Writing for an Audience

My day job is Senior Eng Manager at Shopify. Which means I manage a group of teams that ship software. I’ve tried writing about dev managing before, but never had much luck getting on a streak.

There’s lots of thought-leaders writers writing about being a dev manager, from Lara Hogan, Gergely Orosz, the anonymous manager of 138, and Shopify’s James Stanier. I’m trying to write more, like they do. I was facing a two-pronged problem; wanting to write more, and feeling I have nothing interesting to add to what’s been said by the folks above. So instead of trying to write in the abstract for my blog, I took their advice, and started writing for my reports.

I’ve been writing a Friday summary email for the ~20 folks in my org. The topics have mostly been things that I’ve heard in meetings or 1-1s, or things I find interesting. The last few weeks’ topics have included

I’ve written for five weeks so far. In the first three, I asked “let me know if you find this valuable.” I don’t ask this question anymore because the response has been overwhelmingly positive. People want to know and want to be in the loop. The topics are current, and I can async share what I’m hearing and thinking. And I have a backlog of topics for weeks.

I know it all sounds blindingly obvious in retrospect. The trick of finding and personalizing for whom I was writing unlocked the topics I wanted to write about, and the motivation to go out and write. I have a Friday deadline every week, and no excuses not to write.