re: What is the role of a developer advocate? VIEW POST


Hi, I'm Michael and I'm an Developer Advocate (DA). I started out as a developer some 20y ago and I've been in a DA role at different companies for the last six years. It's a super exciting and varied job: from public speaking engagements at conferences and meetups to developing demos and tools to writing blog posts, articles, and books to creating audio-visual artefacts (podcasts, interviews, demo screen casts) to maintaining advocacy sites to giving workshops and training sessions. I spend ca. 70% on the road where I meet users, customers, and partners. And then I hang out on Slack channels, in office hours, and on StackOverflow to help users. So part of the job is to get the word about the tech out there and communicate good practices.

The other part—which sets advocacy apart from evangelism—is to close the loop: I collect feedback, document how folks are using the technology, and note suggestions and complains. This feedback I channel back to Engineering and Product Management to improve the technology and shape the roadmap. As a DA, you're not Sales (we don't sell stuff, heck I don't even know our pricing) and you're not Marketing (leads are not our KPIs). You represent the technology you're advocating to developers and ops folks and your credibility comes from the fact that you're hands-on with it on a daily basis, with the goal to make people successful with the respective technology.


Thank-you so much!


Thanks for the clear and crisp explanation Michael. DA sounds exciting.

One thing which I don't get is, at what stage will a product startup require a developer advocate?


You're welcome and that's an excellent question—when does it make sense to have dedicate DA position? When I joined the start-ups they were well funded (B/C round) and had some 130 and 80 people respectively there. Initially, the DA role would likely be taken care of by the CTO (if you're dealing with a dozen of employees) but at some point it pays off to have a dedicated person for this role. Think about it this way: somewhere in your journey the CTO will stop doing daily engineering management and a dedicated VP of Engineering is hired to take care of this task, freeing up the CTO to focus on strategic decisions and activities. Maybe this is also the right size of the company to either find a developer in-house with great people skills and who likes to present, produce technical content, etc. who takes on the role of a DA or maybe you look externally in places like devrel.net.

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