loading...
Cover image for How to Build an Online Presence as a Junior Developer

How to Build an Online Presence as a Junior Developer

samjarman profile image Sam Jarman 👨🏼‍💻 Updated on ・5 min read

As a developer in 2017, it’s important to have some form of online presence. This could be a GitHub (see my recent post), a blog, a vlog or simply just a Twitter account. I think gone are the days of Gamertags and secret online identities, and those acting as their true selves online, giving real, justified opinions, earn more respect. Subsequently having better careers as a result. Developers are makers by nature, but this doesn’t (and shouldn’t!) apply to just code, so creating content online to assist your career is well worth having a go at.

So, what, as a developer could you create for online? Twitter is trivial, LinkedIn you probably already know about and GitHub we’ve talked about. But how about a blog? A blog is a great way to share your long-form thoughts and they’re very easy to set up.

Getting Started with Blogging

“But Sam”, you ask, “What do I write about? I’m a junior, I don’t know anything yet?”. Exactly.

You need to document your learnings, not create advice for others based on what you’ve learnt. Stop reading here, and go watch Gary Vaynerchuk’s Document, Don’t Create video.

Back? Ready to start? Cool. Just go to Wordpress.com or Medium.com (OR THIS WEBSITE!) and start typing. What are you learning at the moment? For example, I was learning Elixir recently (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Simply document your journey as a developer learning more and more. As you learn something, you’ll most like have some really interesting discussions with people also familiar with the topic, and that’s the really awesome part of being online – talking to strangers about cool stuff you both like! Employers will read this and think to themselves “wow, this person really likes X, and is making an effort to learn.” It’s easy to say you’ve done some reading on X, but if you have a blog post and a GitHub project to back those few hours of learning up, it’s so much more believable. Plus, writing about it really solidifies your learning, in the same way writing a talk does.

Consider Distribution

Creating not really your thing? Try distribution as well or instead. Find any good links recently? Share them! Distribute what inspires you. Write an entry every week or so of your top 10 links you found and a few sentences about what you got out of them. Some people call these Newsletters (PS, I love Charged!). Once again, It’s great to say you follow HackerNews or r/Programming, but have you really ingested the content, enough to form your own opinion on it? What do you think? What would you have done in that situation? What’s your take? Once again, the immediate benefit to you is comprehension of the content, and the benefit to others is a digest and summary of content they might not have time for.

Your Audience

So, you’re coding, reading and writing, and sharing a bit online, but who is your audience? Well, start simple, and start with your friends. They’ll hopefully be able to understand the content you’re putting out and give you feedback on it to improve. Once you’ve done that for a few months, you may have the courage to post to Reddit or Hacker News. There’s really no downside to this, but the chances of harsher critique are higher. Prepare for that, it can be very off putting, but it’s worth trying to get to the root of the critique and take it onboard.

As for a platform, if you’re writing for developers, you need to post your content to the places of the internet where developers go for developer stuff. This would be r/Programming (or a more specific subreddit), Hacker News, HackerNoon.com, Twitter and Slack groups. You probably won’t have much luck on Snapchat, Instagram, but that’s not to say these platforms aren’t good for showing off a bit of your human side (also, send me pictures of your pets please).

Keep it Human

No one likes a robot’s writing and commenting, so do inject a bit of personality into your content. Obviously, anyone can document learning about X and first impressions, so what makes your content stand out is you and your personality, and that’s what people keep coming back to. The nature of your online presence counts. Sometimes, this online presence can be known as a Personal Brand. And while that sounds like a logo and some graphics, it really isn’t. It’s about being an authentic you and treating others how you would like to be treated.

Keep it respectful

As a warning – It is as important to conduct yourself online the same the way you conduct yourself in person or with colleagues. I believe it is important to maintain an online personality consistent with the most respectful form of yourself and your passions. What you create and post online are hard to remove and hard to be forgotten, and anything you post may come back to bite you. More and more now, people (and employers) are using your online presence to judge a person and their personality and likeability. What we see of you online is important, so do think before you post.

I hope this has encouraged you to give content creating online a go. I’m, of course, happy to help in any way I can as well. If you want to read a bit more, the boot that really got me off my butt and start taking blogging serious was Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Crush It!”. While a few years old now, it’s still a great, short read. If you do end up making something, I’d really love to see it! Good luck!

This is the 7th post in my Junior Developer Diaries blog series. I’m writing more every week, and you can sign up to hear more and read previous posts on my website.

Posted on by:

samjarman profile

Sam Jarman 👨🏼‍💻

@samjarman

Software engineer (iOS/JS/Anything). Likes: blogging, running, improvising, public speaking, positivity, helping newbies and great banter!

Discussion

pic
Editor guide
 

Super great post, Sam. I'll also add, if it's not clear, that dev.to is a tremendous resource for building an online presence. We also have a new feature coming soon that will be especially helpful for junior devs navigating their early careers, and it will be helpful to have a filled out dev.to profile with maybe a few comments of posts published 😉

 

Totally agree Ben! Dev.to is amazing <3 (I should really get some stickers eh?)

I'd love to hear when the new feature is out. Keep me posted.

And once again, thank you and your team for running Dev.to! We all really appreciate the work you do, and I bet you don't hear it as much as you deserve. <3

 

Hi Sam,

I also share your views on how to build a Online Presence and I've been (not so steadily) doing some of those things myself.

As Ben noticed, dev.to is a great place to create and share our content as developers.

That's why I'll be moving from Medium ~> here :)

Would it make sense to edit your post and mention dev.to in it?

Totally would! I think this was one of my first posts to Dev.To, and I've since really seen the awesome value. So yes, I will edit ~

 

Hey Ben I guess its time you make a tutorial on how to build a blog in rails ?

 

I found out that when I blog about something I am learning, I am retaining a lot more information about whatever I am writing about. I mean, it's not even close. I wrote something on my blog about streams in NodeJS a few months ago, and even if I barely used them since them, I remember a lot more about streams than things I use way more frequently.

Teaching is the best way to learn as they say. Well, when you write about what you learn, you have to express your ideas in words. It's very different from just thinking you 'got it'.

So yeah, this is the main thing I found out thanks to blogging, I just remember things a lot better.

 

Totally agree Damien. Learn, code, learn, write, teach, learn...learn... etc! Great for information retention, and great to move from unconsciously incompetent through to consciously competent.

 

Very nice post! I wanted to start creating an online presence a while ago as part of a portfolio, but never had inspiration or any subject to write about. As you suggested, I'll try and document my learning path, including some snippets learned during my study.
Thanks for the tips!

 

No worries Mark, thanks for the comment! :D Best of luck.

 

Thank you! I plan on having a running site pretty soon, so we'll see :)

 

This is a Super Awesome blog post with lots of good advice!
I love Gary Vaynerchuk! You're the first Software Engineer that I've come across who follows him as well! I'm reading/listening to "Jab Jab Right hook" now. After I'm going to read the "Crush it!" book because of your recommendation. :-)

 

Thanks, Sal!

Yeah, he's a pretty cool guy. I think some people jump to assume his advice is a bit too high level or abstracted, but once you take that and actually apply it, things become clearer.

Crush It! is great - I do have JJJRH, but I've yet to start it!

 

Great post!

I found when starting out, all this was really intimidating. Setting a goal to do 1 thing in public per month works well. After a few months, you have a few things to show! 😀

(Also I consider going to a meet up and talking to 1 person as counting) 😀

 

Great approach Mike! Keep it up!

 

Thanks for the pieces of advice that you wrote in this article, I've really enjoyed it and I'm going to try to do this.
I've thought for a long time about "what can I write in a blog without enough knowledge?" but i was encouraged by your post.

PD: I apologize for my english, I'm learning and trying to practice.

 

You are very welcome :) English is good!

 
 

Super Great Read I really like this article, I've been on the same journey and I'm not super sure what to write about? You gave me some good ideas and suggestions, I've put out some short comments on Medium both nothing with any real content. This gave me some new ideas to try. :thuumbsup: :smiley:

 

Thanks for the comment Peter! I'm super super thrilled to hear I can help! Please get in touch with your writing once you start - I'd love to take a read. Best of luck.

Oh, and isn't it annoying that :slack: emoji shorthand doesn't work everywhere? haha.

 

Hi, Sam. Would it be okay If I posted some of my learnings on facebook notes but in a public mode/audience? I'm learning so I'm gonna take your advice. Well, dev.to is a very nice place to show what you've just learned but I really don't have the courage to write some. Need some boost, I Guess. But Thank you for Motivating. OTL

 

Hey Barry!

Yup, post it wherever you like! Medium is also another good place. However, I think dev.to will be a nice place to post it, the community here is pretty friendly and will give you advice and feedback if you ask for it

 

Documenting vs teaching is how I decided to try my hand at writing again, currently writing something about brushing up on HTTP. Problem is technical writing is so slow/researchy!

 

Thinking of writing as slow and researchy indicates to me you're still seeing it as teaching. Tell your story.

 

Exactly Jacob, it's a bit of a mindset change but it is really worth it. No one expects an expert, just tell us your impressions and journey.

 

A good post and I agree that juniors should blog but a warning:

Avoid negative opinions on technology because possible future employers will see it.

I was hiring for C# .NET backend and 2 of the junior CVs I was sent had blog URLs. One of them had a blog post claiming that Microsoft was protectionist and evil; published just after they had open sourced all of .NET. The other was complaining that no-one should code in C# because JavaScript had "won". There was no nuance, no backup, no logical reasoning, nothing. I didn't even bother interviewing either of them.

Those sorts of conversations are fine in the pub on a Friday but if you're going to publish them online then you need to back up those opinions with something solid.

Positive opinions don't carry the same weight. "Rust is great" won't scare off employers.

Also if you self host your own blog, to me that carries more kudos because it shows you bought a domain, got a server running, installed the packages you need, setup SSL and learnt a whole lot more while doing that. Don't make that as a barrier to start, though, just write!

 

Totally agree, Rob! That's a great warning to call out. I'd would also love to see something like "I found aspect X of C# challenging because I hadn't seen it before" rather than "C# sucks wah wah wah".

Agree also on the set up your own blog part but yeah, Dev.To/Medium/etc is just too easy, maybe that developer shows that all important skill of pragmatism? :P (I host my website on squarespace for this reason ;) )

 

This is great and accurately reflects a conclusion I came to earlier this year as I was trying to figure out what and how to write. I had so many drafts of articles that I deleted or never published after re-reading them because I always ended up not liking the tone or perhaps learned something new that negated my initial opinion. Then I realized it was easier and more helpful to just document the new things I'm learning.

 

Nice! I'm glad I was able to help, Stephen :) Best of luck!

 

Awesome! I'm a Jr and definitely going to read your other posts. I already have a blog site setup, but I mostly write about music.

Documenting things I've learned is something I never really thought about, but I feel would help tremendously in my technical growth and knowledge retention.

 

Thanks for giving my other posts a read, Geoff. What did you think?

As above, I'm definitely a fan of documenting (you dont even have to publish a post). Just going over the content a second time as a teacher makes you learn it/retain it so much better!

 

I want to ask you advices on how to deal with urges to write negative opinions. I believe talking about things you don’t like is generally discouraged in the way of building one’s online presence, but I’m not sure if it’s a reason enough to write only things you like.

 

Any negative opinions (or criticisms) need to backed with evidence. The only decent opinions that are negative are very well founded. So before you feel the temptation to publish something negative, take some serious time to collect your thoughts and outline your argument.

Hint: Twitter is not the place for such a thought.

Generally I avoid this, negative posts of mine stay where they belong, in the drafts folder. Usually after a month I look back at them and see where I was wrong. It happens.

So try stay positive. The world needs more of it, and the internet even more so. In a world of trolls, haters, harassers - be different. Take the high road. And goodness will find its way back to you.

 

Great write up. I have been procrastinating starting a blog but now that I have read this, I would first like to say this is a very great and inspiring write up. But how do we choose between blogging platforms. for instance wordpress.com medium.com and this website which should I go with? is there any advantage of one over the other.

I'm asking so that I can start off using the write platform, to avoid the stress of heavy-lifting my contents latter on to another platform. Thanks again..

cheers!

 

I publish to multiple! (My own site, SquareSpace, and here and Medium).

Your own site/wordpress gives you full control. Medium gives you exposure if you can get into a publication like HackerNoon. But Dev.To gives you tweets to thousands of followers and a hella amount of warm fuzzies from the community.

 

'...You need to document your learnings, not create advice for others based on what you’ve learnt...' This, this right here is the words Ive simply not been able to find to explain why writing is so important to engineering. Well stated, well stated indeed!

 

Thank you! Appreciated :)

 

I'm encouraged. :) Thanks. Helping me get back on the blogging wagon.
I started a small blog, mostly to use skills I'm learning around the JAMstack. Figured I would journal my journey exploring jekyll, using my raspberry pi as a webserver and new frameworks as well languages. Plus caused me to have a project to learn with.
paullyd.net

 

Thank You for the tips
I also recommend you to make small steps to be what you want to be as a developer or whatever your career is... think big but start with The smallest of disciplines, practiced every day, start an incredible process that can change.
I recently read a book by Robert Maurer called One small step can change your life I think that Everyone should read this book. It’s simple and quick, but very insightful and life changing. I feel so empowered, like I can actually make the millions of changes in my life that I want and need to make. This book teaches Kaizen principles.

 

Thanks Sam. +1 follower to you because of this post. I've been wondering about starting a blog for a while now and stopped because i didn't know what to write about because i'm still on college. Your article was right on point.

This website is my new addiction, really liking it.

 

Thanks! I Appreciate the comment :)

 

Great one namesake. This is a way to ensure you grasp every bit of what you do and also inspire confidence in various working scenarios. I did that with my Geodjango journey and I like it so much. The interaction from other Devs out there makes you even better. youtube.com/wanjohikibui

 

Nice! Totally agree :)

 

Thank you sam. It was my biggest problem you just solved it very simple way.

 

You're very Welcome, Bikram! Tweet me anything you end up writing :)

 
 

This post is very good in many ways. The possibilities on how to build a web presence are all valid. There is one thing that I cannot agree with and that is the premise. There are reports and posts about developers in their early twentys with burn out syndrome.
In my opinion it is absolutely not a must to have some form of online presence. It is much more important to have a live and relax every now and then. If your future employer thinks otherwise, screw him and get a job where recreational time is appreciated.
If this is your thing and you like writing stuff down, then by all means take some hints from this article. If not, go out and ride your bike or do whatever makes you happy 😊

 

Hey Christian, thanks for your comment! I absolutely agree having a work/life balance is important...and yes, this post (like all my writing) should be taken with a grain of salt, or just as a thing to do to improve your career when you've got time.

 

Great article Sam! I really like the idea around distributing content as opposed to even creating. It's true that great artists steal.

Some of the best advice I got is that writers block is just performance anxiety, if you want to write more, lower your standards. That's not to say produce lame work, but to not obsess about always getting everything right all of the time!

I wanted to share a post I did that's very similar, hopefully it gives you some ideas you can steal for any future posts!

"The best software developers write, you should too" ...

thedevcoach.co.uk/2017/07/18/the-b...

Just subscribed to your blog on feedly! :)

 

Thanks Lou! Exactly – I totally agree with you. The content for most blogs is more important than the presentation or exact wording. Most people see the value :)

 

This is good to read, even as a dev that at least skillwise is a bit above Junior, but networking and "presence" wise leaves a lot to be desired! A bit behind after a few years going at it, but better late than never, I'm guessing :P

 

Exactly! Give it a go. Good luck :)

 

Nice post! I will certainly follow your tips.
You said go type and this is what I did: medium.com/@rodrigo.monney/001-onl...

 

Thanks for the kind words. I had a read, and it's a great first article. Keep 'em coming.

 

Thanks for the ideas of sharing links.
I'm not much of an author so I think that would be the best idea.

 

Great to hear, Jason! <3 Good luck :)

 

Great post, Sam! Thanks for your thoughts. I've been thinking about sharing my journey as a developer and your words, I'll definitely start soon.

 

I appreciate the kind words. Good luck! :) (Start now!)

 

This made me draft my next blog post 😬

 

Nice! Tweet it to me once you've published! (And do publish!)

 

Wonderful advice, this kind of practices helped me to get my first job as developer!

 
 

Hello Sam,

I really like your article! I made a try to make a website - blog (harispapadakis.eu/en) in my language but the hard part is to looking for (continuously) nice threads/subject to write about! I haven't stop writing but I think that I have to change the kind of articles!!

My opinion is that as much as you're reading for something and in the same time applying that knowledge, that's the time, that little step which you became from Junior to Mid-Level. Of course needs a lot of steps but it's worth it!

I really like the dev.to. I'm so happy to find a webpage like this! Keep it up!

 
 

This is amazing !! . I'm a student and I've been reluctant to start blogging but this has encouraged me greatly to start . I'm definitely sharing this with my GDG chapter . Amazing article 👏👏👏

 

Thank you so much for your kind words Sayo <3 I really appreciate that. Good luck with your blogging and feel free to tweet me anything you write when starting out :)