Branding yourself online has become increasingly important as landing a role in the tech industry is constantly getting more competitive. If you want to freelance, creating a personal brand is the absolute best way to land roles, but it’s still important for those of us looking to gain more traditional roles. Creating a strong online presence that is clearly branded will help employers and clients understand exactly what you can do for them. It will also create a strong sense of skill and authenticity, as well as display your communication skills. Plus, it’s a great way to network.
So what exactly goes into creating a personal brand? The good news is that you don’t need to be a marketing expert to accomplish this, you just need to spend a bit of time.
Figure Out Who You Are
I don’t mean this in the existential “who am I and what is my purpose here” way. That’s a whole other ballpark! What you want to do is figure out exactly what you’re brand is all about. Are you a developer? A designer? Are you specified in your stack or interests? Is there a specific language you’re extremely proficient at? Figure out exactly what you excel at and want people to know you excel at. Once you’ve decided that, you have the core foundation of your brand. Now we just need to establish it.
Sign up for all the core and popular social sites that are relevant to your field. For example, as a software developer, I have accounts and am active on LinkedIn, Twitter, dev.to, CodeCast, Medium & Hashnode. I use these to discuss relevant topics as well as showcase my skills and promote my work. I enjoy writing content, so for me, it makes sense to sign up to places like dev.to and Medium, but depending on your content, you'll need to find your own niche spots!
I also don’t hesitate to share a single blog post across all the different platforms at the same time. I have had some junior developers ask me in the past where the best place to share your writing is to get views. The answer is honestly everywhere. There is no single ideal source, every person will have a different experience based on their content, so until you know what is and isn’t successful for you, share it everywhere you have an account!
Share Your Strengths
If you’re great at something, make it known. If you excel at the front-end, for example, share CSS tips & tricks, or perhaps some work you’ve done that you’re proud of. Do a walk-through on CodeCast where you build out a small project or walk through a tutorial, or show off a previous project you’ve done. Regardless of how you do it, you want to showcase something you are confident in and something you enjoy! Passion is the biggest motivator and most people can feel your passion when it’s sincere - so use it to your advantage!
Most people also mistakenly think they need to be a developer for a very long time before they would ever be suited to teach someone else something. Not only is this not true, but teaching something to someone else strengthens your own knowledge of the topic! It will also allow you to gain a wider audience because as developers, we are always looking for new resources or information every time we need to do something new. It can also be used to help make a portfolio, which is something we will be discussing in the coming weeks!
Engage, Engage, Engage
Getting the attention of a bigger influencer somewhere like Twitter can be helpful, but the biggest factor will be being consistent. If you constantly engage with people on different platforms, you will slowly grow your audience. Getting your first 100 followers is the hardest part and takes the largest amount of time, but once you have a decent base, you’ll start to slowly grow.
We don’t need to shoot for the moon and try to get hundreds of thousands of followers (though I definitely wouldn't discourage that)! But an account with a thousand followers is a lot more trustworthy on first impression than an account with eight, so taking the time to engage is well worth it and will make an impact on how well your brand resonates with other people.
Try to be as consistent as possible. Months of nothing followed by short bursts of posts won’t do much for you. Being able to create a small amount of content that you regularly post will perform much better for you. If you have time to generate a large amount of content all at once, refrain from posting it right away. You can use free apps like Later to help you schedule outposts, or save them as drafts and publish them at a consistent pace.
Outside of timing, you also want to be consistent about the type of content you post. If your account is all over the place, people will have no idea what your brand is. Consistency about the type of content, as well as keeping it to the appropriate level of professionalism for your goal, is probably the most important aspect of branding yourself.
There are a lot of little things you will learn along the way, so with that my advice is to always just start, and make adjustments as you see fit. You don’t need to have a fancy logo or banner, or posts that are completely original and mind-blowing - you just need to make posts that are true to yourself and your desired brand. The rest can come with time.