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Can You Just Code Your Way to Fame and Fortune?


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presented at Web Unleashed 2017
More info at

Pearl Chen
Make This Studio

The worst advice Pearl got as a junior developer was to keep her head down and her hard work would speak for itself. Wrong! If you want that promotion, to get asked for exciting new opportunities, and perhaps even gain a little bit of fame, you need to toot your own horn.

Selling yourself does not have to feel icky or manipulative. In fact, selling yourself as a developer is simply about sharing what’s already in your head, what you have already done, what you’re currently learning, and what you’re passionate about. It can be as easy as tweeting or starting a blog.


Help developers get into the habit of regularly documenting and sharing their work for the good of humanity — and for some personal branding too.

Target Audience

Developers of all levels.

Five Things Audience Members Will Learn

That humans are inherently salespeople — embrace it and get good at it
Tips for writing and creating great technical content for the web — whether it’s a 140 character tweet or a 14-minute Medium read
A crash course on applying to and speaking at conferences
Stories of how Pearl got to #1 on HackerNews that one time, and why she has 17K followers on Google+ and 3K on Twitter. Luck??
How to make animated gifs (you think she’s joking but this is one of her most commonly asked questions when she posts a tutorial)

Published in: Internet
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Can You Just Code Your Way to Fame and Fortune?

  1. 1. Or: Why Keeping Your Head Down is not a Good Career Strategy Can You Just Code Your Way to Fame and Fortune? Pearl Chen, Make This Studio
 @PearlChen (Twitter, Medium) FITC Web Unleashed - Sept 26, 2017
  2. 2. Or: Why Keeping Your Head Down is not a Good Career Strategy Can You Just Code Your Way to Fame and Fortune? Pearl Chen, Make This Studio
 @PearlChen (Twitter, Medium) FITC Web Unleashed - Sept 26, 2017
  3. 3. My 1st full-time dev job Storytime!
  4. 4. X LESSONS • Don’t just focus on your current job
 Look ahead. Think about your future.
  5. 5. X LESSONS • Don’t just focus on your current job
 Look ahead. Think about your future. • Join the tech & design community
 This is your future support network.
  6. 6. Why should I listen to you?
  8. 8. Momentum
  9. 9. Google+ and #DailyRobot Storytime!
  14. 14. X SOCIAL MEDIA FOR PERSONAL BRANDING • Curated content = clear personal branding
 People instantly know what you’re about so it’s easier to decide on whether or not to follow. • Network and influencer effects
 You can’t control them but you can increase your chances. And they make a huge difference.
  15. 15. X THE MAIN REASON FOR SOCIAL MEDIA • Attract kindred souls
 Put out content to find people with similar interests.
  16. 16. How to be clear, concise, and move people through your technical writing. Writing Technical Articles Pearl Chen 
 July 20, 2017
  17. 17. What is a technical article? What is technical writing?
  18. 18. Anything that simplifies the complex is technical communication. The activity requires gaining expertise or skill to perform.
  19. 19. Writing is an important component. But great technical communication also involves: • UX design and information architecture • Illustration, photography, and/or videography • Samples (e.g. code, in-progress or finished artifacts) • Storytelling • Marketing
  20. 20. FACTS!
  21. 21. X People do not read* • Live with it. • Design for this. • Create content with this in mind. FACT #1
  22. 22. X We are in the “attention economy” When information is free & readily available,
 the scarce commodity is human attention. FACT #2
  25. 25. 1. Create awareness
 How will you present your idea? 2. Motivation
 What do *I* get out of this? 3. Clear the path
 How do I begin and stay the course? 4. Define success
 When do I know I’ve achieved the goal? OBSTACLE COURSE DESIGN TECHNICAL ARTICLE
  26. 26. 1. Good design & typography 2. Digestible content
 sections, bullets, numbered lists 3. Supporting visuals
 diagrams, images, videos, code GUIDING PRINCIPLES
  27. 27. X Good design improves information absorption and retention. And it’s been scientifically proven. Example: Optimal line length for on-screen reading is 50-60 characters including spaces. GOOD DESIGN & TYPOGRAPHY
  28. 28. X GOOD DESIGN & TYPOGRAPHY • font face • font size • letter spacing • line spacing • page padding • paragraph spacing
  29. 29. X DIGESTIBLE CONTENT Maximum skim-ability: • Smaller sections • Bullets over paragraphs • Numbered bullets for actions
  30. 30. X DIGESTIBLE CONTENT • Clear headlines • 1 goal/point per section Small sections
  31. 31. X DIGESTIBLE CONTENT • Forces brevity & focus. • Easier to skim. • Use whitespace. Use emojis or icons for bullet-like effect. Bullets
  32. 32. X DIGESTIBLE CONTENT 1. Break down your task. 2. Use action-orientated language. 3. … 4. Profit! Numbered action lists
  33. 33. X A picture is worth a thousand words. And a GIF will leave you speechless. SUPPORTING VISUALS
  34. 34. X SUPPORTING VISUALS • Cmd+Shift+4
 Use Spacebar to toggle between full app capture, or click and drag mode. • Add callouts
 Add boxes, circles, arrows, darken distracting elements, or blur sensitive information using Evernote Skitch (free), SnagIt, Photoshop, Sketch, etc. Screencaps
  35. 35. X SUPPORTING VISUALS • A pic is better than none
 Use your phone, webcam, anything! • Frame your shot
 Get rid of excess clutter and distracting elements. • Add callouts • Good lightning
 = better photo Photographs
  36. 36. X SUPPORTING VISUALS Before & After
  37. 37. X SUPPORTING VISUALS Before & After
  38. 38. X SUPPORTING VISUALS • Google Draw (free), Monodraw, Omnigraffle • Noun Project to find icons. Diagrams
  39. 39. X SUPPORTING VISUALS • Compresses time • Quicktime (free), Screenflow, SnagIt Video / Animated GIF Separate microlearn for Screenflow coming soon!
  40. 40. Write for clarity Put yourself in your reader’s head.
  41. 41. X “Toggle it to on.” Spell it out. Say what “it” is. “Toggle the wifi radio button on.” WRITE FOR CLARITY
  42. 42. Edit, test, edit, test
  43. 43. X EDIT, TEST, EDIT, TEST • Value your reader's time. • Delete frivolous words. • Editing tips: • Read it out loud. • Temporarily increase the font size. Edit
  44. 44. X EDIT, TEST, EDIT, TEST • Have someone else review your content. • Better: Have someone actually perform the steps in your guide. Test
  45. 45. How much time should you spend?
  46. 46. X HOW MUCH TIME SHOULD YOU SPEND? “I hate your easy to follow setup guides!” - said no one ever
  47. 47. X HOW MUCH TIME SHOULD YOU SPEND? What are the stakes? • Size of your audience • Longevity of the content • Business impact
  48. 48. X HOW MUCH TIME SHOULD YOU SPEND? • Get in the habit. • Write blog posts, keep a developer journal, etc. • You never know who might see your article. With practice,
 you get faster and better.
  49. 49. Storytime!
  50. 50. X STORYTIME!
  51. 51. X STORYTIME! 1249
 words 1
 checkbox 19
 images 5
 animated gifs
  52. 52. X STORYTIME!
  53. 53. X STORYTIME!
  54. 54. X STORYTIME!
  55. 55. Video and Animated GIFs Communicating with moving images
  56. 56. X MAKING GIFS • QuickTime + Gifify
  57. 57. X MAKING GIFS • QuickTime + Gifify • SnagIt
  58. 58. X MAKING GIFS • QuickTime + Gifify • SnagIt • Screenflow
  59. 59. Why? Speaking at Meetups & Conferences
  60. 60. X RESOURCES FOR SPEAKING AT CONFERENCES • Demystifying Public Speaking by Lara Hogan • Technically Speaking
  62. 62. Thank you! (Stay tuned for the Medium articles!) 🙏 Pearl Chen, Make This Studio @PearlChen