To say I was nervous to start a new job was an understatement. Whether it’s due to my personality or gender, my first instinct sometimes is to question my ability, so starting a new job meant dealing with a bundle of nerves – was I going to let the company down? Was I really right for the job? Would it take me to the places I wanted to go? I shouldn’t have worried so much. My co-worker later told me she thought I projected a calm, confidence on my first day – good to know my emotions under the surface never boiled over.
But as I look back to that day, I realize there’s a lot I’ve learned about content marketing during my first year as a Content Marketing Manager. And I can safely say that I am making a meaningful difference, I am right for this industry and I can see the places I’d like to go.
While I’ve spent my whole life loving reading, writing, and sharing every piece of quality content I can get my hands on, it took awhile before I was given the opportunity to practice what I preached during my 9-5. As one of my wise friends always says, good things come to those who wait. I’ll continue to wait for more good things to come in my future, but in the meantime here are the five most important things I’ve learned during my first year as a Content Marketing Manager.
1. Doing Everything = Doing Nothing
A good content marketing manager is busy. Between posting on social media, writing blogs, drafting email campaigns and writing press releases, there’s rarely a free minute in the day…which is why you may think by doing “everything” you’re a superstar.
The truth is, if you try to do everything, you’ll end up doing nothing. I think that’s something I learned during week one. The key to success in content marketing is prioritizing because you will never have enough time to test out all the subject lines you want to test, write 10 versions of a social post and analyze the results later, all while managing writers and editors, and your other daily tasks.
My tip: choose five priorities you need to accomplish every week and start there. Once you’ve got those done (and sometimes the hardest part is just identifying them), then work on to your next wish-list bucket.
2. Everything’s Changing But Nothing’s Changing at all
I wanted to be a writer back when computers just played Icebreaker and you got disconnected from the Internet every time a friend called. Back then, I used a pen and paper to jot down ideas (I still do sometimes). I look back on my early years of writing and reading as a sign I’m right for my career path because what I was passionate about was the written word. I wasn’t passionate about Google+ or gaining more followers – I wanted people to read what I wrote because it was good writing. And I still do.
We delude ourselves into believing that content marketing is an evolving field but it’s not.
It has always been about creating quality content – what has changed is the way we share the content and the amount of content in the market today. I hope I’m not the only one who has a backlog of email newsletters they’d like to read when they can find the time – filled with excellent content marketing and social media advice from my favorite brands (I’m looking at you Buffer, Marketo and CoSchedule).
Lots of great people are producing great content and I hope to be one of them. Never let the hoopla of followers and likes distract you from the main purpose of creating good content.
3. Never Sacrifice Quality for Quantity (also known as “Fight the Urge to Keep Up”)
It can become very, very tempting early on to just get more and more out there – more blogs, more resources, more guides and checklists, tweets and grams, more and more without thinking about the why behind it all, and whether it’s any good to begin with. As a Content Marketing Manager, I’ve had to fight the urge to do more and keep up with what I saw others in the industry doing – creating an insatiable amount of content, on every channel I was looking.
Someone once said:
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.
I think of content the same way. I’m not achieving my goals by simply producing more – to check off and say I hit a record-number of blog posts in 2014, or doubled the number of tweets. The quantity of what I produce means nothing if it doesn’t drive engagement.
I’d rather create content that is memorable, that is relevant to our audience, that doesn’t just drive people to share it but compels them to bookmark it too. I’d rather create content that takes our breath away.
4. Stop Testing If You’re Not Analyzing
I love tests. And not just because I was an A+ student (thanks Mom and Dad). Because in content marketing, when you test, you know and there’s nothing I want more than to know what readers want, what content resonates with them and what they’re willing to give me their information to send them (it’s got to be good if you’re willing to give up your email address in exchange for it). So if you’re not already testing in your content marketing campaigns (everything from email subject lines to calls-to-action on social media posts) then start now.
But if you are testing, and you’re not going back to analyze your results, then you might as well do nothing at all. This goes back to point #1 – there’s no sense in trying to do everything (such as test, test, test) if you’re not going to step back and look at the results. That’s like a hotel asking for reviews but never reading them, a company collecting product reviews and then throwing them out.
Use the gold mine of data people have given you and analyze.
5. I Get Knocked Down But I Get Up Again
Finally, the fifth thing I’ve learned is that it’s okay to get knocked down. Trying to create quality content in a world of instant gratification and content saturation is hard. Trying to convince management that blogs matter is hard. Proving ROI from social media is hard. So it’s okay if some days you wonder why you’re so passionate about it or why you try so hard to make it work.
It’s okay to get knocked down as long as you get back up and never let anyone keep you down. If you’re in this industry, then it’s likely that you’re passionate about what you do – and true passion for your work is something that cannot be faked. It is something that you cannot teach or learn, you have it or you don’t.
Count yourself lucky if the reason you get knocked down is because your passion is overwhelming, confusing, scary – and true.
What’s one thing you’ve learned about content marketing?