Marketing is often associated with businesses trying to sell their products or services. However, marketing can be extremely useful for freelancers and everyday employees. If you’ve ever had to apply for a job you know that you spend a lot of time sending out applications for work and many times you get nothing out of it. On average it takes between 100-200 applications for someone to get one job offer. Over half of the applications are screened out by automated HR software or a recruiter and are never even seen by a hiring manager. While it’s not impossible to get a job this way, I would suggest being more proactive and finding a way to not only stand out from other applicants but to get employers/clients coming to you by building an online presence. This article does over 5 ways that you can build an online presence that demonstrates your expertise, previous work and create inbound marketing so you don’t have to get all your leads from chasing clients/employers.
Blogging is a great way to show your knowledge and establish yourself as an expert in an area. When you write on a topic it shows how you think, it demonstrates your understanding of a topic and it takes advantage of a cognitive bias we have as humans. If we see information published online it has more credibility than if you were to say it in person. Also, thanks to the internet you can easily purchase a domain, start publishing content and sharing it online. It’s very easy to start, the only downside is that it will take some time to get readers and establish a following. Probably the best example of this is Brian Krebs who founded krebsonsecurity.com.
If you’re someone that prefers to talk rather than to write you might want to consider creating a podcast. In cybersecurity this is especially useful to people because there are always new vulnerabilities, new hacks and new stories that other cybersecurity professionals want to stay informed on. Therefore, if you’re someone that creates daily or weekly episodes you can build a following. The podcast itself shows that you’re well informed and knowledge on the topics that you will speak on.
Another good way to show expertise is to create a YouTube channel. You can make a technical channel where you show people how to hack computers, demonstrating things like SQL injections and cross site scripting (XSS). You can also make it non-technical by focusing on things that relate to people like how to manage stress, how to land a job, where you can learn different skills etc. Here’s an example of someone that captured a unique market in cybersecurity as a black women in the field combining tech and beauty tips.
GitHub is a platform that lets you post your programming projects and contribute to other people’s coding projects. It’s used as an online portfolio for programmers and it’s a good place to show off any programming languages that you know. Also, if you’re heavy into programming then in addition to posting your own code you can contribute to other people’s projects. This is good if you want to work on big or interesting projects and it’s a good way to show that you know how to work with multiple people in a programming team. This doesn’t just mean soft skills but also things like version control, finding bugs and understanding people’s code. Many cybersecurity jobs require some knowledge of programming or may focus on secure coding practices. For those types of jobs GitHub can be useful for showing your expertise.
Hackthebox and Vulnhub is a good way to demonstrate your proficiency in penetration testing. Both platforms have rankings, by solving capture the flag challenges you can gain points and increase your ranking on these platforms. This will show employers that you are capable of hacking into machines and is proof of your dedication and willingness to improve at your craft. Additionally, these platforms also advertise jobs so you can use it to find work once you get your profile ranking high enough to impress recruiters. You can also combine this with a youtube channel, many people record and talk through completing the challenges and post it for other people to learn from.
4 Benefits of marketing yourself
Inbound marketing: Inbound marketing simply means instead of you having to go out and find clients, clients find you instead.
Better negotiating position: When people come to you, it puts you in a much stronger negotiation position. They are coming to you because you have established yourself as an expert in a particular area, therefore you don’t need to convince them of your value nearly as much as if you were a stranger coming to them for work.
Saving time: Once you have made the initial investment in building up your online presence it will be much easier for you to find work because you will have people consistently reaching out to you.
Reduce Stress: Having a reliable income is probably the number 1 thing that stresses people out. By developing the ability to market yourself and ensuring that you can easily find work will significantly reduce the stress of everyday life.
Marketing yourself is a very useful tool for increasing the amount of opportunity you have. It’s one thing to have the capability to do the work but it’s equally important that you have a means to demonstrate that value to people and draw their attention to you. Remember 75% of job applications are screened out before the hiring manager even sees them, so you want to avoid cold applying to jobs if at all possible. By investing time in one or more of these methods you can build your online presence to the point where you have referrals and even offers of work. At the very least you will have a portfolio that will prove that you are competent in your speciality. The process of doing this will take an upfront investment, I would say expect 1-3 years before it really takes off. But in the lifespan of your career, it’s not a huge amount of time and for most people it will be well worth the effort.