As developers we are surrounded by other developers in our day-to-day work-lives. And many of us have been writing code for as long as we can remember. As such we tend to normalise the skills that we have. In fact, we often underestimate the value of our skill set, since we work all day with other programmers who are just as, or even more, capable at programming that we are.
But from the perspective of someone who can’t write code, we effectively appear to have a superpower. To someone who can’t code, what we do looks like magic.
I’ve regularly work with people who are not programmers who are trying to create a tech business. I see their frustration as they struggle to translate their vision into a live working product. That frustration comes from not being able to do it themselves, from always having to get someone else to build it, from having to ask someone else for every little change that they need to make.
Imagine you were building an app, and for every change you wanted to make, you had to contact someone, describe in detail what you want, and then wait for them to do it. Imagine the sense of powerlessness over the destiny of your business.
As developers, we can create things at will. Have an idea? We can knock up a quick demo or MVP in our own time relatively easily. It seems trivial and normal to us, because we write code all day long. It seems easy. But to the rest of the world it’s not - it’s some kind of magic.
One result of this is that we tend to undervalue our skills.
If you’re working for someone else you are almost certainly underpaid relative to the value you generate for your company. Even more so if you work for a startup.
Similarly if you’re a freelance developer, there’s a good chance that you’re don’t charge enough for your services. I know I’m guilty of this. In the 10 years or so I’ve been freelancing, my rate has been pretty static. I feel uncomfortable asking people for money to do work that I enjoy and seems easy to me.
That’s just a side issue though. Much more important than what we earn is the realisation of the potential value of our skillset. Software is eating the world, but in terms of the general population, the ability to build software is still relatively rare. We’re lucky to live in a time when it’s easy to build software. The only barrier to entry that remains is the knowledge of how to do it.
So, if you’re a developer, be aware of the value of your skill-set. Don’t waste it.