11 Skills That Will Make You Successful In A Content Marketing Career
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“What are you ever going to do with that?”
That’s the usual response I’d get when people would ask what my college degree was in (it was art and art history). There would be a prolonged moment of silence and then that question.
I don’t know if that prolonged moment of silence was in honor of the memory of what they thought was now-gone employability. I can promise you that as I got older and there was more distance from my college graduation, I fretted less.
Because in the ensuing years, I learned that the answer to that question was: quite a lot.
Sometimes a skill is not just a skill. That’s what you’ll discover as you work toward a successful content marketing career.
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Your Content Marketing Skills Add Up To A Lot
Getting your art degree, it turns out, doesn’t only make you a prime candidate for being a professional artist, but it also spawns the ability to defend your work in front of a room of critics. You know the skill of B.S. (yes, it’s a real skill) and can create something out of nothing.
As a content marketer, you're holding onto skill sets that go beyond “simply” being a content marketer.
So, the next time someone asks you what you do as a content marketer, rest assured you have some solid answers.
1. You Write, Which Many People Cannot Do
This skill is huge. Don’t ever undersell yourself as a content marketer, because your ability to write is paramount.
Oddly, writing every day makes me forget that not everyone is a writer. I assume everyone is writing constantly and am shocked when I come across someone struggling with their writing. Reading long posts and comments on Facebook, for example, is stunning at times. I’m not interested in correcting grammar or making people feel embarrassed (many bizarre words and typo errors can be blamed on type assist on mobile devices), but I am genuinely surprised.
In the past five years, the ability to write—which also includes vocabulary, grammar, and analysis—has noticeably declined among college students. 26% of college graduates have deficient writing skills.
That’s college graduates, we’re talking about.
It’s easy to think writing great copy is just about stringing together the right words, but there is a huge analysis factor.
Good writers have to be able to analyze their own ideas and the ideas of others. Writing also involves communicating persuasively as well as clearly. Too often, good writing is seen as something that is clever rather than clear. Snappy and clever is fine, but not at the sake of clarity.
And, of course, good writing is done in a way where you inform people while making every reader, no matter their skill and knowledge level, feel welcome.
The fact that content marketers, out of necessity, are constantly writing means they are always in a state of practice. The sheer amount of times you put pen to paper (or word to screen) means that you are exercising your writing muscles and brain cells. Perhaps this is why I am surprised by the lack of writing skills I come across in others: They simply do not write every day.
Your ability to write puts you at an extreme advantage in this world.
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2. You Create Under Pressure And With Others
In a content marketing career, you're frequently at the mercy of the winds of trends, breaking news, and ever-changing technology. That means you get used to creating under some level of pressure. There’s no letting up, no break—because your audience is just one yawn away from leaving you (or so you think). You never know who will say what to you on social media, and you have to figure out a response in the moment that is both appropriate and genuine.
You have the ability to hit the ground running and think on your feet—with or without a team at any given moment.
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3. You Handle Criticism And Critique
Criticism and critique are not the same thing. Both can be valuable.
As a content marketer, you know how to handle both criticism or critique, whether that means knowing how or when to respond, or if you should respond at all. You can identify what you should take seriously and which battles to fight. You know how to participate in amicable disagreement, or you knowing when to avoid it entirely.
And all of this often happens in full public view... of your customers and competitors.
You have the ability to be graceful, honest, and real under pressure in full view of everyone.
4. You Convince And Sell To People
Convincing someone that they ought to consider the idea you’re presenting, much less getting them to act on the idea, is tough.
This goes beyond how great your writing is, and how well you can turn a word. Instead, it is about you understanding how people function.
As a content marketer, you read and research what motivates people emotionally and psychologically. You are constantly reading the research from other marketers and are always developing a strong understanding of how people react in specific situations.
You learn about the sales process, the sales funnel, and how to identify (and respond to) someone in different stages of the sales process.
You have the ability to understand when someone is ready to buy, and what to do if they aren’t.
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5. You Organize And Plan
This post is on the CoSchedule blog. Of course we’re going to point out your amazing planning skills! Planning is what we’re all about, and as a successful content marketer...so are you.
The year I was a school teacher, I was repeatedly told by other teachers that the education sector built incredible organizational skills and I was lucky to be picking them up (though I saw a few teachers desks that suggested otherwise).
If ever there were organized people (or people who at least were actively focused on getting organized), it’s you as a content marketer. With so many things to keep tabs on like engagement, social media, blogging, email, and ebooks, it seems to be, either you organize or die.
If you’ve been a content marketer for over a year, you:
- Are organized.
- Are regimented.
- Have self-discipline.
- Know how to plan the actions that will get the job done.
You have the ability to see what needs to be done, and you know how to plan and do it.
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6. You Understand Data And Trends, And You Act Accordingly
Content marketing is about marketing awareness.
You have to know what is happening in your niche, and which trends are increasing or fading. Content marketers are definitely not “set it and forget it” people, known for constantly testing everything from button placement on a page to the headline of a blog post in order to find the better performer.
Content marketers are also known for using technology to gather data and for being creative in how they use that data to impact their next decisions. You do this. You’re not just using a traffic counter and watching the numbers click up. You’re deciphering bounces, page habits, landing page performance, and demographics. Data is so much more than numbers in a spreadsheet for you. It tells you what happened, what’s happening, and what you’ll do next.
You have the ability to interpret data and trends in a way that gets put into action.
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7. You Connect With People
Content marketing doesn’t work if you’re blowing smoke at people, and you know it.
It’s all about connecting with people. Content marketers have to create content, but it’s not enough to just create content. It has to be helpful content that your audience actually wants.
This means you’ve learned to listen to your audience (heck, you’ve actually found the audience that works best for you). You can interpret and read them, finding out what makes them tick. You take the time to understand their user experience. You put aside what you want and turn marketing into something they want. And in the end, you really connect with people and forge loyalty.
You have the ability to inspire customer loyalty because you understand the importance of caring about real people.
8. You Think Visually
Those who are in a content marketing career live in a visual realm.
Social networks and websites are all about visuals. As a content marketer, you've learned to write well, interpret data, and use psychology. Content marketers are the ultimate repackagers, digging up complicated studies and turning them into palatable infographics.
This isn’t just about making pretty pictures. You are actually creating a new content type from another.
You have the ability to take complicated information and make it simple to understand, especially visually.
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9. You Ask The Right Questions
Content marketers are always in need of new ideas for blog posts and social campaigns. This means they are always in a state of asking questions.
You do it all the time. “What does my reader want? Is that trend a sign of something bigger? How can I make this simpler? What are my customers telling me isn’t working? Why am I seeing blog posts on this topic all of a sudden?”
You ask questions of beta test groups, data, customers, social followers, and of your team members. You know that the right solution is only found when you ask the right question. Otherwise, you’re wandering around blindly.
10. You Prove Your Value
Content marketers struggle with the idea of showing a return on investment (ROI) because they sometimes seem to think their work doesn’t have one.
As we’ve already covered on this blog, that simply isn’t true.
The work you do has real ROI, and you know both the need to prove it and the method for doing so.
After all, great content marketers aren’t going to keep doing what isn’t working, so they are always looking for the return. This is why you A/B test, this is why you measure, this is why you collect all of that data, and this is why you periodically make changes in your plan: You have an eye on getting the maximum return.
You have the ability to identify what provides a ROI and what needs to be scrapped.
11. You Recycle, Turning Old Into New
In your content marketing career, you aim to get the most bang for your buck.
With an eye on saving time and money (your two most limited resources) great content marketers know how to reuse content in a way that makes it fresh again. This kind of approach is valuable; you’re not always reinventing the wheel and throwing more (new) money at a problem. You know how to take something old and make it new. Repurpose your content by making it new.
You have the ability to use what is available and make it work.
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Build Your Skills To Improve Your Content Marketing Career
So if anyone ever says to you, after you’ve told them that you’re a content marketer, “what in the world will you ever do with that?”...now you know.
By the time it’s all said and done, content marketing has helped you acquire a great skill set worthy of its own content marketing degree (sorta). The next time you see a list of skill sets in a job ad, stop scanning to see if “content marketer” is listed, and instead see if any of the above skills are listed.
You’d be surprised at how valuable your content marketing skills are.
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December 9, 2015