Fancy a career in content marketing? Read on to find out what skills you will need to create awesome content, find your dream job, and live happily ever after.
I’m also going to tell you how I became a content marketer. Because I like talking about myself.
What Does A Content Marketer Do?
A content marketer is responsible for planning, creating, and sharing content. Like most business activity, the ultimate purpose is to attract and convert prospects, win repeat business, and turn customers into advocates.
Content marketing is unique because rather than going in for the hard sell, we aim to gently persuade, educate, and inform. Content should be created for a genuine purpose – not to say, “buy my shit”.
We create content hoping customers will either build a relationship with a brand, become more loyal, or even become aware of what a business is offering and how it can help them. It’s much more subtle than hard sales messaging and a customer or prospect should always feel like they’ve walked away with something.
That’s enough of the fluffy stuff, what does content marketing look like on a daily basis?
A content marketer will spend most of their time planning, creating, and evaluating. Emphasis on creating. The type of content produced will vary based on the individual’s skills, but you can expect to produce;
- Writing blogs/news articles
- Whitepapers and guides
- Case studies
- Social media posts
- Designing infographics and graphics
- Video content
What Skills Do I Need?
There aren’t any formal routes to being a content marketer and it almost seems as though people naturally or accidentally end up in content marketing (I did!). Usually, though you will work somewhere in the marketing profession already, and then specialise in content marketing. There are no set rules though – content marketers can come from a variety of backgrounds and education types.
Although you won’t usually need any formal qualifications to bag a content marketing job, you are going to need some specific skills.
- The most important, in my opinion, is the ability to write. We aren’t talking being able to write a novel, but you must be able to write in a way which speaks to people, connects, and engages. It’s also helpful to be able to write in a variety of styles – especially if you want to work for a content marketing agency where you will usually work with multiple clients.
- Next on the list is the ability to thoroughly research. Great content can only be created when you know your audience, the topic or product you’re creating content around, and what competitors are doing. You need to be confident you are producing content that is authoritative and is aimed at the right target audience.
- Another important skill is the ability to plan well and meet deadlines. Creating a content marketing strategy and implementing it means you will often plan content months in advance, considering external factors (holidays, events, news) and business developments (new products/ services). Of course, your content marketing strategy starts to fall to pieces as soon as you fail to deliver so you need to be disciplined and resourceful when it comes to meeting deadlines.
I would consider those the three most basic skills you need to work in content marketing but increasingly, employers are looking for candidates who have a range of digital marketing skills. This is because content marketing is just one type of digital marketing and there aren’t many businesses using content as their sole marketing channel.
For many businesses, the role of a content marketer may encompass or overlap other areas of digital marketing, including;
- SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
- SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
- PPC (Pay-per-click)
- Social Media marketing
- Email Marketing
For that reason, any additional skills you can add to your CV are going to boost your chances of finding a great job.
I would suggest learning about SEO, developing a few design skills, and knowing your way around the back end of a website to develop your skills as a content marketer.
My Content Marketing Journey
I’ve worked in marketing for over ten years, but the first part of my career was very much offline and focussed on events and customer retention. As the world became increasingly digital, I realised I needed to keep up if I wanted to carry on with a career in marketing.
One of the very first things I started with was email marketing, crafting simple but effective emails to sell training courses and encourage course participants to sign up for further courses. I did this by working with our training manager to give away knowledge that our customers were desperate for.
Around the time ‘content marketing’ was becoming very hyped in the world of marketing, I remember thinking ‘I’m doing this anyway! It just hasn’t got a name!’. Reading this book when it was first released confirmed to me that I did truly love this marketing method.
Content marketing is a natural fit for me because I love writing and have done my entire life. As mentioned, writing is the number one skill needed to be a good content marketer. If you aren’t great at writing, don’t worry! Writing skills can be learnt but I do believe you need to enjoy it to be successful.
As I started to produce content myself, I became frustrated at my limitations so in my spare time I learnt basic code, how to use Adobe design products, and slowly ended up moving into a role which encompassed more digital elements. I even launched a personal blog where I could practice my skills.
Today, I’m Head of Content at a digital marketing agency and love my job!
I’ve ended up here sort of accidentally – the changing marketing industry, a strong need to feel self-reliant, and a love of writing led me to content creation, but it feels like it was very much meant to be.