Takeaways from Todd Gardner's Talk on The Developer's Guide to Promoting Your Work

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a talk by Todd Gardner (CEO of TrackJS) - The Developer's Guide to Selling Your Work.

Thanks to @ruby_gem and Co-op Digital for hosting and Todd for coming to Manchester and delivering the talk.

Here's a list of my notes and key takeaways from the talk.

The more you do it, the better you become and the less scary it becomes.

Build up your own reputation and lose that fear.

"Feedback loop" The more you do it, the more will come around.

For some talks, it can get better over time, do it more times and refine it / change and update as required.

Always stick around for the after party

As a conference organiser myself I wonder what Todd's thoughts are regarding people who don't drink / are young / don't feel comfortable in social situations.

Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone / "Do something great on the Internet = I know you" / selling to friends and people who already know you and your work is easier than selling to strangers.

TrackJS didn't take off at first, they had enough features / code, but what they needed: Marketer, Salesman, Evangelist, Support.

MVP - Minimum Viable 'Personality'.

Be Bacon

In my last post, I mentioned I've recently started eating more veggie / vegan food. For veggies, I recommend be 'Halloumi' (I love Halloumi!).

I'm still on the look out for other suggestions:

Ask yourself 3 things (answers are for TrackJS)

  • How will you change the world (building a Better Web)
  • What do you stand for (Simple before Powerful)
  • What do you hate (Broken Websites and Bad Errors)

Iterate It will be wrong, and that's okay.

Who do you want your audience to be?

  • Create. For Them.
  • Make Useful and Truthful Things.
  • Talk to them. Go where they are.

Elevator Pitch:

  • What do you do?
  • How will you make their life better for it?
  • What's the next step?

You'll get Rejected. And that's okay

Gimmick, "It's okay to be good-corny, but don't be corny-corny".

Todd did an awesome Moo business card demo video explaining about TrackJS, people still remember it and mention it several years later.

The video is online here:


  • Target an Audience
  • Have a Goal e.g. a nice big red button for 'start free trial' on Track JS.
  • Show social proof - customer logos - stats
  • Don't overdo it.
  • Then reinforce goal.

If you want to write a blog, then write a blog. Don't go "Eugh I don't like WordPress, or Joomla etc… I'm going to build my own blog platform"


The Funnel

Looking at a user journey and understanding it and how to set goals / steps e.g. land on site, view speakers, view tickets, buy tickets.

Use analytics as a "Test Harness" for your goals / steps to "test" your funnel.

Build tests specific for your funnel that you think exist vs testing data for everything.

Looking at funnel data, then updated website, can now view and test results from new site design and see the results in comparison to previous data were a success.

Getting leads in the top of the funnel:

Free: Networking / organic SEO

Paid: Twitter, targeting audience, then working out 'cost per link click'.

Do some maths: $1.17 cost per click divided by 11.81% conversion rate = ~$10

But, what is a customer worth?

  • blogger vs corporate client
  • lifetime value


  • $30 Ticket
  • 50% Return Rate, based from historical data e.g. once someone bought a ticket and came, 50% likely to come back again.

$30 x 1.50 $45 of lifetime value

Cost to acquire should be 1/3 or less of lifetime value

Because you still need the money to actually run the event / pay rent + bills.

So $10 in, $45 comes out, then you can grow and keep running the data to make sure it is still viable.

In summary:

  • Start Professional Speaking
  • Build your Audience
  • Measure the Funnel

Bonus Question

Regarding a question I asked Todd on how he manages his time:

Uses https://upwork.com to out source easier, smaller things.

Didn't have a great time with out sourcing code work and got back bootstrap / bad code, so now build themselves.

Content, didn't work so doing themselves now, it didn't feel real and thought it could have a negative impact on the brand.

As a team, they meet every Tuesday night.

Nice little 'productivity hack': Todd doesn't check his emails first. He prioritises three things and gets on with them. If by lunch he hasn't finished the first one, he'll reevaluate and then check emails.

Talk Help and Feedback

Furthermore, in the talk Todd mentioned that he'd be willing to read over any talk proposals and offer any feedback.

Then a bit later Todd mentioned PubConf, a conference he runs: "Rapid-fire funny talks, musical acts, and comedy stunts from amazing developers. At the pub".

Funnily enough, I thought my talk would be a great fit for PubConf, so I sent him an email, and, today, I got a reply from Todd!

"I love the concept. …it's got legs."

Talk Idea

I remember some infuriating things we used to have to do 'back in the day'.

Like this stuff:

The talk would be a humorous look at some of the terrible things we did because we had to and where appropriate what we can do today. But then a punch line at the end… can't go giving away spoilers now can I? 😉.

Do you have a terrible hack you used to do? Let me Know!

Thanks again Todd!

Slides: https://speakerdeck.com/toddhgardner/the-developers-guide-to-promoting-their-work

Simon Owen and Todd Gardner

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