I met with two young interns in July who wanted to find out more about content marketing and what it means to be a writer in a corporate setting. I shared what I knew, answering their questions and giving them a tiny view into my daily process and interactions with my content team. And then I went home and realized their questions would make a pretty good blog post. I decided to jot down what I could recall from the interview in the hopes that it may help encourage others looking to enter the field.
What I love about my job as a content marketer:
I get to play with words all day — finding effective combinations that persuade people to act. For anyone who loves words and thrives on communication, it’s an ideal job. Not only will you enjoy writing, but you’ll also face the challenge of finding ways to tell your message or story most effectively.
How to prepare for a job as content marketer:
You write every day. You string words together and then hit publish. Don’t sit on the output, don’t hide it away in a desktop folder. Publish it on the internet so that you get the kind of feedback that helps you improve your craft.
Start out small, on a practical platform like Quora. The Q&A format of Quora is perfect practice for a content marketing job, because Quora is essentially every blog post or error message or tweet or email campaign you will ever write in the future — i.e. you are forced to be concise, helpful, and aware of the customer’s needs at all times. Plus, Quora gives you a chance to prove to the world that you know what you’re talking about. You’re building your personal brand with each answer.
After a while, you’ll come up with some interesting ideas for blog posts because of your writing in Quora. Capture those ideas in an online system (e.g. Wrike, OneNote) and expand on them. Turn them into long-form articles, making sure your articles provide value to readers. Then publish it on your own blog while reposting variations of it on free platforms like WordPress, Medium, or LinkedIn Pulse.
The always-sunny Wrike content marketing team (June 2016). It’s an honor to work alongside these talented folk.
How to get hired as a content marketer:
Have a comprehensive, awesome LinkedIn profile that’s studded with examples of the stuff you’ve written — whether it’s a bunch of answers on Quora, Slideshares you’ve put together, or links to your own blog posts. This is why it’s important to keep writing — so you can fill your profile with samples and show recruiters you know how to write effectively. Your LinkedIn profile is the most effective portfolio.
The difficulties of content marketing:
1. Possibly the most difficult situation you may have to face as a content writer is being given projects with deadlines that are forced on you with zero consultation. You may get a task one day that says “Write me 25 ads for Google AdWords by Friday, thanks.” And unfortunately, your input was neither sought nor asked, hence no one saw you also have a blogpost and an ebook due Friday. And sometimes saying “no” is not an option. Which leads to the next point…
2. It’s another awful situation when the content function is viewed strictly as tactical (“Write this blogpost to get us leads.”), rather than as strategic but with the ability to execute (“How do we target millennials with a blog post?”). You’ll know it when you aren’t invited to brainstorm but get handed a task whose direction you don’t believe in. Then you’re merely a cog in the machine. In order to turn this view, you have to demonstrate your ability to provide value and insight even in the planning stages of a campaign. If you’re forever silent, no one will realize you have strategies or best practices to share with the larger team.
3. A final difficulty: you may be asked to ghost write articles or longer materials under someone else’s byline. And that could be a tough pill to swallow especially since some of these materials take a bloody long time to research, write, and then make its way through an excruciating approval process. Plus, if you’ve been building your personal brand, it will feel like a step backward when your work goes out under another name. But it’s part of the job — you were hired to lend your skills to the company! Swallow your pride and do your best.
Advice for writing as part of a team:
How do you write effectively as part of a team? I wrote a lengthy and more comprehensive answer to this on Quora. But what it boils down to is: you leave your ego at the door and trust your team to edit your work with the same respect you use to edit theirs, and of course, you communicate constantly. When all this is done correctly, it leads to effective and valuable content.
What advice do you have for prospective content marketers?
Are you a content marketer? What tips do you have for people who want to enter the industry? Sound off in the comments.
Originally published on Medium.