Wearing Many Hats
Ryan rocks the Renaissance man style of many developers. He loves programming and writing about programming. His curiosity about how to create effective content is matched by his curiosity about new technology and writing better code. He values technical content marketing because he’s seen it work––Not just to help products find customers but to help developers find the tools they need.
The Person Behind the Role
Tell me about yourself. Where did you grow up, where do you live, and what is your role in ContentLab IO?
I was born in Toronto, 5 minutes away from where I work now, and I grew up in and around Toronto. I still live about 5 minutes from where I work. My role at ContentLab IO is with Developer Media. I saw the CodeProject job posting 3 years ago, and here I am. My job is a little bit of everything. I started out as an author, and as we got more content requests, I started doing more than authoring. I started talking to the clients, using their products hands-on, and then helping come up with topics based on understanding the product. Now we have Terry (Terry Dorsey, Senior Technical Editor) to handle the topic generation. So going forward, I’ll be doing hands-on tech evaluations and also writing articles.
Why do you do what you do?
I do it because it’s fun. I started out my career working in accounting. That wasn’t fun for me at all, so I made the move to technology. For the last 10 years I’ve been a developer. When I moved to CodeProject I also started writing because it was fun and interesting.
What attracted you to programming and technology as a career change?
Because it gives me an opportunity to create something from nothing. Here, in software development, I’m on the front lines creating new stuff every day.
What attracted you to writing about your work?
I have always enjoyed writing, but I never thought about writing about technology until working for CodeProject (CP). Once I started, I liked sharing my ideas with the world and seeing people respond to it. It was fun and gratifying to see people read my work.
What attracted you to ContentLab’s mission and vision?
Since I‘m already part of the team at CP, I’ve already worked closely with Chris and Dave [Chris Maunder and Dave Cunningham, ContentLab IO co-founders]. Their No.1 goal above all else is to do the right thing. That means for the customer and just in general. They would never do something that is questionable even if it meant more money. So I know the people and what they stand for, and I believe in what they are doing for customers with ContentLab IO. I believe it helps our customers.
How did you get interested in helping people and companies communicate through content marketing?
Mostly it’s because I’ve seen it work. Before I started working at CP, the companies I worked for used content marketing really effectively. Then I saw CP customers paying money to post articles. And those articles work. They help developers solve problems. They help companies get their products in front of developers who need them. Seeing content marketing in action made me see how valuable it is, and that’s what got me interested in it.
How do you think that participating in the ContentLab IO practitioner community helps your practitioners?
It helps in a few ways. First, it gets their name out there. It can be hard to stand out in the crowd. Writing for some of our clients gives authors a larger platform than they can access normally. It also makes them better communicators. We want to help our authors become better writers. And they do get a bit of extra cash. That’s a nice side benefit.
How do you see your role in that?
Right now I write articles, and I also helped connect our clients to our authors. The client typically has vague topics in mind, but our authors need more than that to work with. I talked with the clients, came up with the outlines, solidified those with the clients, then took that to the authors so they were really clear about what they should write about. Our new Senior Technical Editor, Terry Dorsey, is doing a lot of that now, but I will still do it where it makes sense, where it’s in my area of expertise.
How do you think the content you help produce helps your clients?
Our content helps clients connect to a wider audience. That’s what we’ve seen with Grape City on Medium. Since they’ve published our two articles they’ve more than doubled their followers on Medium. So that means every time they post something new in the future, a lot more people are going to see it. The more see it, the more claps, the more followers. That will help create a larger audience to see all their content and communications, which helps them reach more new potential customers.
How do you think ContentLab IO’s content helps developers?
It depends on the type of content. Our content has different categories. We write thought leadership pieces that introduce a developer audience to new topics and how-tos that aren’t product specific but teach developers how to do different things. We also create product specific pieces, which are useful because they teach developers about a certain technology and use case that they may not have seen or an application they might not have known was possible.
As a ContentLab IO practitioner and author, what do you consider your area(s)of expertise to be?
My areas of expertise are stack backend and front end web development. Specifically, I know quite a bit about Java, React, Angular, and I also write about the internet of things (IoT) and embedded development. I’ve done quite a bit of that, and it will be nice to write about that for a client.
What words of wisdom would you like to share with other prospective technical authors?
I would tell them, if you are considering it, don’t be afraid to just do it. Don’t worry about whether your writing is good enough. You don’t need to be perfect—that’s why we have a technical editor. Just do it. If you don’t like it, don’t do it again. But it’s a great way to get your name out there and become a writer and learn new technologies. I’ve also taken on projects where I had to learn new libraries that I wouldn’t have otherwise learned. Now I want to go out there and use them. There are many ways a developer can benefit as an author.
What words of wisdom would you like to share with prospective clients about the content creation process?
Technical content creation can be a painful process. We get that, and that’s why we do what we do. Our clients already have a full time job. Sourcing authors, keeping them to a deadline, tech review—that’s not their job. They can outsource the pain to us and enjoy the benefits of content creation. Also, if you are considering tech content strategies, technical content marketing really works. Our clients see the results. Content marketing makes a lot of sense.
For the Road
Ryan is a committed developer and author. He’s witnessed the success of technical content marketing first-hand while at technology companies and in his role at CodeProject. As part of ContentLab IO, he gets to do what he loves—programming and writing about it—and also help clients narrow down topics for their campaigns. He shares the core value of ContentLab IO’s co-founders, to “do the right thing, no matter what,” and gets to live by them as a ContentLab IO author and occasional editor. He loves that his job means helping developers find the right solution and customers find the right developers to help. Even better, he believes in the strategy. From where he sits, technical content marketing really works, and it serves companies and their developer audience equally well.