At PyCon Germany I chatted with Astrid, a freelance Python (Django) developer looking for ways to improve her career and to find more contracts.
Astrid seemed quite frustrated with her situation—it was tough for her to get the contracts and jobs she really wanted.
Often when she sent out her resume for more desirable gigs she wouldn’t even receive an answer. It sounded like she was stuck with a certain quality of clients and couldn’t really push past that invisible barrier.
I always love to help a sister (or brother) out and went into full-on diagnosing mode. Usually I just end up spouting unsolicited advice in these situations but with Astrid I think I actually hit the nail on the head… 😉
Eventually I asked Astrid if she had a website or blog as a “programmer portfolio” of sorts.
She did not.
And I think that was a BIG mistake –
Looking back I’d say starting my personal website at dbader.org was probably the best thing I ever did for my programming career:
Reason #1: Employers loved it–it made it much easier to get interviews
In fact once I had my website up for a while companies started contacting me through it. And they were no longer the crappy recruiter emails I got through LinkedIn, but from managers and dev leads at companies that I found actually interesting.
Reason #2: It was easier to get started than I thought
I launched my site with just 3 articles I wrote over the holidays hanging out with my family one year. I was surprised to find I got more (not less) traffic over time even though I didn’t post new stuff constantly. More people started linking to my posts and they ranked higher in Google (also search engines seem to favor content that has been around for a while). It was incredibly fun to see that growth and to find new ways of reaching developers.
Reason #3: It put me in touch with so many fine folks (like you!)
Most of the places I lived in didn’t have strong software dev / meetup communities. Starting a website was a fantastic way to make friends with other developers around the world and to exchange ideas.
How you can get started today
I know it seems super difficult to get everything set up in the beginning. And the work involved can seem kind of boring at first… “it’s just a website”.
What finally got me started with setting up my own website was turning it into a programming exercise.
Instead of using a pre-fab framework like Wordpress I wrote my own Python framework for generating the website.
I figured even if I wouldn’t follow through with the site I’d learn some web development skills in the process… And this was exactly true 😃
Putting myself in Astrid’s shoes again I really believe every software developer should have a personal website. The time investment is so small in comparison to the awesome benefits and opportunities it can generate for you.
If you’re sold on the idea of starting a programming blog but you don’t know how to go about it yet then check out this video I created for you.
In the video embedded below I’m going over my own website as an example and how it looks very different today compared to when I started it in 2012.
It doesn’t take much to get started with your own programming blog or portfolio website and the benefits can be huge.
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