What to Consider When Marketing Yourself as a Developer
A quote widely attributed to a wise man named Pablo goes something like this:
Good artists borrow, great artists steal.
This holds true for the developer world. The best way to level up is to constantly watch the pros and imitate their styles until one day, your code is as effective and DRY as possible.
But then how can a portfolio and online presence stand out? If I imitate other developers, where do I get to differentiate myself and plug my own personality for all potential business partners or employers to see. While Pablo the Philosopher gives good advice for how to advance your skills, Pablo the Artist exemplifies what one can do to create a brand that is different from anyone else.
Keep It Simple, Simpleton
Your portfolio is a precursor to a resume. Think of it as an elevator pitch on screen. Keep the navigation simple. Instead of building the resume in something like React, just use HTML and CSS (and perhaps a touch of jQuery), then let your projects on display let visitors know what other skills you are capable of.
Project Your Projects
Include some projects you’ve worked on. If you’re constantly applying to Python jobs but have no interest in Java, include mostly Python stuff. Your audience is folks who have never seen your projects beforehand, so give context as to what the project is, why it was built, and when. Seeing multiple projects done a few months of each other can show drastic improvement.
Unless we’re talking about the recent machine learning phenomenal called style transfer (which I would totally check out, by the way), your style is yours and yours alone. Whether this is represented in a project or through your online portfolio, those visiting your site should get a good glimpse into your personality and interests. Some portfolios may also get more in depth, proclaiming a favorite band or sports team. This could work for or against you, considering your visitor may have little interest in Lebron James or basketball at all.
Regardless, having something stand out about your online presence tends to work more in favor for you because brings together interests that may lead to a better professional relationship relationship. Employers are looking for someone who is able to code well, but they also want a coworker with whom they can relate.
Links to the Past
While the profile should remain simple and just give brief insight as to who a developer is, links to other profiles (especially GitHub or LinkedIn) could serve as the next stage if the visitor is interested. Marketing one’s skills on Twitter or Instagram have also become pretty popular as of late, but aren’t mandatory.
As much as you want your online presence to be the clearest rendition of who you are, inspiration can come from everywhere. Similar to how you gravitate to a particular piece of art in a museum, use other portfolios to give you a better sense of what interests you. On Dribbble, you can search through projects by color — an excellent method of discovering what kinds of colors resonate with you and how you’d want yourself portrayed to others.
Make It Your Own
Developers are lifelong learners. With this in mind, I can definitely admit that I am a different person than I was in high school. My ideal portfolio as a teenager may have looked very different from what it is now. With a portfolio, I am able to market my present self in however I see fit.