What Does it Take to Become a Good Content Marketer?
Everyone can pick up a pen and write or type on a keyboard but not everyone has what it takes to produce compelling and engaging content like a professional content marketer. So, who is a content marketer? What does a content marketer do and what does it take to become one?
This piece will examine everything you need to know about becoming a content marketer, how to get work experience after graduation, the skills you need, how to get jobs and how to stay relevant in the evolving world of producing content.
Who is a Content Marketer?
A content marketer is someone who strategically develops or creates visual or written assets, such as written text, videos, blog posts, eBooks or infographics with the aim of to attracting and retaining a clearly defined audience. A content marketer creates content to inform, engage, educate and to eventually, drive profitable customer action. For example, a piece of content can educate an active job seeker on how to get a job after graduation. Another piece of content can spur readers to register for courses/training that are relevant to their career.
It is the job of a professional content marketer to generate content. Content marketers are sometimes loosely called content writers especially here in Nigeria. They write content for different organisations over a period of time. Some professional content marketers have in-depth knowledge about certain industries. For example, a content marketer could be specialised in the financial sector while another might have years of experience within the entertainment industry.
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Professional content marketers usually have the capacity to create content on a variety of topics for several organisations either on a full-time basis or on a contract basis.
What is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing is a marketing technique of generating and distributing valuable, consistent and relevant content in order to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience. The objective of content marketing is to drive profitable customer action using content that your target audience considers valuable.
Do You Need Any Academic Qualification?
Content marketers can develop their skill through a degree from a tertiary institution. Some recommended courses for you if you intend to become a professional Content Marketer include Mass Communication, English Language and Communication Art. However, this is not a rigid criterion as there are content marketers who graduated studying courses that are far-flung from those mentioned. However, in such cases, there is a need to develop the skills needed to effectively communicate as a content marketer.
Content Marketers also need to be grounded in grammar, proofreading and editing. Good research skills are also essential for a content marketer. The evolving nature of content has also seen some content marketers taking up training and acquiring certifications in graphic design.
The new generation of content marketers have a voracious knowledge for learning and improving their craft, which explains why some content marketers are beginning to study programming languages and expanding their knowledge base in HTML, XML or other programming areas.
This is achieved via elective courses and certificate programmes. Content marketers now stray into Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and web development and as you can already guess, this type of background is preferred by employers especially when shortlisting.
Difference Between Essential and Desirable Requirements For Content Marketers
For content marketers, essential criteria are different from those that are desirable. Essential criteria are those that a content marketer must possess in order to be considered for a job role.
An example of essential criteria for a content marketer would be an ability to write and communicate effectively in a particular language, ability to proofread, to be grounded in the proper use of English or other languages understood by the target audience. English remains a popular language for content marketers all over the world. Approximately 375 million people speak English around the world and there are more than 50 English speaking countries, where English is either the official or the primary language.
How Do You Acquire Work Experience?
Employers prefer candidates who have sufficient work experience to be able to deliver on their roles as content marketers. This is easy for content marketers with several years of experience but for fresh graduates, this could pose a problem.
There are several ways through which a fresh graduate can get the work experience he/she needs to build an impressive portfolio.
Internships: One way to get work experience as a content marketer is to apply for internships. Online platforms like Stutern have made it easier for graduates to access internship opportunities that are relevant to their careers.
Volunteering: Content marketers can volunteer their services to organisations. Some companies have an open-door policy for accepting volunteers so, go ahead and reach out.
Networking: A lot of organisation sponsor networking events and workshops that make it easier for you to make professional connections that will directly impact your career positively. These contacts and connections open doors to job interviews and opportunities.
Freelancing: This is a great way to show clients and employers what you can do. Sometimes, you have to do this before you get hired for a job. If done well, freelancing will get you both experience and positive references. There are cases when a freelancing role eventually matures into a full-time job.
What Skills do You Need to Become a Professional Content Marketer?
The world is evolving and so is the job space. To keep up with the dynamic nature of content as well as the changing needs of the target audience, content marketers need to possess certain skills that set them apart as professionals. To be a good content marketer, you have to:
- Know Your Target Audience: Your target audience determines your language and the channel that best suits their needs. You also need to know which channel encourages them to give feedback as well as their demography. The kind of message that would appeal to the 18-26 age range might not work for a target audience between 30 and 45 years. You must understand their needs and how to deliver it to them. Do you create content for a property website? It would be counterproductive to have 70 per cent of your content targeting property owners while 85% of your readers/followers are potential renters/buyers.
- Know and Understand What You Want to Say: Knowing your audience is one thing but knowing precisely what you want to tell them is another thing. They are like two balanced sides of a machine. When you know your audience, then you will know what you should tell them. A good example is a content marketer whose primary audience are women. You should not write an article titled ‘How to Build Biceps like Dwayne Johnson.’ If your primary audience are men, you should not write an article titled ‘5 Ways to Fix Extension Like a Diva.’
- Master the Art of Creating Readable Content: The more readable your target audience find your content, the easier it would be for them. Cultivate the habit of speaking directly to your readers. Instead of saying “When people begin to pay more attention to their CV, they increase their chances of getting invited to job interviews,” say “When you begin to pay more attention to your CV, you increase your chances of getting invited to job interviews.” You should also strive to use the active voice in your communication. Keep it simple. Stick to a single idea. You shouldn’t be writing about ‘Benefits of Modern Office Design to Nigerian Employees’ and in the same article, you are writing about ‘How to Deal With Excessive Stress at Work.’ This is not how you should communicate as a content marketer. Meanwhile, always remember to proofread your content.
- Communicate: Remember that you have not communicated until your message has been understood. it is important that you understand that while some of your target audience prefer to read the information you send to them, there are those who prefer to watch it while others might just prefer to listen to it. When your target audience understands your message, they will engage with it more.
- Challenge Yourself: You should consider stepping out of your comfort zone as a writer. The fact that you are good at writing press releases for a popular car website in Nigeria does not mean you should not take a shot at learning how to develop relevant content for a real estate website. The best content marketers are those who are versatile and have acquired years of experience from writing on a plethora of topics.
- Know How to Develop Engaging Call-to-Actions: As a professional content marketer, you must know how to create Call-to-Actions (CTAs) compelling enough to prompt your target audience to take an action willingly. A good CTA in an article titled ‘5 Things You Should Know Before Renting a 2-Bedroom Flat’ could be ‘Rent an apartment today.
- Keep it Original: It is crucially important to keep your content original. You must understand that to stand out as a professional and to be respected by your target audience, you have to be unique. There is absolutely no room for plagiarism in content marketing. It is a criminal offence to take credit for the creative work of others and this is clearly contained in the Nigerian Constitution. It is mandatory for your content to be original. To compromise on this is to compromise your reputation.
- Get Used to Updating Content Regularly: The more frequently you update a website or channel as a content marketer, the more optimised the platform would be for search engine rankings. The best online platforms today are those that consistently update their channels with relevant content and this is precisely where you come in. The better your content, the more you will be trusted and respected as an authority. How frequently should you update online platforms that you generate content for? This is absolutely up to you to decide. It should be spaced out enough to measure the performance of the articles and it should not be too far apart to lose your audience to competing brands.
- Ability to answer questions: As a content marketer, one of your core responsibilities is to create and share content that enlightens, informs, answers questions and adds value to the lives of your target audience. An example of an article that answers questions is an article with the title ‘How to Prepare For a Job Interview‘
- Staying Persistent: Churning out fresh content repeatedly can take its toll on you as a content marketer. At some point, it could get tiring but persistence will help you overcome this phase. Your ability to face new challenges and overcome them will take you far as a content marketer.
- Ability to Summarise: One of the qualities that make you stand out as a content marketer is the ability to capture the sea in a cup. It is important to keep your messaging precise and compact and straight to the point.
- Creativity: You have to be very creative to capture and hold the attention of the target audience. This skill is not negotiable. The ability to come up with new ideas over and over again is not something everyone can do successfully. You should master the art of making your titles catchy and delivering your message using formats that they are most receptive to. You should be able to grab the attention of the target audience with any content you share.
- Research skills: No man is an island and this includes you as a content marketer. You will constantly have a need to carry out research to remain in an informed position. If you merge this with an analytical mind, it puts you in a stronger position to deliver true value to your audience. Ensure your skills cover keyword research, niche research and topic research.
- Social media skills: The social media has become a very important tool in the hands of content marketers. It gives you an opportunity to meet and network with a wide spread of people. Organisations, businesses and marketing agencies now consider social media a profitable platform and have tied this into their content marketing strategies. The more knowledgeable you are about the social media as a content marketer, the better for you.
- SEO, WordPress and Content Marketing Systems: As you might already know, WordPress is a free publishing software and content management system (CMS) that is popular in Nigeria. It is the preferred CMS for almost 75 million websites all over the world and you definitely want to be as familiar with the themes and updates as you possibly can. Your knowledge of Search Engine Optimisation gives you strategies, techniques and tactics that you can use to increase the number of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine.
To become a content marketer who achieves results and is respected by your clients and companies, you must know how to capture attention, find out what they want, know how to communicate their needs to them and you should ultimately be able to prompt your target audience to take a profitable action.
As a content marketer, your audience must learn to trust you to help them, guide them and give them content that adds value to their lives in a way that they can enjoy and relate to. A content marketer does not write. A content marketer communicates and gains the trust of his/her audience through the methodical and engaging presentation of information.
Are you interested in becoming a professional content marketer or are there specific challenges you are dealing with? Let us know in the comments section below.