Building a Personal Brand to Enhance your Consultancy

Osmosis Support posted this on how-to


As a software developer I’ve benefited from writing online and speaking at conferences. Your online presence has a significant impact on your ability to land new jobs or gigs, and is one of the best ways to connect you with people with similar interests.

Unlike a typical job search, this effort causes companies to recruit you, who often bring interesting projects to the table (this is a good way to be discovered by high-profile non-profits, for instance). This works especially well if you can come up with interesting and easy-to-understand projects in your field (for instance "web site scraping" articles will get you a lot of consulting leads, since that problem will never be "solved")

While there are many benefits of making your work available in public (personal growth, confidence, exploring new ideas), when it comes down to it, most people speaking at meetups are hiring, looking for work, or have something to sell.


When I started writing a technology blog, I hit two hurdles: the time commitment, and ensuring that enough people read what I wrote to justify the effort.

The first piece I wrote took me nearly forty hours - clearly not an acceptable pace. With some practice, I can now write equivalent pieces in 2-4 hours.

By posting it on reddit, it was seen by a few hundred people, but I quickly found that it is difficult to match your own interests to that of specific forums. I’ve found that an article that does well one one site (a facebook group, for instance) will often do poorly in another (e.g. a subreddit on the same topic), but it is never predictable, and by sharing in a few places, I can guarantee ~1,000 people see each post, and occasionally an order of magnitude more.

Generating Ideas

Every article I write begins with a headline, a conclusion, and an audience.

If I choose to write about software, I use a simple formula for headlines: “<verb> X with Y and Z”. For instance “Searching old emails with Javascript and Solr, ” or “Visualizing Proposal Outcomes with D3.js and MongoDB.”

Why? Most technology specific forums are starved for original content, and this guarantees you an easy 2+ classes of people who would be interested in your work.

To make content more interesting, I like to break it up with a few short code samples or images.

Ensure Your Writing is Seen

Having something to say and writing well does not guarantee success. However, these do help - the most-read pieces I’ve written started out as blog posts, became conference talks, which became new articles. Continual refinement of ideas brings clarity.

In the tech industry, many topic oriented forums are run by an individual or consulting company - either someone like you, looking to make a name for themselves, a career developer working to promote their employer in limited time, or a dedicated member of the marketing department. These are the kind of people you want to help, by providing good material (in a few cases, I’ve run across people who want you to grant them rights to republish your content in exchange for “exposure”: this I would avoid at all costs, I have never seen a benefit from these sites)

There are several types of places you may be able to submit articles to:

  • Small to medium sized subreddits. I’ve found 2,000 - 30,000 subscribers to be a good range, as these are typically starved for content. If you write a lot, you’ll have to rotate topics so as not to dominate these forums. Occasionally pieces will do well in larger subreddits as well, but if in doubt, I would avoid these, because people don’t like seeing cross-posted articles.
  • Hacker News - While this rarely gets you any readers, every once in a while I’ve had 10,000-20,000 readers in a single hit. I’m not sure I’ve seen any long-term benefits from this, but it’s nice when it works. One note: as often as not, you can end up on the front page for saying something incorrect that gets people arguing.
  • Stumbleupon - Very rarely, you may be listed in stumbleupon. This tends to be people browsing (much like reddit).
  • LinkedIn - When people see an article on LinkedIn, they assume the author is looking for a job. For me, this has led to a the highest proportion of “company founder” types - but beware the recruiters who are trying to insert themselves between you and a company, representing neither.
  • Google+ - Google+ has a surprisingly active set of technology pages. Many of these are run by consulting companies. If you share something to the right group, the maintainer will often reshare it elsewhere.
  • Facebook Groups - Also surprising to me, there are many large tech oriented Facebook groups. These have been around longer and tend to be larger, and are more sensitive to recuitment spam. Often these have a large international audience.
  • Twitter - The big value to twitter for me is to contact speakers during a conference, or people you reference in an article. It is very satisfying to have someone build something on top of your work, so this is a good way to meet people with similar interests.
  • “Weekly” emails - There are many “weekly” emails on different topics (Javascript Weekly etc). Typically the owner of these are not directly contactable, but pulls their article list from one or more social media sites (a subreddit or google+ community)
  • Smaller social sites - In many large niches, there are reddit-style social media sites (e.g. DZone, a large tech site). Many of these have different policies, but being smaller and lacking material are sometimes more friendly to indie writers and self-promotion.

Over the course of a year of writing, people in my field began to tell me they found my writing in search results when they needed answers. I was able to land a speaking engagements, the attention of a few book publishers, and many startup founders doing recruitment.

14-day free trial. No credit card required. Sign Up for a Free Trial!