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5 ingredients to kick off your personal brand as a freelance developer

Chris Hufnagel Avatar

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Your personal brand is yours, forever. No one can take it away.

One mistake I often see developers make is that they do not lean into creating a personal brand.

Developers are typically the magicians behind the scenes, not usually the ones in front of the cameras. This creates a false sense of not needing a personal brand.

But ignoring your personal brand is a one-way ticket to burnout and getting lost in the shuffle.

Why every developer needs a personal brand

You might think a personal brand is useless because you are not looking to become a freelancer.

It is not.

When you go on the job hunt, you can leverage a personal brand to get your foot in the door at your next job opportunity.

As a freelancer, your personal brand is your business. It is how you show up in the digital world, and it becomes what you are known for.

A freelancer’s personal brand is their marketing team.

What is a personal brand?

Your personal brand is how you show up online. Your social media accounts, website, newsletter, products, services, and everything digital you create is part of your personal brand.

It is the way you present yourself and your work to the world. Your personal brand is what sets you apart from other developers and allows you to showcase your unique skills and expertise in the industry.

5 Ingredients to start your personal brand

This is not a branding masterclass. The idea here is to simplify the process of creating your personal brand so you can get started right now.

1. Stand for something

The most important part of your personal brand is that you stand for something. It should be the why behind what you do. You do not have to paste this everywhere in the digital world, but you need to know what it is, and when someone mentions your name, it should be followed by what you stand for.

Example: I have been known for a long time as someone who focuses on combining simplicity with technology.

2. Visual Identity

We are not all designers. But, having a visual identity associated with you helps create that personal brand feel you are going for.

Keep it simple; you need not hire a design team here.

Pick a profile photo and use it everywhere.

Pick a primary and secondary color. Use these colors whenever you can.

Pick a font, and always use that font when creating

3. Show up

If you want to get seen online, you need to show up. This can be in tweets, newsletters, videos, podcasts, or photos.

Pick a platform and create on it consistently.

It is more important to show up consistently than to have the exact right thing to post. Try different things until you figure out what sticks. Experiment.

When you are just starting, I advise you to pick one platform and show up there every day for 90 days. This should give you some initial traction, and you can learn the inner workings of that platform.

When you transition to the next platform, you can leverage the following from your first platform to grow the second. Eventually, it starts to snowball.

4. Your Hub

Social platforms are great, but they can change their algorithm at the drop of a hat. You will be in a bad spot if you have no other way to connect with your audience.

Start creating a place for your audience to grow that you control.

This can be a newsletter, membership, or community.

The easiest one to get started is a newsletter, allowing you to create a list full of your audience that you own.

Getting this started so early might feel weird, but many creators who have been around for a while will tell you that their only regret is not starting a newsletter earlier.

5. Offer

The final piece for starting your personal brand as a developer is an offer. Yep, let’s make some money.

It is much easier to keep going with something when you make a little money. Eventually, you could get to where you are making enough from your personal brand to quit your job; you never know!

Your offer can be super simple at first. You probably already have a skill that could be used to make money. I suggest having a small 1-hour consulting session where you can help your target audience with a common problem.

Make the offer incredibly affordable at first, and scale it from there.

It is essential to have something to offer your audience to pay for. Even if people do not purchase, it will help them take you more seriously if you offer something for sale.

Get started

By this point, I hope you realize the importance of a personal brand as a developer.

So when should you start?

Right now. Today.

The sooner you start, the sooner your personal brand can start working for you. Block off 20 minutes each day to work on your personal brand.

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