Ismaen Aboubakare
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One Year as a Developer Advocate

Photo by Seyedeh Hamideh Kazemi on Unsplash

One Year as a Developer Advocate

Ismaen Aboubakare's photo
Ismaen Aboubakare
ยทJan 26, 2022ยท

5 min read

It's been one year since I left Microsoft and joined Airkit. First words that came to mind, is "What a ride." I still remember a year ago when I was still contemplating to jump ship and join a startup (something I never really thought of doing) and going back and forth on if its a good career move, mostly because I was really excelling as a customer engineer at Microsoft. I essentially would lose the brand and reputation I built at Microsoft over 5 years and have to rebuild that at Airkit. But after some thought and hearing the vision of the product and being excited about the prospect of being a Developer Advocate, I decided to do it and haven't looked back since.

Here are some things I've learned along the way

Creating content is hard

Especially if the content is good and high quality. Anyone can pump out one take videos or blog posts, but content that is consistent and resonates and is well aligned is difficult. Partly is there's the part where you have to be kind of inspired to create the content, and always want to be innovative.

I'm going to set a goal for myself to create content at least once a month -- whether its a video or a blog post, consistency is key here. I'd like to encourage my team to do the same.

Content is king

Even though creating content is hard, a big focus for this upcoming year is upping our content game. Having a consistent cadence, specifically a content calendar, is going to allow us to build out the community that we're wanting to build.

One thing I'd like to do is be more organized with our content. A lot of times, content has more so been on the cadence of inspiration.

I need to bucket out the different content types, whether its long form written content, short videos, long videos, or even other forms, there needs to be goals and a schedule around it.

Lastly, having content in different mediums is important, especially for the learner. We want to be inclusive of all learning styles so whether its video or written, we want to include everyone.

Growth Mindset

Being a DA means being a subject matter expert in your particular field. For me, it's being an expert in the Airkit platform. Am I an expert? To be honest, I have a long way to go, but I'm always learning and encourage my team to continue to grow and learn in the platform as well as other skills for their careers. Also another thing, don't be afraid to ask for help.

Metrics are Hard

In the world of DevRel/Developer Advocacy it's difficult to track the impact of your work. Whether it's creating videos, content, documentation, or blogs -- my first inclination was to track what was easy. Views, clicks, # of articles etc. I shortly realized that this didn't show any impact and was very difficult to control. After hearing a webinar on measuring DevRel, it definitely provided some insight on what we should be measuring, which is essentially MAU (Monthly Active Users).

Is the content you're producing making an impact to MAU? This was an interesting because I had no idea. I can essentially guess if the content I was producing was making an impact but there wasn't really a way to tell if there was a direct impact.

This year, one key thing to keep in mind is to categorize the work that you're doing and focus on what the ROI is on that work, and align it to the company's goals. Additionally, partnering with engineering to see what data you can get to assist with DA initiatives.

Things I'll be keeping in mind are those categories:

  • Awareness - users become aware of your product
  • Acquisition - users signup for your product
  • Activation - users successfully use your product
  • Retention - users continue to use the product and potentially increase usage
  • Referral - users like product and company brand enough to refer others
  • Revenue - users conduct some monetizing behavior
  • Product - users and the developer relations team help define and build the product as well as gathering feedback from users to enhance your product

Documentation (acquisition, activation, product) Quick starts (activation, product) Blog Posts, tutorials, hacks (awareness, acquisition, activation, retention) Community (activation, retention)

This will help focus our efforts and understand the impact towards MAU.

Get out of your comfort zone

One saying I take with me everywhere is: Being comfortable with being uncomfortable. Being in front of a camera is not very natural to me, but I like to think i'm getting better at it. Even in the DA role, with sitting in a grey area between product, sales, marketing, and engineering -> you don't really have a "home", and being comfortable with that. Where goals are a little cloudy, impact and metrics aren't exactly specific.

Note to self: Get out there, be yourself, continue to grow.

Stay close to product

As someone who advocates for our developers, PMS are your best friend. Keep them close, make sure the developers are heard, have an influence on the developers and the product.


There's so much more to learn in this role, but I'm excited for this year. I think this year is going to be a year of focus but also experimentation. Key goals for this year are going to build a well oiled machine, where we stay close to product, ship more content, and continue to create value for our community.


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