This is the first story in our new guest post series on career transitions in content marketing! This series will include insights and advice from experts in the field to help guide others who want to change their career path in content.
I went to the University of Waterloo (hello to all my fellow Canadian marketers!), which has a great co-op program placing students with companies for internships. It also focuses heavily on tech and innovation, which is how I became interested in working in tech and marketing (no, I had not been dreaming of being a marketer since childhood, shockingly).
My second co-op job title was Technical Writer, but it was for a small tech company so it was really a little bit of everything – social media management, video editing, and writing blog posts in addition to working on their support documentation. I was able to leverage that experience to get a content marketing co-op at a different tech company my next time around, and from there I continued to work in tech content marketing after university as well.
The biggest change I made was moving from in-house to consulting. Going from focusing exclusively on one brand to then having to learn enough about multiple different industries in a short time frame in order to provide value was the biggest mental shift I had to make.
I was a co-op student in content marketing for a total of a year and and a half (with a year of that being at the same company) and then worked at a different company for three years prior to becoming a consultant — so I'd say about 4 years of experience total (since knowing what my co-op was vs. what other content marketing coordinator type jobs are, I'd say it's roughly equivalent).
I just really happened to be in the right place at the right time for my first full-time job though — about a month after I started, my manager at the time announced he wanted to quit in six months to go to animation school.
So our head of marketing said "Okay you have six months to train Tatiana to take your job then."
So I ended up being a content manager a lot more quickly than most people due to that, and went from a specialist role where I was just creating content and didn't have much say to a role where I had to decide on the whole SEO content calendar + work with our product marketer, webinar manager, and paid media people to develop the overall marketing strategy very quickly.
The person who was our head of marketing at that company is also the one who hired me for this consulting role. Honestly, it really is luck / I just happened to work with people who believed in me and were willing to coach me in terms of the timing with both of these jobs. I wouldn't even have known that marketing consulting was really a thing had that head of marketing not started his own firm too.
Okay, I don't want to say it was ALL luck because I don't want to completely negate my own ability, because I'm sure that in that kind of situation a lot of people might not have been able to succeed — but the fact that situation arose was definitely luck, and what I did with it was more of my own hard work and ability.
I now work as Director of Client Marketing for How to SaaS, a management consulting firm that specializes in working with PE-backed B2B SaaS companies. Although I still handle the content marketing stream of our recommendations, I’ve also begun to work more on analyzing our clients’ funnel metrics and their marketing strategies more broadly.
Although I enjoy working on content marketing, the part of it I enjoy most is the strategy and not the actual content creation. Although I’m happy to work on content directly to some degree, I don’t think that spending the day writing is the best use of my abilities when there are so many amazing B2B writers out there, nor is that what I want to do full-time. (I’m also working on a fantasy novel and have a brunch and coffee-focused Instagram, so I’d rather spend a lot of my creative energies there!).
Although this isn’t always the case, many content marketing positions even as you grow in your career are heavily focused on your content output, which was a direction I wanted to move away from to some degree.
I also love learning new things and broadening my expertise, which makes consulting as well as learning more about other aspects of marketing the perfect fit. Although at some point I might decide to leverage my experiences to get a role in-house again, for now I’m really enjoying the breadth of experience I gain by seeing the inner workings of so many different SaaS companies.
The most important thing I’ve done to further my career so far was gaining an understanding of funnel metrics and how content actually influences revenue. If you’re in the Superpath group, this is probably something you’ve been thinking about, but it’s still rarer than you might think in the world of content marketing at large.
I’ve been thinking about this from a marketing perspective since my first full-time job in content marketing — at the time that company didn’t have a sales team, so marketing was 100% responsible for revenue. SEO, which was my main responsibility, was a big part of that, so I got used to tracking which posts were driving the most free trials and customers, not just leads. From that foundation, I’ve been able to learn more about how all areas of marketing are tied to revenue and how that can better be tracked.
There are two big things I’d highlight:
I’ve been very lucky with the people who have been on my team as well as the people who have managed me throughout my career thus far, and I’d consider several of them mentors (whether or not they know this!).
I would highly recommend keeping in touch with people you’ve worked with who you felt like you could ask for advice, or even reaching out more to people you might not work directly with but who you’d like to learn from. Most people are happy to share their expertise if you ask nicely!
Take advantage of any cross-functional opportunities within your current role and company. In my previous content marketing role, I worked closely with the demand gen team. This meant I got a crash course in paid ads. I don’t think it’s necessary to know how to do everything yourself on the technical side, but having a general idea of how different areas of marketing work and can work together can help strengthen your content marketing strategies, or your career prospects if you want to branch out.
(And getting perspectives outside marketing can be valuable too — my best friend also happens to work in tech sales, which is very helpful for getting their side of things!)
I’d also recommend learning as much as you can about the metrics at your current company (ie: lead to opportunity to closed won conversion rates, the cost of acquiring a customer, the churn rate, etc.) so that you can have the best idea of which levers need to be pulled from a content marketing perspective.