Whether you are aiming for a developer position in a startup or a big organization, or trying to make it as a freelancer, creating and maintaining your online presence will undoubtedly help you progress towards your goal. In this article, I will present a few platforms that can help you create your virtual persona.
But first of all, it’s important to define what you want to achieve through this process. The approach you take will be different if you are looking to land a good job than if you aim to sell online programming courses. Mainly, your goal is to show people that you know what you are talking about in your area. But you need to define who these people are, so you can choose what methods to use.
While I will describe some content options for each platform in the list, it is important that you tailor them to your needs, so you can achieve the best results for your specific case.
Do you need a website?
Let’s address the big question first, because this is definitely the biggest commitment from this list: you need to buy a domain, choose a platform to build your website on, choose content etc.
While it is common for people to create a website as one of the first steps of building their online presence, it might not always pay off. What you need to ask yourself is “Do I have the content to put on a website?”. You might quickly find out that the answer is “No” or, at least, “Not yet”.
If you are simply looking to create a website because you want something to act as a “hub” for all your other online profiles, that would also rank well on search engines, you might want to take a look at about.me – you can get a free page with everything you need for the beginning.
What if I want to blog?
Blogging might seem like the perfect reason to create a website: you are constantly creating content, people can interact with you via comments, and it’s easy for them to then follow you on other platforms. The issue here is that you are committing to this before knowing whether people are interested in your content. You might find out that they are, and that creating a blog is the right move, but you first have to do a little bit of research.
In terms of writing, there are two ways of checking how much people would engage with your content: submitting an article to an online publication, or writing independently on Medium. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. While writing for a publication might help you reach a bigger audience, you are missing important information about who that audience is. Writing on Medium, on the other hand, at least gives you some insight into the traffic sources – so you can see what websites or platforms pick up your articles. Nevertheless, you should test the waters before diving in and setting up a blog.
Now that we have settled the part about your website and/or blog, let’s talk about what platforms you should be on, as a developer. To be clear, I only included general platforms; there might be communities centered around certain skills that you posses, and you should find and use them.
The amount you dedicate to each of these may differ, depending on your needs, but you should, without question, at least have a profile on most of these websites.
There’s not much to say about this. You need LinkedIn to connect with people in your area of expertise, your company, or the company you want to work for. If you are creating any form of content, it is a great platform to share it to, since most of your connections are probably working in the same domain as you. There are many great guides on how to create a LinkedIn profile, so I am not going to talk about it here; the main goal is, as always, to show people that you know what you are talking about, and that you have the experience to prove it.
GitHub is a great way to showcase your projects and show what other technologies you are interested in – by forking, starring or contributing to them. It also gives other people an idea about the amount of work you have been putting in, by the number of contributions shown on your profile.
If you have the time, and if this is something that interests you, contributing to other open source projects might earn you many bonus points and recognition in your community. This doesn’t necessarily mean committing code, but also submitting issues or comments.
These are platforms you can use to get involved in the community by discussing topics regarding your domain and helping others by sharing the knowledge you have acquired. My suggestion would be to not use them unless you genuinely enjoy it; doing it only for the points/recognition is very obvious and will not get you anywhere.
StackOverflow and other StackExchange sites
StackOverflow is clearly one of the most well-known websites related to programming, and it is a great way to display your knowledge and show that you know what you are talking about. There are, however, other StackExchange websites related to software engineering you might want to check, depending on your skill set. You can find a great list describing them here.
There are too many subreddits related to programming, software engineering, computer science etc. to list them here, but it shouldn’t be hard for you to find a few where you could get involved in discussions.
You could also use this as a platform to share your content, but make sure to follow the Reddit rules regarding self-promotion; if you only plan on using it for promoting your content, you might consider buying ads instead.
Other social media
Twitter is a great way to keep yourself up to date with the news in your niche, as well as connecting/staying in touch with other people interested in the same things. Using the right #hashtags might also get some big names to pay attention to your content.
At some point and in certain situations, you might be able to gather a large community around yourself, your blog or your product. Only then, it might be a good idea to jump on these platforms. Otherwise, you will simply not get enough attention, and it might become tiring for you to keep the content consistent on all platforms (alternatively, abandoning them might not look good either).
As I stated in the beginning, I only included platforms that are meant for the vast majority of developers. Your specific branch might have already gathered on niche platforms like asp.net or Unity Answers. It is your responsibility to find them and integrate them in your online presence “portfolio”.
Putting this up might feel like a lot of work, and it sometimes is. But remember that you should tailor this to your needs. Define your goal, as well as who, how and why you want people to find your digital persona, and then build every profile around that.
If you feel like there are things that I missed in this article, feel free to comment with your opinion or additions.