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Paid Content Promotion: The Essential Guide



Paid Content Promotion: The Essential Guide

Updated April 14, 2022

No brand exists in a vacuum. To thrive and grow, it needs a constant influx of supporters who buy into its perspectives, points, and purposes and customers who buy its products.

A non-vacuum existence is the very reason marketing was invented – to draw interest by disseminating information about a brand’s favorable attributes, build desire for its products and services, and provide a clear pathway to make a purchase.

High-quality, high-value content can help achieve those goals on its own. But online noise and distractions, declining organic reach on social media, and ongoing shifts in search trends, getting that content seen and clicked often requires paid promotion.

Getting your #content seen and clicked often requires paid promotion, says @joderama via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

You promote your content using traditional techniques – banner ads and paid placements – just as you would for a product or service. But content marketers can also take advantage of more strategic and authentic paid media approaches.

This overview offers some help, outlining paid promotion options like native advertising, paid search, influencer marketing, as well as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

What is native advertising?

Native advertising is a third-party distribution format where the paid content matches the form, feel, function, topics, and quality of the content on the third-party site. The intent of the ad is not to disrupt the experience a reader would expect to find on that publisher’s site. Native ads support brand or direct-response goals.

Brands like Penny Hoarder and Banyan Hill use native advertising to promote its content on Business Insider.

Image source

Why it works

You can reach an audience beyond your brand’s owned media channels who may be interested but unaware of your content. This technique positions content as useful, relevant information, making it less likely to encounter ad blockers and “banner blindness” and more likely to be trusted.

How to work it

To benefit from native advertising’s traffic-boosting effect, carefully select the content and the sites where you publish it. It also should speak to that audience’s pain points – not to go for the hard sell – so it will be recognized as valuable and not useless fluff.

Native advertising often is done through networks that will publish your ads on multiple sites. Before signing an agreement, make sure the target audience complements your own – why pay to reach the same audience twice or engage people who aren’t likely to share your brand’s interests or recognize its value?

Before signing an #NativeAdvertising agreement, make sure the target audience complements your own, says @joderama via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

You also need to consider transparency issues. Make sure the content is clearly labeled as native advertising in some way so the ads don’t fall afoul of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission guidelines. It’s also the right thing to do from an ethical standpoint – you don’t want your brand to be accused of propagating “fake news,” do you?

What is paid search?

Search engine marketing (SEM) or paid search involves purchasing ads or sponsored listings on relevant search engine results pages (SERPs). While it may seem like a simple, straightforward concept, it’s a deceptively complicated technique to master. It involves keyword targeting, platform-specific display variations, ongoing algorithm changes, and a highly noisy and competitive marketplace for popular phrases.

The paid text-based listings get bumped to the top of the SERP and tagged to denote it’s a paid spot.

Paid text-based search listings get bumped to the top of the rankings page and tagged as a paid placement, says @joderma via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Paid search ads display at the top of a Google SERP, typically above organic listings. Adobe, Widen, Airtable, and General Assembly use paid search ads to put their content atop the ranking results for the term “content marketing.”

Why it works

Almost everyone uses search engines daily – often dozens of times a day. (Why do you think “Google it” has become the ubiquitous term for looking up a piece of information?). Paid search makes sense given the decline in organic links and the prominent role of the first page in attracting clicks.

How to work it

Google’s search ads run on a pay-per-click (PPC) basis. It uses an auction-based system to determine when and how often your ad is displayed alongside the targeted keywords. You should have a working knowledge of Google’s Ads. The system lets you choose a campaign type, create the ad copy, landing page URL, and calls to action, select target keywords and audience segments, and establish a budget, goals, and bid strategy for each campaign.

Setting a budget and maximum PPC informs your bidding process. Google’s algorithm evaluates your campaign against competitors targeting the same keyword (including their budget and PPC max). Then, it determines when and how often to display your ad.

Of course, success can be elusive and fleeting as searchers adjust their clicking behavior because they suspect paid links won’t be as helpful as organic links. This means it’s critical to do your homework before venturing into the wonderful world of the Google Ads auction (or the similar ad-buying processes offered by Bing and other search engines).

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing programs enlist popular voices in your industry – people who have the ear of your target audience – to bring your content to their audience’s attention. Influencer involvement can be simple, like regularly retweeting your content to their communities, or more involved, like co-producing content for collaborative publication.

Though this technique can be leveraged on a non-paid basis, many high-profile influencers and celebrities and those with whom you want to establish a consistent, long-term partnership will likely expect to be compensated for the arrangement.

Why it works

Influencers’ audiences are receptive to their ideas and recommendations. Thus, influencers are well-positioned to amplify your content’s reach and awareness, which helps your content get found and consumed by the right audience. They can also lend credibility as their audience trusts the influencer to publish only valuable and relevant content.

How to work it

All influencer marketing requires logistical legwork to get your program off the ground. Here’s a rundown of the basic process:

  • Become familiar with the notable voices in your industry and related social communities to identify influencers to speak on your content’s behalf.
  • Vet potential partners to identify those who align well with your brand values, voice, and content topics and offer the best potential to further your promotion goals.
  • Engage top candidates and solicit their participation.
  • Negotiate terms, fees, and deliverables for the engagement.
  • Seed, track, and manage their efforts on an ongoing basis.

All #InfluencerMarketing to promote your #content takes logistical legwork to get your program off the ground, says @joderama via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Additional tips: CMI offers an influencer marketing guidebook, which details the steps involved in leveraging influencers (paid and unpaid) and provides customizable templates to make the process more manageable.

These quick tips will help you navigate the process more smoothly:

  • Use tools and search to discover viable candidates: Try typing [your industry] + “blog” (or “site”) into a search field, then use advanced search operators to expand or narrow the results. To make influencer discovery even easier, work with some of the dedicated tools listed here.
  • Outline the terms of engagement: Before you enlist an influencer, have a clear idea of what you are asking them to do, the results you want to achieve, and what you will offer in return for their assistance.
  • Spend smartly: Just because your budget is tight doesn’t mean you can’t engage big-name influencer talent. Consider negotiating on terms, such as lowering the number of actions required of the influencer, to make their partnership more affordable. Alternately, find an influencer who already shares your brand’s passions and might accept a reduced rate to partner with you.
  • Go beyond the usual suspects: You don’t have to impress a big-name industry guru or hire an internet celebrity to get value from influencer marketing. Consider working with popular bloggers or other relevant influencers who have something to gain beyond a big paycheck to help increase your share of voice. Or work with satisfied customers in an influencer capacity as they can hold more sway over your audience than a neutral third party.

What is paid social media promotion?

Last but not least is paid promotion in social media – by far the most complex playing field. Yet, they are arguably the most impactful promotional channels, given the billions who use them to stay connected to the people, products, and ideas that matter to them.

Paid social promotion is mostly straightforward: You pay a fee – typically a pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM) basis – to increase your content’s chances of getting in front of your target audience while they use the social media platform.

The challenge is each social platform operates differently – formats, campaign deployment, control over the process. Big platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, offer multiple ad formats, with dozens of configuration options to entice viewers with sound, video, interactivity, and more.

The Fab Story pays to promote its content, like this one about ideal daily routines, on Instagram.

Why it works

The sheer volume of activity on most social channels means it’s difficult to get into your target audience’s feeds, let alone grab their attention without some paid support.

Social media platforms also continually refine and expand their paid opportunities, so it’s a good idea to stay on top of the latest options.

#SociaMedia platforms continually refine and expand their paid opportunities, so it’s a good idea to stay on top of the latest options, says @joderama via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

How to work it

Detailing every social channel’s paid promotion offerings is a Herculean task that would far exceed the scope of a single article. But fear not: To help you pursue their common opportunities from a more informed standpoint, I compiled this summary:

Pitchfork uses Facebook to promote a timely story about the death of Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins.

Image source: Facebook Stories

Facebook is at a bit of a crossroads given Apple’s iOS privacy changes and a recent study that its ad targeting around user interests may be inaccurate 30% of the time. In response, parent company Meta plans to remove some ad targeting options to reduce the potential for abuse.

Yet, Facebook’s multiple formats, configurations, and distribution efforts still make it a robust and impactful choice for content promotion. Here are the core options:

  • Pins: Post and pin a piece of content on your business page to keep it at the top of the timeline. It’s the first thing users see when they visit your page. It’s also free and easy to do for page admins or editors. The pin expires in seven days, which makes it great for adding a little oomph to a piece of content getting good traffic on your owned media channels.
  • Boosts: Pay to extend the reach of an organic post, Story, or Reel beyond the people who liked your page and receive your content in their news feeds. This technique allows segmentation based on age, location, lifestyle interests, and more.
  • Ads: Promote content the same way you might advertise a product or service. You can place simple text- and image-based ads that feature content you posted on Facebook. Configure link ads for Stories and Reels that go to a designated landing page or lead form. You can get more creative with in-stream video ads, carousels (a single ad displaying multiple images or videos), or Instant Experience ads – interactive multimedia showpieces optimized for full-screen mobile viewing.

Ad campaigns are configured through Meta’s Ads Manager interface – an auction-based system, which enables you to set a budget and maximum bid amount, choose goals and audience-targeting details, integrate creative assets, and deploy the ad across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. The campaigns also can work across third-party apps and websites in Facebook’s Audience Network program.

Brands on Facebook also have the option to manage both their page content and their ad campaigns through Meta Business Suite – a centralized set of tools for business users.

This Instagram display ad for mindfulness app Calm incorporates a soothing visual well-aligned with the benefits users associate with the brand’s content.

Like its Meta-sister site Facebook, Instagram lets you pay to boost content published on your brand’s profile page, as well as buy display ads to run in content feeds. In addition, you can place both display and video ads to run in Instagram Stories. These ads appear in between the image- and video-centric Stories.

It recently added a paid influencer option – the Instagram Creators program. It helps your brand match and engage with influential creators to amplify your existing content from their handles or co-create original branded content for Reels.

TIP: Paid advertising can only be done through a professional account equipped with Meta Ad manager. For boosted posts, it’s helpful (but no longer required) to create a Meta ad account or link your Instagram account to a Facebook page on which you are a page admin. This makes it easier to create and manage ads across platforms using the same set of tools.

Create a @Meta ad account to make it easier to create and manage #Facebook and #Instagram ads using the same set of tools, says @joderama via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet


Twitter Moment ads like this one from The Barista Bar can be used to drive users to your product pages, as well as to explore relevant content offered on your website.

Image source

Over the past few years, Twitter has considerably evolved its content promotion offerings. While you can still link to and embed content assets for free, adding a bit of budget to the equation gives you more creative flexibility.

Its promoted ads campaign lets you pay to amplify regular tweets or video content embedded in a tweet. You can also leverage Moment Ads – creating, curating, and promoting a collection of tweets to tell an immersive story beyond 280 characters.

Other paid promo options include native text ads, carousel ads (promote more than one content asset within a scrolling unit), Twitter Live (broadcast your best streaming content), and Branded Notifications (create automated @-mention tweets to create one-to-one conversations around your content at scale.)

Its newest feature – Twitter Spaces – may be its most exciting content promotion opportunity. These livestreaming collaborative audio conversations (similar to Clubhouse) deliver an event-like experience, making it an organic (and free) opportunity to weave a mention of your content into your topical discussions. Even more intriguing: Participants don’t need a Twitter account to listen to your Spaces conversations.

@Twitter’s newest feature @TwitterSpaces may be its most exciting #content promotion opportunity. And it’s free, says @joderama via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Sprinklr promotes its 7 Principles of Modern Marketing handbook on LinkedIn to enable lead-generation downloads.

Over 800 million business professionals are members of the LinkedIn community, making the platform ideal for brands targeting audiences with a business frame of mind.

LinkedIn offers several paid options for boosting your content’s reach among its members – including those outside your brand’s network and communities.

For starters, LinkedIn offers single-image, video, and carousel sponsored content ads that appear on users’ profile pages. There’s also an ad format specifically designed to highlight your brand’s events.

In addition, you can use its proprietary ad platform to set up: 

  • Direct sponsored content campaigns: These ads don’t appear on your LinkedIn page as an update, but they do provide enhanced lead generation, audience targeting, conversion tracking, and message testing capabilities.
  • Messenger ads: Sponsored messaging lets marketers use LinkedIn Messenger to deliver content and a personalized greeting directly to specific users.
  • Conversation ads: Start quality conversations with your audience through a direct-message, choose-your-own-path experience.

Ad Outreach pays for a pre-roll ad to promote its YouTube Advertising Masterclass.

Image source

Given its parent company is Alphabet – the same as Google’s – promoted content on YouTube can be managed using the Google Ads interface. Given Google’s overall domination of the advertising landscape, YouTube offers an array of highly configurable ad formats that content marketers will find helpful. Options include:

  • In-stream ads (skippable and non-skippable): These ads run before, during, or after videos on YouTube and across websites and apps running on Google video partners.
  • In-feed video ads: These ads promote content in YouTube’s discovery features – adjacent to related video recommendations, search results, or the YouTube home page.
  • Bumper ads: Similar to in-stream ad placements, bumper ads are six seconds or less and can’t be skipped.
  • Outstream ads: These mobile ads only appear on websites and apps running on Google video partners.
  • Masthead ads: These ads automatically play without sound for up to 30 seconds at the top of the YouTube home feed. You can only purchase these by contacting a Google sales rep.

To drive increased engagement to any of these formats, consider adding interactive features to your ads. Options available through Google Ads include;

  • End screens: At the end of your video ad, show an automatically generated screen that encourages viewers to take action.
  • Call-to-action button: Entice viewers to visit your site by clicking on a call-to-action button.
  • Extensions: Provide more information about your business, such as a link to parts of your website or a lead form for people to submit their contact information.
  • Product feeds from Merchant Center: Turn your video ads into a virtual storefront with an interactive product feed.
  • Related videos: Show a list of related videos when your video ad plays on YouTube.

If you’re working with YouTube Studio, you can use the Cards feature, which lets you showcase elements described in your content, as well as promote other videos or playlists to generate engagement for your channel.

@legendaryhbomax Yasss, darling! The House of Escada is OVAH. #LegendaryChallenge ♬ Legendary – MikeQ & Ash B.

HBO promoted its #LegendaryChallenge on TikTok’s Discover page, which helped boost brand awareness and recall.

Content promotions on TikTok may not rival the reach of Meta’s vast network of partner sites or Google’s dual dominion of search and video – yet. The platform’s popularity is growing, and an estimated 1 billion active monthly users spend an average of 38 minutes per day on the platform.

As you’d expect, TikTok’s paid promotion options are video-focused, including in-feed ads and TopView spots – billboard-like videos that play when the user first opens their app. But TikTok also allows the addition of branded effects, including interactive elements that can deepen user engagement.

Alternately, you can build a Branded Hashtag Challenge around your content, like HBO did to promote the launch of its original series, Legendary.

Given TikTok’s popularity with the creator set, it’s a great place to shop around for your next influencer partnership. Its Creator Marketplace is a helpful tool to do that.


HBO created this dynamic video spot for use on Snapchat.

Though the Snapchat audience isn’t what it used to be, it’s still a viable engagement platform, especially for brands looking to connect with audiences in their teens and early 20s.

To keep up with its bigger social sisters, Snapchat has expanded its promotions offerings in the past several years. It offers single-image and single-video Snap Ads. Brands also can stitch up to 20 image/video ads into a Story Ad, which gets delivered in between content or through a branded tile in Snapchat’s Discover section.

TIP: Snapchat’s signature filters and lenses can be tempting to use, but they may not be your best option given the entertainment-focused and highly personal nature of the typical Snapchat conversation.

Additional paid content promotion tips

Regardless of format or platform, the ultimate goal of paid promotion should be to drive audiences to your website, blog, or other owned media channels. Here are some best practices to increase your chances of making that happen:

  • Know your goals and target audience: Most paid promotion solutions provide some form of audience segmentation – helping you get your content in front of the right consumers, not just more. You need a clear view of who those consumers are and what you want them, or you won’t be able to configure your campaigns to achieve those goals. 
  • Put your best content forward: In general, focus on amplifying content assets already performing well organically – i.e., ranking well on search, earning above-average page views, or achieving strong conversion rates. You can focus your energy on optimizing their ad messages and placements rather than identifying content worthy of promotion.
  • Research your keywords for paid search: Look to include relevant terms that receive a decent amount of search traffic but aren’t too competitive, especially when working with auction-based placements.
  • Craft your creative thoughtfully: Creative real estate is often limited in paid promotion spots, so get to the point quickly and compellingly. The text and images should work cohesively to communicate the value your content offers. Don’t forget to include a clear call to action, so your audience members know what to expect once they click.
  • Optimize your landing pagesSpeaking of clicking, ensure that once the users arrive on your site, they find a worthwhile experience. Make it easy for them to access the content promoted in your ad and provide a clear navigational path to help them discover additional, contextually relevant content.
  • Take advantage of retargeting capabilities: As Aaron Agius points out, craft your PPC campaigns to retarget people who have expressed an interest in your brand’s content but failed to take action the first time around. With Facebook, for example, you can add a Meta pixel (a small line of code inserted into your site pages) to accomplish this. (Note: Apple’s iOS14 changes will affect those tracking capabilities, so it’s a good idea to read up on those changes here.)

Amplify to achieve

While content marketing is a powerful technique on its own, just imagine what your efforts can achieve with the right paid promotion campaigns working to amplify and expedite your success.

Got a great tip for getting better results from your investment in paid search, social media advertising, native advertising, or influencer marketing? Why not share it with your fellow marketers in the comments?

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing institute

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How to choose a content marketing automation platform



How to choose a content marketing automation platform

A 1917 poster says in bold capital letters: “I WANT YOU FOR THE U.S. ARMY,” along with the famous image of Uncle Sam pointing at the viewer.

In 1917, most advertising was blunt and direct, but in the following 100+ years, consumers have become desensitized to typical marketing strategies. As a result, companies have turned to new forms of marketing to reach their audience.

One of these forms of marketing is content marketing: an indirect type of advertising that delivers blog posts, podcasts, and other forms of content to indirectly market a brand to consumers. Today, businesses can automate many aspects of content marketing, and choosing the right platform for content marketing automation unlocks new efficiencies and return on investment for companies.

Key takeaways:

  • Content marketing is a powerful way to reach customers by providing value through content.
  • Automation makes content marketing efficient and convenient.
  • Optimizely can help you take your content management to the next level.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a new strategy for reaching potential customers by delivering content they want to consume. Content marketing improves the brand’s image by providing useful or entertaining content which builds goodwill and brand recognition among potential customers.

Content marketing takes many forms: podcasts, digital video, webinars, articles, infographics and more. Creating and delivering quality content is difficult because it must deliver on multiple levels: it must be useful, entertaining and informative, but it must also inspire confidence and credibility. In other words, quality content marketing must be both good content and marketing material.

Why would a company spend its marketing dollars on content marketing instead of more direct forms of advertising? There are several reasons content marketing is a good choice for companies:

  • Content marketing improves organic reach by delivering content that customers want to consume. This can range from entertainment like TikTok videos or online quizzes to more serious informative content like how-to guides and video conferences.
  • Content marketing inspires confidence in your brand by establishing your company as an expert and key player in your industry.
  • Content marketing improves goodwill by delivering personable, relatable content that meets customers where they’re at. Rather than trying to make customers interested in your company directly, content marketing capitalizes on the things your customer is already interested in.

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How to automate content marketing

AI can’t host a podcast or present a webinar (at least not yet), but automation plays an important role in content marketing.

Social media

Social media is one of the largest opportunities for marketers. Social media is the second largest market within the world of digital advertising, second only to search marketing. Content marketing is uniquely poised to cover both categories as it can optimize content for organic search results and social media sharing.

This is where automation comes into the picture: automation can’t take over your social media presence for you, but it can take on some of the most tedious and error-prone aspects of your digital presence. Some key ways you can automate your social media content marketing are by scheduling posts, connecting various social media platforms to publish content on multiple platforms at once, regularly sharing your content, automatically promoting content and more.

Recently, AI has taken significant steps forward in Natural Language Processing (NLP), which makes AI chatbots a powerful way to connect with users on social media platforms (as well as on your platform).


Email marketing

A fan of the television show Arrested Development would finish the phrase “The money is in the…” with “banana stand,” but experienced marketers know that the right answer is “the money is in the list.”

This popular phrase refers to the fact that email marketing is one of the most important aspects of a marketing plan, and a longer list of quality leads is one of the most reliable ways to grow sales. Email newsletters are one of the most popular forms of content marketing but sending email after email is a tedious and treacherous process as it creates limitless opportunities for human error.

Automation revolutionizes email marketing by automatically sending emails. With a customer relationship management platform, email automation can automatically send emails based on milestones and timelines and personalize emails based on the customer’s name and history. This level of personalization is difficult for small businesses and impossible for large ones, but with automation, it’s straightforward and convenient.

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Tracking performance 

One of the keys to marketing automation is tracking marketing communication performance. Marketers should be performing A/B testing to see which campaigns perform the best and merit further expansion, but tangibly measuring the outcome of these tests is difficult without the right tools.

Automation helps companies track the performance of their content marketing by collecting data from various platforms, bringing it all into one convenient place and providing metrics about the traffic and conversions coming from each piece of content. 

Features of the right content marketing platform

Harnessing the value of these powerful automation options requires a quality content marketing platform. The right platform should include some qualities that maximize its usefulness.

  • Flexibility. One of the essential functions of automation is the ability to share content on multiple platforms simultaneously. While this is already a powerful option, it becomes more powerful with a headless API that empowers you to deliver content on various platforms.
  • Personalization. 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, and 76% become frustrated when companies don’t personalize their communications. The right content marketing platform makes personalization second nature with robust personalization tools that go beyond copy-and-pasting names. Content marketing platforms like Optimizely target personalized digital experiences to dynamic customer segments.
  • Capacity. Your business has unique needs, and your content platform shouldn’t hold you back. Rather than making your job harder, the right content marketing platform makes your job easier by offering a wide range of options and high-capacity storage for all your needs.

When it comes to content management, Optimizely is an industry leader. Optimizely’s advanced tools range from A/B testing, e-commerce support and headless digital experience management.

To learn how Optimizely can help you harness the power of automation and revolutionize your content marketing, request a meeting today to start the next chapter of your marketing journey.

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Skills to Look for in a Freelance Software Developer



Skills to Look for in a Freelance Software Developer

According to Statista, the number of software developers around the globe is expected to increase to 28.7 million by 2024.

Freelance software developers benefit companies because of the ease and speed with which they can be onboarded and used as project-specific resources. This blog will answer the most asked concerns about using contract services.

Benefits of Hiring Freelance Software Developers

When hiring a freelancer, your first expectation is impeccable skills and expertise, followed closely by cost savings, or vice versa. Here are the most popular reasons why companies choose to hire freelance talent.


Full-time employees cost an organisation a salary, as well as added investments in training, equipment, perks, overheads of utilities and rented space, and benefits such as healthcare and social security.

Freelancers work remotely using personal resources; businesses reduce investments without losing quality.

Reduced Risk

Businesses reduce financial risk by working with freelancers on an hourly, monthly, or project basis. Setting a clearly worded contract that the freelance software developer agrees to and signs, mitigates financial risk and clearly stipulates ownership of intellectual property.


Freelancers with niche expertise such as software development company in London, provide companies with the best talents for their projects. Hiring freelancers for different projects allows businesses to match the varying demands of each project, streamlines workflows and ensures productivity.

Global Talent

Businesses choose professional freelancers expecting them to complete any given task with minimum input from the organization. You can access talent from across the globe on platforms such as UpWork, People Per Hour, Fiverr, and Toptal, amongst others. Client reviews on such portals help in assessing proficiency and expertise.

Work Quality

A freelancer is as good as her or his portfolio. Successful freelancers achieve credibility by building long-term relationships and providing consistent quality. Freelancer work depends on referrals and good reviews, hence a potential contract employee’s work portfolio, and reviews showcase their abilities.

Skills of A High-Quality Freelance Software Developer

The first criterion for hiring a developer for your project is knowing what skill sets are needed. List your project specifications to customise your search and determine the expertise required for the project. Freelance developers may work on web development (front-end, back-end, or full-stack developers) or mobile application development.

Front-end freelance developers

Front-end software developers design websites and web applications and manage the graphical interface of websites. They use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and technologies like Foundation, AngularJS, Bootstrap, Backbone, DOM, and EmberJS to create layouts and graphics.

Back-end freelance developers

Back-end developers handle server-side processes such as website security, speed, databases, servers, application logic, and APIs. Back-end developers are typically skilled in Java, Python, and PHP, as well as SQL, Git, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Full-stack freelance developers

Full-stack freelance developers handle both the front and back ends of the website. They are responsible for everything from project planning to website coding. Front-end frameworks include HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and backends employ NodeJS, ExpressJS, Django, Flask, and C++. Full stack programmers manage database systems (such as SQL SERVER, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and Oracle Database), version control, and web hosting.

Mobile app developers

Mobile app developers develop, create, and test mobile applications for iOS and Android operating systems. Mobile app developers have programming language skills such as NodeJS, PHP, Python, or Ruby on Rails. They must also be proficient in back-end frameworks, database management and security, and hardware interaction. They need expertise in UI/UX design, security, and the Internet of things (IoT) for mobile devices.

How to Locate the Best Freelancers  Online

Talent portals such as Upwork, People Per Hour, and Fiverr showcase many talented freelance software developers. Here are steps on how to hire talent from an online opportunity marketplace.

Set a Hiring Budget

Look for similar job postings to learn what are the current hourly rates for the work you require. Define a reasonable budget. Beware that a freelance software developer may have higher hourly rates than regular employees.  

Clearly Define Project Requirements

Freelancers can be effective resources when you provide clear details about your project requirements. Be sure to mention the following

  • Allocated Budget
  • Payment terms
  • Project start and end dates
  • Clear job descriptions
  • Project expectations

Shortlist and Assess Freelance Software Developers

Top software developers typically work harder and achieve results because client reviews are essential to their ongoing success. The details you post make it easier for them to determine if they fit your requirements. Once you begin receiving qualified responses, choose according to their ratings and reviews, your interview process, and any sample project to build software and check their skills.

Six Factors to Consider when Hiring Freelance Sofware Developers

Hiring a freelancer revolves around their technical skills, certifications and education, attitude towards work, and ability to deliver results. Here are some crucial pointers to help you find the most appropriate fit for your project.

Technical Expertise

Freelancers must be able to handle the technical requirements of the project. They should be well-versed in software stacks, coding, development and task management software, version control tools, and deployment processes. Freelance software developers may charge more for specific technical abilities such as mobile app development, web development, or project rescues.


Freelancers who have worked on similar projects will have come across pain points and solutions. Any relevant experience enhances their expertise for your project and boosts their ability to strategise toward productive outcomes. Note that a freelancer’s experience typically increases their pay rate.


Experience and expertise increase a freelancer’s worth, but their services must provide value for your money. Knowing current hourly or project rates ensures that you are connecting with the right candidates. Freelancers that accept less payment may be new to the market and want to create a client base. Or, are choosing to supplement their income with multiple projects, which may reduce their work quality.


Education and certifications improve a freelancer’s pay scale, but they do not signal a freelancer’s abilities. The easiest way to gauge work ethic is from social proof such as client endorsements and their portfolio. A professional freelance software developer will openly share these details, with their client’s approval, of course.


A reliable freelancer will have a long-standing client base, developed by consistent efforts and proven results. The more repeat customers a freelancer has, the better the chances of them being dependable. The following actions demonstrate the integrity of any freelance work and can be testified by customer reviews.

  • Following instructions
  • Regular updates
  • Quickly responding to queries
  • Willingly accepting critique
  • Meeting deadlines consistently


One of the best features of acquiring freelance talent is access to global resources. Ensure that your communication skills match. Also, check that the culture and holidays in the freelancer’s location do not conflict with project development. Location can also affect fees, where freelancers in the USA charge the highest as compared to their Asian counterparts.


Finding and hiring the right freelance software developers is easy when you have the necessary checklists in place. Software development work is complex, make sure you are vetting your candidates carefully to get the best fit for your project. Good luck!

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State of Content Marketing in 2023



State of Content Marketing in 2023

I just pressed send on the manuscript for my book to be released in September. It’s called Content Marketing Strategy (snappy, eh?), and Kogan Page will publish it.

Last week, marketing professor Philip Kotler wrote the foreword. I won’t spoil it, but he mentioned the need for a strategic approach to owned media.

He writes, “(T)he company doesn’t carry an account of showing these marketing assets and their value. As a result, the company cannot show the CEO and company board members a return on owned assets or content.”

Luckily, my upcoming book shows exactly how to do that. Funny how that works out.

In any event, all this struck me that now is an opportune time to look at where the beloved practice of content marketing stands today.

First, let’s go back to 1999 when Kotler published Kotler On Marketing, one of his more than 70 books. The latter 1990s – a time of tumultuous change – fueled most of the thinking for the book. But he knew that it was merely the beginning.

Kotler concluded the book with a section called “Transformational Marketing.”  In the next decade, he wrote, “marketing will be re-engineered from A to Z. Marketing will need to rethink fundamentally the processes by which they identify, communicate, and deliver customer value.”

Well, it’s taken over two decades, but it’s finally happening.

Consumers have changed, but marketing operations are just starting to

In case you didn’t notice, almost every marketing conference these days starts with the same four or five requisite slides:

  • Digital technologies, such as search and social media, empower consumers today.
  • Consumers research, engage, buy, and stay loyal to brands in ways that have fundamentally changed.
  • First-party data and privacy are of the utmost importance.
  • Artificial intelligence begins to threaten the idea of the usefulness of search and pressure companies to deliver better and more personalized experiences.

You get it. Consumer expectations in the age of the social, mobile, and AI-driven web are different than they were.

However, the continuing challenge in 2023 is that content and/or marketing operations in enterprise companies are only beginning to evolve. Most marketing departments have remained as they were when Kotler wrote his book — they still work from mid- to late-20th century hierarchies, strategies, and processes.

Most marketing departments still work with mid- to late-20th-century hierarchies, strategies, and processes, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Content marketing isn’t new, but a content marketing strategy is

For hundreds of years, businesses have used content to affect some kind of profitable outcome. But the reality is this: Whether it was John Deere’s The Furrow from the 1800s, Michelin’s guide to car maintenance in the early 1900s, or even Hasbro’s GI-Joe partnership with Marvel in the 1980s, content was not — and is not for the most part now — a scalable, repeatable practice within the function of marketing. In short, companies almost always treat content marketing as a project, not a process.

That fundamental change will finally take hold in 2023. It could happen because of the digital disruption and ease by which you can now publish and distribute content to aggregate your own audiences. It could happen through the natural evolution that the ultimate outcome – more than the marketing – matters more.

As we roll through 2023 and beyond, content — and the exponentially increasing quantities of it produced by every organization — deeply affects not just your marketing strategy, but your business strategy. Content in marketing is now bigger than simply content marketing, and it should be dealt with as a component of that business strategy throughout the enterprise.

#Content in marketing is bigger than #ContentMarketing. Treat it as a component of the business strategy, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

In 2023, the No. 1 focus of my consulting and advisory practice these days: help companies transform content into a repeatable, scalable, and measurable function that drives value through a multi-channel strategy. It’s bigger than publishing a blog, creating a lead-generating resource center, or sending an email newsletter. Today’s content marketing team is being absorbed into marketing because marketing and its various operations are fundamentally transforming into a content-producing machine.

It is not good enough to produce content “like a media company would.” The goal must be to operate as a media company does. Your job is not to change content to fit new marketing goals. Rather, your job in 2023 is to change marketing to fit the new business content goals.

Your job in 2023 is to change #marketing to fit the new business #content goals, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

The unaware builds a case for the aware

The term “content marketing” continues to evolve. Even today, I run across those who still call it “brand publishing,” “custom content,” or “inbound marketing.”

My take matches with what Kotler described in 1999. I always thought the term “content marketing” would become part of “marketing” more broadly. In 2023, that happened. So, returning to the lexiconic debates of 2013, 2014, or 2015 doesn’t seem terribly productive. Content marketing is just good marketing, and marketing is just good content marketing.

That said, two kinds of companies do well at the broader view of content marketing. Some of them, such as Cleveland Clinic, Red Bull, Arrow Electronics, HubSpot, and REI, have purposely devised content marketing strategies as differentiating approaches to their marketing. They are succeeding.

Others, like Amazon, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and Peloton, backed into a smart content marketing strategy. But executives at those companies probably don’t recognize it as such. If asked (and some have been), they would say acquiring or launching a media company operation was just a smart business strategy to diversify their ability to reach their consumers consistently.

They’re right, of course. Many have yet to read books about content marketing, been influenced by the Content Marketing Institute, or even recognize content marketing as a separate approach (as far as I know). And they are also succeeding.

Consider this proof: As I write this article, six companies have a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion. Four of the six wholly or partially use the business model of media creation to further marketing and business strategies. Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Amazon are all, in part, media companies that also sell products and services.

Why would you not avail yourself of that same model?

The future looks cloudy and bright

As for the overall state of enterprise content marketing, it’s in transition, as all marketing is. As a focused project-based approach, working in ad-hoc ways across a business, content marketing appears to have proven its worth. Hundreds of entries every year to the Content Marketing Awards feature myriad case studies using content marketing techniques in strategic ways to profitably affect business results.

And yet, it remains to be seen whether you can make content marketing a scalable, repeatable, measurable function within marketing.

As to what the discipline’s future holds? At last year’s Content Marketing World, one of my favorite events, the Executive Forum gathered senior leaders from brands succeeding with content marketing. As we talked about the future, one participant said: “The only certainty is change. I can’t tell you where or when, but I do know there will be change, and this is the principle we build on now.”

As for my take, Kotler’s idea of transforming the marketing function seems to have gotten lost along the digital road traveled by marketers. In so many cases, marketing – and especially content – remains just an on-demand service function within the business. Its sole job is to produce ever more voluminous amounts of content that describe the value of the brand (or its products or services) so that sales can sell more efficiently, customer support can serve more effectively, and all manner of customer interfaces are more beneficial to both sides.

However, and maybe because I need to rationalize now that my book is finished, I passionately believe it’s finally time for marketing to reclaim its ability to create value — not just reflect it in the polished shine of your traditional products and services.

Almost 27 years ago today, Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrote an essay called Content is King. In it, he said that “(C)ontent is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”

It certainly was one of his more prescient moments. Nearly three decades later, his words have proven true. The essay title has become the rallying cry for thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs who now make their living on creating, managing, optimizing, and measuring content on the internet. (A Google search for “content is king” nets more than 1.7 million results.)

But it’s the last line of his essay that I find the most visionary: “(T)hose who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products – a marketplace of content.”

That’s what content marketing is for me in 2023. It’s just marketing – optimizing the value of ideas, experiences, and products in a marketplace of content.

Time to get to work.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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