Rocket — becoming a known (Laravel) developer… and building an application to help make it happen — Part 1
As software developers, most of us are looking to become individuals of some esteem. We want to be recognised, or even celebrated for our talents. We want to be able to release a product that makes millions of 💰💰.
We want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg (minus the rejection of privacy and those rather robotic facial ticks).
Of course, achieving this takes time, patience, dedication and hard work. This we know. After all, it’s the reality of life that goals are met through effort, but what’s less clear is the path we should take to get us there.
DISCLAIMER : The articles in this series may seem a little verbose at times, but that is by design. One of the biggest issues I’ve seen when established people are asked about how they became known, is assumption. They think everyone simply knows this stuff and therefore replies tend to be terse. By contrast, I’m assuming nothing. Everybody should be able to pick this up.
While the path to success is often murky, we usually have some idea of what we should be doing. However, we then start to hear competing viewpoints…
- You should definitely focus on social media.
- Social media is a black hole. Focus on writing articles.
- You must use a known platform for maximum reach e.g. Medium.
- No! You’re trying to build a brand, everything should be on your site.
- Articles are so out-dated. Everyone does video tutorials now.
- Videos? Keep them super-short. No one has five minutes to spare.
Naturally, you’re left in a position where you’re unsure what to believe. The truth is, there is some validity to all of these viewpoints. However, what tends to get lost in the discussion, is the notion of context.
In reality, all options for outreach should be considered, but more important, is what you want to say. People respond to passion and insight. The channel they use to consume it is often far less important.
I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few weeks about exposure and interest, and as much as I might like to believe otherwise, the honest truth is that if nobody knows about you, then nobody will care that you’ve built something that can change everything. It’s not ambivalence, they’re just 😕.
Most of us are startups of one or two people. We’re operating on a shoestring budget and we have no money to spend on expensive marketing ads. So what do we do instead? Well, to answer that, you have to redefine the traditional approach to selling a digital product:
Sell yourself, not your product.
We’re not talking about prostitution or auctioning off a kidney. Rather, you need to develop a brand around yourself. It is a strange concept, particularly given it was the other way around until recently, but as the saying goes:
Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis
Times change, and we change with them.
Are the apps good? Absolutely. Are you a bad developer if you don’t use them? No. Tinker is already present in Laravel and you can use Mailtrap for emails. So, why then have they been successful? Take a look at Marcel’s Twitter bio:
Marcel has built an audience. People know about him. They follow because they like / are interested in the topics he posts, the content he shares, the ideas he talks about. He is then able to tap into that established audience.
When he launches a product, he announces it and boom! A ton of people get notified and the sales start pouring in:
Of course, there’s a lot more to it than a simple tweet, but we’ll dig into that, and a whole lot more about marketing in a future article.
We’ll also put it into greater context by talking about past apps I’ve launched that were failures or just about broke even, and why I’ve delayed launching what I’m working on right now because of the need to grow an audience first.
In some ways, the conclusion of this series and the launch of my latest app will be somewhat of a test case to see if the effort to grow an audience has paid off and leads to a profitable success story.
As we’ll explore in this series, there is no one single path to name recognition. Attention can come from contributing in many areas. For example:
- Freek and the team at Spatie created hundreds of open-source packages.
- Graham Campbell contributed extensively to the Laravel Framework and became a part of the organisation.
- Bobby Bouwmann dedicated a huge amount of time helping developers with their Laravel issues on the Laracasts forum.
- Povilas Korop shared hundreds of tips and videos through his Laravel Daily site, thus helping developers to improve their knowledge.
However, one thing they all have in common is that they have both a presence and an audience they engage with (in one way or another).
That’s why, in addition to the articles in this series, we will also be building Rocket, an open-source Laravel app that will provide you with the foundation you need to create a web presence and begin growing an audience.
You can think of Rocket as a super-slim version of Mailchimp, except you’re in complete control and can do whatever you want with it. When finished, at least initially, Rocket will allow you to easily:
- Create your profile / personal website.
- Document your portfolio of open-source / commercial offerings.
- Build and maintain an email list of subscribers.
- Publish content / articles about one or more subjects.
- Run campaigns where your articles are sent to subscribers.
- Cross post to social platforms e.g. Twitter, Dev.to, Medium etc.
I hope you’re excited to take this journey… and it is a journey. There’s no quick fix to becoming known. It’s a marathon, not a sprint... but that’s a good thing. It will allow us to cover, in detail, all that you need to know… and best of all, the entire series is FREE for everyone.
We’ll explore marketing, engagement, writing, and so much more.
I’m planning to put out new material each day, but we’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, you can follow me here on Medium, or better yet, on Twitter, where I’ll be posting additional updates as well as links to new articles.
Thanks, and have a great day! 😎