I’ve been working in or around developer relations for 6 years next January. My road to DevRel wasn’t linear but I couldn’t be happier that I’m here.
I love programming and have since I saved up money mowing lawns as a kid to purchase a used Apple IIe from a garage sale for $75 in 1995, and then discovered it came with something called BASIC. In college I started building real-world web applications (much more satisfying than the coursework 😛) and haven’t stopped since.
But programming has never been the whole story. For me, software is also what you can do with it and what you can build around it. The social side is interesting. The business side is interesting. When I first started using APIs, I fell in love. How useful! I joined Keen IO and helped build an API for analytics. Then I worked for Algolia and helped developers discover a powerful search API. Along the way, my role gradually shifted from engineering to evangelism. My interests widened from solving the engineering problem to solving the growth problem. Adding writing, speaking and growth on top of a coding role was challenging but exciting. It felt natural. Why not do that all the time and call it a job?
This week I’m at DevRelCon London amongst a host of other folks who have found their way on this multidisciplinary path too. These bright souls are who I want to serve with DeveloperMode, a consulting business that has a real name now 😄 and that I’m formally announcing today. I owe a debt of gratitude to this community for being welcoming when I was new and for being supportive through the various ups and downs over the years, and I feel privileged to be able to pay that forward. ❤️
What we do
To date, I’ve done anything from developer product design to positioning & messaging to DevRel team strategy to DX assessments all the way to for-hire blog posts. I’ve worked with evangelists, advocates, marketers and founders. While the variety of experience has been very valuable, that hasn’t felt very sustainable or scalable. Thankfully, one type of work has risen above the rest as both satisfying to work on and uniquely valuable to clients.
I love to build hack projects—also known as demos, open source repos, community projects, or example apps. I love to build technically interesting projects that provide value to developers, and in turn make developers curious about my client’s API or product. These projects lend themselves well to ongoing storytelling and repeatable campaigns, making them much more valuable than the average one-off blog post.
I believe that this “show, don’t tell” style of marketing is what actually works with developers, what is capable of really moving the needle on building developer awareness and credibility.
I’ve built or worked on successful hack projects before including Keen Dashboards (10k+ ⭐), Algolia DocSearch (live on 900+ developer documentation sites) and at least a half-dozen more. I’ve built them and I’ve gotten distribution for them. I’ve also been an observer of projects by other APIs like Stream’s impressively polished Winds and the pull-out-all-the-stops hack that is TwilioQuest. By building and studying these types of projects, I’ve gotten a good idea of what developers respond to and what kind of results are possible, subjects that will be covered in future blog posts.
If an awesome hack project sounds like something your team or company is interested in, whether you have an idea already or not, please get in touch and let’s taco about it 🌮
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