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Comparing User Genereated vs Freelance vs Practitioner tech blog content

December 18, 2018 - Content Marketing, Practitioner Marketing - , , ,
By: Chris Riley

Not all content is created equal. If it were, it would be impossible to tell good from bad. But as it turns out (especially in the world of technical content), separating a good blog post from a bad one is very easy. There are three common types of technical blog content: user-generated, like you find on many tech media sites, practitioner content (like what Fixate creates and that is becoming increasingly popular on tech vendor blogs), and freelance posts from professional tech writers. Here I will compare the differences between these three types, and their pros and cons.

First, let’s define what we are talking about:

User-generated content is content you find on popular tech media blogs such as DZone and StackOverflow. The user in this case is someone who comes from a technical background, and wants to give back to the community with content (or that is how it should go). Sometimes, user-generated content does not come from the community and has other motives — the writers have a technical background, and they are still practitioners, but without the support of a practitioner blogging process.

Freelance content is authored by professional writers. They usually have a particular focus, like tech. They are not practitioners, but have become very experienced in the lingo, and they have the ability to understand and communicate tech concepts well.

Practitioner blog content is similar in nature and style to user-generated content, but the contributors are backed by a professional editorial team and peer review process. They are executors of the technology they write about, and speak from their technical point of view, not a marketing or editorial one.

Below are the details of how each type is good or bad as it relates to content quality and perception of content with techies.

User-Generated Content

ProsCons
Ability to write at execution levelThey might not be who they say they are. It’s not very difficult to sneak in promotional content (content written by the vendor about the vendor, disguised by a practitioner) through the cracks of the media site review process. In fact, if the vendor is already a paying client of the media site, the company is likely to let it slide. This can backfire in a huge way. If they get caught, they get caught very publicly.
Holds a lot of credibility with technical audiencesWithout the support of a strong editorial process, the quality of content is all over the place. This type of content will rarely ever compete with content that is first peer-reviewed, SEO and SEM optimized, and professionally copyedited.
Content is unbiased, assuming they follow the rules.

Freelance Content

ProsCons
The writer or writers are really good at editorial and news-based content, which means they can produce a post which performs REALLY well for 1-2 days as it relates to an interesting event/topic in the industry.Freelance content doesn’t hold a lot of credibility with technical audiences.
Requires less effort in the editorial process.Inability to write at execution level.

 

Practitioner Content

ProsCons
Contributors are able to write at execution level.The content is still paid for. While the editorial process should block anecdotal and pure opinion-based content, the fact that someone is paying for the content could raise questions.
Holds a lot of credibility with technical audiences.
Contributors are professionally vetted.
Content goes through a complete practitioner content process of peer review, technical editor review, SEO and SEM optimization, and copy editing.
Referenceable track record.

 

If I had to choose a type that I prefer in a particular order, it would be practitioner content (big surprise), then user-generated content, and then freelance.

User-generated content is usually free. If you have a media site, this is a massive plus. (We know this because Sweetcode.io content is original, practitioner-created content, which makes running Sweetcode pricey.)

But free content comes at some interesting costs. If you’re looking for strong SEO and editorial content, freelancers are the best way to go. At the same time, the is not very compelling to technical audiences, and sometimes even off-putting.

To enhance your blog, give something of value back to the community, and establish yourself as a technical thought leader on specific topics, practitioner content marketing is the best path to success, and creating a meaningful impact


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Chris Riley (@HoardingInfo) is a technologist who has spent 12 years helping organizations transition from traditional development practices to a modern set of culture, processes and tooling. In addition to being a research analyst, he is an O’Reilly author, regular speaker, and subject matter expert in the areas of DevOps strategy and culture. Chris believes the biggest challenges faced in the tech market are not tools, but rather people and planning.

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