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5 Tips to Grow Your Content Marketing Career


You want to take your content marketing career to the next level? Get in line.

With the boom in content marketing, the competition in the job market is heating up.

Just take a quick look at Google Trends, where the keyword search for content marketing managers shows steady growth over the course of five years.

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Add to the search a few more comparison terms – search engine optimization, email marketing, and social media marketing managers – and you’ll get two to three times the return than from those for content marketing alone. For social media, it swells to 10 times.

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That’s a good thing, right? Yes and no.

It’s no longer enough to have traditional marketing skills. Today, content marketing requires a mix of skills. Everyone from journalists to bloggers, SEO specialists to social community managers, is seeking to move up-market into content marketing roles.

The competition for content marketing jobs is stiff; here are a few steps to help you navigate.

Build your arsenal

Whether it’s time or money, you need to invest in you to get to that next level. If your company has a training budget, see if you can leverage it to cross-train.

In an ideal world, employers support attending conferences such as Content Marketing World. If you don’t have company support, there are a number of low- or no-cost options – from online content marketing courses to great content marketing blogs, where you can learn just as much if not more than you could in a course or conference.

Spend time checking out other brands’ content. Many great ideas come from simply reading and reviewing what’s out there.

“You have to be an avid consumer of content, and you have to really love media in all its forms,” says Mashable Chief Marketing Officer Stacey Martinet.

Apply quickly what you’ve learned

You can hit the conference circuit hard, read every pertinent newsletter, and take all the online courses in the world, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly that newfound learning can be lost. As studies show, most of what you learn is typically forgotten within 24 hours of a lecture.

That means if you pick up a new tip from Neil Patel’s latest blog post, you should set up a marketing experiment the next day to try the technique and spend as much time as you need to optimize it. Assuming it went well, you can rinse and repeat to reinforce what you’ve learned.

If there isn’t an opportunity to try out new skills at work, do it on your own. “Launch experiments that have nothing to with your day job,” Jay Acunzo says. “The skills you learn experimenting and hacking things all by yourself are invaluable and very hard to teach formally.”

Gain quarterback experience

If you work in a marketing organization with a number of employees, a content marketing strategy is typically too much for one person to carry out. As a result, content marketing strategy tends to come under managerial responsibilities.

Strategists should be good stewards of the budget and maximize the value of each dollar spent. Those looking to rise to the next level need a keen understanding of the ROI of various marketing channels and where to find the most bang for the buck.

Think of the role as a content marketing quarterback, guiding the team toward the goal line.

“(Marketers) who thrive do the hard work of figuring out what type of content is needed to support each stage in the buyer’s journey, what type of content the audience cares about, and what topics are hot right now,” says BuzzStream co-founder Paul May.

Don’t dismiss soft skills

Playing the role of quarterback requires people skills. If you are part of a larger team, building and nurturing relationships with your whole team is a must.

Great content marketing managers invest time and energy into their employees and give them the space to experiment and learn from failures.

MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer Ann Handley highlights “pathological empathy” as a crucial skill. “I’d hire someone more worried about pleasing our customers than they might be worried about pleasing me as a boss,” she says.

If you don’t oversee any employees, you still can expand your skills by farming small projects to third-party resources such as freelancers. That way you can oversee the project as your contractor carries it out.

Don’t forget to (content) market yourself

Skills and practice will only get you so far. To get to the next level, you need to put yourself out there. That doesn’t mean just applying online for content marketing jobs, a process that is akin to looking for a needle in a haystack. Now more than ever, hard-core networking is needed to find the right opportunity.

Build your own personal brand by relying on the very skills that you use professionally. A simple, effective way to accomplish this is through writing guest posts on relevant sites and engaging with potential employers on social media.

Those who want to take things to the next level may want to follow the example set by Lauren Holliday who used a MailChimp email campaign to land 15 job interviews. Another crafty personal content marketing trick is to use Facebook ads to reach prospective employers.

Your personal career marketing is content marketing, so remember what HubSpot co-founder Brian Halligan says: “What separates good content from great content is a willingness to take risks and push the envelope.”

Want to start learning today with two free e-courses from the Content Marketing Institute? These are part of CMI’s comprehensive Online Training & Certification Program, which contains over 19 hours of must-know strategies, tactics, and best practices, delivered by leading experts. Sign up now.

Cover image by Viktor Hanacek, picjumbo, via