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How to get into content creation: your complete guide

Do you want to get into content creation? Perhaps you’re looking for a way to supplement your income, or maybe it’s always been your dream job but life had other plans? Whatever the case may be, in this article we explore how to get into content creation with some tips that will help you start on the right foot and avoid many common pitfalls.

What does a content creator do?

Man sat at a collaborative table with laptop and notepad open discussing ideasContent creators are at the heart of many a marketing strategy. In the past, content usually boiled down to an advertorial stuffed into a magazine and the strapline on a billboard. But in the age of digital, people are consuming more and more information than ever before. And crucially, everyone has a mouthpiece.

With an open-source internet and free-to-use social media platforms, publishing online effectively costs nothing. Which makes it much more accessible to the everyday business owner rather than just those big household names. With such a wealth of avenues comes the opportunity to capitalise on all that traffic. And that’s where content creators come in.

Content creators write the copy, produce the images, execute the videos and source the shareable content that keeps target audiences engaged, entertained and informed.

Content creators produce everything from text-based content like…

  • Blog posts
  • Social media posts
  • Guides/how-tos
  • Tutorials
  • Web pages

…right through to image-led content, including…

  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Memes

Why should you get into content creation?

In one survey, 92% of companies stated they use content marketing. Thus, content marketing is not only an indispensable skill, which offers a growing number of job opportunities across the world and in every industry, it is also a rapidly evolving professional service.

A role in this fast-paced and ever-changing field keeps things interesting and offers an endless stream of professional development opportunities to continuously improve and refine your skills.

To stay one step ahead, you’ll need to look to the latest trends and adapt to the needs of the consumer. For instance, whereas video editing might not have been as important to a content creator four or five years ago, it is an essential skill to have today if you’re looking to break into content marketing. With 54% of consumers expecting this kind of content, chances are it’ll only increase and soon be part of all job descriptions for content roles.

If you’re a knowledge-hungry and creative individual, you’ll particularly find being a content creator a rewarding career path, since you have the chance to adopt a brand voice and learn on the job about whatever industry you are working in, whether that be in-house with a specific firm or freelance/agency-based for a number of clients.

So long as you are willing to put in the time and effort to keep honing your skills, then you could very quickly escalate through the ranks and find yourself in some of the top-paying content marketing jobs.

What skills do you need to be a content creator?

Professional skills you will need include:

  • Excellent grammar and spelling
  • A coherent and engaging written style
  • Awareness of the legal issues around data use/protection and advertising standards
  • Persuasive copywriting – the ability to build an unrefutable argument
  • Independent research skills
  • SEO and data analysis skills
  • Writing for social media
  • Awareness of audiences, the buyer journey and the marketing funnel
  • The ability to edit your own and others’ work
  • Other desirable skills include digital publishing (using CMS like WordPress and social media scheduling tools like Buffer and Hootsuite), video and image editing

Personality skills you will need:

  • Creativity – a unique vision or slant on old themes and topics
  • Articulate when pitching ideas
  • Willingness to learn
  • Curiosity about a range of subject matter
  • Respect and open-mindedness when sharing ideas at a team level and being tolerant of your diverse audience
  • Resilience – the ability to take critical feedback and use it to improve
  • Calm under fire, particularly around media storms

Here’s how to get into content creation

1. Think about your long-term goals and what interests you

Woman writing on postit notes stuck to glass windowContent creation is a very versatile industry, so it’s up to you to decide whether you want to work in-house with one company or freelance for multiple clients. This will hone the places you look for work or how much effort you need to do to set yourself up in business.

If you prefer the diversity of working across different subject matter, an agency might be a good option. If you want to focus on a specific copywriting niche, then you could look for jobs in-house. There might be fewer of these around, but they will likely be better paid. With that experience, if you want to go freelance in future you will also have a good grounding and could become seen as an expert in your field, more so than those who pursue a generalist approach.

2. Consider a qualification

While you don’t need a formal qualification to get into content creation, it can help, particularly if you have little or no experience. There are a number of online content marketing courses, and college-based or distance learning courses.

If you have a degree in communications, English, journalism or marketing, you may not need to do a separate qualification, but it wouldn’t hurt to show intent to employers that you’re serious about making strides in this industry.

3. Grow your portfolio

One of the best ways to get started is to find a small company or business that needs help with content creation and can’t afford an in-house team. This will give you the chance to learn on the job, but also build up your portfolio. Just make sure you’re getting paid fairly for your time.

Jobs boards and online content marketplaces are also an excellent place to cut your teeth in content creation to a wide range of briefs.

4. Build an online presence

Not only do you need an online portfolio, but you also need a website or a blog at the very least. Show that your voice is relevant and display your talents by writing on a regular basis (at least weekly). Ensure this is linked across your various online platforms, including your social media, portfolio and any writers’ databases you are featured on. Take it one step further with a professional domain name and email address.

Ensure you are active across at least one social media platform and interact with the conversations taking place on there, as well as post thought-leadership pieces or guest posts regularly.

5. Understand how digital marketing works

It’s not enough simply to be able to write, you need to understand the world of digital marketing and be able to talk the talk. Do you know not only what SEO stands for but the elements of best practice, how to find and choose the best keywords, and what tools can help measure content marketing success?

Stay abreast of industry blogs like HubSpot, Ahrefs, WordStream and Neil Patel to name but a few. You could also choose to do a few online courses and certificates in SEO such as through the Google Analytics Academy. This will help give you the technical knowledge to bolster your written skills, helping you become a better content creator and more desirable candidate.

6. Get training in related skills like video production, design or coding

If there’s one thing you need to be in the evolving world of content creation, it’s versatile. More and more marketing departments are looking for candidates who have it all, and with increasing numbers of people like you looking for jobs in content creation, you need to try and hit all the skills boxes.

You may have more of a preference for writing, which is fine, but being able to understand and write code and produce or edit a video clip when needed will help your CV stand out.

7. Find a mentor

If you’ve done all of the above and you need some help breaking through, a mentor can provide invaluable advice on how to get into content creation, as well as act as a sounding board for your ideas and offer advice when you’re struggling with a new experience.

The advantage of having someone who’s been through it all before to consult is that they’ll know where all the pitfalls are so you don’t have to go through them yourself – an excellent resource for anyone looking to break into this industry! Social media and forums are great places to meet mentors, as well as through local business associations.

8. Be patient…and humble

Truth be told, while there are plenty of opportunities around, the competition is stiff and no one becomes a top digital exec at a global brand overnight. Be prepared to get knockbacks but keep persevering because there are enough opportunities out there for everyone and you will succeed eventually.

One foot in the door at a small, local company might be all it takes to flesh out your CV with a range of skills to make getting that second job all that easier. Moonlighting with freelance work can also help your career take off even faster so don’t be too quick to turn down even small opportunities in the early days.

Getting into content creation – is it for you?

A career in content creation could offer the flexibility and creativity in your day job that you’ve been looking for. It certainly brings lots of opportunities to learn and write about new subject matter, giving you the confidence to communicate yourself better both in your professional and personal life.

Be realistic about your goals and the challenges, but also champion the skills you already have and work hard to improve on these. With an attitude like that, you’ll make a success of your career change and be on your way to job satisfaction!

Header image: Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Embedded images: Photo by Headway on Unsplash, Photo by Magnet.me on Unsplash

Wendy Woodhead

Wendy is the Account Director at Copify and a qualified copywriter and proofreader. She has spent six years copy editing and copywriting for B2B and B2C clients and has experience in freelance and in-house arts marketing and digital content creation. Wendy likes to write about language and literature, digital marketing, history, current affairs, and arts and culture. In her spare time she enjoys yoga, reading and writing fiction.

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