Content Marketing

5 Things Every New Content Marketer Should Know

When I took a content strategy position three months ago, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. Come in, look at my to-do list, and write for eight hours, right? Wrong.

Content marketing may be a booming trend, and the number of content marketers and strategists is increasing weekly, but there aren’t too many resources out there for anyone new to the job. Even with a solid understanding of the purpose of content marketing, and a strong affinity for writing, I was still caught off guard by how different – and sometimes difficult – my position turned out to be.

I’ve compiled five important tips for new content marketers, or anyone who’s thinking about entering the industry, that I hope will help clear some of that initial shock and better prepare you for your new job.

You Do a Lot More than Write

I’ve run out of fingers and toes on which to count the number of times I’ve relayed my title or brief job description to someone, only to hear, “So you just write all day? Gosh, I couldn’t do that!” It then inevitably becomes a ten minute struggle to explain that I do so much more than “just write.”

Here are some handy pie charts that might help explain.

what people think content marketers do

what content marketers actually do

There are some days where I do maybe only an hour or two of writing, depending on my schedule. This isn’t abnormal by any means. Content marketers essentially have to run the show from start to finish, which means doing the research, drafting, writing, editing, and even going beyond that to outreach and social media promotion.

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… But You Still Need to Love Writing

On the other hand, there are days when I do come in, look at my to-do list, and pump out page content or blog posts for seven or eight hours. If writing tires you out, you hate editing, or you’re in it just for the money, content marketing may not be the right field for you.

Loving the art of writing means you have to love it every step of the way. It’s one thing to write ten new pages for your website, but it’s another to mercilessly chop out paragraphs or full sections that aren’t up to par, or even throw pieces away that aren’t approved.

On the bright side, content marketing can very quickly hone and refine your skills. In the last three months, my WPM has risen and I can now very easily write about 1500 words in an hour or so – and produce a quality piece, at that. So if you’re really into writing, and aren’t afraid of editing or rejection, this is a great field to be in.

You Need to Be Independent

Depending on what kind of position you hold, as a new content marketer, you may have someone providing direction on each and every piece you write. Or you may be told on your first day, “Okay, you’re here. Start producing content!”

Regardless of the type of situation you’re in, content marketers need to be extremely independent workers. Chances are very high that you’ll be assigned topics you know next to nothing about, or you may be left completely alone with the assumption that you’ll know what to write and how it will make the company money. You’ll need to spend time researching, identifying content gaps, composing outlines, and possibly even doing A/B testing.

A content marketer needs to be an independent worker, capable of making decisions with little to no advice or instruction. You’ll have to manage your own time and to-do list effectively to ensure that everything you produce is not only high quality, but also filling gaps and meeting deadlines.

You Need a Full Skill Set

Before I was a content strategist, I spent more than four years in a position as a digital marketing manager. My role involved managing a website and its social media accounts, copywriting, producing content, handling PR and outreach, and a variety of other tasks. Without that experience, I would probably be a horrible content marketer. Why? Because I still do all that now!

As I already mentioned, content marketers do more than write. Great content marketers need to be agile, forward-thinking leaders who are capable of doing everything from brainstorming to outreach. Someone entering the field of content marketing should have these skills at the very minimum:

  • Solid writing, editing, and grammar (a given)
  • HTML/CSS knowledge
  • Social media experience
  • Outreach/link building pro – even if you have a dedicated PR or marketing team!
  • Willingness to learn, read, and grow

Content Marketing is Awesome

I know a lot of this post has revolved around skills and traits you have to know or have, but the final thing I want to say is this: content marketing is awesome. It really, truly is!

As a content marketer or strategist, you’re lucky to be part of a new, unique field that is constantly evolving and changing. There’s always something new to learn and try in your work. Content marketing is also emerging as a marketing method of choice, beating out many traditional or outbound marketing methods, and will only continue to grow.

If you’re new to content marketing, or are considering a career as a content strategist, you need to have solid skills that go beyond writing. What you actually do as a content marketer may surprise you, just as it did me! But with the right preparation and knowledge of what to expect, you can hit the ground running and get your company’s content marketing program off to a fantastic start.

Do you have any tips for new content marketers, or anyone considering entering our field of work? Please leave them in the comments so we can make this a great resource for them!

  Discuss This Article

Comments: 9

  • Great article, Nicole. It really does highlight the different skills that you need to have in your arsenal to be able to be a great content marketeer. I’m looking forward to more pieces from you. :)

  • Hello Nicole,
    Followed a link from Walt Bayliss where he was talking about content, content curation…etc.
    Very interesting Pie. Some days I don’t even make half of what you’ve listed as time spent writing!

    Have an interesting solution I’m setting up right now. Bought a writing program to use with that hard drive full of PLR…all sorts of articles…but it loads one sentence in at a time and lets you rewrite in your own words..
    (Basically, I need some really good content about something that I’m not all knowing about, but have some great PLR articles on the same subject.)
    Almost feel I’m cheating, then thought about it: what is the difference in doing research and rewriting what I’ve found into my own words and using this program?
    A Time factor..

  • This is really helpful. I have content marketing experience but lack a little on the HTML part. Because of you I am going to be using a tutorial for HTML to get more familiar. I am currently seeking a job in this field.

    Thanks again.

    • Hey Celeste! So glad to hear it helped!

      Yeah, I definitely recommend even learning HTML basics. In my role I not only write new pages but create them, so knowing paragraph tags, bold, italics, bulleted lists, etc. is a must.

      Not sure, but Codeacademy might be a great place to start looking for an intro to HTML course. Pretty sure they have one. You can also learn PHP and other programming languages for free there too! :)

  • This raises the question as to the distinction between a Content Strategist, and a Content Marketer. I came along as CS from about 2001, after years as a “content developer.” As a CS, I was involved in strategizing WHAT and HOW content would be created, but it was someone else’s job to handle the marketing. I wonder if your experience as a CM needing to involve strategy is merely an isolated experience at the company you worked for. I tend to think that the large the company, the more separate the roles, although the lines are becoming more blurry each day.

    • Hey Sharise, thanks for your comment!

      I think it definitely varies by company. I’m used to a role as a “jack of all trades,” and I think this will DEFINITELY be the case in smaller companies — that is, a marketer/strategist role will handle everything from A to Z. There’s no distinction between the two.

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