Stories about Software


Content Marketing Strategy with or without an Audience

A while ago, I wrote a blog post containing side hustle ideas for software developers.  A lot of those ideas centered around content, rather than, say, writing software.  I did that on purpose.  Writing software will let you procrastinate.  Get out of your comfort zone instead.

In response to that blog post, I got a reader question, which is below.  But there’s a natural follow-up to that question.

Your ideas in the blog post for side-hustle-ideas-software-developers really inspired me.

Can you give any tips on how to market the content we create? especially for the ones with no audience.

So let’s look at that today.  You’ve got some content that you’re creating.  How do you market it?

Introducing the Marketing Funnel

Now, I should point something out.  The question doesn’t explain whether the content we’re talking about marketing is the paid content (e.g. the side hustle of writing a book or making a course).  It could also mean any content, including stuff you post to your blog.

I’m going to approach it here as if we’re talking about both.  And that’s because you should be thinking about both.

What we’re talking about here is the idea of a marketing funnel.  If you write an eBook or build a video course, that’s ultimately the content that you want people to see and pay for.  But going straight for the metaphorical jugular with your audience rarely works.

How often do you say to yourself, “here’s a person I’ve never heard of — I’ll just give them $99 for a video course.”  Probably never.

You need to build trust by offering value.  Start a blog and post about similar things that you cover in your book.

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Positioning Yourself to Coworkers as a Stealth Consultant

In a nod to yesterday’s announcement, I’m going to demonstrate how just unaltered the DaedTech blog might be, content-wise.  To wit, here’s a both that qualifies in both my reader questions series and my “developer to consultant” series.  This makes sense, since it’s a question about the developer to consultant series.

Today I’ll talk about positioning yourself as if you were an independent consultant, but with the caveat that you’re trying this out on your coworkers.

Positioning Revisited, But Internal to a Company

When it comes to posting on this blog, I love not having to make the caveat that my opinions aren’t my employer’s, or whatever.  The more used to that I’ve become over the years, the fewer punches I’ve bothered to pull.  And so it went with my first developer to consultant post.  In that post, I unapologetic declared that every developer should become a consultant.

If I were writing a book, that post would have been the prologue.  Chapter one, then, would have been this post about positioning.  It’s a long read, but I recommend it for understanding the nuance of positioning.  At the 10,000 foot-iest of 10,000 foot views, your positioning is your plan to ace the question, “why should I hire you, specifically?”

The reader question came in the comments of that post.  And here it is.

For an employed software engineer, what are some of the ways to “signal” your positioning strategy? In other words, how do you let the org/team/manager know what your unique value prop is? I’d love to get your thoughts on this.

This is an interesting thought exercise, because to participate in the standard hiring process is to have the worst possible positioning strategy.  When you do this, you’re saying, “I’m slightly better than dozens of otherwise interchangeable resources whose resumes you’re holding, so hire me.”  To have a good positioning statement as a consultant is to say “I’m the only person that can deliver X for you in exactly the way you need.”

So today’s topic is about how to develop the latter flavor of positioning strategy in the former world.  But who am I to shy away from nuanced topics?

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Software Jobs for Social Anxiety Sufferers

It’s been a while since my last reader question post.  It’s hard to feel too bad, though.  I was combining a cross-country relocation with a two week vacation.  So I suppose the internet just had to do without my wisdom for a few weeks.

But I’m back in the saddle, so that changes today.

For this week’s reader question post, recall a post I wrote about how to find remote programming jobs (and why you should find them).  Anyone who follows my digest posts knows that I’m location independent and nomadic.  Naturally, this means that I work remotely.

I’ve actually worked either partially or completely remotely for years, since before I ever started to vagabond.  And the longer I do it, the more I advocate for it.

Companies love to mass the troops inside of four walls for the kind of camaraderie and collaboration you just can’t achieve remotely.  And, while I understand the draw from a management perspective, from a quality of life perspective, I find life too short for commutes, khakis and birthday cake in the break room.

Remote Work for When the Office is Actually Torture

But what about a different situation?  I’ve gradually evolved to remote work because I prefer it.  In contrast, today’s reader question concerns someone for whom going into the office is actual, acute torture rather than the vague, existential angst embodied by Peter Gibbons.

Here’s the question:

I was reading your article about finding a remote programming job, and I was wondering if you have any advice for someone who has very bad social anxiety, to the point where they have not been able to get any type of programming job, outside of an internship for school. I’m asking for my brother, who has a degree in computer science and is incredibly smart and gifted.

He just has an extremely hard time forcing himself to interact with people. He’s really interested in finding a remote programming job, but doesn’t know where to start. If you have any suggestions for him I would really appreciate it!

The One-Two Punch of Social Torture and the Entry Level

Looking at this question, the social anxiety element certainly pops out at you.  I mean, after all, it’s the meat of the question. But it’s not the only challenge here.

We’re also talking about someone without significant previous work experience to draw on.

I’ve spoken to challenges at the entry level before, in a post about finding an entry level job without a degree.  The person in question has a degree here, which is certainly a help.  But the desire for a specifically remote position mitigates that.  The corporate world doesn’t trust entry level people to work “unsupervised.”

Now, one quick note here.  As someone who is an introvert and has embraced that, what I’m not going to do is offer any advice about dealing with or “conquering” the social anxiety.  That’s really not my forte and, even if it were, I see nothing wrong with a quiet, introspective life.

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How to Avoid the Standard Corporate Hiring Process

Every Tuesday, for the most part, I do reader question Tuesday.  Because I’ve been answering reader questions for an astounding amount of time now (more than 4 years, apparently almost as long ago as I started Pluralsight), sometimes those questions build on prior posts.  This is one of those.  This reader question builds on a post I wrote (in response to reader interaction).

That post was one I wrote after a lot of people shared a post with me about someone quitting Google and wondering what I thought.   What I thought was that I’d write a long piece of advice about how to avoid Enterprise Silicon Valley whiteboard interviews.  Don’t feed the beast, as it were.

The Reader Question: How to Shrug Off the Crushing Weight of the Pyramid

I mention that post because the reader quotes something I said in it.  “If you develop a specialty with business value, nobody will bother to interview you. They’ll just call you and offer you a contract.  That’s how my life has worked for years now.  No reason you can’t do this too.”

The reader quotes this, and then asks the following:

How does one get enough public recognition of their ‘speciality with business value’ for this to start happening?

How do you circumvent the dev hiring layers to reach the person making the hiring decisions?

For example, if I put ‘saved my company 300k p/a by identifying and fixing wasteful processes’ on my CV, it won’t help me get past the keyword filtering internal recruiter, or the dev interviewers who are more concerned with your knowledge of how generics are implemented in java or how the GIL works in python.

In my company, the individuals above have veto power over hires that involve programming, regardless of how much you appeal to the PM or business owner.

There’s a lot of ground to cover here, so let me say a few things up front.

The resume bot 9000 is the only one that cares about your resume skills section.

You Have to Change the Rules of the Game from What You’re Used To

Let me first say that there are a lot of concepts in here that go away when you have a specialty with business value.  I suspect the reader/commenter understand this, but I want to make sure that everyone does.  When you have such a specialty and appeal directly to buyers, here are the things that stop being part of your world.

  • Recruiters
  • Resumes/CVs.
  • Keyword filtering (or keywords) and concern about tech stacks
  • Non-business-focused dev managers (and the idea of a layer or layers of “veto-ing techies”).

These things don’t matter or affect you because you don’t deal with them.

I could tell you about how my life has shaped up this way and about how I tend to deal with companies.  But I’ve been contracting and consulting for a long time.  I think it’d be more interesting here if I told a story about employment.

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Explaining The Pyramid Corporate Opt-Out to Others

If you haven’t read my book, Developer Hegemony, let me briefly describe one of the main themes from it.  In it, I say that the standard corporate model is horribly ill-suited for knowledge work and thus represents a bad deal for knowledge workers.  Or, software developers should (and probably will) look to start an exodus from large companies — especially ones that aren’t software companies.

I lead with this because the context is necessary for this week’s reader question to make sense.  This one came from the Developer Hegemony Facebook group (feel free to join, if you’d like!), and I bumped it ahead of the usual FIFO model I have for reader questions.  It’s just been rattling around in my head a bit since I saw it.

The Reader Question: Convincing People Corporate Unsuitability

So, here’s the actual question.

Hey, does anyone have any tips for trying to explain this stuff to friends and family?

I’ve found that former coworkers tended to be skeptical at best or furious at worst when I explained what I’d managed to figure out about the whole corporate pyramid. And of course, I just sound like a huge greedy jerk when I try to explain to non-tech people why I walked away from a guaranteed $200-$250k a year.

Maybe I should just throw in the towel on bothering to try and lift the veil for anyone else, haha. Once I get up and running, I’ll just point anyone who asks to Mr. Dietrich and John Sonmez’s books.

Hopefully, you can now see why I mentioned this core theme from my book about the standard, pyramid-shaped corporation.  He’s asking how he might persuade others, presumably without doing what I did and writing a book on the subject.  So let’s look at that.

There are two main modes of persuasion here, if you will:

  • Convincing personally interested friends, family, and acquaintances that you did the right thing (for you).  These are the people asking, “hey, I see you quit your job to do something else — what’s the deal?”
  • Convincing colleagues and former coworkers that they should do something different (for their sake).  This is you saying, “I’ve figured some things out and you should listen to them.”

Let’s treat these separately.

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