Labor Day weekend is just around the corner, and with it … sigh … the end of summer. Although I’m sad to say goodbye to beach weather and backyard barbeques, I’m pretty stoked about the holiday. After all, if your job involves content, you probably work really hard. Aren’t you just as entitled as anyone to a day off to kick back and relax?
To fully appreciate how deserving you are of a carefree day out of the office, just think about what having a job that revolves around content would have looked like 30 or 40 years ago. Back then, you might have been a writer or editor, a graphic designer, or an editor in chief who oversaw all of the work. And while the fundamental nature of that work would have still been planning for and creating content, the fact is that these days, having a job in content is a much more complicated, demanding, and onerous proposition.
That’s because today’s content professionals have to bring a whole new host of skills and areas of expertise to the table. More often than not they’re not just writers or editors, they’re also marketers with all kinds of responsibilities. And while that’s exciting, let’s face facts: It can also be exhausting.
Content Jobs: Here’s What They Take
Beyond being able to write content that’s coherent and engaging, having an eye for grammar, punctuation, and spelling, or being able to lay out content in a visually compelling fashion, today’s content professionals need to offer up a much deeper array of skills and talents. For example, they need to:
- Think strategically. While there’s still plenty of execution work to be done, today’s content professionals also need to be strategic. They need to think about what content they’re creating and when, how to best tailor it for very specific audiences, how to amplify its reach, and how to use it to help shepherd buyers down the path to purchase. If content isn’t strategic, it isn’t effective.
- Be proficient at using a variety of technologies. Gone are the days when being tech-savvy meant knowing how to use Microsoft Word. At last count there were more than 3,800 marketing technology solutions, many of which are specific to content creation, distribution, and measurement. Knowing which to use and how is critical to being effective on the job. If you’re clueless about technology, you’re going to struggle in any content job.
- Create content that serves multiple purposes. In addition to simply conveying key messages, today’s content has to perform a lot of other duties. For example, it needs to be optimized for search so that it’s findable. It also needs to link to other relevant pages to be more useful and solicit comments where appropriate to foster engagement. Perhaps most important of all, it needs to get prospects and customers to complete a specific action such as consuming another piece of content or signing up for a free trial. That’s a lot more to think about than just whether or not your content looks and sounds good.
- Create lots of different kinds of content. These days you need to be able to communicate to your target audience in lots of different ways. That means that you need to be well-versed in the nuances of writing lots of different types of content for use in a variety of different applications. Just because you can write a killer blog post, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be good at writing effective email subject lines, persuasive case studies, or compelling video scripts. Factor in that you’ve also got to make all of these different types of content hyper-personalized for very specific audiences, and things get even more complicated.
- Distribute content through many more channels. There are literally hundreds of different paid, owned, and earned channels that you have to consider and potentially incorporate into your content distribution strategy. If you work at a large organization, you might have the luxury of letting someone else worry about this for you. But in many cases, particularly at smaller companies, you’re on the hook for this too.
- Achieve cut-through in a much more crowded landscape. With content playing such an important role in attracting, nurturing, and retaining customers, companies are creating a lot more of it. As a result, the world is inundated with content, which means achieving cut-through is incredibly difficult. Your content has to be original, interesting, useful, engaging, and well crafted to have any sort of chance.
- Demonstrate ROI. Long after a piece of content is created and published, content professionals are still on the hook for monitoring its performance and collecting data that can validate its relative success or failure and lead to insights about how to further improve future content. Thanks to the rise of analytics, you can no longer rely on gut instincts and anecdotal information to justify your decisions. You’ve got to demonstrate real ROI based on hard data.
This list could go on and on, but hopefully you get the idea. Being a content professional is a fast-paced and exciting job that demands a lot. It’s a wonderful type of work to pursue, but it’s also challenging. So this Labor Day, sit back, relax, and take a moment to appreciate everything that you and your peers do.
On behalf of everyone here at Acrolinx, I tip my hat to you.