What's it like being a Storyblok ambassador: All the ins and outs of our program
At Storyblok, we are passionate about being a part of and creating communities. We collaborate with content creators, whether developers or marketers, in various ways, including blog posts, newsletters, podcasts, YouTube videos, tutorials, and more. We even have a dedicated ambassador program for that!
Our motivation behind this is simple – we believe growth and development are only possible when knowledge is shared and learned from. By supporting our community, we hope to create a positive impact and help them thrive.
Meet Alba, Arisa, and Josefine, Storyblok developer relations engineers and ambassadors of GirlCode, an organization that teaches women how to change careers, become developers, or study programming. Girls hold regular meetings as part of the community to discuss various topics relevant to careers in tech.
This time they had a special talk where they invited Alvaro Saburido and Markus Geilehner to discuss ambassadorship programs.
You can watch the recording of this episode here or read the recap below. So let's get started!
Meet our guests:
Alvaro used to be a Storyblok ambassador, but today works as one of our DevRel Engineers. He has been a frontend developer for a long time, the author of the library called TresJS, a content creator, and has two cats.
Markus has been a Storyblok ambassador since the beginning of the year 2023. He is a software engineer, mainly focused on frontend development. Markus is passionate about contributing to open source and, namely, to the Storyblok ecosystem. He is from the Austrian Alps and can recommend going skiing here.
When talking about being an ambassador, what was the driving force for you to join the program?
Markus, Alvaro, and Alba joke about swag like stickers, cups, and t-shirts. (Of course, we provide all that stuff, but it's a small perk, not the primary value).
Alvaro: Jokes aside, for me, ambassadorship was also a support in my career, a win-win situation. First, I created all that content for Storyblok and later received all its support. As I wanted to create content and experiment, they significantly helped me with that.
Markus: I agree completely. As someone self-employed, being a Storyblok ambassador has helped me acquire clients and earn their trust. Even if they haven't heard of Storyblok, my ambassadorship adds more credibility to my business. It's definitely worth it, especially if you work for yourself or own a small software company.
Josefine: Yes, it makes sense. It's like a stamp of approval. The first time I learned about ambassadorships was when I read articles by Alba, who was an ambassador at the time. I thought, 'Wow, she must know everything' because it sounded so serious and advanced. Being an ambassador definitely gives the impression of expertise.
Markus: To be honest, I read all of Alba's articles on this topic, which inspired me to start writing articles myself. I wanted to contribute to the company and community, and it gave me a chance to showcase some technical aspects to other developers with a bit of fun. Writing technical articles with a touch of 'fun spice' has become my hobby, and I enjoy spending my Saturday afternoons doing it.
Arisa: By the way, I recently read one of your articles about the management API and played around with the CLI. I really appreciated the little touch of humor you added to make it more enjoyable. Instead of using plain, boring fake JSON data, you used something related to cats.
Markus: Haha, speaking of that article, there's a cat named Jimmy in it, and he's actually my real cat. If you paste the image word into a browser, you can see a picture of him in a bathtub.
Are there articles mandatory for ambassadors?
Alba: No, it depends on what type of content you prefer. It could be video content or contributing to an open-source project. We have a range of SDKs that you can contribute to. If you like writing articles, we have a guest program that pays you for your articles. Most ambassador programs I have participated in do not pay for your contributions. Instead, it's more about recognition, as Markus mentioned earlier. It's about being seen as an expert in a particular area, but you don't receive any money for your work. Our program is better in this regard because it allows you to earn extra income.
Alvaro: Yes, for example, I haven't written any articles. Instead, I've created videos and contributed to open source. Overall, you can collaborate in any format that suits you.
Josefine: It also depends on your skills, right? If you enjoy public speaking, creating video content, or being more active on social media, streaming, or writing, you don't have to do everything. You can pick your niche and get support.
Alvaro, you were an ambassador, and now you are on the other side, so how did that happen?
Alvaro: It was a great experience. I remember becoming an ambassador and having conversations with Alba and Alex about content creation. I was even paid for my videos, which was pretty cool. Our relationships were great, and I got along well with the whole team when we met in Amsterdam last year. I met Josefine, Manuel, and Alba, who was also an ambassador at that time. It felt like a family. When I quit my previous job, I shared with someone that I wanted to change my career to DevRel because of all the amazing things the company was doing with SDKs. I liked the product and the community, so it was an easy decision for me.
Alba: I understand what you mean. I feel the same way about it being like a family. We can sometimes disagree, but we always have something in common. We are building a great product that many colleagues use for private projects, not just for work. Additionally, we have a strong community and ecosystem.
Alvaro: I also appreciate that the company culture and values are not just a facade. When you work there, you see that the people and the company really embody those values. It's not just for show.
What advice do you have for newbies in writing articles?
Markus: As I got deeper into the ecosystem and implemented more complex features, I wanted to share that knowledge with the community – the code and overall experience. So it's not really advice, but when you start writing, it's kind of relieving your mind.
Alvaro: I get a lot of questions like, 'Do you have to be an expert to write an article?' But the reality is, nobody among us is an expert. The best advice would be, if you want to learn something, write about your journey. Also, if you're not a native speaker, feel free to use AI tools such as ChatGPT, as they can improve your writing.
Markus: If you run out of ideas on what to write, you can check Discord and see the most mentioned problems that other users face. This is how you can communicate that 'Hey, you're doing everything correctly, but here is one piece missing.' For example, many users had difficulties migrating content between spaces. I spent a lot of time answering these questions on Discord and later decided to write an article about it.
Arisa: Another thing to remember is that you don't have to be a super expert in a particular technology or subject to write about it. Technologies change very quickly, and what you write today may be outdated tomorrow. However, some might still be maintaining projects on older framework versions, and your content could be helpful for them.
As a part of practicing your writing skills, you can find many free options to contribute to non-profit organizations. Websites like freecodecamp.org, dev.to, and hashnode.com offer opportunities to write about fundamental concepts and receive feedback from others, making them a great place to start.
Josefine: The same is valid for conferences – you don't have to prove anything to anyone. Just share your knowledge and experience, and you'll be surprised by how supportive people can be. Additionally, an excellent service called AnswerThePublic can help you find all the questions people ask online about different topics.
Here is an example of the query "headless CMS":
If you don't know what topic to choose for a talk or a tutorial, you can look at what people are asking and create relevant content based on that.
Do you need to be famous (have a lot of followers) to become an ambassador?
Markus: No, for example, I don't have my own community. I actually have only 50 followers on Twitter.
Alvaro: I totally agree. But at the same time, as an ambassador, you are becoming a part of the Storyblok community, which allows you to attract more followers to your account as you share content.
Josefine: You can even stay anonymous if you want. You don't have to share your photo, film videos, or something like that if you wish to contribute.
How much time do you have to spend on ambassadorship? Are there any requirements on how much you have to contribute?
Markus: It's difficult to say since I don't track my contribution time. Some weeks, I'm actively contributing to Storyblok's GitHub; some weeks, I'm not. As it's more of a hobby, the amount of time spent isn't the most important thing; it's about the outcome.
Alvaro: That's right. There are no minimum requirements and no need to fill out a timesheet. However, content creation takes time, and I often get questions about managing my work-life-ambassadorship balance. Since it's more of a hobby, it's great to do something I'm passionate about and get paid for it. It could be 10 hours per week or just one, depending on your availability and interest.
Markus: Interestingly, I started programming as a hobby when I was 11. As I grew up, it became work and stopped being a hobby. But as I began to be an ambassador, it became my hobby again. It's like magic.
Alba: Yes, it's an incredible stroke of luck to be able to do something you love. However, not all ambassadorship programs are like that. In the Google Developer Experts program, for example, you have to do something and report it every month. If you don't do that for at least six months, they kick you out of the program.
Once, I was so afraid of forgetting to contribute that I did more than I had to, and they sent me a special prize for it. I guess it was a reminder to stop (laughing).
Alvaro: When I started vlogging, it was more relaxed. Even when I had a sponsorship on my channel and signed a contract that mentioned special parts of the video had to be about the sponsor and all the marketing stuff, if I didn't fulfill everything in one month due to personal reasons, it was okay. The company appreciated that I still created content and contributed. So basically, you can choose your own rhythm, and if you need support, you'll get it.
Arisa: That's true. We value quality over quantity, and your content must be valuable and helpful to others. That's the main point. Also, different types of content require a different amount of time. For example, if you're implementing a major release with many complications into your open-source project, doing that every month would probably be difficult, especially if you have a full-time job.
Arisa: It's really nice to hear that about our community! I switched from a completely different industry, and I remember finding huge support in the community. No matter what level of content I created at that time, I never received negative feedback, as we are all on different levels.
Markus: When I was going to publish a Nuxt model, I asked Jakob to review my code. He suggested some changes that I could make to improve the developer experience and make things much cleaner, and he did that just for fun. I nicely asked him, and he helped me. So, it's all about the community and people. And back in Amsterdam one month ago, I attended my first conference ever, and everyone was so open-minded and helpful.
Did you even get a chance to attend a conference or other events through the ambassador program?
Markus: Regarding the JS conference in Amsterdam, I got a ticket from Storyblok. Alex, who is managing the ambassador program at Storyblok, asked ambassadors if someone wanted to join the event, and honestly, I was surprised as it's not cheap. I accepted this offer, and a few days later, I met Alba, Alvaro, and other nice people in Amsterdam. So yes, Storyblok made it possible.
Everyone‘s already boarding to Amsterdam for @vuejsamsterdam and le me waiting for my countryside train to appear to somehow get to Vienna airport.👀🤯— Markus Geilehner (@MGeilehner) February 7, 2023
Good for me I have a @storyblok beanie. Would be freezing if not 🥶 pic.twitter.com/TdmVuN1bNW
Arisa: It's great that in-person events often bring even more opportunities and experience than online, as your mindset and vision change completely. When I started attending events after the pandemic, it was an eye-opener of how everything works, and it really made me grow faster.
Can a beginner become an ambassador?
Markus: What do you define as a beginner?
Josefine: That's a very philosophical question. Let's say, both Arisa and I finished boot camps, and honestly, I didn't know how everything worked when I started my first job. So imagine if someone has a similar position, just finishing some education, starting a first job, and looking for a community to dive deeper into. Is it a good time to become an ambassador? Or does it make more sense to be more specialized?
Alvaro: I guess it shouldn't be a blocker. Let's take Storyblok as an example. So if you are working with it, you probably deal with content a lot, like creating a website, for example. And it would bring a lot of experience for you as a beginner when you document your user journey and share it with others who also want to start. Of course, the level of your content depends on seniority, but it benefits everyone.
Alba: I agree with Alvaro. Typically, when you are a beginner, you need mentorship, right? And if you are working with a technology like Nuxt, for example. When I started being an ambassador, I was still new at that because I had only created my website with Nuxt. It was only a personal project. So when I joined as an ambassador, Storyblok gave me access as a core team member, and I could ask questions to resolve any challenges, and that's how I became an expert on the go. So I was working with a team hand-on-hand on a project, but not at actual work. So, as a beginner in some technology, it's a great opportunity.
As a beginner overall, I would probably join some specialized communities, for instance, women makers or GirlCode, or any communities that help you get connections and mentors that help you on your journey, more than an ambassadorship program. So for a start, I would prefer to have a network, rather than create content by myself.
Josefine: That is a good point – you can always contribute to the community. You can report bugs, improve documentation and get involved. On the other hand, if you are an ambassador, people are more likely to reach out to you and ask for some advice or feedback, so it might be uncomfortable to be asked something you don't know well yet.
Again, it depends on the community. For example, at GirlCode, where we are ambassadors with Arisa, there are no tech requirements, but you have to help women join the tech industry, fight for equal pay, and so on.
Arisa: It's also a good idea to have mentors of different levels, especially when you are new to something. The reason is that someone who is practicing something for a long time might forget how it feels to only start, and those who were newbies themselves a short time ago might have more relevant advice as they remember it better.
Alba: Also, more senior devs typically use more pro terminology, which might not be familiar to newbies, and some things are not that obvious. It's crucial that mentors can understand the beginner's perspective.
Alvaro: The advice I can share is to find a mentor you'll be comfortable working with, and as a mentor, try to become the person you'd like to get when you just started.
Interested in Storyblok ambassador program?
Join the awesome Storyblok community by contributing to the Headless CMS space. Check out the Ambassador Program to leverage the resources and grab amazing opportunities.