Hi friends 👋,
I've once asked myself, "What is a personal brand?" "Do I need to build a personal brand? I'm a developer and not an influencer." "I'm an introvert. How can I put myself out there without being too uncomfortable?"
It took me a while to finally decide to put myself out there. But I'm glad I did.
This article will share ways to build a personal brand as a developer through open source.
What is a Personal Brand?
A personal brand is a widely-recognized impression of someone through their value. It can be their skills, expertise, niche, or even personality. So, it is about how you promote yourself and how you want people to know you.
But does every developer need to build a personal brand?
The short answer is no. You don't need to create a personal brand. But building a personal brand can help you advance your career, find a job, or expand your network. It allows you to show your skills, passions, and personality.
And as a friendly reminder, building a personal brand doesn't mean being an influencer. It's about building your value, something that can make you stand out.
Five Ways to Build a Personal Brand through Open Source
There are many ways to build a personal brand. In this article, I'm particularly focusing on how to build one through open source space.
1. Be a Regular Contributor
Contributing to open source is a great way to learn to collaborate with other developers. What makes it better is that you contribute to real-world projects. And it's good to know that focusing on contributing to one or two projects is better than too many.
Through my regular contributions, I got the opportunity to become a maintainer of some OpenSauced repositories. Contributions are not always about tackling an issue and creating a pull request. It can also be through creating issues to report bugs, helping maintainers triage issues or review pull requests, helping other contributors, etc.
When you dive deep into a project, you will understand the project inside out. You can spot issues and bugs faster, and you will have ideas to help the organization enhance the project. The more you contribute to the project, the more other collaborators, maintainers, and the organization recognize you and your ability. It allows you to expand your network and can lead you to an opportunity to become a maintainer of the project.
You can put your experiences as a contributor (and a maintainer) in your resume and portfolio. And it's also possible that you will cross paths with your future employer by contributing to open source projects.
2. Content Creation
Have you read a project's documentation and need help understanding what's happening? Most of the time, documentation has limited space to explain the projects. Sometimes, it is written in a very technical way. If it's challenging for you to understand, some people may have the same issue as you. Take this as an opportunity to write a blog post or create a video to deliver a broader explanation in a much simpler way.
Hosting or participating in an X space or streaming about open source can also help you build your value in the open source world.
There are various content ideas. Think of helping beginners in open source by teaching the contributing flow with Git and GitHub or GitLab. You can also share your experience as a contributor or a maintainer and what you've learned.
Creating content to help others will build your expertise. People will know you as someone with skills and knowledge in what you do.
So, find a method you're comfortable with and start from there.
3. Community Engagement
I'm part of some tech communities and love documentation. Together with the core team of the Virtual Coffee Community, I actively discuss ideas and contribute to creating and shaping the community documentation. From there, I was trusted to be the Documentation Team Lead.
Last October, I got involved in the SheSharp Community first Hacktoberfest Initiative by helping the open source team prepare the repository documentation before the event started. And that led me to be a maintainer of their open source projects.
When you're part of a tech community, consider being more active there, especially if your community has open source activities. Helping project maintainers review the pull requests or answer questions on GitHub are also good ways to engage with the community.
Engaging with the community and helping them enables you to build your credibility.
Community engagements include:
reviewing pull requests on GitHub,
helping new contributors onboard an open source project,
welcoming new members and contributors,
and many more.
4. Highlighting Achievements
You made a pull request that adds a feature to enhance users' experience. Or you raised an issue of a bug that you encountered in an open source project. These wins are worth to be highlighted as your achievements.
Highlighting your achievements can help you showcase your skills and expertise through your contributions.
OpenSauced is a platform that helps engineers to expand their resume through open source contributions. Their mission is to empower open source maintainers and teams and support contributors.
You can create Highlights of your pull requests, issues, and DEV.to blog posts that help enhance open source projects. You can also share your Highlights as your open source portfolio to help you advance your career and boost your resume.
Self-promotion is not for everyone, but it can be powerful to help you build your brand through your niche. If you're on social media like X, optimize this platform to promote yourself. You can share your knowledge about open source. You can also use it to promote open source projects or as your public journal of your open source activities.
Consistency is Key
Consistency is the key in whatever way(s) you choose to build your brand. However, consistency is different from doing things daily. Here are some examples of consistencies:
Have you ever followed someone on YouTube or any other platforms, and you last saw their content a while ago? In the meantime, content from another creator comes to your timeline regularly. And you decide to follow them. Consistency in creating and publishing your content will not only make people stay, but it will also help you to broaden your network.
The profile picture and social media handle.
People will recognize you immediately without thinking twice when you have a consistent profile picture and social media handle across platforms (GitHub, socials, blogging platforms, etc.).
Create consistent messaging to tell people what you do or to associate a message with you.
For example, take a look at Swyx. He popularized the
#LearnInPublichashtag on X. And that's what he does. He helps developers learn in public. Another example is Eddie Jaoude. He created a motto, "Collaboration First, Code Second", to socialize open source. He's well-known in the open source world and founded an open source community, EddieHub.
Although you don't need to build a personal brand, if you decide to build yours, it can benefit your journey in the long run. It can help you build your value that makes you unique and stand out.
🖼️ Credit cover image: unDraw