Many people think that personal branding is just for celebrities or big organizations, but every one of you is a brand. Have you ever been called a “great programmer” or a “go to person” by your peers or coworkers? That description is part of your brand. Personal branding, by definition, is the process by which you market yourself to others. Social media tools have leveled the playing ground and have enabled you to reach incredible heights, at the cost of your time, effort, & creativity.
Here is the big picture of what you can do to create your own brand as a programmer
You need a shift of mindset, for example, from “piling up of your certifications” or just being a “super star developer stuck behind only writing programs to expanding your horizons as an author, educator, service provider, value adder, blogger, contractor/freelancer, web entrepreneur, etc. The above diagram gives a big picture. 3 main ingredients required to expanding your horizons are:
1) setting goals.
2) desire and perseverance to act on your goals. All your goals are of no use until you persistently act on them.
3) creativity and drive to do things differently to the rest. In other words, don’t just follow what others are doing like piling up on the certifications or starting a blog with the view to spray a few adsense advertisements. Think how you can turn your blog into a subscription based online training site or to identify a gap in the market to create your own product, service or value add.
Shifting your mindset
A. Shift your mindset from ranting about “a badly written code at work”, “losing the jobs to offshore programmers”, feeling frustrated about not getting the promotion or pay rise you had expected at work” or feeling stagnated at work to positive emotions and getting out of your comfort zone.
- Learn a sought-after technology like Big Data/Hadoop/NoSQL and ramp up your skills to get your next dream job.
- Start a blog with the view to proactively learn, brand your capabilities and then later expand it into a subscription based online training site or as a repository of your knowledge & experience leading to self-publishing a book or creating a product.
- Pick a soft skill to work on.
B. Shift your mindset from “commuting to and from work without any light-bulb moments” to “jotting down the ideas that come your way on to your mobile memo” to further think about it at your leisure.
C. Shift your mindset from “browsing today’s online news for 15 minutes as the first thing you do when you get to work” to “researching further on the idea that you had jotted down on your mobile memo” as a result of an earlier light-bulb moment.
D. Shift your mindset from working harder on your work to working harder on yourself — said by Jim Rohn. Work on your communication skills, SEO skills, WordPress or other blogging platform skills, social media skills, Google adsense/adwords skills, affiliate marketing skills, Google analytics know how and the list goes on. You can get started on most of these things by watching a few YouTube videos and subscribing to quality blogs. It took me only 5 hours to get started with word press by watching a few YouTube videos. Learned a lot about social media for business by investing on a book by Guy Kawasaki.
This list goes on.
What is the catch?
You need to make some sacrifices. You also need to be very patient as it can take 2+ years to get into the rhythm and see some “Wow moments like
“Wow, I managed to get a foot in the door of an investment bank with a 30% pay rise”
“Wow, I have 400+ subscribers to my online training blog”
“Wow, my recent post has reached 6,000 unique readers”,
“Wow, I have self published my first technical book to amazon and sold 40 copies in the first week….”
It is not easy to sustain your drive and passion as you will have more “ordinary” moments than the “Wow moments”. You need to constantly motivate yourself. Consistently churn out unique blog contents, self-published books, new product/app ideas until things click to create more “Wow moments”.
You need to believe that “Something is about to Spark“. You need to change directions or do things differently. You need to grow not just as a techie, but as an internet entrepreneur with good marketing and networking skills. List your strengths and passion to create your own branding. Collaborate universally with other like minded people.
Is it really a passive income?
It is a passive income in the sense that you can get revenue from your blog, books, and products whilst you are on your holidays, waiting for a new contract, being sick, etc. But in reality, you need to work very hard upfront say 6 months to 2 years to get the ball rolling. So, you are working hard upfront to earn a passive income later on. This is not 2008, and it is a very crowded place out there on the web and you need to really standout to attract users and customers. Whatever you create need to be unique and add value to your customers or users. You need to give others what they need in terms of products, services, training, etc before you take what you need in terms of recognition, more followers, more subscribers, more customers, etc. Opportunities are limitless, and you are only limited by your imagination. Realize your strengths and harness them. One thing may lead to another with a few set backs, but if you can keep at it, and change directions or do things differently when you hit against a brick wall, you will be different person compared to when you had started on your journey.
Even if you have a passive income flowing in, you can’t afford to be complacent. The online landscape can quickly change within 2-3 months, and you need to constantly find ways to improve your services, contents, and offerings stay ahead of your competition.
The reality is that in a very crowded internet landscape, for most of you the primary source of income will still come from a 9am to 6pm job as a full time permanent or contract staff, and your online presence will only be creating a tangible income of $5 to $20.0 a day. The real consolation is the intangible benefits you would accomplish such as:
- Improving your researching, writing, and communication skills.
- Your blog will become a repository of your experience. Technologies, frameworks, and tools are very vast, and if you want to jog your memory in the future, you know where to go.
- Networking with the other like minded professionals and improving your online presence as the future recruitment will be digital. Online resumes, blogs, social media profiles, online tests, video interviews, contribution to open-source projects & self-taught projects on Git Hub, etc will determine your employ-ability.
The person you have become through the process of learning more, coding more, writing more, better discipline, setting goals and meeting them, and the potential to make it big if you have the passion, right recipe, and the perseverance to keep at it. In a nut shell, it is conducive to developing a decent career and creating your own brand.
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