Do you have what it takes to be a content marketing writer? Find out how to break into this emerging field.
Bad news for lumberjacks: Your job sucks. CareerCast recently released its list of the best and worst jobs in America, and lumberjack is the worst of the bunch. The second lousiest job? Newspaper reporter. Ouch.
We know all about the steady decline of print journalism since the Internet went mainstream, and let’s face it—unless you’re reporting from the front lines in the Middle East or live from the red carpet, being a reporter doesn’t pay that well, the hours are long and the glam factor is negligible. Add the fact that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 13 percent drop in job availability by 2022, and “newspaper reporter” slides into second-to-last place. This makes those of us with a newspaper background (read: the 40+ crowd) cringe. Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson. Bye-bye, Miss American Pie. RIP, American print journalism.
What’s a scribe without a stage to do? One answer lies in an emerging new field that is in desperate need of skilled writers: You could become a freelance content marketing writer.
What’s Content Marketing?
People want information, and they go to the Internet to get it. What they don’t want is to be marketed to. Traditional marketers can take their TV commercials, their Google ads and their spammy little links and dump ‘em next to our floppy disks and Sony Walkmans. We will click “Skip ad” every time, YouTube. We’re onto you.
Enter content marketing.
Copyblogger defines content marketing as:
Let’s say your kid gets stung by a bee. You search “how to treat a bee sting” and click on what looks like a reputable blog post from page one of the search results. It contains comprehensive, reliable and nonadvertorial information you can use to make treatment decisions—including suggestion number seven, “treat it with calamine lotion.”
You know where you found that article? The blog of Acme Calamine Inc., makers of calamine lotion. Their blog is full of solid advice for a range of skin ailments; it contains no overt marketing messages and you can trust the content. So in two months’ time, when the same kid tramples through a patch of poison ivy, you go back to their blog for advice—and, Acme execs hope, you reach for the Acme brand on the drugstore shelf. Bam. Brand loyalty is born.
The World Needs (Good) Content Marketing Writers
Jayson DeMers writes in Forbes:
“Just a few years ago, blogs weren’t thought of as a way for companies to publish content, build their brand, grow their audience, and build authority in their field. Now, they’re an absolute necessity.”
Enter the content marketing writer.
Modern companies across all industries need writers to create relevant and valuable content that intends to develop brand trust with consumers and influence their purchasing decisions, but without selling to them.
The market for this type of writing is ripening, but just how ripe it’s getting is hard to say. Because of the relative newness of the field, the BLS doesn’t list projections for content writing. It does, however, list occupational and employment figures for the overall category “writers and authors.” Median pay in 2012 was $55,940 a year (not bad) and expected job growth through 2022 is three percent (not great, but try complaining to a newspaper reporter).
Here’s where it gets good: About two-thirds of writers and authors were self-employed in 2012, and we think this number will grow as content marketing does. In its 2012 State of the Freelance Market report, Elance reported that freelancers expected to earn 43 percent more in 2013 than they did the previous year, and 42 percent of independent professionals planned to hire other freelancers to build their businesses in 2013. You know what that means? More jobs for all. So if the freelance lifestyle appeals to you, this may be a perfect fit.
Get to Work
The work is out there. A number of sites connect content marketing writers to portfolio builders and/or paying jobs. Of course, we’re partial to ClearVoice. ClearVoice is a writer empowerment platform that enables you to project your “voice” on the Web while monetizing your craft. It is free to join—beware any site that wants you to pay to get started. They should be paying you, not the other way around.
We’re not the only players in town, either. Check out The Write Life’s list of sites that hook writers up with freelance gigs. Pay close attention to the subhead entitled “Sites to Avoid,” too. These platforms award jobs to the lowest bidder, and most writers end up working their tails off for pennies a word.
And whatever you do, steer clear of lumberjacking.