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Coder or Marketer? Jack of all trades?

When people ask what I do for a living, I generally tell them first that I am a coder – plain and simple. The conversation usually ends there.

Taxi to the Dark Side ipod Most people understand that being a coder means something to do with computers, that it usually involves 0’s and 1’s, endless pages of data on a screen, large books that can be tripped over and an inability to converse with others outside of programming circles on any level. For some of the coders I know this is probably quite true!!

When people ask my wife what I do for a living, she generally tells them I run my own business – now that’s a bit different. The question usually comes what does he do etc. etc.?

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective release

The response is a world of difference, but it pretty much sums up a post by Jeff over at Coding Horror about the one thing every Software Engineer should know – How you market yourself!

In the early days of the business I coded everything myself, I had to! Long late nights, and getting up at 4am to reboot a server was the norm – so was the painstaking weeks to fill in my own tax return etc. Starting a business can be really hard!

My circumstances have changed a lot since then, I’m now married and have other things to concentrate on, different priorities in my life – I’m not sure I could start a business like BetterWebSpace again now if I’m really honest.

These days I take more of administrative role and outsource big chunks of the coding work – I do still like to get my hands dirty with some PHP scripts but they generally are fun things (or things I couldn’t explain to someone else – like my Quickbooks accounting import scripts!). I’d like to outsource more so I can concentrate on growing the business, but I’m maybe too much of a control freak with the business and want everything to be just right – the temptation to talk to a VA is always there to see if I can get rid of more of it – maybe I should do that again.

You could argue that you can be just a good coder and no good at marketing, I believe that’s true as well.

In a bigger company that idea really does work, the engineering team turn up in Jeans and T-Shirt and are hidden from the customer, and the sales team are suited and booted. Interestingly I think most clients of those companies would probably rather talk to a coder working on the product (one with reasonable hygiene that speaks non-techie at least!) than the sales team. The sales team often have a tendency to promise the world and don’t know the product as well as the client or the coder (much to the annoyance of both parties!), in these cases listening forums are a great way to cut out the middle man!

With small companies you have to become a jack of all trades, if you have a skill it will be utilised in one form or another! I don’t mind at the moment having a little bit of knowledge in all the areas, but at some point I’m going to have to outsource more and more of the work – that or employ someone!

On that note, I’m going to go and make some lists of things I might be able to outsource to people with more knowledge than me!

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 25th, 2008 at 1:45 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Comments (9)


  1. Kate says:

    Well – I assume that the role of marketer will be up for grabs? Shall I apply now or would you like to wait until after the holiday?

  2. Kate says:

    comment luv has fallen out with me again luv!!

  3. Keiron says:

    Almost certainly – I need to outsource some of it – my brain can’t take it all in…
    Just checked your feed looks fine from here, not sure why CommentLuv wobbles with you – although it posted an old post when I commented on your blog this morning – strange things afoot, stranger than the church writing to you!

  4. Sian says:

    Do you plan to outsource the cleaning of your office?

  5. Keiron says:

    Why do you think I got married? 😉 It’s the coding and time consuming stuff that’s the worst! I have over 20 domains I’ve bought and never done anything with!!!

  6. Jess says:

    I came for the posts about Alex Shafts, but stayed to look around. It sounds like we have something in common. I am also a self employed geek. I am not a coder per se – I speak HTML and PHP fluently (who doesn’t these days) and am decent with SQL, among other things. I also know what it’s like to work strange hours in my home office, and spend long hours doing my own taxes by hand… though I found you because of our shared problem with spam, I’ll also be bookmarking your blog because I like it. 🙂

  7. Keiron says:

    Hi Jess,

    Sounds like you have the same dilemma’s as me then 🙂 Glad the Alex Shafts info came in handy, I didn’t realise it would get quite so much attention if I’m honest!!

    No problem on the bookmarking – welcome!

  8. Great post Keiron,

    I am in the middle of outsourcing for the first time, trying to expand the biz like you say. I am probably just the opposite of you though. I am more of a marketer, but have had to code, and design and all of the things I am not naturally gifted at.

    Any way I agree about the Jack of all trades being necissary to get things rolling. I am trying to become a bit more of a business leader instead of just a laborer

    Any way good post, it hit me where I am.

    – Jim

  9. Keiron says:

    It’s interesting I’ve had a couple of good comments about this post recently, but it was one of those I typed most of and thought – “this is going nowhere” and almost deleted…. I’m glad it’s struck a chord!

    Maybe there’s a chance for some Joint Ventures between coders and marketers in this thread?!

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