An Intro to Developer Advocacy

I started my career as Developer Advocate in the mobile industry and eventually joined PayPal in 2012, and then Braintree in 2014. Being an Advocate allows me to interact with an immense group of global merchants and consumers that use our products daily. It also allows for one of my other big passions -- speaking at conferences; sharing my thoughts and learnings about technologies. I am fortunate to have turned my obsession -- speaking publicly about tech -- into my profession.

Currently, I work with Jonathan LeBlanc who was one of the first Developer Evangelists, before it was ever a category on job searches. Another big cornerstone of our team is John Lunn. John launched developer outreach in 2009 and shaped heavily how developers perceive both PayPal and Braintree by creating authentic, focused initiatives like Startup Blueprint and BattleHack. Thanks to his philosophies and Braintree’s deep dedication towards the startup and developer ecosystem, our mission within Braintree_Dev is to advocate for the community; we want to ensure that they get to use the best products and enjoy the best programs.

Over the last few years, more and more companies are doing developer outreach or developer marketing. Given this explosion, it has become apparent to me that there is need for discussion around our profession, to keep it as credible as possible.

Whether a company is a small startup or a huge corporation, developer marketing is very flexible and can be approached through various ways. Online activities (blog posts or recorded workshops) and offline channels (developer conferences and meetups) are key when looking to address our audience where they already are.

Great examples of successful Developer Relations teams are Google, Twilio, and SendGrid. Google is renowned for running great events, such as Google I/O, and manages to push the capabilities of the modern internet with their contributions to the web. Startups Twilio and SendGrid (our partners in BattleHack), excite developers with engaging demos, easy-to-use products, and commitment to global evangelism.

Evangelism is still a very young trade and there are many daily challenges a Developer Advocate faces. It is a form of word-of-mouth marketing with a technical angle; building up and interacting with tech communities is a crucial part of this profession. Due to our constant interaction with the public, our credibility is everything, and we have to be committed to remain authentic, dedicated, and not burn out. Evangelism, in itself, is about being pure to our passion.

This is why, after more than 5 years in Developer Evangelism, I am starting a series of blog posts that will cover challenges and successes around that evangelism. I’ll share difficulties and experiences I’ve faced: stage fright, traveling nearly 10x around the globe (289,646 miles and counting), and live coding. I’ll also share the good stuff: the solutions, the tools, and the methods I’ve learned to improve team workstreams (since airplanes are virtually our offices), and best practices around work-life balance.

If you have any opinions or topics you’d like me to cover, please reach out. Most likely I’ll be crossing time zones, and feeling slightly jetlagged, but would still love a chat!

Tim Messerschmidt As a long-time mobile and web developer, Tim channels his knowledge as Head of Developer Relations. He’s passionate about startups and serves as a mentor at multiple incubators and accelerators. More posts by this author

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