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Liz Acosta
Liz Acosta

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The DevRel Digest March 2024: Must Be the Season of the Queen

A Season of Wands

It’s been more than a month at my new job and I continue to feel (cautiously) optimistic. After being unexpectedly laid off twice in twelve months, it’s going to take a little while for the anxiety to wear off.

But so far, I like my job. It feels like the perfect intersection of my particular kaleidoscope of skills and experience. In just a month, I’ve already made an impact, and it might have something to do with finally landing a role that I’m suited for on a team whose values align with mine.

In tarot, the suit of Wands is associated with the element of fire. Wands are about passion, inspiration, intuition, and determination. When the Wands show up in a tarot reading, it’s a sign to pay attention to the activities, people, and settings that motivate you on a spiritual level.

With my new job, I feel I have entered a season of Wands. Like the Queen of Wands, I am learning to lean into what motivates and inspires me, and to trust that as long as I believe in myself and keep moving in the direction of my values, eventually I’ll get where I want to go.

The Queen of Wands as represented in the Rider-Waite deck with senior pug Gary Photoshopped poorly as the black cat

The Queen of Wands as represented in the Rider-Waite deck with senior pug Gary Photoshopped poorly as the black cat

As I’ve been getting acquainted with my new role and responsibilities, I’ve been thinking a lot about what content by and for developers looks like. Most recently, I was thinking about this “tough pill to swallow” I came across on LinkedIn from Seve Kim, a Product Manager at Spotify:

A LinkedIn post that comes to the conclusion: "Developers don't want a developer portal. Developers want to be better developers."

And people had a lot to say about this!

He’s right. But that doesn’t mean developers don’t need developer portals or developer tools. They do need those things, but they don’t want them. Just like no one needs a quarter-inch drill … until they want a quarter-inch hole.

Developers want to be better developers and so they need platforms, tools, dashboards, SDKs, frameworks, content, meetups, tutorials – whatever it takes to facilitate their craft. More specifically, and as pointed out by Keith "Danger" Casey (Senior Product Manager at Pangea), “Developers have two goals in life: build something useful and go home.”

Casey adds, “Developers are generally disconnected from revenue. They know their Sales team makes money but generally find the practice distasteful and irrelevant to their day to day tasks. Therefore, developers define ‘useful’ as ‘how many people are using my software?’ We want to know more people are using our software this week than there were last week. After all, as it grows and does more, we get to solve better and more interesting problems.”

Which is why marketing to developers requires some specialization.

Developer Inspired Marketing

Earlier this month I attended the Developer Marketing Summit presented by the Developer Marketing Alliance and more recently, I watched a recording of’s webinar on building a dream DevRel team. The two complemented each other perfectly and both ended up at the same conclusions about how to appeal to developers.

When it comes to assembling a DevRel dream team – and especially when it comes to hiring the inaugural Developer Advocate – both Tessa Kriesel (DevRel leader and coach) and Dan Moore (Head of Developer Relations at FusionAuth) stressed how important it is for a company to have a clear understanding of not only its objectives for a Developer Relations program but its level of executive buy-in as well. In order to understand how DevRel can serve an organization, it is imperative to understand developer marketing, and vice versa.

Where and how Developer Relations and developer marketing overlap, complement, and support each other is a topic I think the jury is going to be out on for a little while (or until the first Chief DevRel Officer emerges … more on this later!). Until then, one thing is certain: Developer Relations and developer marketing are both developer inspired.

A diagram illustrating how developer Relations and developer marketing both center the developer

Developer Relations and developer marketing both center the developer

Marketing That Inspires Developers

According to the Developer Marketing Alliance, Developer Relations represents the voice of the developer while developer marketing represents the voice of the product (which I like to refer to as the “solution”). Both functions are invested in the community of developers who use their solution. This means collaboration and feedback loops are essential for success. Developer marketing seeks to drive awareness of the solution among developers and DevRel provides insight into how those developers are engaging with the solution. This, in turn, influences developer marketing strategy.

At the Developer Marketing Summit, even though Pieter Brinkman (VP of Product Marketing & DevRel at Sitecore) was talking about B2B dev marketing, he made a point that transcends developer first and developer plus companies alike: While no developer is the buying authority of a solution, no solution is bought without the blessing of a developer. In other words, Brinkman concludes, “Developers are key influencers in the decision and have the power to postpone, make, or break a deal.”

This is where Developer Relations can provide insight into what developers need to decide one way or another when evaluating a solution. Do they need more documentation? More code recipes for common use cases? More examples? More features? More community troubleshooting? What do they need to inspire them to build better, faster, stronger, and smarter? To achieve the next milestone in their career … and to minimize incidents and maximize adoption?

How DevRel and how developer marketing ultimately work together still relies greatly on the maturity and goals of an individual company, but as the webinar wound to a close, Dan Moore predicted that we might see titles like “Chief DevRel Officer” in the near future.

It makes sense, especially if we begin to consider Developer Relations as a kind of product of its own where the quality of relationship between a solution and its developers is the metric of success. This relationship is composed of different elements and each element requires a certain expertise. Developer marketing might be a function within this kind of structure. Or maybe a developer marketing organization contains Developer Advocates. Or maybe something else entirely.

Whatever it takes to get the job done. Because while it may very well be that no developer wants a platform for a dashboard or a new framework, what developers need is to feel useful, and you won’t be able to tell that story without Developer Relations and developer marketing inspiring each other.

Events and Resources and Other Notable Things

  • If you’re in the Bay Area and looking for an opportunity to deep dive into AI and ML, network, and attend a cool after party alongside developers just like you, then sign up for Dev Day on June 6th at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Registration is free! Full transparency: Yes, I work there. (Which means that duh, yes, I’ll be there and duh, yes, we can hang out if you come!)
  • Not in the Bay Area? That’s okay. You can find other Streamlit events here.
  • I really enjoyed the webinar and they’ve got another one coming up April 16th. It’s about product documentation and education and that’s right up my alley!
  • Last call for talk proposals for DevRelCon! (Seriously, the deadline is April 1st!)
  • And in case you missed it, you can watch the recording of DevRel.Agency’s fireside chat with Bear Douglas (Director of Developer Relations at Pinecone) here. Hosted by Caroline Lewko, the chat is basically two powerhouses in DevRel sharing wisdom and insights on leadership.
  • Amusingly, I was just talking to someone about enums, and then this blog post about Python’s enum class came up in my LinkedIn feed. Lucky me!
  • And in other feed finds, I stumbled across this wonderful little cheat sheet of different list methods in Python. I hope you find it helpful!

A cheat sheet illustrating different list methods in Python with birds

There's an animated version of this here

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