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What is DevRel?

What does DevRel mean? Let's demystify this new field and look closer at a day in the life of a Developer Relations advocate.

Jun 08, 2023 • 4 Minute Read

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Have you heard buzz about DevRel advocates and wondered what these mystical creatures are? Where you might find one? How you might become one?

In this post we’ll demystify this new field and take a closer look at what a day in the life of someone working in Developer Relations could look like.

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Be paid to be friendly on the internet!

Because it’s a fairly new field, pinning down an exact description of DevRel is tricky. It’s an umbrella term that can mean different things in different companies. There is consistency in what the term DevRel stands for at least – Developer Relations. You may hear the term used interchangeably to refer to the field of Developer Relations, as well as the specific job role, but the correct use should only apply to the field.

In her blog, Mary Thengvall says the main role is “to support the company's empowerment of the developer community.” So that might mean telling devs about your company’s product, but it’s much more than just marketing stuff to them. A large part of it is nurturing connections between the company and the community, building trust, and listening. 

“So I joke that as someone in DevRel, I am paid to be friendly on the internet. It's a lot of listening. t's a lot of trying to get at the core of what people actually need, in addition to what they want or say they want,” says Pluralsight’s Director of Developer Relations, Aisha

“Obviously we tell people about Pluralsight and Pluralsight’s offerings, but what we're really doing is building trust with a community of technical people. And hopefully inspiring people to engage in continuous learning.”

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DevRel is for advocates

Some may call them evangelists; Aisha prefers ‘advocate’ for the work she and her team do.  

Where Developer Relations sits within a company varies. Some DevRel teams are part of marketing, others are in product development, others in engineering, with a few as standalone teams. Where you sit within the company will affect the scope of your role. In one company it could focus on relationship building, community management, and public speaking; at another it might be more about technical writing and product development.

The label can be hard to define because of how much variation there is out there. Ultimately there is one common thread that ties them all together. They all speak on behalf of the company and product, and the consumer - the developer who will be using and benefiting from it.

So, what might a day in the life look like?

Well, communities and content don’t get built in a day, so we’ll broaden that scope slightly and ask: what might a week in the life of DevRel look like?

In Aisha’s case, a typical week might involve being at an event, virtual or in person, to nurture existing relationships and connect with new people. For that she might give a talk, refining it to its latest iteration, and have drafted a related blog post. Maybe she’s spending a few hours recording an episode of a regularly releasing podcast, web series, or live stream. This will also include all the research, planning, and editing that involves. She might then reach out to someone who could be a good fit for a teaching opportunity such as a course. Or even connect them with someone else looking for answers they can provide. 

On the internal consulting side, she’s helping someone tune a campaign to get the right voice and acting as an advocate for the developer audience. Then she’s working out how to improve the experience of joining the Pluralsight Discord, or ideating how to set up a series of Twitter spaces, and what that might look like. Maybe she’s spending some time talking to the author of this post, distilling and demystifying what she does and how.

Want to dig deeper into DevRel?

Does this sound up your alley? Check out our post on How to get into DevRel.

Fancy reading more? Mary Thengvall literally wrote the book on it – The Business Value of Developer Relations: How and Why Technical Communities Are Key To Your Success. Connect with Aisha, and the rest of her team to see what they’re up to on the regular.