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 Jimmy.
For more info on content marketing salaries, check out our salary report.
In 2012 I was a product copywriter and I made a whopping $40,000 a year.
Senior Content Marketing Manager, $150,000.
I was making $55,000 working at a trade media company, meaning, I was a copywriter for a big company that created content for big tech companies and placed that content in targeted trade publications. While I was there I was miserable.
My background was in journalism so I applied to a dream publication and at the same time, a recruiter reached out to me to work for an event tech company. I had no interest in the event tech company, but I was broke and figured I might as well go through the process.
Meanwhile, I made it to the final stage of the interview process at my favorite publication. The event tech company had listed the job as a senior copywriter role at $75,000 a year, but I knew from previous experience that the startup was trying to game the system. They were listing a role with responsibilities much higher than that of a senior copywriter. I took the interview, did well, and made it to the next stage.
At that point, with another job in my hand, I played hardball. I told the recruiters they’d misclassified the role, it was a content marketing managing role that should pay at least $100,000, and I’d only continue in the process if they gave me that compensation. They had three recruiters try to talk me down. I wouldn’t budge, and they told the client where I stood.
I got the job and had to decide between the two roles. My dream pub? Paid less than $55,000. The startup? Agreed to $100,000. I started making six figures after a lifetime of being broke and experiencing bankruptcy at the age of 29.
This is going to be a weird answer: I wasn’t born into money, and I majored in Liberal Arts. I read a lot and developed critical thinking skills at a very young age. And as a journalist, I never believed anyone at face value. So when I was developing thought leadership, I was tough. I knew what made a story a story and how we could pitch it to very discriminating editors. I landed a lot of op-eds for top tier clients that became very well known, and I learned how to stand up for myself and sell myself to very high income people who weren’t used to hearing “no.”
I really believe that a grasp of political theory is foundational to being a good content writer. Without reading Michel Foucault, how can you possibly know what you’re up against? How can you make ethical decisions? How can you prevent your content from being used against people who have no power? So I’d actually say that these two were the most instructive books in my career because both taught me why technocrats are disbelieved and what to do about it.
I have never had a mentor. That being said, I did work for a CEO who repeated: perception is reality. At that point, I was a neurotic, angry, passionate writer and strategist who was not good at influencing people. I learned that I had to build people up, compliment them, and speak to their insecurities. If I did this, I won friends and advocates in other departments, and people looked forward to working with me. It changed my career and has made me someone that is respected and fairly hard to get rid of at every company ever since.
I’m a chronic reader and researcher. Many people in content aren’t readers and it shows. You need to read a lot, and widely to stay on top of current discourse and stay relevant. You also need to get inspiration from multiple sources: art galleries, concerts, poetry, and podcasts. Different mediums show you what’s possible.
I’ve ghostwritten for many people making over $250,000 a year. Show them no mercy. Think critically, be tough, learn how to speak their language better than them and how to present it all in a humble package. There is nothing special about you to earn more $$$. Believe that and give as many people from low income backgrounds the opportunity to escape poverty.
I'm a Latina woman living in Seattle, Washington.