Hacking your (developer) career

We're living in crazy times and in the crazy industry. Where a huge part of the World suffered during the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, our profession gained and gained overtime - at least from some of the angles.

Boost of e-commerce solutions, digitalisation of various services and businesses made us = devs even more needed. Everywhere. Not that it wasn’t like it in the previous years… I was sharing a chart highlighting the gap of the job openings compared with the professionals finishing universities for years already (see it below - yellow part is the number of jobs, blue is the number of educated professionals over the years) and how it goes into a trap of hundred of thousands of empty seats in IT.

Source: BLS, NSF, Bay Area Council Economic Institute

‘Thanks to’ pandemic also, the remote job become sexier than it ever was. As a remote worker who does it for 10+ years already (before it was cool ;)), I knew how it can speed up the general adoption and flow of professions around the globe. And it did. We can now both find the best talents from around the World for our companies and teams and apply for the job openings that weren’t even available for us e.g. due to the localisation limitations or other factors that pandemic bypassed.

All of it created also some sometimes unwanted and yet uncontrolled side-effects. Finding good people became like a Squid Game where candidates disappear (hopefully not die ;)) and in some cases they made companies lose during the game too. People’s expectations are changing - as if now they could potentially work for startups from Sillicon Valley when living in less expensive areas of the Globe - why not earn or expect the same pay as others within the global market competition now? I see it from both perspectives as a business owner and B2B contractor as well. And I still believe it all helps for us, as nothing speeds up the market better than a fair and at the same time crazy competition.

Crazy times as I’ve said. But it all opens the game for us all here. The game in which we need to have the desire to play in and if we will play it, why not have some ‘EXP’ already applied there? This is where we can hack our career and invest in it upfront. To make us stand out from the crowd and take the pole position in front of the others who didn’t want to step up.

When will the bubble blow up? Will AI replace us?!

I'm very sceptical about it, and I often hear the question, "Will [AI / low-code / no-code / {something_else}] replace developers?". Well, I always illustrate my answer with a famous quote (sourced from Twitter):


And yes, we’re safe. For now. But I’m also completely sure that the job we’re doing now won’t be the same in a couple of years. It’ll be different.

So we also need to be prepared for it ideally. Even if now almost everyone who can type and understands some of the code concepts can find the job for themselves, it won’t be enough soon to be a developer. ‘Just’ a developer. And this is what I truly believe in.

I recently read an interesting book by Simon Sinek called “The Infinite Game”. “In infinite games, like business or politics or life itself, the players come and go, the rules are changeable, and there is no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers in an infinite game, there is only ahead and behind.” So I want us all to turn our developer's careers into infinite games where we do not compete with each other who is better, who can write the most efficient piece of code or who can code for longer hours during the day.. But the game in which we all enjoy what we do, help each other and become visible and found - for people who may look for us.

My (short) story as a Proof-of-Concept

I've attended 2 official job interviews in my life - both during my studies, in my 3rd year at the university. I failed both and didn't get the job in the end. It wasn’t a problem for me then as basketball and parties were still more important for me than my career, but I think it pushed me to some different direction already (not that I also realised then I won’t make the career in the NBA unfortunately…).

I joined the .NET group at my university and started to visit local meetups oriented around the various technologies that were interesting to me at the time. As still, it wasn’t anything ‘big’ then, it became completely natural for me that if I’ll learn something cool I can share it with a friendly bunch of people who might not know it and save some time for them finding out the path/solution for some problems. This is what we all did then anyway. So I learned, shared my knowledge and then learned more new, crazy things. At some point, during the .NET group meetup, I saw the opportunity of the internship at Microsoft. It was all about sharing Microsoft tech stack knowledge across the high schools around the whole country here in Poland. BTW this is also how I found out about Umbraco CMS - Thanks Microsoft! It helped me to become familiar with public speaking, knowledge exchange, meeting people and building relations. And this was the most important set of lessons I could ever receive.

Thanks to these relations (not the job interview I could potentially fail again ;)), I joined the first company and started my first .NET developer role. Checkpoint #1.

I was still doing and attending a lot of talks. I made myself ‘visible’ amongst the community and thanks to this community we had and still have some amazing relations with people spread across various companies, businesses and even countries. Thanks to this visibility I was contacted by many local authorities and companies looking for some tech support and services. So after some time in the company, together with the friend who recommended me there, we’ve started our first business and decided to rule the IT world. Checkpoint #2.

I was working my ass off for a couple of years to prove myself mostly that we can and we’re worth more as a team and a company - still being involved in the communities and investing a lot of time and energy into it. We’re building amazing solutions for small and big clients in collaboration with some really amazing companies and agencies. We’re also blogging a lot these days and documenting what we’re doing in our company. This was also a time when we’re discovered by one Project Manager working with a UK agency that started our collaboration that has lasted and crossed paths multiple times since then. As we’ve realised we can do business with companies from outside of Poland, we started to expand our interests to other events and markets on the Globe. That’s also how we found the info about the “Cracow Umbraco Meetup” organised by Adam Shallcross from Cogworks. We’ve attended it and it also boosted our morales and interests around both: Umbraco and business. We’ve started some small collaborations together with Cogworks too, later on, my partner visited Codegarden for the first time and we all went to the UK for our first UK Festival in 2015. Checkpoint #3 (more info about the whole journey around these times can be found in the Skrift article that I wrote a while ago)
I decided to attend more events outside of Poland and become an internal part of the Umbraco community. We’re organising regular Poland Umbraco meetups while still doing a lot of projects for PL clients and the UK and Spanish agencies and after a while, I joined forces with Cogworks team where I grew as a developer, official Umbraco trainer and finally a CTO who was and still is heavily involved in the community activities. Checkpoint #4.

During this time I was also fortunate enough to meet a lot of amazing people with whom we’re also doing a lot of amazing things. Not many know for example that I was running a 2nd business which was the programming school for children called “WOW School” that at the peak was hiring about 60 people in the whole country and until today educated more than 10.000 young programmers! Sick. This was also only possible thanks to relations and my will to find and meet some like-minded people who were looking for technical help and support. My point on it is that we’ll never know when and where we’ll make some further steps, so we need to be always prepared for it.

I’m now heading towards Checkpoint #5. As we’re in the middle of the selling process of our programming school and also my journey with Cogworks ends at the end of this year. After 5 amazing years with these amazing people, it’s time for another adventure about which I’ll be definitely shouting more soon! 🔥

Summary of PoC: I never thought I’ll be e.g. YouTuber or MVP in any category or area of life. That I’ll be travelling through the World, giving speeches, building teams, making deals with so many companies worldwide. That I’ll inspire and learn from leaders and people who I only dreamed about meeting and that I’ll become a CTO or even CEO of a globally known company and brand. But I am who I am. Thanks to the things I did and do everyday to prove it - mostly for myself still, but also for the others. Let’s hope the proof is enough to share with you some of the things I think you can do to hack your career too!

Find (and stay) yourself

We all have our prerequisites, preferences, pros and cons. And to be totally honest here, there is nothing wrong with enjoying what we do at any phase of our life! We do not need to be pushed or forced to do anything if we’re happy where we are and with what we do.

The worst trend I observe in our IT industry is where people and companies are trying to convert great developers into e.g. managers because they think “this is the common path” and they should evolve, right? Unfortunately in most cases it’s a trap. Why should they change what they do? Did anyone ask them if they are happy with what they are doing? Maybe instead of switching Visual Studio into Excel, they prefer to have more time off or dive into a different technology stack?

Staying yourself is extremely hard if there is a set of external factors and strings trying to turn us into someone else. Resilience and consequence help. Another problem is when we do not know who we are or who we want to be or become. This is where I found personality tests extremely useful. Many companies are implementing them as a step during the hiring or onboarding process to simply understand more of the human being that is joining their forces as a ‘resource’ from now on ;) But as someone who attended 2 job interviews and both before personality tests were cool, I needed to do them myself. I highly encourage you to do the one for yourself. Share your results if you’ll do it!

Some of the most-known tests:
  • https://www.16personalities.com/ - A free, online personality test that only takes about 10 minutes!
  • Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment - Paid, online talent assessment discovering, measuring and analyzing the talents we all have and reporting our strengths and weaknesses extremely well!
  • DISC Assessment - Finding the self-concept defined with four factors: Dominant, Inspiring, Supportive and Cautious.
  • Reflected Best Self Exercise - A little bit more complex and time-consuming exercise, that is based on the people’s surveys around you can build the ‘best’ view of you for further processing and usage (I still plan to do it for myself!)


On the other side of being happy with what we do and not being sure what we want to do is the whole big issue, we’re all in danger of - burnout(s). I speak about them in the plural as personally, I experience burnout almost every 6 months. No matter if I switch my roles or responsibilities or I do the same things over and over again, it still hits me regularly. I also know how many of us within the industry have the same issues. And even though it’s not common amongst other branches, it is an issue and something that might impact our future in many ways.

83% of software developers feel burnout from their work and 81% reported an increase in burnout as a result of the pandemic, according to a new study from Haystack Analytics.

The perception and point of view on it is essential. It might be either good or wrong to experience it and it might help or distract us from pushing our career further. The question I ask myself a lot when I feel bad with what I do at my work is a simple “WHY?”. I analyse the factors causing me the state of mind I’m in then and gather all the input data to process them.
  • Is it a tough project/client that stressed me for a longer period of time?
  • Is it a relationship with a colleague(s)/manager(s) that makes me feel bad or wrong?
  • Is it me and my life circumstances that made an impact on my work?
  • Is it really a burnout at all or do I just have a bad day or a couple of days maybe?

Then I start to process it and see if I can change the current state somehow or simply accept it and await its end as maybe it is an async piece of life code that just needs to send the callback to me at some point. I also found the Starfish Retrospective technique extremely helpful when we’re analysing the current job (and not only) circumstances. Collecting things that we think we should keep doing, do more of, start doing, stop doing or do less of is a very effective way of self-realising what we do at all and if it’s something that makes us happy at all.

Results of such a small exercise can push us through e.g. stale mode to simply await good days again, discussion with some teammates that might have an impact on our future involvements in projects or roles we’re performing or even a complete termination of the job/role and a bigger change. Whatever it’ll be, things left alone as same as decisions hanging in the air are possibly worse than actions that might get us somewhere further.

We all need to be aware of it and react accordingly. Especially if it’s obvious for us that we’re unhappy and following the bad path towards bad directions. It’s not easy to shout out about it, especially also in the World's circumstances now where many people are dealing with a variety of mental issues, sometimes a lot worse than burnout. But please shout out if you’re struggling and at least reach out to the people near to you, cause some of the issues won’t simply go away if they won’t be processed ‘correctly’.

Different perspectives

What drives us to the idea of changing our career path? We all have different motivations, goals and prerequisites.

What can motivate us to change our job? For some of us, it’s just money. For others, it’s a need to have more free time because e.g. they were working in a constant crunch and over hours. And for someone else, it might be just a need to change (or change the technology) or even a higher cause/mission to ‘change the world’ e.g. with a new startup idea revolutionising some of the business niches. Whatever it is or will be, it’s essential to know it and be aware of it whenever the time comes. Due to these input data, it’ll be easier to align with all of the opportunities and possibilities out there.

Exercise 1: Find what motivates you in your current life checkpoint. Name it.

Besides motivation, we all may have different goals. Some of us will work for less money (or even no money - #truestory) if they will believe in the long-term vision and purpose of it. Been there, done that. Others can simply change their job every 3 months because someone pays them more and they have a mortgage they want to pay off as quickly as possible. We may have zero goals and aspirations too, which makes us open to all the opportunities that may arise.

Exercise 2: Define your goal(s) - both short-term and long-term. Shape the vision of your career in the next X years. Where do you want to see yourself then?

And last but not least when it comes to the CareerHackingAlgorithm.cs programme - life surrounding and support. As a father of 2 lovely daughters I won’t lie that it didn’t affect my career and life. It did, but fortunately for me - only in a positive way. If you’re an aspiring developer with high ambitions and your partner is an evolving and growing entrepreneur with also high expectations from life and business - the circumstances are different than for someone e.g. during the studies, without kids and e.g. particular hobbies and passions yet. The key is to be realistic and to not compete against anyone, but especially with people with different surroundings and circumstances than ours. It’s just an unfair game we may keep losing unintentionally :) The worst thing that may happen is the blame or guilt we put on ourselves because we do not have the same abilities and possibilities as someone with whom we compete. Do not compete at all. We really do not need to do more than we think in most cases. It’s amazing if we have support from the family, partner, company, community etc. But again, it’s nothing wrong if we do not have it. The full responsibility is in us and our hands and we need to cook from the ingredients we have in our fridge at this stage.

Exercise 3: Define your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to your surroundings and support (e.g. from the family). Become aware of it and then align it/use it when it comes to further career movements.

Having the above 3 exercises done, we can move forward and learn HOW we can impact our perception of ourselves and maybe step beyond the code.

Stepping beyond the code

"It's not only about the code" was and is my mantra during my whole business career. I already mentioned how important human relationships were for me personally. I truly believe our industry will admire more and more people who are not only ‘hard’ skilled, but also those who have the powers of being empathetic and simply - more human. They will be harder to replace with robots ;)

During my career, I was constantly learning something new. And by it, I do not mean the new way of integrating CRMs with Umbraco or more fancy and performant serialisation algorithms helping me to communicate faster with the 3rd party tools I integrated. This too, but I speak more about the things completely outside of the coding aspects. When I started my 1st company I didn’t know anything about running business and managing people. I learned it (and am still learning). When I joined forces with my partner from programming school, I didn’t know anything about sales and marketing. I learned it from her and others + then also applied some lessons learned to my IT services company. I keep learning new things everyday and seek for the unknowns that interests me, cause I never know when and if I’ll use it in my work or life.

My thoughts got confirmed when I read the book "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialised World" by David Epstein. The book states about the early specialisation that is not good in overall + admires the ability of fast learning and context switching that could give a superpowers for people who can do it. Of course, the author goes beyond it and also shares a view on the fact that it’s more likely that the job we’re doing now won’t be the same job we’ll be doing our entire life, so it’s important to expand our skillset to some other fields all the time.

You might be the best of the best in what you do, but no one will know about it (and benefit from it) if you won’t share it with someone. You also won’t be aware of it fully as we may be wrong about ourselves especially if we’re dealing with symptoms of imposter syndrome or simply are strict to ourselves. It’s worth sharing your work or documenting your work somehow. Both for ourselves and the others, as there is always someone who can inspire and learn from what we do every day.

So if by any chance you feel a need to step beyond the code, just do it! But if you prefer to stay focused on the programming aspect of your job/role and become the best of the best in what you do, that’s completely fine too. I simply realised I won’t be the best developer on earth, same as I realised I won’t play in the NBA - so I personally decided to step out earlier ;)

Becoming a part of the community

We all know the old good saying that “You're the average of the five people you spend the most time with” and you may or may not agree with it. From my experiences observing people a lot more skilled than myself, a lot more wealthy, fulfilled, experienced etc. made me always inspired and hungry to do more. This is also why I love the Umbraco community so much. Within the friendly bunch of people, we can safely exchange knowledge, ideas, push each other further and inspire ourselves to achieve more. Finding a community like it may drastically change life and career. I’ve been talking about it in the past on one of my talks at UK Festival. Assuming that you’re reading this article, you’re already a part of the community, but I just want to remind you of the importance of it and spread your perception on more channels/areas where the community can grow together.

How you can join the community?

  • Twitter (+ other social media) - Follow the #umbraco hashtag or people within our community and see what they are up to. Interact (this is the most important!) and share your activities by tagging with appropriate hashtags too.
  • Slack / Discord - Community and official HQ channels of direct communication - ask/answer questions, discuss, meet new people
  • Stack Overflow, Reddit, Hackernews - A little bit wider community and possibility to meet like-minded people and learn about many interesting things from around the tech
  • Events - In-person or online meetups, festivals, conferences etc. - join one or many, get recognized and visible, learn from others and submit your talk ideas if you have anything interesting to share too!
  • Github - The whole idea of open source software allow us to analyse, learn and share the code bits between each other. Treat it as your 2nd CV and push whatever you’re exploring, hacking, finding useful + search for interesting projects you can learn from and/or contribute to!

And you never know when and how it’ll get back to you. You may end up with lifetime friendships, new business relationships or the simple escape from everything nearby. I recently had the pleasure to e.g. meet up with an old friend from the PL meetup group while I was on my holidays in Tenerife. It turned out he lives there now and we had an amazing time together with our families discussing professional things as same as life in general.
Source: “The Rational Guide To Building Technical User Communities” by Dr. Greg Low

Building personal brand

Your Internet profiles, activities and what's visible on the web when someone types your name in the browser’s search bar is the only one truly ‘yours’ opportunity to demonstrate your character. Your relation with specific technology, community, product, group etc. and your perspective on it defines your opinion and may influence others. Also, more and more companies believe and share their mission through their people. They support individuals and their activities inside and outside the working hours and brag about their successes. The company mission is also more “visible” when it’s not an empty slogan on the billboard, but behaviour or the whole activity of the company’s employee(s). And that’s when the whole fun and leverage begins.

This is where the whole “personal branding” kicks in. What is it? Personal brand is how others see us, what they think about us when they think about us and what defines us in their eyes. Jeff Bezos said that personal branding is about how people talk about it in the room without us. I really like this analogy.

Being recognised and mentioned by other people when it comes to specific topics or areas of specialisation is an amazing leverage applicable on many layers of life. Who comes first to your mind when you think about programming in general? Who do you think about when you think about building Umbraco packages? Who may answer your .NET/Umbraco performance related questions? Who would be your Examine guru? I have a couple names that come almost immediately to my mind ;)

You’ve hopefully noticed that the more narrow niche we’re operating in, it’s easier to find someone relatable. Start from the niche. Then prove your value by doing and sharing your amazing work.

There are a ton of activities and ways for you to start investing and building your personal brand. I wrote a 300+ pages book about it and only focused on the social media aspect of it.

What to do and where to start?
  1. Blogging / vlogging / podcasting / live-streaming - You don’t need the best equipment in the World to kick-off the online live discussion with your colleagues and reach out to some of your friends interested in the same topic. You might have heard about #umbraCoffee 😉 Same with your blog - Medium, dev.to, hashnode and similar platforms allows you to almost immediately type something and publish it to the web.
  2. Public speaking - meetups, conferences again - You can promote yourself, your company, your skills and niche, while visiting many interesting places and meeting great people.
  3. Hackathons and social activities - Usually non-profit, but also with many rewards, giving a chance to show off your problem solving skills, ability to work under the time pressure etc.
  4. Teaching others - E.g. via tutorials, online courses or offline workshops.
  5. Open source contributions and community participation.
  6. Forum activity and help/knowledge sharing on platforms earlier mentioned (StackOverflow, Reddit, Quora)
  7. Social media activity / knowledge sharing
  8. More...?
Just start and I’m sure if you’ll see the value in it and people will notice the value you’re giving them, it won’t be easy to stop you from doing more of it.

Understanding business & translating business into code

If you understand code and understand business rules described by people who are in need of software to help them - you’re already in the top % of the market. As it’s not easy! But as with many other skills, this one can be also developed. And again, not all programmers want to be client-facing and involved in anything besides the code production phase. That’s fine. But if you’re looking for something new outside of the typical coding tasks, expand your view and interests onto the areas such as Software Architecture and Craftsmanship.

Learning about the concepts such as Domain-Driven Design, Modular Monolith, Event Storming, Event Sourcing and various other architectural principles and patterns, may help you take a different perspective on software you’ve known from the inside. I still experience many “tada” moments when I start to step beyond the code, ask real, human questions to people who are in need of help and understanding. I know how to build things, but in many cases they don’t know what they expect or want to have built. We can then help for both parties, utilising our experience, skills and continue to evolve.

Becoming a 'devpreneur'

When you’ll really get burned or bored with everything coding-related, you may start thinking about building a business on top of it. I’m joking.. Think about it even earlier and it’d be amazing if you’d be able to transfer your passion, knowledge, time and energy into something more profitable than ‘billable hours’ or your monthly fixed salary. Entrepreneurship gives you almost limitless opportunities and possibilities, together with limitless headaches and challenges to be faced everyday :) #truestory

Our time is priceless and for what we’re using it is our own choice, usually. I observe and feel inspired by many successful entrepreneurs as well as a couple of ‘devpreneurs’ - developers turned into more business-oriented people.

Disclaimer: You may need to stop coding and thinking about software to the matter of running your business, marketing, sales and so on. Be aware of it and choose wisely if it’s ‘your way’ :)

All of the described steps, practises, patterns and methods are very useful to be able to monetise our activities and scale it a lot easier than by cloning ourselves or hiring more people. Of course we can e.g. get a better job (better paid, better long-term focused, better technology etc.) thanks to becoming more visible and active - once again jump back to the motivations/goals aspect of our career changes - but we can also earn from these particular activities even while being or not being hired anywhere.

How? (the below part comes from my ebook about social media for busy programmers, but it’s relatable not only for social media. Hence I’m sharing it with you!)

  1. Ads! - Paid posts/stories/fleets, mentions, crosses and so on. Opportunities are everywhere. Starting from the interest of companies to get many micro-influencers to promote their products and ending on collaborations with influencers agencies who are seeking for the companies and money for the “big players” out there. And it’s easier than you think, because companies are desperately looking for people like that to promote their products. You may find many groups on Facebook or forums where there are two ways of setting up contracts like that. By having a proof that you’re reaching a specific group of people and by selecting a brand which you’d really recommend for your followers, you might end up with a pretty decent collaboration and tons of gadgets to be tested and possibly used + solid amount of money if you’ll start reaching a proper amount of people via your profile/brand. I won’t be bringing concrete amounts of money as it’s changing, but generally, it can be even a couple of hundreds of dollars per post or thousands for a campaign for example. Not bad if you’re e.g. using and enjoying the products which you’re promoting. There is also another danger here that I don’t want to address at this stage, but generally: balance is a key as you hopefully don’t want to become an ad space or stand where everyone can throw their flyers and promotional materials. Trust is essential, so be careful with it and be always honest and direct in your reviews and promotions.

  2. Ambassadorship of product(s), service or technology - There are many cases where manufacturers, as in sports or general show-business, are signing up contracts with influencers and people with a reach to ensure they are promoting their products wherever it’s possible. It might be a keyboard producer (see e.g. Vortexgear company and their promotions on Instagram), software company (HIGH 5 GitKraken!) or even a whole hardware brand like Lenovo - and their #LenovoIN programme for brand ambassadors who they call Lenovo Insiders (@LenovoIN). By having a dedicated person who is their brand ambassador, they are feeling safe that the message and recommendation of the gear, tool or whatever else they are selling will be delivered to the right target group. Win-win.

  3. Affiliates - When you have a solid following base and people who are either interested in what you’re doing, it’s common that they are asking you about the tools you’re using, training you’re recommending and even hardware you own and use. It all depends again on the platform you’re on, context and activity you’re doing and promoting. Many producers and companies are offering affiliate programs for influencers and sellers who are in charge of getting them direct clients in exchange for e.g. % fee/commission for each transaction. It might not be a perfect and only source of income for even the biggest profiles and influencers - remember, you’re still selling something that is not yours - but it’s a great additional, passive income that might be nicely coupled with your mission and activity.

    Let’s think about e.g. YouTube and videos you’re doing. If you’re using a specific gear, even for recording your videos, you may want to attach a small extension of your video description with some links to Amazon products such as a camera, laptop you’re using, additional gear and so on. If it’s something that you really recommend or anyone asked you for it - it won’t hurt anyone, but may help your audience = they will immediately know the answers for the questions about your equipment, and you = as you’ll get a pay check every time when someone from your audiences will decide to buy things using your recommendation. I mentioned Amazon, as it’s extremely easy to set it up and many YouTubers are already using it on their channel!


    Some software companies and creators are doing the same approach. Tools like Leadpages (for building lead pages from pre-existing components), Wes Bos with his programming courses, Restream tool described in the YouTube section in this book and many many more are utilising this model and relying on some good people, happy from using their services that much, that they decide to promote it and become their sellers and ambassadors. 

    I personally used a couple of affiliate links, but I’d never do it without trusting in products I’m recommending and I’ll never treat it as a single source of income - as the truth is that these commissions are not that extremely high ;) If you’re happy from using some tools, products and you’re e.g. asked about them or recommending them often to your colleagues or friends - ask the company/manufacturer if they don’t have any existing affiliate program as it may just help you both!

  4. Consultancy and paid communitiesThe following step - in most of the cases caused by the effect of scale to deliver it to the wider audience - is to create the paid community with a space to discuss, share, advise and exchange knowledge and ideas.

    Extremely powerful and popular tools to organise it in are:

    • Telegram / WhatsApp / Signal - as an instant messaging group with a free/paid access to them
    • Slack with e.g. Wes Bos fan community as a great example with 60k+ members
    • Discord - as it’s free and extremely easy to use
    • Facebook Groups - with various types of the groups (e.g. Subscriber Groups), multiple settings to manage it and extremely cool ways to monetise access to themConsultancy and paid communitiesBy getting good and better than others thanks to the confirmation of the values and skills by the active and engaged community around you, you can start selling yourself as an expert in the area of your expertise. Give some hints and tips for people “one step behind you”. And depending on the availability in your calendar and the number of clients - you can wind up your stake to the level which might be extremely satisfying. Still - it’ll be a service in which you’re selling your time, but many people feel better when they are on their own and it might be one of the first steps to achieve this mission.

  5. Own products - online and offline/retailDefinitely the best (most effective) and the hardest one. Because releasing and selling your own product is not easy in most cases. But there weren't better times to become a creator, teacher, mentor, author than now. People are always looking for new knowledge and there are always people who don’t know something you know and the other way around. Our profession is extremely interesting for many people right now. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when people started to lose their jobs and our industry was still hiring and helping many others to survive by switching to the online world, a lot of people had an idea to maybe dive into it and change their life. Also from a financial perspective, own products are the best way to scale your profits and release you from being dependent on selling your time. Social media and community building around you may help even find the idea for the product itself! So if you’re going to e.g. teach people Python or Event Storming technique or anything else - even not IT-related - think ahead in time how and if you want to scale it before it’ll be a must.

    Why is it so hard? Because besides creating a product you also need to care about selling it. And it requires some marketing skills, negotiations skills and even business knowledge to set up appropriate pricing, model, strategy and so on. You’d be surprised how hard it might get when it comes that you need to put an enormous effort to reach people who are potentially interested in your product. And I’m not even talking about the technical part of the sales pipeline here. Community helps and again, if you’ll have good people around you, you’ll also have the best advisory board with you who can answer your toughest questions, help you choose the paths of evolution of the product and promote it across their circles.

    What kind of products can you create and distribute (as a programmer)?

    Ebooks / physical books

    Before writing my book I’d say it’s the easiest and simplest way to create your first product. But it’s not and we all need to admit that writing is also not for everyone. And it’s tough. But still, it’s a great way of monetising knowledge that is not that demanding form. As still - content is king - and we'll learn new things and solve our problems by buying some ebook or book from a creator who knows what he/she is talking about - why not do it?

    You can pack your knowledge from a specific topic or topics, pack it up in the document and either hire some freelancer from e.g. Fiverr to make it look beautiful or not and start distributing it.

    Training and courses

    This is my favourite and probably the most explored product type. In one of my businesses - a programming school for children WOW School - we’ve released dozens of online programming courses for children even “before it was cool” thanks to the COVID-19. Looking at it from a time perspective, I knew it'd be a good choice to switch to online courses. But then, in 2019, it wasn’t an obvious choice yet. We’ve been observing some pretty good campaigns with online courses for adults in various areas: business, finance, IT, programming or even piano! Maciej Aniserowicz, my mastermind fellow-mate, earned more than 10 million (!) PLN last year just from the sales of the online educational programs for programmers and marketers. Sick! Pandemic also proved that it’s possible to learn it even by children - assuming that products are made well and according to the target group. And anything is possible if you’re determined enough and driven from point A to point B by a good teacher/mentor.

    The magic is in the scalability of it as once recorded course material can be sold many times in multiple campaigns, occasions or even constantly (but it’s not the best model just to tell you in advance). That’s the advance in comparison with offline training usually organised multiple times across the year, for a fixed and limited group of people and in the specific time frame - consuming the time of attendees and mentors as well. I believe that we’ll see more and more online training released by people like YouTubers and influencers as it’s not that explored area by them yet and it’s extremely beneficial - sometimes even more than various other income sources they are utilising now. Having in mind that long-term consequences of coronavirus will cause people to get used to the way of learning things online, we should also be in a good position to think about our material and programmes to teach other fellow developers something that we know at the moment.

    Webinars and Conferences

    If you’re ever attending a meetup or conference or even gone a step forward and doing a talk there, you can think about doing it live or recording it and selling it for a specific amount of money. There are various models of making paid webinars e.g. with a free option to attend it live and the ability to buy access if you missed it etc. Webinars are also great ways to collect emails and convert attendees into followers and clients of other products. You don’t need much to perform a solid webinar on a specific topic. Webcam, microphone, YouTube and e.g. StreamYard (also described herein the YouTube tools chapter) and the rest is in your hands/head! Again, the whole challenge is not in the webinar content itself, but in the registration and attendees group who will watch it after all. But here again, remember about your followers and use them to help you reach the audience you’re looking for.

    Level up from a single webinar is a set of webinars or even an offline event/conference. Both might be extremely beneficial and can combine multiple authors, creators, programmers and people who want to share their knowledge. Think about combining multiple speakers with a huge reach to speak at a single event. Do you see potential here? Yes, they all will invite their people to check out the event and the reach is a combination of all their fans following them.

    Gadgets - e.g. notepads, toys, stickers

    A little bit different type of the product, but also interesting in terms of helping in boosting the reach and brand awareness. Some well-recognised brands and people from various industries decided to create e.g. their personal branded planners or notepads. There are also notebooks for UI/UX designers with responsive screens and options to sketch prototypes there. Why not do something similar for/by programmers? Anything that can be automated, delegated to the printing company or placed in the warehouse and sent to the people is an option here. Imagination is the only limitation.

    Mateusz Kupilas (@JavaDevMatt, also the author of the Polish book “Junior Developer”) released a really nice and creative card game called “IT Startup”. He backed it with a Polish Kickstarter alternative - wspieram.to - campaign and reached 600% of his initial goal by raising more than 63k PLN for his first round of products in Polish. Then he started a global campaign with an English version of the game, directly on Kickstarter, and also made a great success by gathering 300% of his initial goal and more than 27k GBP raised.


    Last example here is a stickers pack from Wes Bos. I was amazed for the first time when I found it a couple of years back, but it just proves the solid community built around Wes’ activities and the training he offers. Various stickers (18 different designs last year), globally sold and shipped in packs to show support for Wes. Amazing. Every year he runs out of stock and all the receivers are bragging about them. Proving at the same time that being within the exclusive team is an added value for the product/sellers as well.



    Yes! Because even developers need to wear something from time to time ;) There are some stores run by devs and for devs such as DevHero or DVLPR who are successfully producing and shipping quality clothes with branding and designs resonating with our profession.


    These brands are backed by solid personal brands and profiles active mostly on Instagram.


    Selling merchandise became extremely popular across influencers and I still believe it’ll grow and if people will relate to the creators, they’d like to support them in many ways - By buying their clothes and other gadgets too. So if you’ll have creative ideas and grow your brand to the levels of some kind of “popularity” (damn, I hate this word) - you might want to think about it as well!


    I almost forgot… we’re developers, so we can also sell code. Indirectly, because in the form of a software product, but still ;) And yes, even now it’s still a good opportunity to help others and convert it into a sustainable business. It doesn’t matter if it’ll be a SaaS (Solution as a Service) offering, running on the cloud and being already extremely scalable, mobile, web, desktop or a console app doing automated Instagram or Twitter actions. We’re programmers, we can do everything, right? Find your niche and talk with the people there. Ask them about their problems and think if you can solve them by e.g. an application. If you love coding and you know how to build complete products - that’s an amazing opportunity (thanks to the social media presence and relations) - to have free beta testers, advisors and early users!

Final words

Despite the current checkpoint of your career, plans, goals or lack of it too - Allow yourself to be egoistic and ego-centric sometimes and think more about ‘YOU’ in general. You’re your own hacker and builder. You can tweak some of your bottlenecks, optimise the legacy parts of your system and install some new drivers and 3rd party tools to still operate and run your daily tools to achieve what you want to achieve in your life. Don’t be afraid of taking responsibility for it too. If you fail, you fail. My 11 months old daughter fails more than 100 times per day and I don’t think she will stop trying to learn how to walk tomorrow ;) You shouldn’t either. Never stop learning and exploring. Web 3.0, Metaverse, NoCode/LowCode are not only buzzwords, but also opportunities. Remember what were the key takeaways from the “Range” book - The specialised world is overrated and the power is in the general understanding of the bigger picture. “Stay hungry, stay foolish” as Steve Jobs said and pivot/change when you’ll feel bored or not challenged anymore.

And last but not least - Don’t feel obligated to do anything about it. Take the leap and risk only if you’re fully conscious about it. As with the great power comes great responsibility… and cost/pain also. It’s the constant and “Infinite Game” of priorities amongst work, life, family, spiritual life and health as well. One can take out another and in the race for the better career, we can lose a lot of small races and small wins as e.g. more time spent with the family, children etc.

Troy Hunt once said during his talk about the similar topic that he needed to decide to skip his son's birthday and spend it via Facetime while he was travelling with his talks around Europe (he is based in Australia). Always something for something, so I hope and wish you only good decisions and career steps and choices. Share your journey and stay ambitious!

Marcin Zajkowski

Marcin is on Twitter as