On May 22 at 9:24 AM, I received an email out of the blue, informing me that I was a 2023 Umbraco MVP Award winner! This was an award that I wanted to win for a few years so I was very much buzzing as I read the email. Becoming an MVP in any topic is no easy task, so I thought that within this article, I would share some of my experiences along this journey to hopefully inspire anyone else that might also share this goal!

Sharing my thoughts and tips is nice, however, I'm no expert in what the people on that panel look for, so to ensure you get the most value possible from this article, I thought it would be a good idea to call in the experts and ask them what they advised.

Emma Burstow is the director of developer relations over at Umbraco, she's a three-time Umbraco MVP, a Microsoft MVP, and currently works on the MVP selection committee panel. So if you have a goal to become a Umbraco MVP, read on as I am sure you will find some useful tidbits of information!

How to apply to become an MVP?

The first point to cover is the application process, how do you become an MVP? Essentially, there are two ways you can either get nominated by someone or you can nominate yourself.

To nominate yourself, you can head over to https://mvp.umbraco.com/ and create an account. After logging in, you will find a page where you can find the MVP application form. The form is open from roughly July to May the following year with the award winners announced at CodeGarden in June.

In order to become an MVP you will need to contribute to the community. There are many ways you can help. These include:

  • Blogging at 24days.in/umbraco-cms
  • Helping with documentation
  • Talk at meet-ups
  • Writing an article on Skrift
  • Organise and host meet-ups!
  • Answer forum posts
  • Creating a package
  • Answer questions on Discord or Slack
  • Helping develop Umbraco
  • Bug fix PRs
  • Speaking on a Podcast
  • Help with code reviews

Emma gave some great advice that you can find in the related video above. Some really invaluable tips that she shared included:

  • Get to know the thought leaders and contributors within the Umbraco community, including the nomination team.
  • You will likely find a slightly easier journey by focusing on a few pillars rather than one thing, however, you can be a winner by being prolific in a single area
  • Be consistent. It will help if you consistently help the Umbraco community for many years. As the selection process is a 12-month period. Constant help throughout that period is important
  • Apply even if you are unsure you have done enough Another useful tip shared by Emma was that the easiest way to win is to ensure you contribute within each of the four main areas that are listed below:

    • In what ways do you contribute?
    • In what ways do you help collaborate?
    • In what ways do you mentor?
    • In what ways are you friendly?

If you can tick all four of these pillars with actions that spread over 12 months, you will have a good shot at winning this award!

Another great tip that Emma gave was advice on the submission process. When it comes to applying you need to be aware that the selection committee might not know how you have helped. It is really important to be thorough with your answers. Emma advised going through your answers with a friend or work colleague as she found this helped her a lot when she applied for the Microsoft MVP award.

Instead of simply saying you created a package, you should also put all the other sub-tasks, like writing documentation, fixing PRs, helping people set it up, answering forum questions when people were stuck, etc... not adding enough detail can mean the selection committee can have their hands tied slightly even if they think you have done enough!

What do you get for being an MVP?

You might be interested to know what you get for becoming a Umbraco MVP. Well, the good news is lots of things!

  • An award

  • A ticket to Codegarden

  • A free Umbraco cloud project

  • Free access to the available Umbraco training courses.

  • The possibility to nominate a colleague or a Community member to benefit from a free course.

  • Access to a dedicated Slack channel with other MVPS and access to Umbraco team members. This benefit was one of Emma's personal recommendations

  • Access to a quarterly meet-up

  • More information here

So in essence, a lot of really useful things for anyone who works with Umbraco.

Now before we wrap up, one pause for thought I think it is beneficial to share is around motivation. As I've won several MVP awards from different companies and I've talked to many MVPs over the years, I can say that most MVPs do the things they do as they like to help people. For most the end goal is not to become an MVP, it's just a perk of some positive habits that people enjoy doing. I definitely didn't start blogging and creating videos on Umbraco just to win some awards 8 years later on.

If you love Umbraco and you want to help, it's definitely a nice recognition of all the hard work that you have put in to help others, but being an MVP just to win an award probably shouldn't just be an end goal, as you will likely give up or lose motivation along the path.

If becoming an MVP is something that you are interested in, I recommend that you check out the related video that I've created alongside this blog post, as it contains lots of useful insight made by Emma in our interview.

Finally, if you are still on the fence if you have done enough, simply get some confidence and do it anyway! At a minimum, you will get to know the process as well as get your name out there a little more. When you apply just make sure you sell yourself and you go into detail about all tasks that you have performed!

I hope this article that helps a few people meet their goals. Until next time, happy coding!