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How to Build in Public as a Tech Professional

How to Build in Public as a Tech Professional
How to Build in Public as a Tech Professional.

A few months ago, I published an article on the Pieces blog. I didn’t get this opportunity by accident— I got it through my work building in public. I was watching TV when I saw a message from X (Twitter) on my phone that said, “Hi Chrissy, I’m Sophia Iroegbu, a developer advocate from Pieces. I read through some of your freeCodeCamp articles and your blog posts that were posted on daily.dev and found them very insightful. Would you be interested in participating in our content partner program on a short-term or long-term basis?” After learning more about the program, I applied. A couple of weeks later, my first article was published. Now, let’s pause for a second and look closely at the second sentence in Sophia’s message.

“I read through some of your freeCodeCamp articles and your blog posts posted on daily.dev and found them very insightful.”

My fellow developers and other tech professionals, the quote you just read describes “building in public.” This is when people, “companies, and startups publicly share their entire process of creating a product or project online.” In other words, building in public is when you document your journey for others to see. I know that sounds scary, but hear me out. When done effectively, building in public not only helps you gain more professional opportunities, it also helps people learn more about you and your product. Still unsure? No worries! This article will teach you how to build in public as a tech professional.

Define your Purpose

Whether you’re a career changer, a college graduate, or an owner of a startup, it is important to determine your purpose when building in public. This makes it easier to pick your audience.

When I first decided to pursue a public build, I wanted to document my journey into tech. After I joined a few online open-source communities and started contributing to projects, I noticed that most of the available “beginner-friendly” content was plagued with technical jargon. So, just like a caterpillar changing into a butterfly, I decided that creating engaging, accessible, beginner-friendly open-source content would be another purpose of my building-in-public journey.

In the case of startups like Pieces, they document their journey to help developers learn more about their products and how to use them and build closer relationships with devs. But, establishing your purpose is only one of the many key aspects of building in public. Let’s look at another one.

Pick your Platform

Remember how I suggested that you define your purpose in the previous step? Well, it makes it easier for you to choose the platform that will help achieve this goal. I decided to document my journey via blogging because I love writing. With this in mind, I wanted to use platforms with an easy setup and customization, so I chose Hashnode and Dev.to. If you prefer being on camera or audio, consider using platforms like YouTube, Clubhouse, X Spaces, or Twitch, so that you can interact with your viewers. Before you go picking platforms, there's another aspect of your building in public journey that you need to consider.

Strategize your Content Posting Process

While documenting your journey in public is important, how you post your content is also important because it is where people, hiring recruiters, and potential users can find your content. For example, I promote my blog posts on X first, because it’s where the tech community is most prominent and a bit more relaxed. Then, I take the same content and post it on LinkedIn with a more formal tone since it is where most recruiters, managers, and professionals post their content. Now, cross-posting on Linkedin and X is not the only strategy for posting your content. For example, if you own a startup like Pieces, you can use their strategy of writing a blog post, creating videos, posting on social media, and more to tell the world about the features they’ve built after each release cycle. This not only helps users learn more about the new feature, but also gives them a special “behind the scenes” look at the product. Speaking of making your users feel special, let’s look at a way to keep people interested in supporting your journey.

Create a Community

As cliché as the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” is, it truly does take a community to help you grow. This is especially crucial if you are a founder or CEO of a startup because that's where your users will share their feedback on your product and help others with troubleshooting issues they are facing. In my opinion, this is a great place to gain ideas on improving your product and ways to interact with users.

If you’re like me, a person who is building in public to gain opportunities, cultivating a community, as my colleague Candice Zakariyah says, “attracts and retains the attention of your target audience”. As far as platforms to choose, think back to the reason you decided to build in public. I wanted to use a platform where people in tech can easily post their projects and content, so I decided to use daily.dev. If you’re interested in learning more about how I built my community, check out my blog post, 5 Important Lessons I Learned From Creating An Online Community. Before you go, there’s just one lesson on how to build in public to keep in mind as you start this journey.

Keep Learning

It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the need to stand out or grow your following, but ultimately focusing on consistent learning ensures you can take your coding projects, products, or software features to the next level and tackle new challenges that arise. This mindset will not only help you develop your skills but also impress your audience. They'll also learn something new and show appreciation for it. For example, I recently posted a tutorial on Dev.to on how people can add a Table of Contents section and received comments such as “Omg thank you so much for this!!🙏 I will surely have a usage for this stuff in my future articles 👍 great article, Christine! 🙌”

Remember, your journey is a marathon, not a sprint, and continuous learning is the fuel that will keep you going the distance.

Now It's Your Turn

Whether you are trying to stand out in your job search or promote your new product or its latest feature, building in public can effectively showcase your skills. If you’re looking for more ways on how to build in public as a tech professional, consider checking out YK Sugi’s (YK Dojo) article, 6 steps to building in public: a path to a tech job or startup success. While you’re at it, join Pieces’ Discord server and connect with me on my socials via BioDrop. We’d love to support you! 😀

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