Every developer needs a good origin story.
Whether you’re aiming for a top-tier tech company or striking out solo, a captivating origin story bridges the gap between you and your audience.
What is an origin story?
An origin story is all about how you became you! In books and movies, it is the story of how the hero (or villain) came to be.
For example, from Harry Potter’s Wikipedia page:
“Harry is an orphan living with his abusive aunt and uncle, Vernon and Petunia Dursley and their bullying son, Dudley. On his eleventh birthday, Harry discovers he is a wizard when Rubeus Hagrid delivers him an acceptance letter to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”
While most of us are not literal wizards, we do have some talent with technology, which appears to be magic to most.
When we have a good story about how we got into web development, we become more relatable to those around us. And that is a good thing.
Your origin story = your unique advantage
I often see web developers afraid to say how they got their start. They are afraid of being judged for being self-taught or that they learned from a code camp.
So instead, they say nothing about how they got here.
This is a huge mistake because the reason you became fascinated with code is what will have people excited to work with you.
During my freelance career I have told my story to almost every client that I landed. It was an amazing way to create a connection and build trust. It made me stand out.
Telling my origin story helped me land over $1MM in freelance work with clients that I loved working with. It can help you too.
With a solid origin story you can
It will take some time to create, but it is worth it. At the end I will share my template for crafting your unique story. This will save you time and give you a starting place as you create yours.
You are the hero. What does your journey look like?
Everyone’s journey is different, but this is an easy-to-use formula that worked for me.
- Intro to Your Superpower
- Obstacle / Challenge
- Spark of Hope
- Growing Flame
- The Result
Want to skip ahead and download the template? Click Here
Step One: Intro to Your Superpower
We all started somewhere. For some, it was a video game, and for others, it was designing cover art for their band in high school.
Think back to when you were first introduced to technology and when you realized how it worked. How did you first become a computer geek?
My example: When I was 12 years old I learned what HTML was. I found it amazing that these “words” could somehow manipulate the computer to do what I wanted. I then got the “Python for Dummies” book. I was hooked.
Step Two: Obstacle or Challenge
Every hero has to overcome a challenge. Otherwise, they are just gifted. I bet you struggled to learn your first programming anguage, or had difficulty finding that first client.
My Example: My family told me there was no money in that “computer thing” so I went to college for Environmental Engineering…and dropped out after 2 years. At 20 and having no real direction I tried to find my place as a landscaper, pre-school teacher, and restaurant manager.
Step Three: Spark of Hope
At some point, it all clicks. You start gaining momentum and seeing your new skills’ power.
You create your first working app, launch your personal website, or maybe land your first client. Something makes you keep going, what is it?
My example: To make some extra money, as I searched for meaning, I created a couple of Adsense sites using WordPress. I didn’t enjoy making money from Adsense, but I LOVED creating custom websites using the WordPress platform.
Step Four: A growing flame
Now that you have some basic understanding and things are making sense, you begin to hone your skills. You practice. This is when Luke raises the X-Wing
My example: I got my first paying client for $40 on elance.com (now Upwork). When I realized that people would pay for this skill, I never looked back.
Step Five: The result
You made it. You destroyed Voldemort. Who are you now, and what does life look like after the journey?
Remember, this is not the end. Like most things in this world your origin story is always evolving. I take a look at mine every year and adjust it to fit where I am now.
My example: I passionately pursued web design, development, and strategy; transforming it into an 11+ year freelance career that not only supported my family but also granted us the freedom to travel throughout the US.
Where to use your origin story?
I bet you are asking yourself, “But where will I use this?”
- Your next job interview
- The next time you are talking with a prospective freelance client
- When you are being interviewed on a podcast
- When you start that YouTube channel
- On your personal website about page
- On your social media posts
This story will help people connect and remember you. So use it everywhere that you can.
Now go write your developer origin story, then share it with the world.
Your story probably looks a lot different than mine (and it is perhaps even more fabulous). You might not even be a developer, but the process is still the same!
You have the formula; you saw my example. Go create yours.
To make it easier, I created a Notion template with prompts to help you navigate this process. I bet you can get your first draft in less than 30 minutes using this template.