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When Cassandra Jowett graduated with her journalism degree, she found herself right in the middle of the Great Recession.
“Journalism jobs were drying up,” she says. “Most publications were doing more firing than hiring.” But rather than give up, Cassandra adapted by finding a different job where she could use her writing chops: content marketer.
What is content marketing? Content marketers produce a variety of content, from articles to podcasts to videos, for companies and blogs. They think strategically about how to provide outstanding content that helps readers and brings in revenue for a business.
Today, Cassandra works as the director of content marketing for the content platform provider LookBookHQ. Here’s how Cassandra discovered the world of content marketing, along with her advice for other wordsmiths looking to do the same.
From journalism student to ‘accidental’ content marketer
After four years studying journalism, Cassandra graduated into a bleak job market. Instead of getting stuck in the unpaid internship cycle, she took a job at an early-stage startup as the editor of its fledgling blog.
Cassandra used her writing skills to produce content and promote the company, plus she persuaded newspapers and magazines to republish her blog posts. But since the job of content marketer wasn’t on her radar, Cassandra didn’t realize that content marketing was exactly what she was doing.
“It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized I was doing content marketing, and it was a real career path,” she says. Once the realization struck, she updated her LinkedIn profile to reflect her content marketing experience.
“Within a few weeks, I got a message from another startup CEO who wanted to have coffee about the first content marketing role at his company,” she says. “I joined his company as the content marketing manager shortly thereafter and was eventually promoted to senior content marketing manager.”
After five years into that role, Cassandra moved on to LookBookHQ to take the reins as its director of content marketing. Although her move into the world of content marketing was somewhat accidental, Cassandra was prepared thanks to her journalism and editorial skills.
What is content marketing? It can include a little bit of everything
Although content marketing involves a lot of writing, the responsibilities of the role can change on a daily basis. Content marketers might produce blog articles, podcasts, or videos. Those at the manager or director level often work across teams to help with public relations and product marketing.
“Depending on the size of the organization you work for, you might be responsible for or support a lot of different things: content, such as blog posts, e-books, and video, of course, but also social media, public relations, analyst relations, brand voice and tone, visual brand, customer marketing, product marketing, sales enablement, and more,” says Cassandra.
“As a result, no two days are the same and content marketers tend to work on a really diverse range of projects with people across the organization and outside of it.”
This cross-pollination is part of what Cassandra enjoys so much about the role. “The collaboration and creativity you get to experience as a content marketer [is] extraordinarily satisfying, especially on fun projects like videos,” she says.
She loves that every day brings a new challenge, so she’s always learning and improving. Perhaps most importantly, though, is the satisfaction that comes with helping others.
“The best thing, however, is that I know I’m helping people with the content I create,” says Cassandra. “No, I’m not saving lives, and yes, it sounds a little cheesy, but the right information presented to the right person at the right time can make a huge difference in their career and in their life.”
In her role as content marketer, Cassandra has found a job that’s personally fulfilling and contributes to the common good.
Empathy, creativity, and curiosity are core skills
To work as a content marketer, you must have solid writing and editing skills. But Cassandra says it takes a lot more than that to succeed in the role.
First, she says content marketers must be sensitive to the needs of others.
“At the heart of content marketing is the ability to understand both what your organization needs and what your audience or customer needs, so you can create content that serves them both at the same time,” she says. “Empathy also helps you put yourself in your audience’s shoes and create content that truly appeals to them.”
Besides flexing your empathy muscles, you can’t be afraid to unleash your creative side.
“When your content is competing for your audience’s attention in an ever-noisier world, you have to be creative about the topics, formats, tone, and experience that your content presents,” advises Cassandra. “Plus, when your company’s goals and your audience’s goals seem to be at odds, that’s when you really have to get creative and find solutions that work for both.”
Finally, she encourages content marketers to not forget about the business side of their work.
“The more I know about how my content is tied to revenue, the better,” says Cassandra. “Give yourself some broad knowledge about the marketing funnel, marketing automation and operations, lead nurturing, lead scoring and qualification, sales processes, and more so you know how your content is being used, where, why, and how it’s impacting your company’s revenue.”
Although these terms might sound foreign to anyone outside the industry, learning about them could help you stand out in interviews. To improve your knowledge, you might seek out a career coach or mentor who works in content marketing, or take on an internship during college.
By understanding both the creative and business sides of content marketing, you’ll be a well-rounded candidate for any content marketing job.
Brainstorm ideas even if you haven’t gotten hired yet
If you’re eager to work in the field of content marketing, you don’t have to wait for the job title to get started. Instead, Cassandra encourages anyone to start creating content right away, so they can impress a hiring manager and hit the ground running once they get hired.
“Even if you’re not in a content marketing role, find ways to create content: blog posts, videos, social media posts,” she suggests.
Cassandra also encourages aspiring content marketers to experiment and challenge the traditional content marketing definition. “Develop your own ideas about what content should be created and why, and share those ideas over coffees, in job interviews, and in strategy meetings,” she says.
Finally, she says not to forget about the role’s core competency: writing. “Write as much as you possibly can and find an editor to give you feedback on your work,” she says. “Ask for feedback so you can get better and understand what works, what doesn’t, and why.”
By welcoming feedback and taking the time to process it, you’ll keep honing your skills at crafting stories people want to read.
Students who love to write should consider a career in content marketing
Because content marketing involves writing, editing, and creativity, it can be a great fit for English, journalism, and communication grads.
“Unfortunately, most journalism and communications students and grads don’t have this career path on their radar, but they should!” says Cassandra. “Traditional journalism and [communications] jobs are on the decline, while more and more content marketing jobs are created every day.”
In fact, marketing agencies Fractl and Moz found that job listings for content marketers exploded by 350 percent between 2011 and 2015. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that marketing jobs will grow by 10 percent over the next decade.
Not only are content marketers in high demand, but they earn decent salaries. According to Glassdoor, content marketers make between $45,000 and $96,000, depending on their level of experience. In its 2018 salary guide, The Creative Group found that content strategists start with a median salary of $73,000.
Many companies hire for this role, especially those that participate in blogging, social media, or online advertising. You can find opportunities on job boards across the internet, but don’t forget to rely on your network, too.
If you don’t know anyone in the field, try a networking app to make new contacts. You never know — a conversation over coffee could lead to your next great job.
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