What Who: The Last Two Years?

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This blog started when I first decided to get into the blogging business. It seemed like a good idea: create blogs for companies that are too busy or do not have the resources or skills. In most technology companies, there is more information to publish than makes it out the door (or into the blog). Since the idea first came up and I actually tried to find clients, more than three years have passed. Lots of interesting people and over a hundred meetings with small company CEOs (or marketing VPs) happened. So what’s the verdict? “The blog is dead, LONG LIVE THE BLOG” . . . basically, the blog format is strong, steady, and in some market segments “established”. At the same time, all the new activity in social media has taken some of the active “early adopters” of blogging away from the scene. On the general population front, it is easier to find the adopters who made the change to digital publishing. They are more focused, more skilled, and as customers know better than even the professional providers (i.e. me!) As far as publishing goes, there are many more blogs who are respected and have found their place as a credible voice. This is very clear in certain markets and in certain companies. Blogging is essentially a well understood format more than just a new fad. It seems like serious bloggers and organizations using the format, are going to continue with this trend.

To explain in detail my experience, the descriptions are divided into parts. Part one (follows) is about what I saw companies and individuals are doing. Also what they want and how to handle things a little better than before. Part two is about the work, skills, and final results. Until two years ago, there were discussions about content vs. design, niche vs. broad reach, individual voice vs. community participation, information vs. opinion… and I am sure a few more divisions along the way. I heard much less of this, so good news and some changes. That will follow in another blog post. Part three is about the providers: writers, editors, promoters (advertising, etc.), designers, and other type of creators in general (photographers and videographers). Here are many changes and good news. In general, the blogging format is maturing and so are the service provider skills “definition”. There is still room for improvement, yet the professional (creative) individual is in better shape definition wise (people know what to ask for and what to expect from a designer, editor, and advertising expert). Finally, there are many good examples I use. This should be an ongoing effort, which is not easy for me. The life of a freelancer changes at a ring of the phone.

Whats New With Freelance Work?

The world of freelance services for corporate internet services is becoming more defined and more professional. Freelancers are more experiences in specific areas and are using their experience to better inform clients. The traditional fields of design, writing, graphics, advertising, UI/UX design, editing, market research, and other professions have moved to the web. Today, the more experienced freelancers seem to come from non-web background. This could be a barrier of entry to new comers who are using the web to enter into a traditional consulting sector. In new areas such as social networking (media), community management, application testing, mobile application connection (to web sites), web programming, off-the-shelf application customizing, and other new web professions the practitioners are adopting more traditional working practices. I see more written and managed projects than ever before. I also see lots more uses of WordPress than ever before. Both as a blogging platform, but also as a simple web authoring tool. Essentially the blog is becoming the “Microsoft Word” of the internet! [READ THAT AGAIN] More on this trend in a future post.

Another big change is the shift from some in-house roles to freelance positions. Companies are willing to take on a six months content writing (and editing), or a social media manager (community promoter and content writer & manager) than hire one as an employee. This is a trend that is worrisome to some, but not for me. I think that there are going to be shifts and movements in how we do things. It is part of the digital age shift. It’s the proverbial “Who Moved My Cheese?” idea. People are going to try all kind of new formats until one works. I have seen two medium size freelance projects, both turned out well. But… they both seem to be stuck and are not moving forward. The company (actually product manager) has his site or community, that’s fine. Now what? What will happen next?

Finally, freelancers seem to be more confident in their work. The maturity of their work and success in getting projects out and running is the big contributor here. There are plenty of practitioners with solid five years experience and more than ten good projects under their belt. This is making some professions a true useful business resource. If you need a small to medium site, a blog started and run for a year, training for business, technical, or creative teams… and a host of other services, you can find an experienced practitioners. In some areas there are not many to choose from. This is specially true when you are in a specific specialty and you need someone who has the domain expertise. I just spoke with a product manager in a cosmetic company, she can’t find a suitable blogger locally. Either they work or have ties to her competitors, or they are not experienced enough in her sub-specialty. This is the case in many areas where content accuracy is crucial. In many technical fields I see content that is not enticing or simply dull. This could be the contribution of the business manager (product manager or marketing manager), yet it is also a crucial role of the content creator and editor. In areas such as graphic design this is not a problem. For the most part you can find a good designer with the style and experience you need. If you are willing to hire someone who is not local and work with Skype and e-mail, you are even more fortunate.

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