Hey folks! Thanks so much for the many contributions to this report. This is the fourth edition (you can see 2019, 2020 and 2021 here). For the first time, I’m combining all the data into one report so that you can clearly see the trends. This makes the good, bad and ugly of content marketing income plainly visible.
This report is presented by
I’m really excited to announce that Clearscope has come on board as the presenting sponsor of this year’s salary report. Clearscope is a content optimization tool, but beyond that, founder Bernard Huang has been an active member of the community and this isn’t the first time he’s supported it either. (Last year, we created some tutorials together and he even offered free keyword reports to our members.)
Their optimization tool, plus the Google Docs add-on, Wordpress plugin and multi-language support are best-in-class. Many thanks to the folks at Clearscope for their support.
Before we dive into the data, I want to briefly outline the purpose of this report. By collecting, analyzing and sharing salary data, we achieve a few things:
Transparency benefits all of us. I believe content marketing is rich with opportunity and this report backs that up. Okay, just a few more notes before we dive in.
Okay, let's dive in!
So, how much do content marketers earn?
Average total annual income (full-time and freelance income).
This is up 10.49% over last year. This includes all income from all sources, regardless of experience, employment status or gender/ethnicity, meaning that a person could make 90% of their income from a full-time job while supplementing with some freelance work. All of that is included. The median annual income is $83,750.
Here’s how this data has changed over the last few years:
I would like to note that the Superpath audience has grown and evolved quite a bit since we started collecting this data. In 2019, only 36 people filled out our salary survey. This year, nearly 10x that many people provided data. It’s hard to nail down exactly how sample bias affects the data, but I do feel confident that the trend—up and to the right—is accurate based on everything I’ve observed over the last few years.
The bulk of respondents earned between $60,000 and $79,999. In general, content marketing is still a young person’s field. (This is an observation, not a data point.) As the content marketing industry evolves, I expect to see histogram shift to include many more people earning $100,000/year and above. This data is “right-skewed”—meaning that there is a long tail of responses above the average. It’s hard to bucket those folks into income brackets and, in fact, those brackets don’t tell us much. One thing we do know is that once content marketers break out of the $60,000 to $79,999 bracket, there is quite a bit of earning potential.
The average annual income for people who make >50% of their income from a full-time job.
This is up 9.74% over last year ($83,384). This number is meant to capture data from folks who have full-time jobs, i.e. those who make the majority of their income from a W2 job.
The average income for people who make >50% of their income from freelancing.
This is up 10.4% over last year. I define freelancers are people who make >50% of their income from 1099 work. We’ve seen a lot of great content folks pursue freelance careers in the last year. There is quite a bit of demand for content and these freelancers are building good businesses servicing it.
Here’s a quick comparison of full-time vs. freelance income over the past few years. Please note that this data isn’t perfect—e.g. a full-time employee who does some freelance work has that extra income included in their total. Because many full-time folks also take on freelance work, their employment income is actually lower than what’s reported here. Summary: freelancers are doing quite well.
This is up from 27% last year. While not a massive increase, it’s an indicator that more people want in on the creator economy/side hustles. There’s quite a bit of demand for content these days, more than the current crop of full-time employees and freelancers can supply.
This is up 6.1% over last year ($88,679).
This is up 22% (!!!) over last year ($76,378). It seems like a lot more e-commerce brands are taking content very seriously these days.
Of course, average income can only tell us so much. It's helpful to segment individuals by experience to see what kind of pay you could expect if stay in this industry. In general, folks with eight or more years of experience are in the $100k Club. This data includes income from any source and does not delineate between full-time and freelance.
And here’s how this data has changed over the past few years. (Note: This is the first year we’ve collected data for the “13+” category.)
And here’s a look at average annual income by job title. We used a simple formula to pull keywords from job titles. Example: “what’s the average annual income of respondents whose job title includes the word director?” This data is not perfect—e.g. it’s possible that a job title like “lead strategist” got counted twice. Still, it shows a clear trend. More senior folks earn more money and job title definitely matters. Another note: we had one VP respond. I included this because $250,000/year is on par with VP salaries in other areas of marketing.
In the past, we’ve asked about remote work. This just didn’t seem to make sense this year since pretty much everyone worked remotely at least some of the time. But, for the first time, we collected data on benefits and perks. This applies primarily to full-time employees and accounts for existing benefits rather than desired benefits. I’d consider it a starting point rather than an end goal.
The above options were selected from a menu but we also asked what other benefits folks get. Here’s a sample of the most common responses:
Up to this point, it’s been all good news. Salaries are up, freelancers are doing well and content marketing is clearly in demand. The bad news is that income is not consistent for eveyrone.
A quick note on this data: We didn’t have enough respondents to differentiate between every ethnicity. I chose to bracket everyone who did not identify as white or caucasian into the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) category. I recognize how imperfect this is and I’m sorry that this data isn’t as thorough as it ought to be.
Unfortunately, the gender pay gap increased over the last year. Last year, women earned 92 cents for every dollar a man made. This year, women earned about 86 cents on the dollar.
We asked respondents which gender they currently identify as. We left the field open for folks to respond however they like (i.e. not a dropdown). We will collect more data on non-binary and gender-fluid content marketers for comparison in future surveys.
This data is really disheartening. Not only did the pay gap increase, but total income decreased for our BIPOC respondents. In a year when content was in demand and average income increased nearly across the board, it’s upsetting to see that those benefits were disproportionately experienced by white respondents (and especially white men).
Some of this data is uplifting, but some is downright disheartening. Here are a few things you can do now:
If you want to talk with other content folks about this report and other career development topics, come join our free Slack group. There are already 5,000 of us learning and supporting one another and we'd love to have you.
Any questions about this report? Feel free to DM me on Slack or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.