Can a developer stay relevant in the Ever-Changing World of programming? How freelancers can maintain USP and doesn’t become an easily replaceable commodity
The number one reason for success or failure of a freelancing career is the ability to stay relevant as a freelancer and developer over a long period.
To stay relevant, to remain in the context one has to be always a step ahead which often seems tough.
Are you are a freelancer and want to know how does one continuously evolve to be ahead of the competition?
Why is it Critical to Stay Relevant?
The short answer is staying relevant means understanding your audience. Dive deep into the minds of your audience and ask yourself what they need now and what will be their needs in the future.
1. The Rise & Fall of Blackberry
Before Android and Apple took over the communication world, Blackberry was the indispensable mobile communication device for the elite ones.
Blackberry branded its mobile phone based on security features. It was safe & effective mobile phone to communicate easily.
The downfall of Blackberry was its own inability to move on. They didn’t consider the iPhone and Android as a threat and ignored them.
They merely laughed at a massive competition that was materializing and that which would eject them from the market altogether. iPhone & android eventually become irresistible.
2. Coca-Cola Bounced Back Smartly
Coca-Cola is strategic and consistent in marketing. In the year 1985, they released a drink with a unique new taste – New Coke. Unfortunately, it didn’t work well.
Within a few days, they had to bring back the Classic Coke.
If at that time they wouldn’t have listened to the customers, the competition may have eaten up the complete market share of Coca-Cola.
Unlike Blackberry, Coca-Cola evaluated their setback to stay relevant & hold the market share.
They listened to their customers and dedicated the whole marketing strategy towards the old classic coke drink.
3. Apple – Ahead of Times
Apple’s brand relevancy is invaluable. They remain the most relevant technology brand uncontestedly. The reason why Apple is successful is they think several years ahead by anticipating what their customers will need in the future, not today.
Apart from a few hiccups, their brand experience, engaging retail market, unmatched packaging design, and exceptional marketing has helped Apple stay relevant. The way Apple is earning some of the most loyal brand evangelists across the world.
And the same applies to others as well:
- If Google doesn’t stay relevant to its audience, other search engines are waiting to grab the opportunity.
- If Facebook misses a beat, many social networking sites will grab the opportunity.
And the same will continue even for Amazon, Netflix, Android, YouTube …
The point is, it critical for every business to stay relevant and keep re-inventing.
Why is it Important to Stay Relevant as a Freelancer?
Freelancing is scary, challenging and thrilling at the same time.
In an Internet era, Freelancers are very easily replaceable. Any freelancer, how big or small, can be replaced.
To stay in the competition, freelancers need to reinvent, evolve and adapt as per the market trends. Unfortunately, some of us will survive as freelancers and many won’t.
Not only freelancing but staying relevant in almost every aspect of life is essential. Otherwise, one will be substituted practically instantly.
Therefore to persist in a tough freelance market, one must elevate his/her personal brand and most importantly the skill sets.
How Developers Stay RELEVANT in the Ever-Changing World of Freelancing?
Finally, we have to know how. As a developer doing freelancing from the comfort of your home can stay relevant in the ever-changing landscape of technology.
1. Update Skills
Freelancers are hired for specializing skills. Period.
So you have to make sure you keep yourself hirable.
Technology is evolving every day and is changing the way the world works around us.
In this environment, continuous learning becomes a must. I am not a guru to comment on how to update your skills but here are some tips I follow to update my skills.
- Read the online articles, ebooks, blogs, etc. to keep up with the professional demand
- Connect with experts who have a deeper understanding of relevant topics
- Invest in yourself by enrolling for various online courses at Coursera or Udemy. Read 13 Top Technologies For Better Online Freelancing IT Career.
- Encourage yourself to learn new Programming Languages
- Cultivate the habits of reading books.
- Attend online workshops and webinars to stay updated with latest news & information
2. Focus on Knowledge, not on the Degree
Freelancing is not all about academic qualification. One needs to have additional knowledge apart from academic learnings.
My education is in IT, but along with coding and development I love blogging about finance and stock marketing trading though I haven’t done any specialization in finance & stock market.
Then how am I able to do it? Continuous learning, researching, reading, and writing made me do this.
On the contrary, I haven’t done any online marketing specialization. Still, I learn SEO to be able to rank my forums and blogs to make a decent income by driving traffic to them.
3. Reinvent Your Self Brand
Before you take on a freelancing project, there’s more critical project waiting – YOU! Take on yourself as a project and start working on it.
Write down your expertise or topics you excel in. Now compare it with the current market demand and see where you stand.
Ask yourself, does it align with the current market trends? Will your existing skills help you deliver what the client is looking for? Do you enjoy uncontested market space with low competition?
Let me explain with an example.
I work in vBuleltin and XenForo, which are forum CMS in PHP. There are a handful of developers who Freelance in XenForo. Because of very niche technology as a freelancer, I never run into very tough price competition.
Hence, in a way, I have stayed relevant for almost a decade now in a highly competitive web development niche.
Researching is part of the creative process.
To keep on hustling about a topic online will let you know whether that area has changed or not. It will keep a freelancer ahead of the competition.
When vBulletin was out of business or looked like it will be, I was active enough to make a move to XenForo.
Freelancing is a great career option for those who enjoy doing what they do. A key point here is to continually work on improving one’s own skill sets every day.
Learning is a continuous process, and one can never stop learning. It applies more so to the freelancers than employees because if you are doing a job, it is slightly longer time to become irrelevant as an employee but as a freelancer, you can become irrelevant in a very short time.
Further Reading …