Jarek Jarzębowski
10 minutes
May 21, 2024

From Computer Science to Camera Lights: Revolutionizing DevRel with Kevin Blanco, Senior DevRel Advocate at Appsmit

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Delves into the intersection of video production and developer advocacy, offering listeners a unique perspective on enhancing community engagement within the tech sphere. Kevin Blanco shares his journey from a computer science background to becoming a developer advocate, emphasizing the significant role of video production in his career. He provided a deep dive into the process of creating engaging and educational content, highlighting the importance of storytelling, the Hero's Journey, and effective communication techniques to connect with fellow developer advocates.

Key Takeaways from the Conversation

Using filmmaking techniques in technical videos: Kevin illustrated how his technical background in computer science and his passion for filmmaking allowed him to create unique and impactful content. This combination empowers him to communicate complex ideas in an accessible and engaging manner and create content dedicated to developers from developers.

The Hero's Journey in content creation: He stressed the importance of structuring content around the Hero's Journey, a narrative framework that makes stories relatable and engaging. By positioning the audience as the protagonist, content creators can craft messages that resonate deeply, encouraging learning and transformation.

Microlearning and value-driven content: Emphasizing the trend towards microlearning, Kevin pointed out the effectiveness of breaking down complex topics into smaller, digestible pieces. This approach caters to the modern audience's preferences, facilitating better understanding and retention.

Starting small: For those looking to expand their reach, Kevin advised focusing on a niche audience first. Creating specialized content that resonates with a specific group can establish a strong foundation, making it easier to broaden the audience over time.

Long-term impact of evergreen content: Kevin shared a personal anecdote to demonstrate the lasting impact of evergreen content. He encouraged creators not to be discouraged by initial reception, as valuable content often gains recognition and reaches its intended audience over time.

Conversation with Kevin Blanco

The transcript below is a deep dive into Kevin's thoughts on Developer Advocate roles and DevRel. Throughout the conversation, Kevin provided actionable advice for content creators and Developer Advocates, emphasizing the power of storytelling, audience understanding, and strategic content planning to make a lasting impact. Make sure to listen to the entire episode available on Advocu Podcast.

Jarek Jarzębowski: Hello Kevin, it's very nice to have you here on the Advocu Podcast. How are you?

Kevin Blanco: Hey, I'm doing great, thanks for asking, and thank you for the invitation. I'm really excited to be here and talk about what I'm passionate about, which is developer advocacy, video production, and community work. Super excited to be here and thank you for the invitation.

Jarek Jarzębowski: You've mentioned developer advocacy and video production, which might seem like separate fields to some people, but you have somehow found a way to combine them. Can you tell us a little bit more about what you are currently doing and how you combine them?

Kevin Blanco: To give some context and go back to where all of this came from, my background is in computer science. I've loved computers ever since I was a kid because I really never had access to computers. I come from a very humble family, and for me, having access to a computer was really hard. I always knew that I wanted to work with computers, and in high school, I had the chance to get in touch with computers. I was amazed by that and I always knew I wanted to work in that field. I got my computer science degree and started working as a web developer, using jQuery and other frameworks. 

I'm born in Costa Rica, which is located in Central America and is very well suited for offshore and nearshore work, so I started to work with US companies very fast as a web developer and continued to grow in that field. But also, ever since I was a kid, I had this passion for movies. I was always fascinated not only by movies but also by how they are made. When I had my stable job in computer science, I started to also study filmmaking. I joined a film school, which took me around 2 to 3 years to complete. I'm completely passionate about scriptwriting, screenplay, and everything related to lighting, audio, and film production in general terms.

On the other hand, my first job was at an open-source focused company, and they always pushed me to contribute back to the community, which is something I appreciate because they used a lot of Drupal, and the technical manager in that company always said, "We use a lot of Drupal; we want to contribute back." So we always tried to go to Drupal camps and meetups to share knowledge and contribute back. I found real passion in contributing back to the community because it was amazing to see how incredible developers were super humble and extremely helpful to sit down with me and explain things to me. As I continued my career, I started to notice that I could combine those things. I didn't know there was this position as a Developer Advocate. I just knew that every month I went to the Drupal meetup, contributed back to people, learned about Drupal, and was a part of the community but didn't know there was an actual position that could combine those things. I continued my career as a technical manager then as a technical director. For the last five or six years, I was a technical manager and then a technical director for a company in the United States.

Then, I got this amazing opportunity to join AppSmith as a DevRel advocate, which combines all of these things. It required a lot of knowledge on film production because we are in charge of creating all of the content, not only creating but also planning, understanding how we reach our audience, and how we create content that is well-suited for them. Not only content for learning but also content for our LinkedIn audience, which is more business-oriented, more value-driven oriented. So, we had a lot of different audiences: very technical, very business-oriented, and at different levels and also in different parts of the journey. So, creating content tailored for them requires a lot of planning, executing, storytelling, and obviously, a technical background. And working with the community, we have a large developer community. To put it in simple words, everything comes together. I never knew how that was going to happen, but I knew that it was going to happen, and I'm extremely happy about what I'm doing right now. I love it, every day combining all of these things, working with the community, creating film production content, and I try to bring everything that I've learned in my life into this position. So yeah, that's how pretty much everything glued together.

Jarek Jarzębowski: It really seems amazing. You have been able to somehow connect all the fields that for probably a lot of people would be completely separate, and you have found a way to use and work with your passions and basically, with most of them - computers and videos - and also sharing that with the community, which seems to also be an interest of yours. Can you tell me how much of your time is spent on videos currently because you have mentioned that there are a lot of different activities that you do? How much of them are connected to videos at the moment?

Kevin Blanco: I would say that probably 80% is related to video, not maybe directly because I'm not actually recording, but I would say around 80%. Just to give you an example, what I do is first of all make an analysis based upon what the product team has been developing and understanding what different features of the platform we have been developing, who the audience is for that specific topic. Then, I start planning the content, understanding what type of solution we're bringing, what type of problems we're solving with this, and understanding who is having these problems that we're solving.

Normally it's developers, but it's also very focused on executives and IT leaders because, at the end, our platform tries to speed up development, make it more efficient with fewer errors, and faster go-to-market time. So there are always value conversations in these types of videos. What I do first of all is draft a general content plan, which is basically what I call a brain dump of what I want to say, and then I start to break it down into pieces. I already have a structure that works for me, which I can also tell you a little bit about, and then I start planning the different scenes of what I want to do and then I start recording. I create all of the video assets, audio assets, and try not to make it boring like just me speaking in front of the camera but also try to bring motion graphics, different camera angles, which also works a lot because, at the end, if I'm making a video that could be 20 minutes, 30 minutes long. The human brain's attention span is around 2 to 7 minutes at most, and right now, because of technology consumption like TikTok and Instagram, it is less. We could say that maybe currently the human brain's attention span could be from 1 minute to 5 minutes at most. So, you have to be context switching very often to avoid people getting bored.

Now, in my case, I'm creating educational videos mostly, so people want to be there, but still, that doesn't mean they're not going to drop off. So, every intentionally, maybe 5 minutes at most, I try to maybe change my tone, make it slower, or maybe increase the pace because I'm talking about something that is very exciting, and bring people's attention because of this. There are many ways to change the pace of the video. It could be like I said, the voice velocity, then the video switching from different angles. For example, if I want to touch on something that is very important for people to pay attention to, I always have a camera on my left that is closer to my face. So I switch to that camera on my left and try to say, "Hey, you know, I really want you to pay attention to this portion because it's going to be important for XYZ," so switching the camera angle also helps avoid people getting bored. Obviously, audio is super important. You know, having a good microphone that can capture your voice can really be important. If you have a video that doesn't have good sound quality, people are going to avoid it. And then obviously, the content itself, if I'm demonstrating something, sharing my screen, "This is how it works," or "This is what I'm explaining to you," it has to be divided into topics, and topics cannot have more than 5 minutes. I could be explaining something very simple, like how to connect AppSmith with MySQL. That's super simple, and you could say, "Just hello, welcome, I'm going to explain this to you. This is what it is," and then I start sharing my screen, and maybe I could take around 10 minutes to explain how to do that. Instead of doing that, what I'm going to do is break it into topics and explain what the topics are, what's the benefit out of each topic, actually go into the topic, and then say, "This is what we went through. This is what you have learned." When you make it into small topics, into chunks of topics, people have the perception of progress. In general terms, that's what I do in my day-to-day life. Planning, understanding the topics, the breakdown, then recording, and then obviously the editing portion, which I also do myself.

I am a certified DaVinci Resolve editor and colorist. DaVinci Resolve is a software for video production that is widely used in Hollywood, and I found it to be way better than other products. I'm not going to say any names, but it is really solid, basically. And I also do the post-production, you know, audio level quality, making sure that the levels are good, the video production itself, the lighting, and the coloring, the editing, the animations, the motion graphics, the transitions, all of that I do in DaVinci Resolve, and that's just one part. And then it comes the other part, which is also making sure that the video reaches the audience, making sure that the descriptions of the video, playlists, the categories where the content is being shared, how we are sharing the message of that video, what the results of the video performance are, you know, if we actually achieve the goal of reaching certain people. So it is a very complex work around video production but requires everything that I had in my background. You know, the technical background so I can explain a technical topic, the video production, so the video actually has good quality, and it's actually valuable, and all of the planning and execution around the actual content and how you say a message that actually resonates with people. So I would say that, yeah, everything is around video but not technically just recording the actual video.

Jarek Jarzębowski: I have two questions regarding that. First, let's say that you are shooting a video, an educational video that, in the end, will be 30 minutes long, more or less. How long will it take you to plan the video, to prepare the topic? Let's say that you know the core message. You don't have to learn it, but you need to somehow structure it for the video, to divide it into chunks, to prepare the introduction, the core of the message, and the summary, and so on. And then the set, the recording, and then all the editing, and so on. This is the first question. And the second question, when you are speaking, I was wondering, oh boy, it's a hell of a lot to do for one video. So is it like you need to be a certified DaVinci Resolve professional and someone who has studied filmmaking and someone who has been immersed in this field? Can anyone make such videos, or is it like you need to put a lot of work beforehand, and if so, how much work into the preparation for being able to shoot decent quality videos?

Kevin Blanco: So, for the first question, I will say that it depends on the video, but like you said, maybe like a very standard video that can take like 20 minutes in the final result, but I will say that for that type of video, it can be around four days of planning and shooting because I already know the topic, so I can just, you know, break it down into what the goal is going to be. So normally, what I try to do is use an approach that I really like, which is something that Amazon does, and it's called the Amazon method, which is working backwards. It is basically very simple. You start like the actual product is done, in this case, my product is my video, so my video is done, my audience is super delighted. I start with that, like what the end goal, what the end state of my audience is, and from there, I understand what type of content should be approached. If my end content receiver is an IT leader who is trying to understand why AppSmith is good for them, at the end, I know they're amazed by the product because it reduces costs, it reduces time to market time, and it reduces the amount of resources they have to use. So I start with that. I start with what's the end result, what's the best result of the video, and from there, I can plan my content. But like I said, I would say that four days for everything, you know, writing the script. I don't script everything that I say, but I do try to have a structure of what I want to say during the video. And then it comes to editing, and then the post-production, and all of the content marketing around that video. It could be four days for all of that. 

And for the second question, yes, anyone can do it. I will say there are certain very key things to creating valuable content that you have to keep in mind, but when it comes to the software or what you have to do in order to put your video out there, I will say that's the easiest part. Now, obviously, you can get very technical. You can do a lot of motion graphics, transitions, animations, the quality of the color at the end of your video, that also helps a lot. So I was saying that yes, you can start very simple by just shooting your video, what you want to say, and bring it into the software because the software is free. That's really important. You don't have to pay a license to actually use it, and just bring your content, your video, what you shot. You don't have to shoot it on a professional camera; you can use your phone. Actually, the latest iPhone is super great in terms of quality, but you don't have to use the latest; you can use your own phone. Most of them shoot 4K; most of them have good audio quality, or you can just try to get a microphone. There are cheap options on Amazon that are actually really good. Record the audio, record the video separately, put them together in the software. Most of the software, in this case, DaVinci Resolve, which is the one that I try to use, is just one click that you can sync video with audio, and that's it. And then try to remove the pieces of the video that are not important, try to remove when you were stuck on the video, or you're saying too much like "ah," all of those pauses you can remove. It's very simple to just cut. Probably if you have already created a video for your Instagram or for your TikTok, the editing experience is going to be very similar to you because it's a linear editor, so you just drag and drop, make the video short, and then try to export it. So I will say that what really matters is the content of the video.

Now, obviously, the quality of the video is important because if not, the message will be, I will say, obfuscated or obscured by the quality of the video. But just to give you an example, and I don't know if people here in this episode have a technical background, probably they do in software engineering, there's probably at some point in your life that you were struggling with something, maybe a bug that you couldn't fix, that you found a YouTube video from an Indian developer who you could barely understand, but it actually fixed the bug, and it helped you so much. And probably the video quality wasn't that good, probably the audio quality wasn't that good, but it solved the problem. So that was the most important thing. Before focusing on the quality of the video, I would say, solve the problem you're trying to solve well, and go straight to the point. And from there, you can continue to grow the quality of your video. But I will say I encourage you and everyone who's listening to this episode to download DaVinci Resolve. It's completely free; you don't have to hack it or do anything weird with the license. It's free. If you want to use the Hollywood features, then you have to pay, but for the free version, you have everything you need. Record, you know, try to use a source of light that can illuminate your face. That's the most important thing. Make it soft; you can use any cheap material that is going to soften the light. That's fine; it could be like a $5 piece of fabric that's going to be put between you and the light if the light is too strong, and boom, you have a very soft light illuminating your face, and start recording. And I can tell you, although I've been doing videos every week, I normally produce around 2 videos per week or maybe 1 video and live stream because I also do a lot of live streaming, even though I still do a lot of content, I always have to stop recording because I failed. Maybe I forgot about what I wanted to say, or I got stuck. You have to be comfortable with failing, pausing the video, re-recording, pausing, re-recording, and then when you edit it, you will be like "Oh man, I said something wrong. Let's go back." I find myself doing that every time, so don't worry. That's part of the process. That's never going to stop, but yeah, that's what I want to encourage everyone if you're listening to this. This is the perfect timing to create content out there because we have all of the social media platforms available to us. We have our audiences; all we have to do is find the mechanism, find who the audience is, what your niche is going to be, and start creating something valuable for them. And at the end, you're going to reach them, but it takes a bit of time.

That's my recommendation, and if you want to also continue to learn all of this stuff, you can also follow me on LinkedIn. I try to create tutorials for actual people, like technical people or Developer Advocates, with the basics on how to create compelling video content, tips and tricks, something very simple. I don't go very in detail, but I will say that the most important part is storytelling.

Jarek Jarzębowski: Okay, you've mentioned that it is easier right now for content creators because there's social media and so on, and you can distribute the video quite easily. But also, there are so many channels that are popular, more popular, less popular. How do you make your videos reach the target audience and reach the goals that you set for them? How do you not fall into the category of 2 people watching your video only? So if you are putting so much effort into creating a video, 4 days is quite a lot of time, and let's say that even one or two days would be quite a lot of time, and if no one would see the video, what would be the point of that? How to make sure that it really reaches the people who need to hear your message?

Kevin Blanco: Right. So, the first thing is, and I found this extremely, let's say unfair, but maybe unfair is not the right word, but it is what it is. You can have a very valuable piece of content that you're explaining to your audience that you put a lot of effort into, and it's actually a very good piece of quality content, and you put it out there, and nobody's going to see it. Your audience is not going to see it, and that's unfortunate because it is the way that the algorithm works. And we can see that in social media, like people who get a lot of traffic and likes and comments. Not everyone, but a lot of them are not doing actually valuable things. They're sometimes doing things that don't really bring any type of growth in your career. The reason behind this is because they are entertaining. In the end, people go to social media for fun. Maybe just LinkedIn is a whole different thing because people go there to talk about business, so you already have people trying to learn new stuff or trying to get a new job or trying to connect to other business people. But apart from LinkedIn, people go to social media to entertain. So what does this mean? It doesn't mean that you have to entertain your audience, but you have to understand what are the different strategies that entertainers use to entertain people, and you can use that to your own benefit. So, I would like to ask you a question, actually, Jarek, and anyone who's actually hearing this, to answer themselves, what's your favorite movie? 

Jarek Jarzębowski: For a very long time, I would say The Matrix, the original one, or The Lord of the Rings, but also The Godfather.

Kevin Blanco: Yes, The Godfather. That's a great movie. So, anyone, it doesn't matter the country, their position in any topic, they could be of a different religion, different location, anyone has a favorite movie, and not only one, they probably have a lot of different movies because the answer is always the same: "Oh man, that's super hard. I have plenty of favorite movies." So, the reason why I asked this is because movies are something so global that a lot of people have their favorites. Also, you can say I have movies that I really didn't like, but in the end, the reason people like movies is because most of them, not all of them but I would say that 95% of the movies out there, follow a structure, and the structure is called the hero's journey. The Hero's Journey, we could talk hours about it. I'm not going to explain because that takes time, but anyone can just go to Google and read about the Hero's Journey. But just to give a glimpse of it, the Hero's Journey is a timeless story structure which follows a protagonist on an unforeseen quest. And he faces challenges, gains powers, and returns home transformed. And that's the reason why people really hook with movies because they, if you mentioned The Lord of the Rings, you mentioned The Matrix, you mentioned The Godfather. All of these, maybe not The Godfather so much, but most of these movies like let's say The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, they have the same structure. You know, you have a protagonist who is faced with a challenge. For example, when you hear that they call out for Neo. Like, you know, they face this challenge, they can't avoid it, they go into this path where they transform themselves and they return home transformed. And that's the reason why it works. So, you can apply the same principle to your videos because your audience is the protagonist, and you're going to embark them into a quest where they're going to face challenges, they're going to gain insights, they're going to gain powers, and they're going to return home transformed. So, you have to let them know that. This is something that I've been studying for a long time.

You see, most of the videos out there in TikTok, they normally have this structure where, first of all, you hook with them because you let them know how they will be when they're transformed. That's super important. You have to be very verbal about it. At the end of this video or whatever video that is not really entertaining, that is mostly educational, for example, I follow a lot of people that create tutorials for DaVinci Resolve because I always try to continue growing in that field. Normally, they start with a question: "Have you ever wanted to create videos like this?" And boom, they show the video or the transition or the animation, whatever they want to show you. "Well, I'm going to show you how to do it in just 5 minutes. Go to my YouTube, follow me, and watch the video." That's probably more engaging than just starting with, "Hello, my name is Kevin, and today I'm going to show you how to create this transition." Boom, you lost their engagement. They've already scrolled; they didn't even watch the video. So, you have to just let them know how you're going to transform their journey. And I know that sounds like entertainment. You're not creating a movie, you're not a famous TikToker who creates entertainment videos just for entertaining. I know the content could be very valuable, but you have to find a structure that your audience is going to be tailored to so they understand what value they gain from you, and then you explain to them how they change, and then you reinforce the message saying, "Hey, now that you learned this, you are ready to go to the world, you're ready to go to the outside world, and put this into your day-to-day because you just learned it. What I told you at the beginning, I showed it to you, and now I'm reinforcing the message by saying you just learned it." So, people are actually going to feel they've transformed after your video. That's super important. The last thing is, call to action. If you don't give people a call to action, you probably lost them. Maybe they watch one video from you, but they're lost. You have to always give a call to action, like "Next, go to my... I don't know, go here, go read this article, a supporting article about this piece of content I already explained." or "Go to this playlist that I have on this topic." You always have to give a call to action to people to follow because if they actually feel they've transformed in a very small way, obviously it's not a huge transformation, it's not The Lord of the Rings where Frodo is coming back completely transformed, but it is a small transformation. So, every time somebody watches a video from you or reads an article from you, you have to let them know how they're going to transform, then you give them the tools to transform their lives in that way, then you confirm that you just transformed their lives, and then you give the call to action. And normally, people are going to follow the call to action because they actually feel empathy with you. Now, generating empathy also requires a lot of limbic brain work. The limbic brain is the part that remembers things, that actually records in your brain, and normally that's by giving them stories that actually resonate with them or repetition. But repetition is boring and doesn't really work in our field. In the end, that's why storytelling is so important. When you tell a story about something that happened in your life that is very similar to something that is happening to them or has happened to them in their lives, that always generates a connection. So, always try to base your content on stories. And you could say, how can you tell a story in an educational video? You could, and there's actually a lot of ways to do it. If I'm going to explain to you, just a basic example, how to connect AppSmith with MySQL, instead of just saying, "Hey, at the end of this video, you're going to learn how to connect AppSmith to MySQL," you could start with a story. Like, "You know, I was a developer working at this company, and the project manager came to me and said, 'You know, the client wants to connect to MySQL instead of Oracle, and we have like two days to do this.' I was super first of all bothered, I was super mad, but also I was challenged because it was a very small piece of time. And I have to do that change from connecting to Oracle to MySQL. I already had planned all of the work that I was planning to do to connect to Oracle, and I had already researched content about how to do it. So now, I have this challenge where I need to, in two days, change everything that I have done to connect to MySQL." So now, I'm going to show you, if you have faced something like this before, I'm going to show you how easy it is to do it with AppSmith. Boom, you tell a story. With that story, people are going to feel empathy because, at some point, they might have faced the same challenge or something similar where, you know, the project manager came and said, "Hey, we have to do this. It's always a challenge.” It can be bothersome sometimes, so from there, you can generate some sort of empathy. In the end, what I want you to remember from this is to generate empathy based upon stories so people remember you. Always tell them how their lives are going to be at the end of your content, could be a video, it could be an article, and after that, actually execute it and execute it well because if you promise something that you don't achieve, people are going to drop, and they're not going to watch anything from you because they're going to say, "Nah, that person is just, you know, promising a lot of stuff that actually doesn't work." Like, "At the end of this video, you're going to hit 2000 subscribers," and if that doesn't happen people are not going to trust you, and trust is the most important thing. So, you have to actually maintain respect for your word, basically.

Jarek Jarzębowski: I can totally confirm that. If someone wants to help someone else to grow, to develop, we need to focus on stories. I actually come from the learning and development field; I am still in learning and development, like traditional workshops and trainings. Even there, we are always doing some work based on the experience of the attendees, and it is always much better than just bringing the boring theory that no one is interested in. So, using stories and personal stories, but also stories of other people, and making them vivid enough for the people so that they can imagine themselves in these stories, even if they have not felt the feeling yet, if they have not lived the story, it can be much easier for them to actually have the transformation moment. And also, one of the trends in learning and development is actually microlearning. It's not a very new trend; it's been going on for a couple of years already, but still, microlearning is a thing, and I think that these small moments that you have described are very valuable, and trying to curate for those moments can be very valuable for the audience. So, if we want to create an impact, then probably following basically everything that you have said so far, can help with that. I'm also wondering, because what you have mentioned has been focused on the video itself, on the content, and definitely, this is the most important thing. Look at how it is with products, if your product is crappy, then all the marketing and sales will not help it. The product itself often is not enough, and the same goes for the content. The content itself might not be enough. You have mentioned using some entertainment methods, but what else can you do to reach a broader audience with your videos if you're just starting out?

Kevin Blanco: I will say that probably the best recommendation I had when I was trying to learn about this is if you're trying to reach a broader audience, you have to start with a smaller audience. You cannot go big if you don't go small. You have to have at least a very small group of people that actually trust you, and they're going to actually start sharing your content or recommended your content to other fellow developers or whatever your audience is. You cannot go big. I mean, obviously, we have other rare case scenarios where maybe you did a collaboration with someone who's famous or maybe one of your articles got shared by someone who has a lot of followers. Now, that helps, but there's no secret sauce to going big fast. You just have to start small. So, I will say that the best recommendation I had is to find a niche, on the niche of your niche. So, I know that sounds weird, but try to go super deep into what you want to achieve. So, for example, in my case, I've always wanted to create a lot of educational content around video production because I think I'm really good at it. Now, there's tons of people out there who are extremely famous, who have a good audience. I cannot go into that market as it is right now. I could create an Instagram account, it's free, I can create a TikTok account, it's free, YouTube, everything is free, and I can start creating, you know, kind of educational content about filmmaking, about storytelling, about video editing, about color grading. There's a lot of people over there that are extremely good in that field, and I cannot go into that market right now. So, what I do is I try to find a niche in that niche. So, the niche that I found is Developer Relations.

There are a lot of people in DevRel who are looking to create more engaging content because they know the technical stuff. That's something super valuable over there. They know what they want to say, but they just, they're not doing it correctly, and that's something that I've always found interesting. How can you have a lot of extremely good technical people who are not actually capable of explaining or teaching somebody else? Because they don't have the tools. They don't have the mechanisms to teach people. They might be excellent at writing code and being technical; they're amazing. But when they try to sit down and explain something to someone, they're lacking the tools to make that happen. I have this niche where I have Developer Relations people who are looking to increase their level of video production. That over there is narrowing the niche. I'm removing everyone else who is not DevRel. And then I can go deeply into the niche, and I can find a region, so I say, "I'm going to connect with only DevRel people who are located in North America and Central America." That's it. I don't want to talk with people in Europe. Their goals might be different from people in North America. I don't know; maybe they might be the same, but I don't know that audience. I can understand that audience later; I can try to investigate them, I can try to understand what their goals are, who their market is, what content they are consuming right now. I don't know that, but I do know about North America. That's my niche over there: North America Developer Relations Advocates who are trying to learn more about video production. That over there is a small niche, and I can even go more deeply, more in-depth. But what I want to say is, you have to find your niche because that way, you can create content that is only for them. You become really good for them, and the smaller the niche, the better. And then you can continue to grow and expand from a smaller to a broader audience. When I have reached a good amount of DevRel in North America who respect my work, I can try to understand, "Alright, let's think about South America and Europe," and then I can expand from there. And when I have a good audience, just DevRel who are trying to learn, that respect me, that I have actually learned from me, I can go to a broader audience and say, "Alright, I'm not going to create content only for DevRel. I'm going to create content for anyone who's looking to increase their video production quality and storytelling, not only DevRel." And from there, I can reach a good audience, but I cannot go and just try to have the same reach and audience like, you know, a lot of famous people out there, like Casey Neistat, because I'm going to fail, and I'm going to feel overwhelmed, and I'm going to feel that I'm not good at it. And that might not be the case; I could be super good. But again, there are tons of people out there creating content, millions of YouTube videos are uploaded every second, and standing out is basically really hard. But again, the recommendation I'll give you is try to find a niche inside the niche, focus on that small niche, and work from there.

Jarek Jarzębowski: That reminds me of two things. The first one is the article by Kevin Kelly, "1000 True Fans." True fans that we should focus on, only on the true fans, the people that are the core of our potential audience, and give value to them and focus only on them and eventually grow from there. And probably one thousand true fans might be enough for a lot of us. The second is this thing that I heard once, that an overnight success comes after years of groundwork.

Kevin Blanco: Exactly.

Jarek Jarzębowski: So, we need to do the fundamentals, do the groundwork, do the sometimes boring stuff again and again and again and then, maybe, we'll hit the jackpot and be the overnight success that sometimes we see in articles or on social media. But still, we need to do the groundwork, nevertheless.

Kevin Blanco: Exactly, and that works for anything in your life, not only video production. And what you just said about that also applies to when you're building a startup. You just saw the law of diffusion of innovation, which is something that applies to startups or whatever you want to start. It doesn't matter; at the end, if you're going to start creating content for somebody, you could treat it as a startup. You know, you have your customers, who are your audience. Maybe they're not paying you with money, but they're paying you with time, and time is very valuable. To watch a video and not find it valuable means a waste of time, and people actually appreciate their time, most of them. That's something super important, what you just mentioned.

And the other thing is, I found that most of the content that I have had good traction on in my specific career never happened in the first month of the content being published, and that's something super funny. Evergreen content sometimes has its rebirth. I created a lot of articles, written articles way back, and it was very focused on Drupal. So, I created a bunch of articles, maybe I don't know, nine or eight years ago, about Headless Drupal. Now, that was something very new at that moment because, as a content management system, Drupal is monolithic; it never exposed APIs. But there was this one module that could expose REST APIs, and you could basically build a frontend based upon Drupal content. I thought that was interesting, so I published a few articles about it, how to expose REST API using Drupal. Maybe I had 20 reads at most, but I never cared about that; I just continued to do that. Now, it turns out, three years later, one of the most famous Drupal developers in the Drupal world writes a full book. There's a whole book about web services in Drupal, and he uses my articles as his references. He actually references my articles in his book, three years later.

And one day, I'm just working on my computer, and I start to see my Twitter going crazy, and I go to Twitter, and it turns out that he mentioned me in one of his tweets, you know, "Thank you to Kevin Blanco. I used a lot of his articles in my book that I just published." And this guy is freaking famous in the Drupal market. Turns out, after that, I am invited to DrupalCon to speak about Drupal services because of an article I wrote three years ago that I never thought had that impact. So, I will say that don't worry if your content is not watched or not getting famous right now. If you write something very valuable, it might reach your audience maybe years later, and now, when I go to my written article statistics, and I see the boom on that article, it's completely different to most of my articles, which you know, I might have like 10K or 15K viewers; that had millions of views because, you know, that person.

Jarek Jarzębowski: Yeah, I really believe that what you have just shared is very valuable, and thank you for sharing your experience with the article. I think it can be very inspiring to other Developer Advocates who want to start creating more content and focusing on quality over quantity as well. Kevin, thank you very much for your openness and for sharing your experience and the message, and I really hope that more Developer Advocates will take it to heart and try to share their best content with other people and try to make more impact. And I hope that your journey will also be successful, your journey of reaching other Developer Advocates and making them better in video shooting and editing. So, where should people follow you? You have mentioned LinkedIn; where else should people follow you if they want to be better at video making?

Kevin Blanco: Um, yeah, well, thank you for the invitation. Obviously, this is something I'm super passionate about, and time flies when you talk about these types of things. I cannot believe we have been talking about this for an hour already. I felt like I've been talking about this for 10 minutes, but if you want to follow me, find me on LinkedIn, Kevin Blanco, and also if you're looking for content related to growing as a DevRel in video production or how you can be better at storytelling, it's not only going to be content about technicalities like DaVinci Resolve editing but also storytelling, lighting, audio, stuff like that, you can just go to davinci.mov. That's the domain, davinci.mov, and it will take you to my YouTube basically, the YouTube playlist. Every week there's going to be a new video, and every week I'm going to be also live, just editing a video. So, what I'm planning to do is just go live, and people can see what I do when I'm editing a video for the company I work for. How I drag and drop all the content, how to start doing the motion graphics, how I think about the creative portion of the video because that's something that is not in the script. You know, I explain what I want to explain, but what I think about the creative portion is something that is in my head. And that comes to me when I'm editing, so that's why what I want to do is create an actual video every week about storytelling or editing or whatever like a good planned piece of content and also go live every week. I'm editing my videos; I'm just going to go live, and people can ask me questions while I'm editing. That's it, go to davinci.mov, follow me on LinkedIn, and also if you feel that you want to learn something specific, reach out. I'm super happy to talk about what I love, so send me a message on LinkedIn, "Hey, I'd love to learn about this," or send me a video of someone who you really follow, and you like that person's content and let me know so I can also see that person's technique, so we can break it down, so we can see why that person's content is really valuable, so you can maybe take advantage of that structure to your own benefit.

Jarek Jarzębowski: Thank you! We'll definitely share the links in the episode description. Hopefully, more Developer Advocates will follow your path and create good quality content. So if anyone wants to, they can easily reach you. 

Kevin Blanco: Yeah, thank you, Jarek, and everyone who listened to this episode, thank you so much for your time because I know it's very valuable, and yeah, see you in the next one. I hope you have a great journey and more guests that are super awesome like the ones you have had.

Jarek Jarzębowski: Once again, thank you very much, and I hope to talk to you again in the future.

Kevin Blanco: Ah, and yeah, thank you so much again for this space. It's super awesome.

Kevin Blanco's Background

Kevin Blanco is an accomplished Technology Evangelist & International Speaker, currently serving as a Senior DevRel Advocate at Appsmith and as Tech Director at Decimal Studios. With a steadfast commitment to advancing the global developer community, Kevin's mission is to engage, support, and empower developers and developer advocates worldwide.

Kevin has earned trust and respect through his active involvement in open-source and product-centric ecosystems. As a Drupal Certified Specialist Advocate and Google Expert Advocate in Google Cloud, Kevin's contributions have been instrumental in shaping and nurturing these communities. His portfolio includes speaking engagements at events, content publication, mentoring of fellow developers, and impactful contributions that have solidified his place as a trusted voice. Notably, he was a featured speaker at DrupalCon New Orleans 2016 and DrupalNorth Canada 2016. Recently, Kevin was honored as the keynote speaker at Google I/O Toronto 2023, where Google sponsored his participation.

Beyond his technical prowess, Kevin brings an artistic dimension to his work. With a degree from Film School and certification as a Davinci Resolve editor and colorist, Kevin leverages his creative acumen to deliver high-quality, engaging live streams. His recording studio, equipped with cinema cameras and superior audio facilities, exemplifies his commitment to producing exceptional content.


🔗 Kevin's website

Closing Thoughts

As developer relations evolve, the dialogue highlights the need for a nuanced approach that balances the foundational ethos of DevRel with the evolving demands of the tech landscape. The future of DevRel lies in its ability to adapt, specializing to meet diverse community needs while fostering genuine connections and growth within the tech ecosystem.

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