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How to Become a Better Developer Advocate

How to Become a Better Developer Advocate
How to Be a Better Developer Advocate.

Over the course of time, developer advocates have evolved from being mere conduits of technical information in an organization to becoming influential connectors, bridging developers and technology. Today, developer advocates possess the ability (and hold moral responsibility) to ignite innovation, foster vibrant communities, and drive the adoption of cutting-edge solutions.

In this landscape, aspiring to become a better developer advocate can go a long way toward helping you create an outsized impact on the developer community and developer-focused businesses. In this article, you'll learn what a developer advocate does, why you'd want to be one, and how to become a developer advocate.

What is a Developer Advocate?

A developer advocate's job description covers a wide range of activities and responsibilities. The term "advocate" refers to those who speak for a group of people or a cause. So, a "developer advocate" is meant to speak for developers. Developer advocates do this by communicating developers' needs to businesses, educating them about new tools and technologies, and helping developers be better at their jobs overall.

A fundamental responsibility of developer advocate jobs is bridging the gap between the technical team that develops tools for developers and the developers who will utilize them. This entails tasks such as creating blogs and video tutorials, hosting workshops and training sessions, creating integrations that help facilitate smoother adoption of tools, representing their companies at conferences, and more.

Why Be a Developer Advocate?

Becoming a developer advocate is more than just a pivot in your software career—it's a chance to drive change and innovation. By becoming a developer advocate, you get a chance to:

  • Share your passion for technology with others
  • Offer your expertise in technology to teach the community
  • Learn from the community
  • Give back to the community

If you are a software developer with a passion for sharing knowledge and find yourself breaking down complex concepts for your colleagues with ease, you might be cut out for this role. If you find satisfaction in helping people solve problems and adopt new technologies, you might find the developer advocate career path quite fulfilling.

How to Become a Developer Advocate

Like most career paths, there are many intricacies to being a developer advocate, which you'll need to understand and perfect if you want to excel. In this section, you'll learn some of the core qualities you need to become a 10x developer advocate.

Empathize with Your Audience

The foundation of developer advocacy is acting as a bridge between developers and product teams. To do that, you need to understand developers well. This means relating to them, listening to their concerns, understanding their perspective, and picking up on what works great for them.

When interacting with your audience, whether in person or online, make sure to prioritize their challenges and problems. When responding to them, show integrity and humility. Remember, a routine issue for you might be a showstopper for them that's held them back for days or weeks. In such cases, it doesn't feel good to be told "the solution is so obvious."

As with most customer-facing roles, make sure to follow up with people after you help them out. Ask them if the solution helped, how they liked the experience with your product and the interaction with you, and if there was anything that could have made it better. Empathetic follow-ups can help you get useful feedback about your product and processes.

When offering suggestions and recommendations, make it a point to keep your audience's constraints in mind. Be honest when you know your product is just not right for someone. While you are there to help grow your company's reach, it should never come at the cost of setting expectations that you will fail to meet later down the line.

When reaching out to your audience via social media or the internet in general, make sure to share your personal experiences and the problems you face as a developer. Sometimes, just knowing that others have been in similar situations and have faced similar issues is quite a relief and helps build trust.

Cultivate Solid Technical Skills

While a software developer advocate role is not expected to be the most experienced engineer on the team, having some technical background definitely helps. A technically sound developer advocate will better understand the pain points, challenges, and needs of developers. With a solid technical understanding of the product at hand, you can provide relevant solutions quickly, thus building strong credibility with the developer community.

Additionally, good technical skills also help the developer advocate to understand their company’s products better. This, in turn, helps them to build integrations and plugins tailored to the developers’ needs. These customized solutions provide a better development experience and encourage developers to engage with the tools.

Apart from having a technical background, having an inquisitive mind helps. Most good developer advocates are always learning. They keep tabs on new technologies that come up across the industry, try to understand how they work, and try them out, enabling them to make informed decisions when adopting tools or recommending them to developers. All this does not necessarily require a formal education in engineering; you only need a curious mind and some time to tinker with the technologies.

Work on Your Communication

Being a developer advocate is all about building strong connections with the developer community. Communication is key to understanding and helping your audience. All your empathy and technical skills are in vain if you don't know how to communicate well with your audience. Effective communication gives you a chance to easily understand their needs and address their concerns, thus building trust and loyalty.

Here are a few things you can focus on to improve your communication:

  • Listen actively: As a problem solver, you need to be able to patiently listen to your customers as they describe their pain points. Once again, empathy plays an important role here. You should focus on listening attentively and asking follow-up questions that help you understand developers' problems completely before suggesting solutions. This not only makes it easier for you to offer the right solution but also makes the developers feel heard.
  • Work on public speaking: As a developer relations advocate, you would often need to take on public speaking engagements. It wouldn't hurt to join local meetups and webinars in speaking roles to refine your ability to engage, educate, and inspire an audience.
  • Learn the art of storytelling: While technical content is usually very bland and succinct, knowing how to craft captivating narratives in it can help you resonate with your audience better. Consider learning the art of storytelling and using it when creating content for your audience.
  • Use visual aids and design: A picture is worth a thousand words. And a technical diagram? Probably more than that. Use visual aids and design principles to create engaging content when interacting with your audience. Adding a GIF or two to your slide deck might not be too much work, but it would definitely garner some laughs and create a friendly interaction with your audience. Use infographics and diagrams generously to reinforce your technical points across all media.

Participate and Volunteer in Public Online Communities

Most developer communities are hosted online on platforms like Slack, Discord, and more. These serve as an opportunity for developer advocates to connect with developers and build a strong network around their product or platform. When developers see that a developer advocate is actively volunteering in these communities and is genuinely interested in solving their problems, it strengthens their trust in them.

Public online communities serve as a source of raw feedback from developers, which helps developer advocates precisely address their pain points and concerns. These are also platforms for knowledge-sharing where developer advocates can share their expertise with the community and help developers make the most of a product. The learning environment that's created doesn't just help developers understand a tool better but also demonstrates the company's dedication to assisting its community.

Active communication and participation in other developer communities also create opportunities for partnerships or collaborations between your product and the developer community. These collaborations contribute to the smoother adoption of your product in the wider community.

Here are a few tips you can keep in mind to effectively participate in and contribute to public online communities:

  • Identify communities that align with your passions and expertise: It doesn't make sense to mindlessly target each community that you come across. Remember, your core focus is solving people's problems, not force-feeding your solution to everyone.
  • Don't jump right in: Initially, just be a part of the community and learn more about it while lurking. This allows you to gain an idea of the community's preferences, challenges, and discussions.
  • Start with sharing responses: Once you have an idea of the community's discussions, start sharing your expertise with informative posts, comments, and responses. Remember to be as empathetic as possible in your communication.
  • Be consistent: Make sure to be consistent when participating in communities. Dedicate some time in your day to regularly engage with the community to reinforce your position as a knowledgeable voice.
  • Spark conversations: Apart from providing solutions to people's problems, also share your own once in a while. Ask thoughtful questions that can spark meaningful conversations.
  • Share personal experiences: When providing solutions to problems, try to share your personal experience to help build confidence.

Create and Publish Technical Content of Your Own

Creating and publishing technical content is a vital part of a developer advocate's job, as it's a reliable way to build strong rapport within the developer community. Tutorial videos, blog posts, and guides put up by a developer advocate help developers better understand the company's product, thus increasing its adoption rate within the community.

As a developer advocate, you should feel free to write about code. Almost every developer consults tutorials and blogs online when they are stuck or trying to learn new technology. This makes technical writing a powerful medium for reaching developers. However, technical writing is a skill in itself that you must carefully master to get the best results.

Many blogs provide developers with solutions without explaining the why behind them. Providing context when writing technical documentation, tutorials, blogs, and other technical communications can help your audience easily follow along and take full advantage of the content you put out on your website and social platforms. It can also make your writing stand out from the others on the internet, helping you build better relationships with your audience.

When writing code, context is much more important. Context makes it easier for the readers to understand, reuse, and share materials with their team. This might include information like tags, related links, and other metadata attached to the code snippets. Communicating this context clearly to readers is often a challenging task, but it can help the recipients understand the code snippet and its purpose better.

Providing information about individuals associated with the code snippets also helps teams identify code ownership. This knowledge enables team members to reach out to the right people for assistance when necessary.

However, modern code organization tools provide intuitive ways for you to share that context with your readers without compromising your writing. Pieces is one such tool that automatically enriches snippets, making technical writing much easier. Advocates can pop a Pieces cloud link into any writing materials so they can continue to have brevity in their writing and provide essential context.

For instance, here's what a normal code snippet in a technical article looks like:

npm create vite-app@latest

The Enriched snippet looks like this when shared with Pieces:

Enriched snippet.

Notice how Pieces automatically populates related links and other contextual information about the code snippet. This can help readers understand complex pieces of code very easily and share them further.

Strategize for the Best Impact and Business Alignment

Becoming a 10x developer advocate involves more than just being a technical expert or a great communicator. It's about making a significant impact on the company and fostering a sustainable relationship between the developer relations team and the business.

Therefore, developer relations teams need to quantify their impact on the company’s business and ensure that it aligns with the company’s business goals.

To do this, you must ensure that you and your fellow developer advocates set clear objectives and key results (OKRs) that align with the company's overall goals. Measuring the success of your advocacy efforts is crucial to quantify this impact. This means tracking metrics such as the number of new developers onboarded, the growth in community engagement, or the increase in API usage. You also need to continuously assess what's working and what's not and adapt your strategies based on data-driven insights.

Finally, you must ensure you and your developer relations team understand how developer relations fit into the larger business picture. For example, if the company's primary revenue stream comes from a specific product or service, the DevRel team should understand this and tailor their efforts to support that product's success. To contribute to achieving the broader goals, the DevRel team should be open to collaborating with other departments like marketing, product management, and sales.

Build a Personal Brand

Having a reputable personal brand makes a developer advocate look more credible to the community, and developers are more likely to rely on their insights and recommendations. A recognized personal brand expands a developer advocate's reach and visibility, thus opening doors to new opportunities and providing a chance for career enhancement. Developer advocates who actively and seriously promote their personal brand are likely to have large followings of (mostly) developers, thus enhancing their influence and position in the developer community.

Personal branding also connects developer advocates with others in the field, further expanding their reach within the community and connecting them with like-minded intellectuals along the way. A developer advocate's robust personal brand also benefits the company they represent. If developers trust a developer advocate, they will most likely see the company in a positive light.

However, building a personal branch can seem like a daunting task when you are just starting out. Here is a rough roadmap to help you get started on the journey:

  • Identify your niche: To start out, identify your area of expertise within the developer community. It could be a programming language, a framework, a technology stack, or a specific development practice. Focusing on a niche will help you stand out and build a reputation as an expert in that area.
  • Work on your technical skills and communication: As a developer advocate, you need to have deep technical knowledge and strong communication skills. Make sure you are improving your skills every day to stay relevant for your audience.
  • Build an online presence: There are multiple ways you could go about this. You could start a niche blog or website, join platforms like Twitter (now X) and LinkedIn to share content in your area of expertise, or just contribute to open source projects and communities. If you are looking for inspiration, consider following in the footsteps of industry veterans like Jon Meyers and Lee Robinson to learn how they figured it all out.
  • Apply to speak at in-person events: Presenting at conferences, webinars, and local developer meetups can establish you as an authority in your field. Share your experiences, insights, and practical tips to educate and inspire others at in-person events.
  • Engage with the community: This is an important step in order to stay relevant among your audience. Make sure you're not only creating content but also helping solve people's problems. Volunteer some of your daily time to answer niche-related questions on platforms like Stack Overflow and Reddit. If possible, set up virtual meetups and workshops to teach developers about the topic. You could also consider collaborating on projects, guest posts, or joint presentations with other experts in your niche.
  • Create visual content: Make use of platforms like YouTube or TikTok to create visual content like tutorials, coding walk-throughs, or quick tips. Visual content can attract a wider audience and make complex concepts easier to understand.
  • Be consistent: The most important part of this process is to be consistent. Consistently produce high-quality content, engage with the community, and demonstrate your expertise, and you will soon have a sizable audience following you and looking up to you.

Network with Software Developers and Managers In and Out of Your Company

Building networks enables developer advocates to create strong and meaningful relationships with developers and managers, thus building an environment of trust and credibility. Developers will feel free to share their pain points and seek assistance from the developer advocate, building a positive culture within the company.

A well-established network within the company gives developer advocates a fair chance to voice developer needs and concerns. A powerful network with software developers and managers outside the company keeps developer advocates updated about all the recent advancements in technologies and trends, helping them to stay relevant, innovative, and in the market. You can use online communities based on Discord/Slack or public platforms like LinkedIn to find yourself a professional network. These communities and platforms also enable you to easily stay in touch with your network, helping you build lasting relationships.


Developer advocate is one of the most exciting roles in tech right now. Standing right at the intersection of engineering, product, and marketing, developer advocates are driving adoption for developer tool companies across the industry. In this article, you learned some of the ways in which you can improve your skills and start your journey toward becoming a better developer advocate.

If you are looking to up your technical writing game, make sure to download Pieces today and share informative code snippets with your readers. Alternatively, if you are great at technical writing already, join Pieces' content partner program!


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