Taylor Barnett-Torabi

Adventures in Solo DevRel Notes

by Taylor Barnett-Torabi

[This blog post is still a work in progress.]

A couple of weeks ago I presented a talk about doing Developer Relations solo (with no other Developer Relations focused team members or leadership) for the Flyless Weekly call. I wanted to share some of the slides from that talk. I have excluded some of them for various reasons (privacy, too spicy without deeper context, relevancy, etc.).

I wanted to focus the talk on tools that increase the success of this work, so that is what the majority of the following slides will cover.


Adventures in Solo DevRel

Solo DevRel is DevRel on HARD MODE

Often one of the greatest challenges in DevRel is prioritization. At any given moment, you could be doing like a dozen different things that somehow work towards your goals. Add in doing this by yourself and it becomes hard mode. It isn't for the inexperienced.

More likely to deal with burnout (due to a lack of support, understanding from the larger team (Marketing, Eng, etc.), single person cannot accomplish the three C's (community, code, content), hard to work from scratch

How do you find yourself in this position?

I think a lot of people think that you find yourself in this position because a company only hired one person for the role. While this can be true, there's a lot of other ways it can happen that you need to be aware of. Just because you joined a team doesn't mean it can't happen. I'm going to skip the next slide that describes how I've found myself in that position, but I am always happy to talk it through with anyone and talk about the common red flags that I have seen. It often comes down more to overall business goals for early stage companies and not the Developer Relations practice itself.

Company goals x potential impact = Your DevRel work

Often the work you will do depends on overall company goals and your potential impact. As the business grows and Developer Relations grows, you will establish more team wide goals, but even those will depend on company goals in order to be successful.

Sometimes this means doing things that aren't entirely DevRel, but look for opportunities

I think one of the things that grinds my gears the most is when someone at an early stage company has a very narrow view of what DevRel is. Maybe it is because I believe that startups are a team sport, but sometimes you have to be a little flexible in what you are willing to do. Of course question activities that you don't think will have impact, but sometimes you have to look creatively at how some activities can actually benefit DevRel and yourself. For example, certain marketing activities can help you work on testing out and exploring the language you might want to use with developer audiences. I've helped write everything from email to product page copy. It has not only helped develop my own voice around the product, but it made sure the language that we are using is genuine and speaks to our audience. Do I want to get pulled deep in the marketing world? Of course not, but I look for opportunities where we can help each other.

Toolbox: Leadership interviews, AAARRRP DevRel Strategy Framework, Impact Effort Matrix, t-shirt sizing, Libby boxes, RACIs, Mission statements

Leadership Interviews, image from talk by Jessica West

What value do you think DevRel brings? What does a succuesful DevReal team look like to you? What does company success look like in 12, 24 months? (Most important)