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Matthew Collison for Skill Pathway

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The #1 Way To Grow Your Personal Brand As A Developer

We've had a lot of messages lately surrounding how to build your personal brand as a developer. And a lot of it is down to Adam Barker, who on Episode 5 of our podcast talked about how one of his best hires was someone he found through Instagram.

This seemed crazy to a lot of people, but the truth is, having a strong personal brand gives you even stronger job prospects - whether you're writing articles on DEV, posting #100DaysOfCode updates on Twitter and Instagram, or live streaming your code on Twitch - it all adds up.

So when we had Benjamin Ha on the podcast, who is a developer and Instagram growth expert (who has worked with the likes of Kylie Jenner and other larger celebrities), we asked a ton of questions surrounding growing a personal brand over there.

A lot of his advice is actually fairly timeless and can be used across platforms - one strategy however stuck out, and that is

Engaging with your followers is the most important thing to do when growing a personal brand

And when we vetted the profiles that were messaging us asking us for advice, most were simply not engaging with their following.

If you engage, you build a real connection. We call this "Warming Up Your Audience" - they're not used to someone on the other end replying, and when they do, they feel cared about, and a lot will come back and continue to engage and become real fans and consumers of your brand.

Engage meaningfully - having a copy and paste response doesn't cut it

Really taking the time to think about your responses is key here - people know when you haven't put the time in, and the more contextual your response is, the better your chances of building a real long term connection with the person you're talking to.

Listen to the full episode for more personal branding strategies from Ben

Ben has tons of timeless personal and business branding advice, and a lot of advice specific to Instagram too. We tried to extract as much of this as possible in this latest episode, so check it out on Spotify or Apple Podcasts if you want to learn more:

Top comments (10)

andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown 🇨🇦

Engagement on and LinkedIn is easy.

With Instagram, I feel like I'm a fog, and finding who I need to engagement is the most troublesome part. I'm still trying to make sense of it all and so asked the community to tell me where I might find engagement.

I'm starting to "get it". So I have a Company page but I realize that my personal page is as important.

It's hard because when I see Instagram I see people selling a lifestyle and I don't feel like people want to see my ugly mug sporting to t-shirts on funky furniture while pantomiming behind a laptop.

jamesthomson profile image
James Thomson

It may just be me, but the only people I follow on Instagram are ones that are visually interesting. I'll follow photographers, travellers, wild life experts, but I'm not going to follow companies - they're usually posting visually uninteresting stuff and just trying to sell me things. I get enough of that from Facebook.

I think there's a platform for everything but IMO Instagram generally isn't one for developers or tech companies. Maybe it would be better to continue to focus your efforts on platforms that suit the product, like Twitter, I follow heaps of devs and tech companies on that, but again, that could just be me.

andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown 🇨🇦

I agree about the company pages.

I do have a lot of unique original content, though I don't feel branded companies can connect as much as personal accounts.

Instagram is as you say a visual platform and I think its a lean towards lifestyle perceptive.

Twitter is another social platform I'm terrible at and I've never been able to go beyond that 300-500 follower count.

Thread Thread
jamesthomson profile image
James Thomson

I found Twitter pretty pointless when I first signed up for it. I guess I just didn't really get it initially. It was only once I started discovering interesting developers to follow on it I found a use for it - mainly as a consumer. Now I use it solely for that. It helped bring order to what otherwise just seemed like chaos in the form of up to 280 characters. Personally the most interesting things I find on it are developers sharing random projects or code snippets they've worked on.

matthew_collison profile image
Matthew Collison

A couple of things on that, there's this weird psychological principle (I forget the name) where people are just genuinely interested in people. So we all find ourselves kind of boring but we want to peek into the lives of others just for the sake of it.

The other thing I was going to say is that running your SaaS or Educational brand page as more of a media company (in your case reporting on all things AWS and providing value there) is something I've seen a few companies execute really successfully, and even on Instagram. If I can find some links, I'll send them over. It's what I'm doing here!

itsbenha profile image
Ben Ha

This might help spur some ideas: I would start following @github and find followers who have 10k+ following and look at their content for inspiration. has a great feed. She alternates post with a more personal picture and then a dev tip.

If sorting through followers is a lot of work, I made a tool that lets you search for followers from any Instagram account.

Feel free to check it out:

jwkicklighter profile image
Jordan Kicklighter

LOVE this advice! Thinking about the people I enjoy following/learning from, the best ones have all actually responded to my messages or interactions. Even favoriting a tweet makes a big impact to let someone know that you appreciated their interaction, but going the extra step of fully engaging another person does so much.

matthew_collison profile image
Matthew Collison

Thanks for the great comment Jordan! That's the point - wouldn't you like your favorite people to make themselves personally available to you, and isn't it a massive step up in your perception of them when they do engage back?

Don't get me wrong, for some people it's a challenge to make themselves available, but when you open up and start responding to people while you're at a scale where it's still practical, most people will appreciate this massively and will remember you more clearly than others that didn't.

Thanks again!

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

Hmm... I think the bulk of my engagement comes from dev plus the meetup groups or tech conferences that I help to organise.

I might think of looking at GaryVee Content Model on how to distribute and provide engagement for my content as well.

I found another which is CodeMentor that helps me to distribute my technical content as a specialist of Python or Django for Startups in general.

harshppatel profile image
Harsh Patel

It might be a dumb question to ask, but can you tell me how can we create series of posts and add the list in blog as you added "Mindset tips for anyone learning to code (14 Part Series)"? I am pretty new to and could not find how to add this feature to my blog.