Many front-end developers possess the creative and technical skills that clients are looking for, but don’t get noticed because they don’t have much exposure or reputation to demonstrate to potential clients. Some carry the idea that their area of work is in such high demand that clients will simply come to them – but this is rarely the case.
A great way to get your name out there, build a reputation, and accumulate a list of clients is to market your specific skills. This is not only an excellent technique for freelancers, but it could also be what sets you apart from competition fighting for a particular job. As a developer, you may not know where to even begin in the process of marketing yourself. Follow these tips to increase your chances of attracting clients by effectively portraying your strengths.
1. Find Your Niche
It’s tempting to spread yourself thin and learn a little bit of everything so you can say that you can do it all, but you’ll benefit more by becoming an expert in one niche (you can’t be everything to everyone, after all). Narrow your interests or skills to something like ecommerce, blog, or mobile app design. Become an expert by learning the ins and outs of that area, and then working and experimenting with it. You’ll begin to build the groundwork of a good portfolio, and it will make reaching potential clients a less daunting endeavor. Your leadership in a specific field will increase your demand, leading to a flow of work that allows you to choose the best projects for you.
2. Get Published
As a way to help establish your expertise, consider writing an article or case study about your niche skill set. You can start by posting helpful articles on your blog or website to interest readers, and then start submitting longer pieces to other reputable sites like SmashingMagazine or e-book publishing networks. Even publishing a book as HTML on your site, like Addy Osmani does, can do wonders for your reputation. The community awards valuable resources with its full attention. This can result in invitations for speaking at conferences, networking with other community members and consultancy work.
3. Participate In Online Communities
You can also build your reputation by investing in communities like Stackoverflow and Quora. Not only does it allow you to connect with other developers, but it also publicly showcases your ability to solve problems. And through open source software platforms like Github, you can publish your projects and invite a host of other community collaborators. Having a strong foundation within these communities can be invaluable when communicating your expertise and building your network.
4. Create A Microsite
Single page websites are the perfect platform to show off your skills. Especially if you design one that focuses on a not-for-profit purpose that is creative, beautifully designed and contains interesting content. These are the sites that are more likely to be shared by users, which is a great way of getting free and quick exposure. Don’t be afraid to go crazy with features like parallax scrolling, unconventional grids and sliding effects to adequately showcase your abilities. On the flip side though, while it’s important to showcase the breadth of your skills, often time’s simple pages, like this iPod visualization or this one, can go a long way. This is a great way to let potential clients (or your interviewer) not simply look at, but interact with something you’ve created.
This home security guide for SimpliSafe, chock full of creativity and quality content, is a great example of a project that you can have people interact with. This one takes the user through the process of securing a home, enhanced with a clever comparison to a castle defense system and imaginative parallax scrolling.
5. Develop An Online Tool
If you’ve ever found yourself wishing there was a tool to serve a specific purpose to aid you in your work, consider making one yourself. Patrons will surely be amazed by the fact that you have developed a tool or app that other developers use. Sometimes the simplest concepts can be the most helpful, so simplify your ideas to make them look effortless.
CodePen is an example of how online tools can be immensely helpful to front-end developers. Use this in-browser code editor as inspiration for the tools you create.
6. Create Free Resources or Plugins
Another effective direction to gear your personal projects is to create free, downloadable resources for developers through the web. Consider enabling users to give feedback on their performance, so you can show clients that you’re dedicated to following through and improving on your projects. You can even submit them to sites like Design Instruct to gain more published exposure.
This UI designer created a Sketching and Wireframing Kit to provide a convenient and useful resource for UI and wireframing elements to his readers. Easily accessed right from his website, he offers multiple download formats and an opportunity for user feedback.
7. Use Social Networking
Social networking is arguably the most efficient means of free advertising. Since it’s fueled by users and their online word-of-mouth, your name and work can easily spread, which is why this is a marketing strategy worth your time. You can use sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to contribute high quality posts to the public, and link them back to your blog, which should narrow its content to further fit your niche audience. Internet users and clients will likely expect you to have accounts on all these networking sites, but make it easier for them to check them out through social media links on your blog and/or website, writing pieces and all other marketing elements you create.
8. Connect All Your Work
By linking all of your work and media sites to each other and keeping all your content consistent, you transform yourself from a freelancer (or job applicant) to a brand, which is much easier to market. You’ll build a following of readers and clients that can give feedback and recommendations to others, while your client base continues to grow. The work that you have developed to show to potential clients will put you that much further ahead of your competition, and you can anticipate the demand for your work to multiply. So instead of waiting for clients to come to you, use these assertive strategies to reveal your skills.