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 full-time job was as a copywriter for a digital coupon provider. I was earning AU$40,000 per year.
I loved this job because the company culture was fun and exciting and full of lots of big personalities thanks to the huge sales teams.
But even though the company was really focused on sales and revenue, all of us in the editorial team were encouraged by senior managers to take the writing and editing responsibilities seriously. Feedback from the copyeditors was really structured and did a lot to help me improve my writing for digital channels.
After I had gotten comfortable with the marketing copy, there were opportunities to upskill in email marketing messaging, social media posts, blog posts, and internal stakeholder communications.
Unfortunately, that role was made redundant after I was there for around two years when the company moved its local editorial teams off-shore.
Today, I earn AU$168,000 (take-home salary). My total package is around AU$240,000 (this includes superannuation and employee options).
My job title is Head of Content, and I'm primarily responsible for producing lots of content to increase our organic traffic and convince as many visitors as possible to sign up for our service.
I did some research (mostly using Glassdoor) to get a sense of the market salary for head of content roles in my area, so I could use it as a base for negotiating. I took the higher end of the salary range, as the company was a start-up with ambitious hyper-growth goals and the role would have to deliver quite a lot pretty early on.
It being at a start-up, I also knew that the hours were likely to be longer and the pressure may be a little bit more intense than heads of content roles in other companies. This helped me justify asking for a salary at the higher end of the range.
The biggest salary jump I made was after moving into my second job—from copywriter to content writer and social media manager. After the copywriter role was made redundant, I interviewed with two companies and was fortunate enough to receive offers from both. One was a junior digital journalism role for $50,000 at a large media corporation. The other was a content marketing manager paying $70,000 at a B2B SaaS company.
I took the content marketing manager role, partly because of the higher salary and because the journalism role required that person to work Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 pm to 6 pm. At 23, I wasn't totally keen to give up part of my weekend.
I also thought the SaaS company would offer more job security, as news and media outlets in Australia are known to run really lean (and, back then, lots of publications were going through restructures or takeovers).
I think my most 'valuable' skill changes depending on the role and the company. Currently, working in the tech start-up space, my most valuable skill is knowing how to scale content production. Publishing content at scale helps hyper-growth companies increase their user base organically, so they don't have to rely as much on performance marketing to achieve their growth goals. In this sense, content can sell itself.
In terms of more 'soft' skills, I think it helps to be able to explain how content fits into and benefits different areas of the business.
For example, I always try to reframe concepts, problems, and ideas to be more relevant to the people I'm working with—basically pre-empting the questions, "What does this have to do with me, and why should I care?" How I explain how we apply schema to optimize our content is different depending on if I’m talking to an engineer or an SEO lead, for example.
This usually means better solutions and increased buy-in from other departments. Getting buy-in for content is not always straightforward, in my experience, so it helps to be able to sell it to as many key people within the business as you can.
My current boss shared some great advice on this: don't just read the books everyone else is reading, or you will have the same ideas as everyone else.
So, my current reading goals are to find hidden gems or lesser-known books to expand my horizons.
However, I really enjoyed Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel, which is pretty mainstream. I think it's becoming even more relevant now, as the economic downturn exposes some hard truths about start-ups that were created when investment money was flowing and debt was incredibly cheap.
I wouldn't say I have had one consistent 'mentor' throughout my entire career.
I think I've always looked for more senior people within the business to brain-pick, and a lot of times, they have been outside my team. Our interactions are always very casual. Since a lot of the time our teams are working from home, I usually send someone a Slack or text message and tee up a time for a call or chat over coffee. I definitely always tell them what it's about in advance, so they don't think I'm resigning!
In my current role, however, I was lucky enough to work with the Head of Organic Growth really closely. She has really great soft skills, especially in areas I know I struggle with, like being really, really patient with people who might be underperforming. I also looked to her a lot for knowing how to set expectations for others without being micro-manage-y.
I definitely draw on advice from more than one person at a time, depending on the kind of guidance I need. The people I go to for specific work-related questions (like how to improve click-through rates) are different from those I ask about work relationships or office politics (like how can I let this person know they constantly interrupt me during meetings).
I've learned that, for me, it's so important to be able to switch off at the end of the day to really thrive at work. Some companies are better than others at empowering people to do this, so if you can't switch off because you're getting out-of-hours calls and emails from your boss, then I don't blame you.
I try to do as much as is in my power not to be consumed by work of an evening or at the weekend. I leave Slack and email notifications on until my phone goes into Do Not Disturb mode at 10pm, but only glance at them on my Apple Watch as they come in and never respond if they aren't an absolute content emergency. This helps me avoid feeling burnt out and resentful the rest of the time.
Avoiding burnout helped me to stay at my last company for nearly 5 years and take advantage of some really great internal opportunities. It also meant that when I decided I was ready for a change, I wasn't desperate to take the first offer I got and could be more strategic about my next move.
Remember that it's all just business. Almost every company will value you and your skills slightly differently, so try not to take it too personally if you think you're being underpaid or otherwise not appreciated. And definitely always ask for more than you think you're worth—especially if you're a woman. I know from first-hand experience that being conservative and cautious with asking for 'too high' a number is only hurting yourself.
I'd also recommend looking for companies where content is a key part of the business rather than a 'nice to have.' This will usually be reflected in your individual salary and the budget/resources you get to work with.
And, if a company you want to work at hasn't realized how valuable content is, do some cold outreach on LinkedIn and sell the potential value to them specific to their business.
I’m a Caucasian woman living in Sydney, Australia.