In today’s day and age, the internet is an extremely powerful tool. With various forms of social media, YouTube, blogs, and tons of other platforms, you can reach people all around the globe within a few clicks.
Being able to interact with people around the globe means that you can trade tips with developers on the other coast, learn about best practices from companies based in other countries, and offer your own expertise to a broad community.
The sad part is most people do not take advantage of the enormous leverage the internet gives us. Many programmers believe that a personal online presence to keep up with friends and family is all they need, missing the strategic potential for a professional presence.
It allows you to be in multiple places at one time with your content. You can maximize your reach (thus effectively multiplying your work) by building on one idea across many platforms. You can also interact with more people, increasing the potential for you to get noticed and get better jobs, or become an influencer.
Let’s discuss what a professional online presence is, why you need one, and some resources to help you get started.
What Is an Online Presence?
An online presence is a virtual representation of you, with the ability to offer information and engage with others in the online world.
It usually starts with at least one of the following: a YouTube Channel, a GitHub, a blog, subreddits (or other forms on your niche), or any of the social media sites (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn).
On these sites, you create a professional profile that outlines who you are and your area of expertise. Then you engage with that community by posting either content you’ve created, links to and comments on content you find interesting or provoking, and conversation with others on the platform.
Here is an example that will make it a little more clear to you. Suppose we have someone named Antonio (I know, I was thinking the same thing… great name right?). Antonio has a blog that he created from reading “How to Market Yourself as a Software Developer.” He writes blog posts on web development in Node.js. So, he creates a post called: ‘How to Create an NPM Package using Node”. Next, he creates a YouTube video that explains the same information in a different format. Next, he takes a link to the blog post and YouTube Channel, and shares it on his Twitter. Apart from all these activities, Antonio tweets out other articles he finds that are very useful when developing in Node.js.
After some time, people start to trust Antonio as someone who knows everything there is to know about Node.js and web development. In fact, when they have questions on the topic, they may ask him for help through any of these online platforms.
An online presence allows you to build a strong professional reputation outside your company, giving you a strong, diverse network and the opportunity to influence your field.
Why Do YOU Need One?
There are plenty of reasons why you should maintain an online presence as a software developer. Let’s go through a couple of the more important ones.
When you have been posting about a certain topic for a while, displaying and sharing your knowledge, other people in your specific domain and niche will find you and read your information. As time goes on, these people will start to interact with you on the internet.
As you continue to provide them value through the various videos, blog posts, or social media shares, you are building relationships with the people who follow you. This engagement allows you to build a network in your field through the internet.
Why is having a large network even useful? For meeting new people, finding new people to work with on cool side projects or business ideas, finding people that are interested in the same topics as you, and much more.
Programmers who spend plenty of their day behind computers tend to not focus on networking as much as other career areas do. Having an online presence allows you as a programmer to network in a way that is more comfortable to you (through the computer/internet).
Employers Love It
When you are looking for a job, the main thing that the employer is looking for is proof that you know what you are talking about. What’s a better way to prove that you know what you are doing than by having blog posts and videos where you are teaching people on the exact topics you are expected to know? (The correct answer here is: there is no better way!)
Going into the interview, the company will do research on your internet presence and see that you know what you are talking about. At that point, most of the battle when it comes to getting a job is already done.
On top of the automatic proof having an online presence gives you, recruiters and engineering managers at companies will start to reach out to you because of all the information you have put out there. They are scouring the internet at all times of the day, looking for people who know what they are talking about on a certain topic. Now, coming from this position puts you in a position of even higher leverage when looking for a job, because they want you going into it.
Great for Freelancing/Online Business
If you are not looking for a job, do not worry, I have something for you as well. Having an online presence is even more useful if you are trying to start freelancing or to create an online business.
If you want to do freelance work, and a prospective customer sees that you have written and taught other people on the exact topic they need work done in, they will assume that you know what you are talking about. If they assume that you know what you are talking about, it will allow them to trust you over all of the competition out there. Who do you think a hiring manager is going to chose for a job? The person who has nice videos and helpful posts teaching the information on the internet? Or someone who just says they can do something through a resume?
What if you want to have your own business? Then you could charge people for private lessons teaching them in your area of expertise, or create courses such as “How to Become an Amazon Alexa Developer” and sell them to many of your followers who already trust you.
So, How Can You Create an Online Presence?
I am a huge fan of making things as simple as possible so action can be taken right away. What is something you can do right now to build an internet presence?
In my opinion, the easiest thing you can do to get started is to create a Twitter account (this platform is where programmers tend to be more active). I recommend this to anyone starting out and looking for the easiest first step when building an online presence.
You don’t even have to tweet any of your own knowledge. Simply tweet one piece of content, whether it be an open-source repository, a blog post tutorial, or an opinion article on something in your field. Tweeting links to content isn’t the most effective long-term strategy, but it’s the simplest thing you can do right now to get started.
If you want to build a presence faster, then I would suggest posting on all platforms, a couple of times a day. The multiple platforms include a website and blog, a YouTube channel, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and a Reddit account. Posting this much can take plenty of time to do every day and is a more advanced form of an internet presence. It can be overwhelming for someone just starting out.
I would pick one platform and practice until you get comfortable with it, and then add in another one. Personally, I began with Twitter, then started a blog, then created a YouTube channel, an Instagram account, and finally, I jumped into Facebook. I spent time building the habit of posting regularly on these accounts and then added more and more as time went on. This process prevents yourself from getting overwhelmed and gets you started today!
Resources to Help You Get Started
A high-quality course that I recommend on this topic is John Sonmez’s How to Market Yourself as a Developer. Here he talks about creating a blog, having an online presence, picking a niche, and how to use various social media platforms. I used this training to start my own online presence and strongly suggest it.
In my opinion, the best forms of social media for programmers are YouTube, Twitter, a blog, a GitHub, and then any forms/subreddits that relate to your field. These websites allow you to either showcase your code, teach others about code, or share interesting and relevant news in the programming community.
If you are looking to start a YouTube Channel, look at how others have done it by checking out the channels on this list.
A really great forum for programmers is Hacker News. GitHub is a little different; you create open source projects for other developers to work on. Or you can become a contributor on other developer’s existing projects, or you could fix bugs in those projects.
Each different platform has advantages and disadvantages, but you can pick one or more based on what you like.
Go Take Action!
As the internet gains popularity, and people spend more and more time on it, your online presence will be even more important and valuable. It takes seconds to create a social media account. Chances are you know something that can benefit people out there somewhere in the world.
With the awesome benefits you can receive in return, there's almost no reason you should not start. It allows you to have a nearly infinite network of people you know around the world, which can come in hand for plenty of reasons. If you never want to be without a programming job, then this is a sure way of making sure people will hire you. If you have a business or are a freelance developer, then your internet presence can be a way to land more gigs or get more clients.
It may take some work over the long term, but if you are consistent, you will start to gain some traction. The information given to you here was meant to be used to help you, not for reading pleasure. So, go get out there, take massive action, and take advantage of the internet today!