Welcome to another post in the $100k Club series. You can see the full series here. This is "My Morning Routine" for content marketing folks making six figures. The goal is to shed light on the skills and habits that enable people to achieve lucrative jobs and help get more people in this club.
These will be anonymous and updated regularly. If you make more than $100k/year and want to contribute, email me.
For more info on content marketing salaries, check out our salary report.
My first job in content was as a content writer for midsized PR agency for technology startups and companies. I made $42,500 a year.
I currently make $100,000 (plus stock options and the opportunity for a year-end performance bonus) working as the content marketing manager for a growing social networking startup. It is a functional lead role and I don't manage any people (yet), but I am required to wear many hats and am doing a lot of social media management, product marketing and community management in addition to my content marketing management function.
My single biggest jump is my most recent one from "strategist/writer" level roles to a "manager" role, which was a 25% increase.
Having strong, grammatically sound writing skills but an amphibious tone and writing style. And being a good self-editor. I feel like getting my degree in journalism taught me to write matter-of-factly, and from that blank slate of a foundation, I've been lucky enough to have a largely generalist content career that has exposed me to a lot of different types of writing: blogs, newsletters, social, instructional design, video scripting, microsite copy, award submissions, interview questions and so on.
This makes me feel like a fraud, but I don't read a lot of books! I distrust a lot of writing, marketing and business books—and now courses—because it feels like so many border on pyramid schemes; "buy my marketing course so you can learn how to create and sell your own marketing course." Most of informal creative inspiration comes from scripted YouTube series. Sean Evens of Hot Ones has helped me become a better researcher interviewer (look up the compilations of his guests being floored by his impressively detailed questions. In the seven years I've watched Rhett and Link on GMM, they've grown from a small channel to full-on media company with wildly creative bits, recurring segments and a ridiculously consistent publishing schedule, all while spinning out half a dozen new content streams and sub-brands. I've also gotten more into newsletters lately; Blackbird Spyplane in particular is kind of shaking up my idea of what it means to use the English language (you just have to check them out).
Not a formal one, no, but I'd consider my journalism writing professor from my sophomore year of college and my previous manager my de facto mentors. The former taught me how to write and made me feel like I could make a career out of it, and the latter taught what it feels like to have some simultaneously care about you as a human and trust you to function autonomously while still maintain high quality standards. I'm positive my imposter syndrome would have beat me down by now without either of them.
Caring about things. Having an opinion and strong editorial point of view but expressing it without being a jerk. Embedding myself in cultural wellsprings like Twitter and Instagram because I generally want to know what's in the zeitgeist, not just doing the bare minimum for "audience research." Being able to explain memes and things that are trendy to older, less in-the-know managers without being condescending. I don't think you need to be the SME on the content you are writing about to be an effective content marketing manager, but you do need to cultivate exceptional taste and intuition of what will work well and what won't, and I just don't think you can do that without being decently plugged into social.
Continuing from the advice above, force companies reward you for being a multihypenate, cultural touchstone and relevant source of editorial voice for their corporate brand. If employers want to attract modern creative professionals, the one-way street of employers expecting you the serve the company brand at the ultimate expense and deferment of your own personal brand and voice just had to die off (whether they're doing it nefariously or just being overly cautious and stuffy). Being someone who's able to be confidently personable and tastefully current on cultural, technological and social trends—without being unreliable, abrasive, possessive or an HR liability—is a huge competitive advantage, but employers have to bring something to the table if they want to attract and keep people like that. The script needs to be flipped; they should be convincing you to work for them.
Caucasian male living in Salt Lake City, UT