Content Pros Update is a free, monthly recap newsletter of all goings-on from The Content Technologist, including overviews of our most recent articles, events, and more.

Upcoming events

It's been one month since we launched our two new virtual events series, and we want to give a huge thanks to those who attended our first salon on the state of social media. (In case you missed it, you can watch the full, edited stream here.) We have several skill-building workshops and talk show-style salons coming up, so mark your calendars.

Don't forget: Subscribers get $50 off each event, and signing up for the weekly or monthly newsletter is free.

Workshop: How to scope and sell content projects

October 19, 2023 | 12:00-2:00 PM Eastern
Online only: $250 for members, $300 for non-members

This course is designed for independent creators, agency strategists, and brand-side leaders who are looking to sell more complex, comprehensive and lucrative content strategy projects in 2024.

Salon: Practical AI for content professionals

Date change! November 3, 2023 | 12:00-1:30 PM Eastern
Online only: $10 for members, $60 for non-members

In this salon, we'll explore where we're at with AI, what the technology can and can't do (despite what you may have heard), and how content people can make the robots work for them. Plus, you'll have the opportunity to network with other attendees and get ideas for tools and technology to manage social media.

Salon: Never go out of style — Keys to stand-out digital content

December 1, 2023 | 12:00-1:30 PM Eastern
Online only: $10 for members, $60 for non-members

In the age of automation and replication, style sets your content apart and makes it more human. But what is style, exactly? Get ideas for how to cultivate and advocate for content style in your organization; identify tools and tips for keeping style on-brand; and help us define the different dimensions of digital style.

Workshop: Annual content performance reporting — How to plan change with content data

December 7, 2023 | 12:00-2:00 PM Eastern

More info coming soon!

Got something you want to advertise in this newsletter? Curious about sponsoring an upcoming event? To be one of The Content Technologists inaugural sponsors, reply to this email or fill out this form, and well be in touch.

Recent essays

Here's a rundown of the essays we published this month:

Productization: The path to more profitable freelance work

by Tina Morgan

Two business men having a meeting while looking at their laptops.

Agencies are starting to convert their services into products. Here's why — and how — freelancers can follow their lead.

A few years ago, when I was still working in business development, a mid-size agency hired me to develop and run their product suite.

At the time, my relationship to development work was strained. I was tired of the pressure to create scopes that were unrealistic and underpriced. Tired of the understandable resentment from staff who had to execute those plans. Tired of consternation from leaders when the projects weren’t profitable. And I was especially tired of how this cycle repeated without any tangible benefits.

But a productization model was an appealing prospect. It presented an opportunity to define clear ways of working, create a standard for profitability, and provide strong data to balance the emotional decision-making that happened during the proposal process.

Keep reading »

Consistency of vision and "good" content

by Deborah Carver

Iced cookie with Google logo

A reflection on the meaning of good content, as defined by Google — for better or worse.

Unlike social platforms that flip-flop between promoting branded content, clickbait news, user-generated posts, viral videos reduced to reels, and stories upon stories upon stories in their pursuit of “user engagement,” Google’s search engine has been remarkably consistent in its content ranking system.

That system and the ideas behind it were communicated far less transparently when I started working in search a decade ago, but they’ve always been there: Create content that sounds expert, structure a website well, connect related topics together, and make the website technically easy to use. When you optimize a website with Google's system in mind, you’ll create what most would consider a Good Website. No other big tech company has put forth a vision for good content that’s as comprehensive and consistent as Google. (The monopoly dollars, of course, make the consistency of vision possible.)

Keep reading »

Everything lives in the rectangle: Federated content & social media

by Sam Thielman

How standards proliferate: (see: A/C chargers, character encodings, instant messaging, etc). Panel 1. Situation: There are 14 competing standards. Panel 2. "14?! Ridiculous! We need to develop one universal standard that covers everyone's use cases." "Yeah!" Panel 3. [Soon] Situation: There are 15 competing standards.

From Mondrian to federated content, we're on the cusp of reimagining social media so that it communicates what mass social networks left behind. 

For a long time, the social media game trended toward models that could be scaled to accommodate massive groups, designed not only to connect individuals but also to compete with television and newspapers. As a result, companies like Facebook have data centers all over the world where they host content for billions of users.

But everything on Facebook is hosted on Facebook's servers and communicates using Facebook's proprietary software; that's not federation. Instead, it's the problem that federated networks are trying to fix.

Most small websites — or small social networks — don't need mass, global scale. With federated social networks, smaller operators can ideally reach interested audiences globally without server farms or proprietary software. There are a few snags, however, and federation clearly isn't for everyone. 

Keep reading »

In case you missed it...

Social media strategy: What we’re doing differently
We can’t deny it—the social media landscape has evolved. Here’s how we’re shifting our strategy and stay in the game.
The fermentation of culture and what it means for content
How might you design a company for people for who produce content? Let’s talk organizational design.
What is iteration and why does the process dillute content creation?
Iteration is embedded in the production methodologies and business models of the internet. But it doesn’t always match with editorial norms.

The Content Technologist: Content Pros Update is compiled by Deborah Carver, founder and publisher of The Content Technologist, and Digital Production Assistant M.E. Gray.

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