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DevRel and Community with Brittany Walker

Erin and Brian are joined by Brittany Walker, Senior Developer Advocate for Contentful and local tech community organizer. We’ll discuss the journey from self-taught developer to bootcamp to developer advocate and community organizer.

Featured Guest

Brittany Walker is a Senior Developer Advocate at Contentful where she helps developers make the most out of the platform. She is an active member of the Washington DC tech community and a big fan of musical theater.

Hosted by

Erin Mikail Staples is a very online individual passionate about facilitating better connections online and off. She’s forever thinking about how we can communicate, educate and elevate others through collaborative experiences.

Currently, Erin builds community and thinks about the philosophy and tooling of the community and developer advocate world. Much of her day is spent empowering individuals to build, foster, and embrace healthy communities. Outside of her day-job, Erin is a comedian, graduate technical advisor, no-code content creator, triathlete, avid reader, and cat parent.

Most importantly, she believes in the power of being unabashedly “into things” and works to help friends, strangers, colleagues, community builders, students, and whoever else might cross her path find their thing.

Brian Rinaldi is a Developer Experience Engineer at LaunchDarkly. Brian has worked for a decade focused on developer community and developer relations at companies like Progress Software and Adobe. Brian has been a developer for over 20 years, working with front-end and back-end technologies mostly focused on the web. He is heavily involved in the community including running developer meetups and events via and serving on the board of and organizing meetups for Orlando Devs. serves as the editor of the Jamstacked newsletter.


Brian Rinaldi 0:06
Everybody, it’s great to see like the chat already lively before we even got started today. So I’m really excited that you all are here. Oh, and I did the amateur thing. Oh my God. Give me one second. I did the total amateur thing. And I had the YouTube open on a different tab somewhere. So I’m like hearing my echo. You know, see, see now you’re all supposed to listen to me talk about DevRel and I had like, here I am totally amateur.

Erin Mikail Staples 0:42
I feel like that’s part of DevRel though is like you are learning in public on the go. Like if we wanted perfectly, perfectly done things go hire a product marketer.

Brian Rinaldi 0:54
Exactly. Although now I’m part of developer marketing team, although it might title hasn’t changed. But anyway, doing quick introductions for those of you who don’t know us, I am Brian Rinaldi. I’m a developer experience engineer at launch darkly. And my co host is…

Erin Mikail Staples 1:11
I’m Erin Mikail Staples and I’m a senior developer community advocate at Human Signal, which is the Label Studio project.

Brian Rinaldi 1:19
And today, we are really excited to have Brittany Walker here as a guest. She’s a senior developer advocate at Contentful. So thanks for coming out, Brittany.

Brittany Walker 1:30
Yeah, I’m really excited to talk to you guys today.

Brian Rinaldi 1:36
yeah, so we want to talk to you specifically, like little bit we’d like to talk to everybody about how they got into DevRel, what they did before DevRel, things like that. So tell us a little bit about where you got your start, like, you know, were you a developer before and then kind of transitioned? Or did you kind of move in a different direction?

Brittany Walker 1:55
Yeah, so my story is kind of long, but I will start in college. So I got a government degree. And I was really also into theater, and I worked a lot of events. So I was like a stage manager for South by Southwest. I volunteered at theatres being an usher. So I got to see so many free shows is awesome. So I was doing government degree, but I was also doing event stuff. And after college, I was like, I really want to work in events. But it’s hard to make money. And it’s also hard on your body because you work like all night and it’s physical. So I decided, okay, let me get a job using my government degree a little bit. And theatre will stay my hobby. So I got a job at a nonprofit sociation for cost estimation is really boring, but it’s for government and contractor people. And I worked as marketing systems sort of, and I did customer service, I planned conferences, so I kind of got to do events. We had two annual conferences, I plan to help plan those, but it was making like 35k. So it was like really low salary, there was only four of us. And only two of us were part time or two of us were full time. So it was really small. So I was like, you know, I let me try to use my government degree and make some more money. So I switched to working at a law firm, because I did want to become a lawyer at some point, because I watched law and order. And I was like, Oh, that’s really cool. So they let me work at a law firm. So I got a job at this law firm doing practice management, which was a completely new thing at the time. But I got to still do a little bit events, planned market plan meetings, and then I it was set up where we had practice groups. So there’ll be corporate lawyers, IP, lawyers, energy, etc. And then people in my department will get assigned to like corporate IP. And we do help them with recruiting, help them with marketing, help them with finances and stuff like that. So that’s what I was doing. And I really liked it. But there was no way to move up in the job, like I was a coordinator and every practice group would have the director, manager coordinator. And I couldn’t be a manager unless somebody left or died. So by the time I left, they started adding senior coordinator and stuff like that. But I was like, you know, I gotta leave because I can’t move up. So like, once again, I was like wandering or money. And I want to move up a little bit. So I was thinking about leaving, but I couldn’t really figure out how I wanted to leave and Thanksgiving break in 2016 I decided to try to make a website because I wanted to make a site to track the musicals that I was watching because I like to watch good in New York. I live in DC, I take the train in New York see shows. So I was doing that and I couldn’t remember all the shows that I wanted to add that I had seen in the past. So I was like, let me make a site to track them. So I started trying to make it make a site I knew little bit of HTML CSS from like, eighth grade because I played Neopets, and I learned HTML and CSS from that. I had a little little business making guild pages for people and Neopets is really fun in eighth grade. And so things can break was did you wanna say something Erin?

Erin Mikail Staples 4:47
Oh, no, I just got really excited. Oh, me because I was I too was a Neopet, making all the cool. Of course the glitter you gotta have glitter.

Brian Rinaldi 4:56
I’m too old for that stuff.

Erin Mikail Staples 5:00
Same with like Tumblr and MySpace pages. Yeah, yep.

Brittany Walker 5:03
That’s how I learned Photoshop and all that stuff. It’s from eighth grade Neopets. And so I was like, Okay, let me try like a site. So I was trying to make a say, and I was like, why they’re dollar signs everywhere. And there’s jQuery. And I was trying to say it, and it’s really hard. And I was working on it in Thanksgiving break. And then January, I saw a meet up in DC that was like, Intro to jQuery, which is very weird topic now, but wasn’t weird back then. And I was like, let me go to meet up to figure out how to use jQuery. And I go to this meetup. And it was taught by this guy who was CEO of a coding bootcamp. So I did the meetup. And and during the meetup, we were using like the console and in Dev Tools to do stuff. And I’ll say, Hey, man, this is so hard. Looking back. It was not that hard. But I was like, This is so hard, but I kind of like it. So after the meetup, he’s like, Hey, if you want to do the bootcamp free trial, you can do it. And I was like, All right, I do free trial. So I signed up for a free trial. It was thinkful, which is an online only bootcamp. And they decided to do in person meetups in different cities to have in person presence. So I happen to go to the first dc one, just randomly by happenstance. So I started with a free trial, and they didn’t have anything in the system to stop you. So I did, like 1/3 of the boot camp for free. And then they were like, Hey, you wanna you want to pay now? And I was like, Sure. So I started doing bootcamp. And so I was like, you know, I’m gonna set up as boot camp, and that’s what I’m gonna do. And I did the bootcamp while working full time still at the law firm. And in the bootcamp, you get assigned to mentor, and my mentor happened to be in DC. And he was going to teach meetups for thinkful in DC. So we teach intro to HTML, JavaScript, intro, the CSS, how to build website, and he’s like, Hey, after a mentorship sessions, you become the meetup, I can also help you with your project. So I started going to the meetups. And then he’s like, Hey, they’ll pay you to be a TA. And I was like, Okay, I’ll be a teaching assistant. So I just helped people when he during his talks, and then one day, so I did this for a few months, I’m still doing the bootcamp. It’s like middle of 2017. And then he’s like, Hey, one time I go to one of meetups, he’s like, Hey, I’m losing my voice. Can you teach tonight? And I was like, All right, I guess because I’ve seen him do the same one, like 10 times. So I taught no notice intro to something. And I really liked it. So then after that I taught every few months and he taught the rest of them. He was doing like three to four meetups a week, which is insane. Now I think about it. And he didn’t even live in DC. He lived in Maryland, so we had to commute to do it. So I was doing that kept doing that. I liked doing the teaching, and then at the end of 2017. So I started the bootcamp January, at the end of 2017, I got my first dev job at a digital agency. So I left the law firm. I told my boss and she was like, really surprised that somebody wants to be a web developer.

Brittany Walker 7:42
She went oh okay. But I left I started in January at a digital agency called Social driver in DC. They made websites for nonprofits using WordPress and Drupal. I did not know WordPress, or Drupal actually never heard Drupal before. And they just liked my portfolio I had happened to make some projects, all my projects are about musicals. I happen to make a project that was a map of like I was mapping the settings of musicals at one Tonys to see if there’s a correlation between where the musical was set. And if they want to Tony, and if there is if it’s set in New York has a higher chance of winning a Tony. So I made that map. And they happen to make a lot of maps for nonprofits. So they were like, We really like your map that you made. And I was like, okay, cool. So you can learn PHP on the job and that way. So I started working at the agency, and it’s really fun. We’ve made websites for nonprofits that they can make like maybe eight websites over my time myth. But it was like really, the kind of worked in silos. So each developer would get a client, you build their site, and then you work the next one, we didn’t work together a lot.

Brittany Walker 8:46
So I decided I also again, wanted to make more money. And at the same time, I was still doing the teaching the meetups with my mentor. And I’m at the boot camp that I went to one of the directors at the boot camp, she was a director, Women Who Code DC, and she was like, Hey, you want to be in women? You could DC leadership since you’ve been doing these meetups with us? And I was like, Sure. So I became part of Women Who Code DC leadership, we have like different teams, we have a like a data algorithms team, a front end team, professional development. So I was on the front end team. And there are five of us. And we would do two to three workshops in DC for when we do code a month. So I was doing that. And then I decided I want to make more money again. So I applied to more jobs. And I want to try product engineering team. Because I really want to work with other developers more so I ended up applying to a company kind of like this company is where you put your resume and then the company’s contact you but the company I use doesn’t exist anymore. So my new next company framebridge, which we make actual physical picture frame so like that frame right there and that frame and that frames I got for free. Because I worked there. They the VP of engineering contacted me he’s like, Hey, you want to do an interview?

Brittany Walker 10:00
Alright, here’s our tech stacks Ruby on Rails in Angular, and I don’t know Ruby or Angular, but I’m like, okay, so I talked to him. And he’s like, were transitioning from Angular to view. And I had one view project that I made, again, musicals project. And it was the one I originally tried to make at the beginning to track the shows I seen. And he’s like, you’ve made this project, and you really like it want to talk to you. So it’s like, okay, so I started, I applied there, I got the job. So I ended up working at Framebridge.

Brittany Walker 10:31
And we had three engineering teams who are website team. And then they have a team that works on factory code. So we actually had a literal factory. And then my team was a retail team who worked on retail applications. And I worked on the retail team, we did stuff in view. And I was doing that. And then I was still doing the meetups. At this point, my mentor, he was like, Hey, I’m going to travel the country in a van with my family. Do you want to take over the meetups, and I was like, okay, so I became the main instructor and I had two TAs helping me. And this is only now it’s every is once a week, every Tuesday instead of three times a week. And I taught anybody in DC could come it was great. I loved doing those meetups, anyone in DC could come it was like intro to JavaScript, build a pet with JavaScript, build a game with JavaScript, all kinds of stuff is really fun. And I was doing with Unicode as well, working at framebridge. And I like working at Framebridge. We pair programs so much, it was great. But I really liked teaching.

Brittany Walker 11:29
And I started speaking at more GC meetups and making workshops. And I was like, man, I really like teaching people and making projects to help people learn, like I made a workshop for getting GitHub at the time, all the good and get up tutorials you like add your name to read me. And I just was like, This is so boring. Like the readme is like the one one document that we update the least in my job. So like, I wanted to do a workshop where we did something more fun. So I made a project called emoji screen where there’s these cards with emojis on it, and they match a TV, movie or musical, and you try to guess which one it matches. And then people can add a card in the workshop. And then we look at the PRs together, and people can see the whole process. And I really like doing all that stuff. So I’m like, You know what, I’m going to try to apply to several jobs. So I applied started applying to several jobs and front end jobs because I was scared to death row job. And I ended up at Contentful, which I had never heard of Contentful before. But I applied simple and ended up working here. And that’s that’s the journey that I took to Dev.

Erin Mikail Staples 12:34
That was amazing. I’m like, that’s so cool. I’m also like geeking out out of all your projects and stuff with like all the musicals and stuff that’s super I love when people take like their passions and make them into fun technical things, especially, like no boring data projects, like no boring projects, make it fun, make it something you’re interested in. I think that’s a really cool thing. It also like the other thing I noticed is like you went from, like government to like self taught dev to like, these really rad like, projects. And it all came together like that front end engineering was a fallback, like I would be intimidated to apply to a front end engineer job. Like I do not feel like I would be any good at it. Or any, like, you know, like, wild. But

Brian Rinaldi 13:21
yeah, I mean, yeah, but I think we, we talked a little bit before we got started. But like, you know, we’ve had a number of people on the show already. And everybody pretty much across the board came from like a non traditional background. But I think yours was, you know, windier or the most through like law and events and yeah, so and, and just the way you kind of managed to work your way into all these different positions is is incredible. You know, I was lucky. Like, first of all, there was no Neopets when I was in eighth grade. I was doing I was in eighth grade coding, but I was coding on an Apple IIE. But like, but yeah, so, you know, I was just have had similar experiences in terms of like community management, the in terms of how you got started with getting into local community stuff, which is kind of what brought me into DevRel as well, which kind of seems like, you know, your involvement in your meetups and Women Who Code and things like that was kind of what brought you towards DevRel.

Brian Rinaldi 14:31
You know, for me, it was like, I started running conferences for developers and, and doing like speaking mostly because I was always driven by like, I couldn’t, what I couldn’t do from work, right, like so like they wouldn’t pay for me to go to a conference. Okay, so I’m gonna make a conference instead. Speak at conferences, even though like it wasn’t something I really enjoyed, or, you know, there you know, I got I arrived in Boston when we moved I’m, like, excited to go to like a local meetup and like there aren’t, it was dead and I’m like, Alright, I’m gonna start it, then that’s, you know, but all that kind of drove me into DevRel was like that. I think local community involvement is kind of a great place to build your skills as a DevRel person.

Erin Mikail Staples 15:19
But that leads to another question. I see Rizelle or blackgirlbytes is in the chat here. So I’m, I’m like, Rizelle this is for you, I’m like looking at you directly. Twitter kind of blew up this week of how technical does a DevRel need to be? And you’ve done the application process in a couple of different ways now and run meetups. I want to hear your take on this, like, how technical should DevRel be? Or should we reframe that conversation a little bit?

Brittany Walker 15:46
I think the way DevRel is now you definitely have to have some technical background. But I also think the teaching part, and speaking to people part is hard to teach people. So like if you have that experience is really valuable. But I think it’d be really difficult without some kind of technical background. Because at my current job, a lot of what I do is like sit in as the developer voice in like, somebody must make a feature for developers and I will try it out and use it and tell them I think developers would like it like this. It’d be hard to do that. If you don’t have any technical background.

Erin Mikail Staples 16:21
Yeah, yeah. And I think like, I’m gonna ping off of Mattytwoshows in the chat. Like, what? What does technical mean to you? Like, I think that’s a word that is really hard. And Morpheus, ambiguous to define.

Brittany Walker 16:36
True, I think maybe someone who has, I guess it depends on the product, also, for developer advocate, what product or company has, but for Contentful, we’re a content management system, someone who has coded, worked as an engineer somewhere or developer for a website that has used content in some way, that was what we would consider technical for Contentful. Someone who’s experienced an engineering team, so maybe product manager might be able to, if you have some knowledge, but it’s really hard if you have no experience.

Erin Mikail Staples 17:14
I love the chat ticking off of all the different definitions of technical but I think like what you put your put your put your finger on on, mentioned that word today. But like, defined it really much is like one thing that I personally after this week in the whole blow up on Twitter was like, I think we need to be better defining like, What the heck are, what do you want, like, I’m at a place now where I’m doing a lot of data, and Python and stuff. But like, I don’t work in Ruby, I don’t know anything. But I knew Python before. But now I’m playing catch up learning infrastructure, because that’s important to machine learning, but it’s a different other places might be like, Wow, Erin, we don’t care about Python at all.

Brian Rinaldi 17:59
I think that there’s definitely like a lot, I think Brittany’s point that there are aspects of the job that are tough to teach, which is, you know, like, I’ve, I’ve, for instance, I’ve been on teams where we brought in deeply technical people who were well known it, you know, for like him for, like, say, whatever language we were, at the time, I think it was JavaScript front end stuff, right.

Brian Rinaldi 18:23
And, and they often found, like, did didn’t really like the job, because the job is a lot of not coding, they wanted to sit and code, and they thought like, okay, DevRel is going to be an opportunity, just kind of like, you know, experiment and build crazy things and just kind of build whatever I want. I’m gonna be coding all the time. And I might speak, but it’s like, you know, or write something, but it’s, that’s, you know, the main thing is gonna be building stuff. And just like that, okay. I’ve haven’t had a bunch of these jobs over 12 years. That’s not really the case. ever the case. I don’t know, if you for either of you. I mean, build stuff. But like, that’s not the primary thing we’re doing. Right. So.

Brian Rinaldi 19:03
So they even got frustrated with the job, because the, you know, the teaching and the writing and the and the, and the speaking and, and those kind of things were really not their strengths, their strength was in code.

Brian Rinaldi 19:17
And so like, you can you can be strong in code and still not necessarily succeed in DevRel, in my opinion.

Brittany Walker 19:27
Yep, I definitely agree with that.

Erin Mikail Staples 19:30
I think also the other thing that they we kind of forget about several is, y’all, we context switch, probably how many million times a day like from, you know, I look at my day yesterday, and we, as I’m like, okay, playing around with some of our new product features. And I’m like, first off, I’m like, what are our new product features? Good? What problems are people going to have in three months or six months with these features, or what’s a demo that’s going to stop or tutorial that’s going to like, help help people understand these features?

Erin Mikail Staples 20:00
Is that I’m switching to a metrics hour, then I’m gonna go switch and chase down support, then I’m gonna, you know, it’s like, I don’t think I sat still for it was something completely different every 30 minutes wildly.

Brian Rinaldi 20:17
Yeah, which works for some of us, right like that works that works for me too I, I can’t focus. Even if I tried I couldn’t focus on something for too long. But I context switch naturally.

Erin Mikail Staples 20:29
naturally fully think if I had to work on one project, like that’s a benefit for me, and I don’t know how you work Brittany, but it’s very nice to be like, you know, how much what times are you doing? But you know how I’m also curious Brittany, like, what is the typical day look like or what? What missions and projects are is are you working on at Contentful right now?

Brittany Walker 20:50
Yeah, just talk a little bit about what DevRel is like at Contentful. So when I first started, so everybody that was DevRel, when I first started left, not for bad reasons, like people got their dream job and stuff like that. So I was like, I’m like the only one left from when I started. So when I first started, it was like, everybody could do whatever they wanted. So I wrote a blog post I did, because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. When I first started that my old boss was like, What do you want to focus on? I was like, I don’t know. So I did blog posts or developer newsletter, I made videos spoken at events, like I did all the possible things you could do as a dev advocate, everybody on the team was doing that. And then now we have a new team. And we now I’ve been here longer, we all kind of focused on an area. So someone he’s really into written content, blogs and podcasts, another person on my team, he goes to speak at physical events. He’s been like seven countries this year already. He also does more video stuff. And then I’ve been focusing on sponsoring events like choosing events to sponsor the booths and stuff like that workshops. And like internal stuff I mentioned, we’re like internal team wants to know something about what developers think I’ve been doing a lot of that. So now it’s a little bit more focused.

Brittany Walker 22:02
But we basically were just like, I want to do video. So my boss would be like, okay, and then we go decide to make video. So it’s like really open. But right now we can kind of focus on a place that we are more interested in. And so typical day for me is like all over the place. Like today, I had a meeting with design, because we want to do developer branding. So I was trying to explain to them what I was wanted from them. And then I also tried to pay some invoices for events. So I have to use our finance tool to figure out how to do that, which is still 100% Good how to do the finances, I had to send a contract to legal for a conference conference, I have to start a draft for developer newsletter.

Brittany Walker 22:46
And then had like a marketing department meeting. So like, it’s like, all over the place as well. But not like in a bad way. I still like it, but it’s definitely not. I’m not just making videos every single day. I haven’t doing like a lot of different things.

Brian Rinaldi 23:02
Yeah, I think that’s, that’s my experience, too. And I, I’d also say like, in my own experience at various different teams, the ones that succeeded, the best tended to do what your team has kind of gravitated to, which is we have enough people now like, once we have a handful of people, we don’t all need to do everything like and having the same, like goals for everybody, you know, doesn’t necessarily play into their strengths. Because, you know, I tend you tend to have somebody who, who prefers to speak and go to conferences, and then somebody like me, I’m more than, right, I let I prefer to write if you if you, you know, that’s my thing. So, you know, the teams have been like, we all do a little bit of everything, but but we gravitate towards something, some specialty like I like writing or speaking or doing videos or, or whatever, like, you know, in it allows people to kind of thrive at what they what they’re best at.

Erin Mikail Staples 24:05
Meanwhile, there’s people like me who are on a team of two people, one person one manager to do everything. It’s like, conference talk blog, or newsletter this morning. I was I did pull requests last night correct. And typos. Like, docs this week.

Brian Rinaldi 24:25
Yeah, that’s like the, the I’ve had a couple jobs. It’s like startups where like you, you get, here’s your head of DevRel, right kind of thing is like head of DevRel for team of me. And that in by the way, there’s no marketing team or no like and so like I’m doing email campaigns and Twitter and so you know, this all the social and I’m doing like, their docs and support and blog posts and you know, it’s like, yeah, those are tough jobs. Yeah.

Erin Mikail Staples 24:58
I’ve only ever I don’t know what it would like to be on a larger team. I’ve never been on a larger team. So I’ll let you guys know when I’m there. I’m, at least in the world of like developer community and in DevRel. I’m curious to know, like, if y’all could drop one thing, like if you were like, I never want to do this part of my job again. What would it be? Like? What is the least favorite part of DevRel?

Brittany Walker 25:23
I would say making videos because it takes a long time. And I prefer doing live stuff, which is more nerve wracking, but I don’t know. I like doing live events. I guess I would drop videos.

Brian Rinaldi 25:37
Yeah, oh, yeah, that sucks. I’m with you there, Brittany. Mostly because, like, I feel like I’m a bit of a perfectionist on videos. Like, I don’t mind doing live stuff like this. But like, you know, I, where, where I screw up, and I put an echo of myself on the other tab. And it’s fine, you know, whatever, I live with it. But like, when you’re doing like, you know, pre recorded videos, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. So I’d be 100% with you there. Although, over the years, I’ve become less. And I say this publicly and like, hey, conference organizers don’t listen closely, but like, I’d become less enthused about public speaking. It’s not that I, I hate it or anything, it’s just like, it’s the travel and the prep, and it’s just feels like a lot, a lot of work.

Brian Rinaldi 26:31
For like one session, they’ll show up. And it’s like, well, I mean, never know, where you get put, and then suddenly, you’re in a room, you know, like, Oh, I’m at the end of the conference that, you know, four o’clock in the afternoon on Friday, and like, and then there’s like, five people in the room, and I just spent weeks and you know, prepping and time, you know, traveling and whatever. You know, it’s like..

Erin Mikail Staples 26:54
It’s hard conferences have changed a lot. I mean, all out myself. And I mean, I was like, what would you drop, so I’ll put it out here. I’m over here. Like, I would actually probably put more of the troubleshooting and support, like community. Like, oh, my goodness, we expanded our support team this week, and I’m so happy, so happy. And that’s not to say that I like don’t like it. But I’m just like, man, I just, I would rather go make a video. Video, like video doesn’t bother me. You know, speaking doesn’t bother me. But I do agree. And I think like, you know, you mentioned that you’re sponsoring a lot of conferences. Brittany, I’m curious to your take, because like we’ve been doing, I think Brian, and I have talked about it on previous shows, conferences, they have totally changed. Like, when you’re sponsoring a conference, what do you look for in a DevRel conference from a developer perspective? Or like, the question is, like, I was hoping like, What value did the company get out of it, but at the end of the day, they do care paychecks. So…

Brittany Walker 27:56
So for developer conferences, I don’t know what they’re doing for the other marketing conferences. But for developer conferences, we are looking for just bringing awareness right now. Because like I said, when I joined Contentful, I didn’t know Contentful existed. And I were I was a CMS developer. So it seems like I would have known about the demo maybe when I was at WordPress, but I didn’t. So we’re just trying to do brand awareness. And then also, for dev rel, specifically, we have a social impact Initiative, where we’re trying to sponsor like, conferences to help underrepresented people in tech or early career people in tech. So like trying to get people to use us for their blog or portfolio when they’re in college. So then later, maybe they’re at a company that’s like what CMS should be used. And they could be like, Oh, you could try? I use Contentful. Why not? So that’s kind of our focus. And so we look for conferences that are divert have diverse speakers, mostly JavaScript focused, because that’s the main language people use with Contentful. And that’s the main language that all of us know. So it’d be really hard for me to do a booth at like a Ruby conference, because I have no, no idea what they’re saying. But yeah, so that’s pretty much what we’re looking for. And then also conferences that we went to, we liked it. So that’s also a criteria.

Brian Rinaldi 29:13
Yeah, yeah. You know, it’s been, it’s been, like, we, we don’t, you’re lucky you have that budget, because we sort of had a little bit of that briefly, but it’s gone away, you know, now everything’s through marketing is like, Okay, I know what their, their goal is, and its leads, end of story. You know, so even, you know, maybe I get a talk, but the talk is often to drive people to the booth kind of thing. So, yeah, it was funny. I think there’s differing goals for a conference depending on where that budget comes from.

Brittany Walker 30:00
For our marketing and sales events, their thing is leads and written initially, we were following what they were doing. But then we decided to not make leads our main focus for developer events. So it’s been very nice to not have that, to not have that pressure. Because it’s like really hard to be like, Hey, can I scan your badge or you’re trying to just have conversation with people? So luckily, we don’t have not right now for developer events. We don’t have

Brian Rinaldi 30:26
What would be so I’m curious than what what is the metric for success for those kinds of sponsorships right now?

Brittany Walker 30:35
We’re just looking for increasing like community participation. So we use orbit to like track who’s doing stuff in community. And will if we get a list from the conference of like, who attended the workshop will put in orbit and now have like the may raise their score, saying they participated more with us. So that’s what we’re doing right now. Maybe next year, after we’ve done a lot of events, they’ll be okay. Now, we want to lead thing, but for now, it’s more like just getting more people to use it. And we’re trying to get the community to help the community as I forgot about the support. So I probably changed my answer to I want to get rid of videos.

Brittany Walker 31:12
Like our Slack, we have a slack. And right now, it definitely is Contentful people helping all the people, I mean, want more community people responding. So that we’re hoping, showing up at events talking about Contentful will help with more community involvement.

Erin Mikail Staples 31:27
Yeah, I mean, it’s super interesting, cuz I also think it’s always a challenge of like, what conferences are most successful because like, we’re leaning away, like, our previous roles, like, and I think it’s also a sign of the times and Mark and whatnot, there were like, I don’t care, even if it’s remotely interested, go attend the conference. And there was a lot of pressure me for me to be in a lot of different things, where it’s like, now I know, we’re taking a very more strategic approach. So I’m in a lot of like, data science conferences, or machine learning conferences, particularly like open source machine learning conferences, which is like a totally different group of people. And it’s, I think that’s like one of the most fascinating things about DevRel personally is like, I did come from ecommerce previously even as a product manager, but like it was it’s kind of like a the world like the demographic developers have different there are different types of developer stereotypes. Wow, that took a long time to get that out.

Brian Rinaldi 32:28
Mason has never heard of Orbit Have you heard of Orbit, Erin?

Erin Mikail Staples 32:32
The company maybe once or twice? You know, the your half that I worked there?

Brian Rinaldi 32:39
Yeah, so yeah, Orbit is a really Commonroom and there’s different other tools Yeah, for for kind of tracking those metrics. One of our goals this year was to actually get one of those tools in place, but you know, budgets being what they are nowadays, that changed. But on another note, completely, not really DevRel related. But Henri is curious, you don’t have to answer this if you want, given like you transition from WordPress to Contentful. Do you Do you still use WordPress at all in what are your What are your feelings about WordPress? And now having moved on to Contentful? Are you are you doing like headless WordPress with Contentful? or No?

Brittany Walker 33:34
I haven’t used WordPress since 2019, I think is when I left the agency. Um, I don’t have any beef with WordPress, but I like headless more because you could do whatever you want. I haven’t tried word hurt. I haven’t tried headless WordPress yet. It’s kind of weird when I Googled it, I don’t really find that much. So I’m like, confused about how popular it is. But I haven’t used headless WordPress. And now that I’m at Contentful, I just use Contentful. Because it’s just really easy.

Brittany Walker 34:10
But yeah, I kind of want to try out WordPress to see what it’s like now because every time I do a workshop, I ask people for a Contentful workshop I ask people have you used WordPress because a good intro to what Contentful is? And then I asked Do you like it? And people say no. So I want to go back to it and kind of remind myself what what WordPress was like, Well, yeah.

Brian Rinaldi 34:33
I haven’t done WordPress in a long time, either. You know, I was I was on the fence about it.

Erin Mikail Staples 34:39
I unfortunately do actually. I have one project I helped maintain the NYU journalism website. Oh, which is a hack together. Journalism, Wordpress templates, like four different templates and four different versions of it’s like it is duct taped together that thing and I’m just glad that it works and it’s enough for me to maintain it. And it is academia, bureaucracies. They’re not going off of WordPress till WordPress burns down. So…

Brian Rinaldi 35:08
Never going away. Okay, so we have another question from the audience. From Dev. He asks, what kind of value? do different types of content bring to the company? blog videos, podcasts, conference talks, etc? So yeah, Brittany, what are your thoughts on that one?

Brittany Walker 35:28
I would say the content that works best for us, our blogs, and videos, those are the things that get the most views and interactions, like after we make it the only thing with videos is that they become out of date really quickly. Like if we change our UI, all of our videos are out of date, all of a sudden, like move a button. And now great, we have to redo.

Brittany Walker 35:48
But I definitely think our blog posts are probably our most popular thing because it’s easiest to search and find what you’re looking for. Also think now that we’re doing more conferences. Another criteria will be choose your conferences as sponsors, if we can speak, and we really liked doing workshops, getting people using Contentful for like, an extended period of time. So we thought even though it’s like 50 people or less, we find that to be really valuable to getting people to actually use it and try it out and stuff.

Brittany Walker 36:17
We have not…we had a podcast, and I think they ended it like a year ago or something. So we haven’t continued with that. I think we might want to start that back up. But we haven’t moved forward that yet.

Brian Rinaldi 36:30
Yeah, what about you, Erin? What are your thoughts?

Erin Mikail Staples 36:32
Yeah, and I think I love mattytwoshoes comment, like, how do you quantify it? Um, so we are a company sponsor an enterprise sponsored, open source project, if you’re like, yeah, so it’s, we’re, I’m on the open source side, I do zero enterprise stuff, which I love. I love getting to play in the open source world with academics. And it depends. So we actually saw one of our biggest spikes we saw this year is I gave a talk in a demo at Pydata Berlin. And that was actually one of our biggest spikes in not only website traffic, but new users on our platform. One thing we’re actually thinking about for the second half of the year now is like we’re in data labeling for machine learning. So it’s very much like you are in the weeds. In machine learning, like you’re, you’re not someone who’s prompt engineering, ChatGPT, you are building models or building really large datasets and working on the data science side. So we find, like your typical quote, unquote, community, things sometimes don’t work. So we are very much open source driven.

Erin Mikail Staples 37:36
Slack engagement is there but like nine times out of 10 It’s like discussing issues or very just getting get out and get help workshops, super helpful. Short Form videos like walking through like a video, walking through a specific feature is super helpful. And content shared on Reddit is actually a huge driver of traffic for our site, which is something that was surprising to me. But we actually have gotten a lot of brand mentions in the Learn machine learning subreddit, because we have an academic program, that we partner with universities to give our enterprise software out for free to students or people doing academic research. And a lot of them are using our product for class projects. So we actually see a lot of people going help, I need help on my homework, blah, blah, blah, and he posted on Reddit, which is something that like, I didn’t think we’d see that

Brian Rinaldi 38:30
I’d say, you know, I’d say in my experience, it’s been blogs are that have the longest life, you know, because they don’t, you know, they just, they often drive a lot of traffic just in you, if they’re done well, they, they keep bringing traffic because you get SEO growth and stuff like that just kind of build, like so that to me, it’s always been the easiest one to justify because, you know, I even if it takes a lot of effort to make a blog post, like the lifespan is very long and and the potential value of it is big.

Brian Rinaldi 39:10
And videos short videos, like like Erin said, like, you know, YouTube videos, but typically under five minutes, five minutes or less anything over people like seem to kind of abandon - which is why We always like doing an hour long show. See, I’m doing it wrong, dammit.

Brian Rinaldi 39:29
But and then you know, the ones that that’s sometimes we struggle with justifying Is that like the in person conferences where we don’t necessarily have a booth or anything, we’re just speaking it’s harder to find like that, you know, the value for the cost of sending you there. You know, because of the things we talked about, about you know, you don’t have control over when you get when your session is how many people are gonna show up so it can be like that.

Brian Rinaldi 40:00
You know, and podcasts in streaming, like, Twitch, for instance, I know it got big for like a lot of companies were trying to do it. But those ones I just I think it’s just takes too long and too much commitment to really make it pay off. Yeah. But maybe I’m just not charismatic for streaming.

Erin Mikail Staples 40:26
A lot of it. It’s like also how, from a community like, things it’s like, like for us, it’s like we look at you know, Maddie, talk about the different metrics. It’s like, we’re currently looking at like site traffic, new product, new people, like who signed up for the product, GitHub stars, new issues, like, are we seeing people opening pull requests? Are we seeing people do that.

Erin Mikail Staples 40:49
But things like, videos, or Twitch or events, like, big in my opinion, and like, in my experience, they can be super helpful, but it’s like also building you don’t just like set it and forget it. Like, you’ve actually got to go back and be like, Okay, let’s go turn this into a blog post. Let’s go make this a tutorial. That’s actually been my like, latest cheat or hack is I will live stream myself, even if it’s like one person, like, if I’m about to do something or create a tutorial, I will livestream myself doing it. If three people show up, whatever. But then I walk through and then later, you know, recycle it, and be like, Okay, I’m gonna go take the transcription, turn that into a tutorial. Okay, where can I chunk this up into like, a feature video that I can like, here’s two minutes that I am walking through a feature. Okay, great. How else? And so it’s like, how do you maximize that it works really well for me, because if you ask me to sit down, I will find a way to procrastinate sitting down and focusing on building it for two hours. But if I have to figure it out live and someone’s yelling at me in the chat is perfecto.

Brittany Walker 41:54
That’s a good idea. Because I was just thinking about a project I wanted to work on this night and Contentful. And I wanted to put it in Contentful. But I was like, Oh, this would make a really good live stream. But we don’t do live streams anymore. But now maybe I’ll I’ll try your your idea where I can recycle it as a blog post or something.

Brian Rinaldi 42:14
Before we kind of as a final topic here, I did want to touch up because we briefly touched on your work in the local community developer community, are you? Are you still active in the community? And what is this something Contentful kind of supports? Or is it really something you do for your own thing? Just Yes, share some of your experience about like, kind of you’re working in the local development community.

Brittany Walker 42:39
Yeah, for Women Who Code DC, because of COVID Women Who Code had like a pause on in person until May or March this year, one of those. So now, they’re just now starting out to allow in person events for women to code chapters. So for women to code waiting to see when we’re going to start in person again. So definitely waiting for that. And also have like a little story of like, how the Women Who Code being bullied code like reached outside of DC and coding and stuff. So we had our first in person event, it was like a happy hour this year. And I went there and I met a woman who attended one of the meetups I taught when I was doing the boot camp thing. And she’s like, Hey, remember me. And I know, when she’s like, I went to one of your things he taught like three years ago, and it’s like, wow, you recognize me. That’s crazy. And then I went to Render conference in June. And a woman who was working there staff, was at that meetup. I had gone to Women Who Code this year. And I was like, wow. Normally, I don’t see people like connected like this. So that was really cool. How like just being part of when you code connected me to these people.

Brittany Walker 43:48
But yeah, hopefully, Women Who Code started doing in person, again, we’d do some workshops and meetups and like the most, the biggest problem we have is finding a venue for places. So like, hopefully Contentful can help with that. Because I already we already have budgeted for helping local meetups. So like once we get that started, at least, if we can help with venue, then at least paying for food, and things like that. And then I also helped a lot of virtual ones like I did front and foxes only for one cohort, though, where I was a mentor. And then I also helped with G code, which is another coding bootcamp for non binary and people and women of color. And I was an instructor and a mentor for that. And I was really fun. I really liked it.

Brittany Walker 44:34
And I did a few other like mentor, mentor things like I did a bunch of coffee chats with the 100 devs when that was going on. And I really like doing these because I think it helps to hear somebody who had no tech background suddenly switched tech. And like it worked, so I think it helps a lot. But yeah, that’s pretty much what I’m doing for community stuff.

Brian Rinaldi 45:01
Yeah, that’s a lot. I mean, so a lot of stuff.

Erin Mikail Staples 45:04
I was gonna say like don’t play yourself shorts. It’s like a lot. Also other question, favorite musical. I feel like we have to ask the half for all your time, like talk to you. And you can go different, like categories if you need to.

Brittany Walker 45:16
Okay, I was about to say it’s my favorite musical for dancing favorite musical for Congress. I think my favorite musical right now is to one is six, which is about the what, six wives of Henry the Eighth, they form a band, and they have a competition and whoever had the worst time of Henry gets to be the leader of the band. And then the whole show they’re competing to see who had the worst time. So I really love that show. And then I also like Hades town, which is the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. But it’s set in like a Great Depression, time on a train and the music’s like jazz folk music. So yeah, those are my two favorites.

Erin Mikail Staples 46:04
Super cool. I’m glad to hear that you said, Yes, I haven’t. I have kind of honestly, I’ll admit it. I kind of dismissed six because I get usually they’re putting that much into advertising. I’m like, that can’t be that good. But I’m gonna take your advice.

Erin Mikail Staples 46:23
I go to all the other plays and whatnot, being in New York, but I really should go to if six is getting this high review, I’m thinking I might need to go to that.

Brittany Walker 46:32
Yep. I’ve seen it a few times now. And I think I might see it again. And they released a there’s a the stars in the UK. So they have a UK Album of the original UK casts and then for the New York Broadway cast, they recorded it live opening night. So you have the audience and like, the jokes and like, it feels like you’re there listening to the album. So I’ve listened to the album like a million times, because it’s only 90 minutes long, so you can binge listen to it really easily.

Brian Rinaldi 47:01
Yeah. I haven’t done a lot of musicals, but I gotta check this out, too. Sounds cool.

Erin Mikail Staples 47:05
Yeah. I was gonna say at the you know, I’ve I was in when they reopened Book of Mormon on Broadway. We were in the verse show that they recorded it. And that was really cool, because they also like, updated some of the lyrics and stuff and like, made new jokes and stuff. And the writers were there. So that was really cool. I’m a big fan of like, comedy plays in musical.

Brittany Walker 47:28
Have you seen the play that goes wrong?

Erin Mikail Staples 47:31
I have. I haven’t seen the new one. I’ve just seen like the original play that goes wrong. I know what they were doing. Like, is it Peter Pan? No, as well. So and that one’s pretty good. It’s pretty campy. There’s also a musical about Star Wars, which is like personally, one of my personal favorite off Broadway musicals. That soundtrack is banging. So get your musicals on, folks. If you see we have another one for Hades town in the chat, Rachel’s talking about that.

Brian Rinaldi 48:04
It sounds like the two of you could geek out about musicals for a while.

Erin Mikail Staples 48:08
I know I mean, yeah, I mean, I will say that I did get Sweeney Todd tickets, but I bought them like six months ago because they were absolutely ridiculously priced.

Brittany Walker 48:19
I saw it.

Erin Mikail Staples 48:21
Is it worth it?

Brittany Walker 48:21

Erin Mikail Staples 48:22
It’s amazing. Okay, great.

Brian Rinaldi 48:25
Okay, so now that we’re coming towards the end, Brittany, you may not know this but the every show we do a pickle fact. Because we’re DevRel(ish) you know, and, and because we like to play on words and stuff like that.

Erin Mikail Staples 48:42
We’re the only developer relations content creators pickled facts, so don’t take our turf people. This is our pickle fact turn. We have to be that’s our what is it? What do they call that in product? unique product. Unique Selling Proposition? We are the only DevRel(ish) content with pickle facts.

Erin Mikail Staples 49:02
Only only DevRel show focused on pickles as well. Yeah, something like that.

Erin Mikail Staples 49:10
Yeah, thank you, Maddie for correcting me on my marketing terms.

Brian Rinaldi 49:15
So I’m gonna turn it over for to close this out for to Erin for our pickle Fact of the Day.

Erin Mikail Staples 49:22
I feel like we need to say it’s very historical today. Napoleon was actually really here for the pickle power. He actually had a competition that gave up the equivalent of $250,000 as a prize figure out who could best pickle and or preserve foods for his troops. So go into pull in researching all of his very unique pickling fun facts. We’ve had like a few historical ones. Cleopatra.

Brian Rinaldi 49:52
Yeah, I feel like they have like largely their historical. Yeah, yeah, one, one episode. We’re just gonna have you break out your pickle, you’re just gonna have to bring some of your pickling stuff that you have going on and show us.

Erin Mikail Staples 50:07
Yeah, we’ll do pickling. I did. So I use this attendant. When I was at work, they gave me crap for a while. We used to do a hobby swap. So everybody bring in share hobby, and it was like, you know, early, early team building, and I was like, Oh, I grow and ferment things in my cabinets. And I made a whole slide about cool I named I titled it cool mold that tastes good. And then, like, you know, it’s alive because it’s live bacteria. And I was thinking I was so funny. And they jokingly told me that I killed the hobby swap because we never did another one after that. At like eight in the morning.

Brian Rinaldi 50:49
So yeah, I can see that? Yeah.

Erin Mikail Staples 50:50
They were like Aaron, you weird out. telling everybody about your pickling bacteria that tastes good. At eight in the morning.

Brian Rinaldi 51:00
Yeah, yeah. Okay. You know, there’s a time and a place I guess. You talk about bacteria that tastes good. Late in the afternoon only.

Erin Mikail Staples 51:08
I do have a Bloody Mary mix. So.

Brian Rinaldi 51:18
All right. Well, we’ll have to back could be pickle fact for next month.

Erin Mikail Staples 51:22
Yes. But thank you so much.

Brian Rinaldi 51:24
You can actually go bring your bring your recipe.

Brian Rinaldi 51:27
I’ll bring my recupe. We’ll do. Brittany, thank you for joining us. Yeah, it was really fun. And, like any if you want to plug anything or, you know, plug yourself plug what you’re into tell. Here’s your moment. Take the stage.

Brittany Walker 51:43
Yeah, my websites musicalwebdev. Surprise, surprise. So if you want to check out my musical projects, check it out. There’s a site called theater log, which shows all the shows I’ve ever seen. So like hit me up if you’re like, wanting like people definitely message me. Which shows should they see if they’re going to New York? And I will help you. So yeah.

Erin Mikail Staples 52:04
I’m now gonna hit you up. And if you’re next time you are in New York let me know because I will always look for more people to go to musicals with

Brittany Walker 52:11
I’m I’m gonna do I’m gonna be there in August. So

Brian Rinaldi 52:17
Awesome Yeah. And I think it’s on your little handle there at you’re @musical.webdev. That’s on Twitter. I know. You’re also you’re on Mastodon and I think I saw you on Bluesky as well. You’re everywhere, right?

Brittany Walker 52:30
Oh, I didn’t get my I’m not Bluesky yet.

Brian Rinaldi 52:35
I mean, you can be. Yeah, yeah. I’ve got invites, like now right now that is used to be like, begging for invites. Everybody’s like, I’ve got an invite saying buy one. Yeah, some people love it. I I’m okay with it. It’s fine.

Erin Mikail Staples 52:51
I’m taking the mastodon side of things. I mean, I’m just everywhere that me too.

Brian Rinaldi 52:55
Yeah, we’re gonna have a have a social media throw down on one of the shows from a DevRel perspective.

Erin Mikail Staples 53:01
Like how many different How obnoxious or you’re not notifications is the DevRel, who has the most obnoxious notifications? Have you ever been limited that you’re in too many? Damn slacks?

Brian Rinaldi 53:14
Oh, let’s not get on the Discords, slacks. Oh, my God. All right. Well, we’ll let you go Brittany. And thanks to everybody who came and everybody who stuck around for the whole thing. This was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed talking with you Brittany. And as always enjoy talking with you, Erin. So we will we will be back next month. Look for an update on the site very soon about our next guest and date and time and so on. So all right. Thanks, everybody. Bye Brittany. Bye Erin.

Erin Mikail Staples 53:49