What is Developer Relations?
If you've been hearing about DevRel and are confused what it means and how to get a job doing it, this website is for you. We're going to define what is it, explore the 3 types of devrel, discuss how to get a job doing it (and share companies that are hiring), and end with some resources and advice for aspiring and beginner DevRels.
DevRel, also known as Developer Relations or Developer Advocacy, is a role that exists at developer tool companies (companies whose target market is developers). Developer Advocates help educate developers on a specific product or technology through building community, creating content, and improving the developer experience of a product.
The 3 types of DevRel
Let's talk about the 3 types of DevRel: Community, Content, and Product. Many developer advocates do a mix of these but tend to specialize in one or two.
The Community Builder
- Organizing events
- Doing livestreams
- Discord/Slack community
- Talking to users for feedback
The Developer Educator
- Writing blogs
- Making videos
- Doing courses
- Speaking at conferences
The Developer Experience Engineer
- Iterating on docs
- Coding examples & starters
- Working on integrations
- Improving the overall DX
The Community Builder
Community-focused DevRel centers around growing and managing a community of developers. This is usually a Slack or Discord community that's focused on a company's product or an open source technology. Managing a community consists of answering questions, designing the community in an inclusive way, and making sure members are getting value through activities like livestreams and other events.
The Developer Educator
Content-focused DevRel is about spreading awareness about a product through written and spoken content. This can involve writing blog posts, making videos, teaching workshops, recording podcasts, tweeting and more. Content can be an SEO play focused on the long term or be a short term promotion like new feature launches.
The DX Engineer
Product-focused DevRel is about owning the developer experience of the product. It's about improving how it feels for a developer to use a specific product. This can be done by talking to users to understand how they're using it, then making improvements to the documentation and creating guides based on their answers. This can also mean working on code examples, templates, and integrations.
Getting a job in DevRel
As mentioned, the job market for devrels is very hot right now. I have startups that message me every week asking if I know any good developer advocates, so there is a big need in the market right now. I'm going to be posting a list of companies that are hiring in this section each month, starting on August 1st.
When applying for developer advocate roles, it's important to show that you have some of these three skills below:
You can code
- For this, you can show off some of your side projects or highlight your previous engineering experience. It's important for DevRels to be able to code to empathize with developers.
You can build communities
- For this skill, you can show off any experience of you helping build a community or organization. It could be for college, open source, online communities or anything.
You can create content
- For this skill, you can show off your talks, YouTube videos, tweets, and blog posts. If you don't have any of these, I'd strongly recommend you create some content.
While there aren't pre-requisites for the job, it's very helpful to have prior work in these areas to show off and get your career in developer advocacy started. If you don't have prior work, you should start creating content (blogs, videos, side projects) that helps demonstrate you can already do the work. Ultimately, this is a role for engineers who enjoy working with developers, creating content, and managing communities.
If you already have two of these skills with prior work, feel free to DM me on Twitter and I can try to connect you to startups that are hiring!
Advice for DevRels
One of the hardest parts of DevRel is getting developer's attention. It's what every devtool company is competing for. So how do you get it? Let's look at some rules.
How to engage developers
- Show, don’t tell. Break down barriers to getting their hands on the product as quickly as possible so they can determine whether or not your product is right for them.
- Features not benefits. Be straightforward about specs and feature comparisons against other product lines or competitors. Don’t bury the lede.
- Be genuinely helpful. Invest in comprehensive, high-quality resources (e.g. great API documentation, a well-maintained help center, how-to videos, sample use cases) and make it easy to contact you directly if they need some extra help. (Chances are, they won’t)
- Be direct. Get to know a developer and then imagine you are writing to that individual person each time. This quickly eliminates anything sales-y and helps produce genuinely useful content.
- Think beyond the 9-to-5. Many developers are developers in and out of work, with side projects on a wide range of topics (from hacking their dishwasher to building a marketplace or a game).
- Repurpose content. This is the key to getting the maximum amount of reuse from content you spend time creating. Try following the tweet -> blog -> video -> conference talk pipeline.
- Have a "breakable toy". In other words, have a real app to try around new tech and be able to show metrics on new tools/changes. It should be small but real, like a workout tracker, meal planner, or note taking app. Ideally it should also have a couple users like you & your friends.