for a company that we do business with to not have a website, your clients and customers will think it is bizarre if you don’t have one—especially if you are a programmer that specializes in web development.

For most developers, your blog will be your main presence, or your home base on the web.  Your blog is a chance to tell the world about what you are doing and show what you can do, and to completely control the message and image you present.  This is an extremely powerful concept, because it allows you to shape the way potential and present customers and clients see you and can really increase your exposure.

This really is the key to marketing yourself online.

But, I don’t have anything interesting to talk about

Hogwash.  That excuse is just no good.  Everyone has something interesting to talk about.

Tired sleepless woman

This is an excuse I hear pretty often, and it seems like a good one—until you really sit down and think about it.

As a beginner, it can seem like you are not good enough; like what you have to say isn’t important; like there are so many other people that have much more valuable advice and opinions.  But, the truth is different people at different levels in their knowledge of a subject, or with different kinds of combination of subjects they have knowledge about, can reach and provide value to different sets of people.

Let me break that down a bit.

What I mean to say is that just because you are learning C++ and there are C++ gurus out there with 30 years of experience and more knowledge about C++ then you may ever have, doesn’t mean that you don’t have something valuable to offer.

Sure, Herb Sutter might know more about C++ than you, and other C++ experts may gain valuable information from his blog, but can he reach the C++ beginner, like you, that is just starting out as well as you can?  Probably not.

The truth is sometimes an amateur can reach other amateurs better than a professional can.

The truth is sometimes a woman can reach other females better than a man can.

The truth is sometimes a younger 20 something person can reach other 20 something people better than a programming dinosaur can or vice versa.

Chances are if you find it interesting, someone else does to.  So, stop using that excuse.  You can create a blog and it can provide value.  You just have to be willing to put in the work.

I’m not looking to advance my career or sell something

Again, I have to say this excuse is a bit short-sighted.  You might not be looking for another job right now, or to move up the ladder, but chances are, at some time in the future, you will be.

The biggest mistake I see developers make with career advancement is waiting until they need a job to start doing things like networking or blogging.

This is a bad idea, because it reeks of desperation and building up momentum, be it with blogging, networking, or something else, requires time.

Ideally, you want to start your blog and start using it to market yourself and your skills, before you need to.  Then, if the well ever dries up, you’ll have plenty of prospects.

The same goes with selling something.  You may think that you’ll never have something to sell, but if you ever write a book or decide to sell some consulting hours, having a blog can bring you clients and prospects instead of you having to go out and search for them.

Up next

Ok, so hopefully, I’ve convinced you to at least consider creating a blog that will serve as your home base on the web– which will be your primary tool for marketing yourself online.

I can’t tell you how many opportunities have come to me from having this blog that I would have never expected.

But, you may be wondering how to get started with creating your blog.  If you are like me, you probably want to know what options you have and how to pick the best one.

In my next post, I’ll talk about the 3 main options for creating a blog, give you the one I personally recommend, and give you one really important piece of advice that you won’t want to ignore.

Just check back next week, or you can sign up here to get updates, so I can let you now when the next post goes live or when something else interesting is happening at Simple Programmer.

And if you can't wait till next week, take a look at this book: Technical Blogging: Turn Your Expertise into a Remarkable Online Presence.  (It is from a fellow developer who gives some tips on creating a successful blog.)  I really enjoyed this book and found some great tips in it.

Oh, and if you are super excited about the idea of learning to market yourself as a software developer to boost your career, I am taking limited pre-sales for my new complete course and package “How To Market Yourself as a Software Developer.”  I'll announce more about this later, when it is ready for an official launch, but if you are quick, you can get in early and help shape the course.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."