Have you ever heard the expression, “content is king”? This statement holds a lot of weight in marketing. Although an effective strategy relies on more than just content, it's definitely a crucial element of an inbound marketing campaign.
Inbound marketing is all about identifying the questions of your target audience, providing answers to those questions, and delivering the solutions they're actively looking for. This is accomplished by leveraging properly optimized content.
Are you considering working in content marketing? Becoming a content marketing specialist is an excellent way to begin your content career. This article will cover:
- What content marketing is
- What a content marketing specialist is
- 7 steps to becoming a content marketing specialist
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the creation and distribution of meaningful content to reach the right audience at the right time. This can be a blog post (like this one), video, social media post, podcast—basically any form of consumable marketing material. Jamal Meneide from HubSpot articulates this best by saying "Content marketing is making stuff."
Not all content is created equal though. The key to creating the most valuable content is ensuring it’s relevant, interesting, and discoverable.
- Interesting: Content should always be fresh and interesting. If it bores your target audience, it's not likely to perform well.
- Relevant: In an inbound marketing campaign, content is meant to reach prospective customers already searching for the solutions it provides. For your content to rank well, it needs to directly relate to whatever the user is searching.
- Discoverable: No matter how relevant or interesting, there is always a chance that your content may never see the light of day. Content should be written for both the user and the search engine to increase its likelihood of showing up on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Discoverability is one of the many elements that separates content marketing from writing in general. Each piece of content needs to be properly optimized to ensure a high ranking. Content marketing also requires an adoption of multiple clients’ tone and brand voices instead of personal ones.
What Is a Content Marketing Specialist?
A content marketing specialist creates and distributes content for a specific target audience. Some key responsibilities include:
- Writing/editing: Writing and editing blog posts takes up much of a content marketing specialist's day-to-day responsibilities.
- Research: One of the most exciting elements of a content marketing specialist's job is the numerous learning opportunities. Creating content involves more than adding "fluff” to an outline—it requires a thorough understanding of its subject matter. Therefore, a piece of content requires extensive research—both for external citation links and the marketer's own comprehension.
- Content strategy: A content strategy involves building a buyer persona, conducting keyword research, and creating a content plan based on that research.
- Search engine optimization (SEO): Making sure each piece of content is optimized is a key responsibility of content marketing specialists. This includes ensuring each image has alternate text, assigning appropriate HTML tags to each header, incorporating relevant semantically related keywords, and more. Content marketing specialists are also responsible for on-page optimization of existing pages that aren't performing as well as they could be.
- Editorial calendar management: Organization is key. Content marketing specialists are often responsible for maintaining an editorial or content calendar to stay on top of each stage of the content creation process.
Interested? Here are seven steps to help you become a content marketing specialist.
7 Steps to Becoming a Content Marketing Specialist
Everyone’s professional journey is different. While there’s no universal formula for obtaining a content marketing job, these seven steps can help you get started on your path and stand apart from the crowd.
- Earn a relevant degree
- Create a personal blog
- Build your skill set
- Build your network
- Stay updated
- Seek out opportunities
- Submit a compelling application
1. Earn a Relevant Bachelor’s Degree
The first step is to earn a bachelor's degree in a related field. While it's possible to acquire a job without one, today's competitive professional landscape has slowly made bachelor’s degrees a necessary requirement. In fact, approximately 79.3% of marketing specialists in the United States have a bachelor's degree or higher.
There are many degrees content marketing specialists can hold—not all content marketing specialists earn marketing degrees. Some of these relevant degrees include:
- Business Administration and Management
- Mass Communication/Media Studies
- Creative writing
- Public Relations
While some employees have specific degree requirements, many consider skills and experience equally, if not more, important.
2. Create a Personal Blog
Demonstrate your writing prowess by creating a personal blog. Free website platforms, like Wix or WordPress, are great places to host content and your professional profile. Don’t know what to write? Try to stay up-to-date on marketing news and find some interesting topics to write about. Make sure to cover a wide range of topics in your blog to demonstrate an ability to write about a wide range of subjects.
3. Build Your Skill Set
Content marketing specialists should be proficient in marketing practices, but there are other skills they need to succeed, such as writing and editing. Marketing content creation is a balancing act between these different skill sets.
Top Writing/Editing Skills
Writing and editing is an important element of a content marketing specialist's job. Whether it’s blog articles, video scripts, or social media posts, a content marketing specialist must have proficient written communication skills.
Here are some of the top writing and marketing skills employers look for. The most common skills include:
- Technical writing
- Content creation
- Search engine optimization
- Copy editing
Top Marketing Skills
Writing is a key component of content marketing, but it's only one part of the equation. Content marketing specialists need to be proficient in marketing as well as writing. Some of the top marketing skills employers look for are:
- Digital marketing
- Customer relationship management
- Search engine optimization
- Marketing strategies
- Marketing communications
- Market research
An excellent way to demonstrate these skills is to earn certifications from HubSpot, Google, or SEMrush. These free certifications show you're a self-starter and can be a great addition to your resume.
4. Build Your Network
An estimated 85% of jobs are filled as a result of networking, so it's important to work on developing strong professional connections. Here are some networking tips:
- Use job applications as networking opportunities: Just because you don’t get a job doesn’t mean you can’t network with recruiters and interviewers. If you establish a good rapport with them, they may be willing to connect you with other companies in need of your skills.
- Connect with alumni from your alma mater: Finding commonalities with prospective employers is a great way to start the conversation. Take a look at LinkedIn profiles of prospective employers and see if any of them attended your college or university. If so, that can be a great way to break the ice and make a genuine connection.
- Start conversations with people in the position you want: Learn from people who are in the position you want and ask them how they got there. Sometimes hearing other people’s experiences can give more insight to possible next steps you may need to take in gaining a job in the field.
- Ask questions: Reach out to current marketing specialists and strike up a conversation about their recent article. If you notice an interesting blog post, use it as the basis for starting a conversation with the author.
5. Stay Up-to-Date
The marketing world is continuously changing, so it’s important to stay up-to-date with marketing news. One way to do this is by subscribing to marketing-related blogs and newsletters. Some examples include:
These can help build a working knowledge of marketing, which is often a must for getting a position in this field.
6. Seek Out Opportunities
If you're in need of experience, seek out opportunities in your community by leveraging the connections you already have. Here are some ways you can acquire experience to build up your resume:
- Look for volunteer opportunities: Consider reaching out to local businesses, non-profits, churches, schools, or other organizations to volunteer your writing services. If you have the time, this is a great way to build up your content portfolio and demonstrate your passion for content marketing.
- Find opportunities with your college/university: If you're still in college, connect with the marketing department and ask if there are any opportunities to write content for your school. They may need help updating a social media page or writing a blog for the website.
- Internships: Internships are one of the best ways to get your foot in the door at a company. In fact, 68% of interns are offered jobs at the companies they intern with. Some companies, such as Pepperland, compensate interns for their work as well.
7. Submit a Compelling Job Application
The final step is to apply for positions you want. Make sure your resume is professional, ATS-friendly, and adequately highlights relevant experience. If the application requires a cover letter, proofread it extensively to ensure it has no grammatical or spelling errors. These mistakes could lead to an immediate rejection—especially since this position relies heavily on effective written communication.
If your application impresses your prospective employer and lands you an interview, let your personality shine through. Do your research on the company and compile a list of several questions to ask that effectively demonstrate your interest. Overall, be yourself and have fun!
Finding the Right Job
It’s easy to feel like finding a job is hard—and finding the right job feels nearly impossible. But it’s important to avoid getting discouraged in your job hunt. Many job seekers get so frustrated that they settle for a company they don’t want to work for. This can be dangerous since it usually leads to rapid burnout. Writing content on a regular basis can be challenging, so make sure you feel supported by a great team.
If you’re interested in a job with an inbound agency that offers an excellent work-life balance, remote work, a great corporate culture, continuous learning opportunities, and more, consider checking out the career opportunities at Pepperland.