By Heidi Cohen published June 29, 2011

Who Will Create Your Content? 10 Essential Content Creation Skills

With the expanded use of content marketing, the big question for most companies is “Who will create the content?” Like any other business initiative, a good starting point is to look at your goals and related strategies in developing a well-crafted editorial plan for content creation.

To produce the necessary content, it’s useful to assess the complete set of skills needed for robust content creation. You may well find that you need new employees, consultants, freelancers, agencies, or a combination of these options to meet your content creation and marketing strategy goals.

To help you determine the right mix of content creation skills for your business, these are top ten professional skills essential to your content creation goals. Keep in mind that newer content-related jobs may require a different mix of skills sets than past projects.


Content development requires strong research proficiency to get the latest supporting information, complete with links. Think librarians. Not older women with their hair in tight buns, but rather knowledgeable information investigators who specialize in online research.

Search engine optimization (aka SEO) copywriter

Today’s content must support search optimization without regard for the content format or where it’s placed. This includes understanding keyword research and link building. This is a critical skill that calls for an SEO professional.


Think experienced magazine editor who’s good at planning and coordinating content with promotional marketing via an editorial calendar. The big difference is that you must be able to integrate content across media and platforms. Furthermore, it’s critical that you incorporate search optimization to support the purchase process and maximize sales. Your calendar also needs to be flexible to leverage breaking news and trending topics.


For text-based content, writers must able to create articles, columns, blog posts, white papers and e-books that are focused around a specific search keyword or keyphrase. It’s helpful if the writer has SEO copywriting skills and special product/service knowledge. This content should include internal and external links, and prompt readers to share it with their social graph via social sharing options.

Photographer and videographer

Whether it is to enhance text content or stand on its own, both photography and video are powerful for luring readers in and engaging them in real time. Bear in mind that it’s important to integrate branding into these presentations and to add text to ensure they’re search-friendly.

Social media communicator

While this position may have a variety of titles, such as social media community manager, the bottom line is that this is the professional who interacts across social media platforms in real time, responding to inquiries and/or creating unique content. Unlike other pros on your content creation and marketing team, the social media specialist often doesn’t answer to a copy editor. So it follows that you need to trust that the social media person understands your social media guidelines.

Copy editor

This is the gatekeeper of your online reputation who checks all content to ensure it’s in line with your content creation goals and brand. Besides checking for spelling errors and  grammar usage, the copy editor is fluent in Associated Press Style and web etiquette. The copy editior is also critical in maintaining consistent “voice” and correct links. The copy editor’s assurance of consistent quality is particularly important in easing fear and reducing risk when dealing with many individuals who contribute content.

Graphic artist

This person is focused on the content’s design, presence, look, and feel. This person is primarily concerned with the actual presentation of the content on the web and is the one who incorporates branding and other visual cues.

Project manager

This is the uber-organized communicator who monitors and connects the different people and resources both inside and outside of the organization to ensure that everything stays on track until the content is posted. As jobs go, this one requires a strong ability to engage and work with a wide range of people.

Technology geek

We’d all fail without this specialist. At a minimum, the beloved techie ensures that all of the text, photographs, video, audio, presentations and links are correct so that the post will render nicely on readers’ devices. Questions such as, “Does the content need to be adapted for more than a computer screen?” are designed for the techie. Think smart phones and tablets. Depending on your product, examine whether you need iTouch, gaming devices and GPS. Remember, the goal is to increase findability and usability. The techie is your go-to professional for just that.

The bottom line is that content marketing requires a variety of skills. For businesses, the challenge is finding the perfect elixir of professional skills that are most useful to your organization and its content needs.

Do you have any other suggestions to add to this list? If so, please include them in the comment section below.

Author: Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is an actionable marketing expert. As president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi works with online media companies and e-tailers to increase profitability with innovative marketing programs based on solid analytics. During the course of 20 years, Heidi has obtained deep experience in direct and digital marketing across a broad array of products including soft goods, financial services, entertainment, media entities and crafts-oriented goods. Heidi shares her actionable marketing insights on her blog. Find Heidi Cohen online at Twitter @heidicohen, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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  • Joe

    I thought that the days of specialized seo were dead that relevant original content were paramount. You have business owner view this and you’ve scared him off in doing any type of content.

    • Heidi Cohen

      Joe–I agree that original content is critical. To work effectively, your content strategy and SEO must be integrated. Contrary to what you believe, a business owner who understands the importance of search to his business and the words that his buyers search on will integrate them into his content. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • Karen Marley

    I think the post does a good job highlighting the necessary skills that go into creating a solid piece of content. This isn’t a list of individual positions. I’d also add interviewer as a necessary skill. Without strong interview skills how will the writer collect good information from a content expert?  

    • Heidi Cohen

      Karen–While I agree that interviewing can be a useful content creation skill, I’d prefer to get the people within my organization writing about it and what they do themselves. I would have a professional copywriter to polish their writing and remove fears around this skill set. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • Jeremy Meyers

    This sounds like a recipe for well-researched, competently written, boring-as-hell content.  What about someone with a passion for storytelling? What about someone with curiosity about the topic at hand? What about someone who can ask the right questions to get at the heart of the topic?

    In short, what about a personally invested OWNER of the project, responsible for making sure all the parts come together in a real way to create something designed for more than generating clicks and shilling the latest corporate marketing slogans?

    • Heidi Cohen


      I appreciate your strong sentiments and thank you for contributing to the conversation. However, I feel that you’ve missed the main point of this column.At its core, great content requires a combination of a good story and relevant information but it needs more to ensure that it’s attracts the maximum audience while being in line with your brand and corporate image. To this end, more than storytelling and good writing are needed. These skills are outlined in this post.

      In an ideal world, businesses would tap their employees to contribute to their content creation. 

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

      • Jeremy Meyers

        I don’t disagree that ‘more than storytelling and good writing are needed’. I disagree that ‘great content’ does not necessitate first and foremost an honest and curious exploration of your brand and whatever a “corporate image” is.

        The article is phrased in such a way as to commoditize the actual human element of all of this, the part that makes it more than a collection of pretty photos and a slogan, more than a girl in a bikini and the phrase “Drink Coke.”

        Of course all the things you listed are important (whether they should be completely different people, with different disciplinary focus is a separate conversation, and I would imagine not your point either)

  • Jayna Locke

    Very nice post, Heidi. I think while Joe is right that it’s a little scary, for most businesses I think it’s just a good eye opener.

    Any small to midsize business will need a good marketing person with a handle on SEO copywriting who can wear a number of these hats. A mid to large sized company simply needs more people wearing more hats. Whether those are internal creative people, or the work is outsourced, the resources need to be in place to create quality content, consistently, that engages with the organization’s clients and improves the company’s searchability. 

    The larger the branding effort, the more you need dedicated people with these targeted skill sets.

    • Heidi Cohen

      Jayna-Thank you for your addition. What business executives, owners, marketers and communications professionals need to understand is that content can be created within your organization across specialties as well as in specialized departments. It can be useful to have outside support to train your employees. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • Pam Didner

    That’s another group of people who can create content for you and your organization.  That’s your organization’s community members (both internal and external communities).  They provide a different voice and perspective about your organization and products.

    • Heidi Cohen

      Pam-While I agree that your community can create content, the challenge is the 90% lurk, 9% comment and 1% create content. Further, content created by your community may not represent the perspective that your organization wants to show. The one area that community is great for is ratings and reviews. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • Kim from EggStream Marketing

    Thanks for this informative post. I’d like to add that one of the best ways to create rich content that is search-friendly and relevant is to garner interviews with like-minded, well-respected folks within the field or industry that you’re promoting. Whether it’s a Skype video chat long distance, an in-person recorded interview, a podcast, or a transcript from an interview…these are all creative and very effective ways of getting viewers to digest your SEO-friendly content. Those who know how to use SEO to help these little gems rank in the search engines can help your target audience to find the engaging content that you’ve created.

  • Brian Hansford

    I agree with the list of skills.  However the skills listed often limit “who” will contribute.  With the B2B tech companies we work with, we encourage the entire organization to mobilize to support the creation and curation of content for customer and partner consumption.  Too often the majority of these skills and responsibilities are placed on a single person in marketing.  CxO execs are subject experts and perfect sources of content.  Even salespeople *GASP* produce fantastic content that can connect with the intended audience with marvelous results.  They can work with the project managers and editors in this list to ensure a consistent, compelling, and even entertaining message.

    Brian Hansford

    • Heidi Cohen

      Brian–I totally agree that content can be created across your organization. They should be done by the person with the knowledge and copy edited to ensure that the language is good. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen.

  • Nathan Miloszewski

    Our sales team produces fantastic content and blog posts from their everyday experience with customers.  Marketing oversees the creation, distribution, and editing but we encourage everyone to contribute.  Realistically though we only lean on those with a strong desire to write.

    Nathan Miloszewski

    • Heidi Cohen

      Nathan–Thank you for providing the real life example! It’s great that you take care of the behind the scenes work. Have you tried incenting your employees to participate? Other firms have found that this works. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

      • Nathan Miloszewski

        We’ve used incentives in the past with mixed results but, still an option we look to for future efforts.  Thanks for the feedback.

  • Edith

    Hi Heidi, enjoying reading your articles. I would add motivational coucher – to motivate, fill the team with energy and inspiration, creativity and ideas. They all prove to be very handy when it comes to this endless content creation process (Which I do in Hebrew, so excuse my poor English)…

    • Heidi Cohen

      Edith–Thank you for contributing to the conversation even if you don’t speak English as your first language. As I pointed out to Nathan, it can be useful to offer employees incentives. Alternatively, you  can highlight their participation. Everyone wants their 15 seconds of fame. Give them recognition. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

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