Just like no kid says “When I grow up, I want to be a drug addict,” it’s unclear if anyone actually sets out to become a content marketing writer.
That’s not to say that content marketing is akin to drug addiction – although you can get quite a high when you see your content racking up the likes, loves and leads.
But it is to say that content marketing isn’t typically on the most coveted career list of children. Kids want to be things like fire fighters. Astronauts. Cupcake bakers. You know, exciting stuff. My brother wanted to be a railroad track.
Content marketing might feel like it’s right up there on the excitement scale with something like toll booth attendants. But it’s not. It can actually be a thrill – as long as you go about it the right way.
Your first step is to have no idea what you want to do with your life. But you know you want to write. You make a list of your three top jobs that don’t necessarily involve college: fortune cookie writer, nail polish name creator, and the next Stephen King.
You call around. No one’s hiring for the first two. And all your horror stories are non-fiction. You throw out the list and go work in a pet shop. Once the realization hits that scraping bird perches isn’t exactly using your creative skills to their best advantage, you bite the bullet. You go to college.
The next step is very important. Despite all the classes and majors that could transition into a high-paying career, you need to major in English. Don’t get this one wrong. You then need to graduate, with honors, with a BFA in Creative Writing and a minor in French.
You call around. No one’s hiring for French fortune cookie writers. You take the next logical step. You go to graduate school.
Because getting an undergrad degree in English worked so well for nabbing a glamorous career, make sure your master’s degree is also in English. And back it up with an in-demand focus. Like folklore.
Spend two years working on a thesis on the folklore of New York City subway workers. Graduate, with honors, with a focus in folklore and a minor in French.
The Paris Metro doesn’t need any folklore writers. You checked. You really don’t feel like doing the Ph.D. thing, especially since the only cool-sounding folklore doctorate program is in Indiana. You can’t go from New York City to Indiana.
But you can take a number of jobs that don’t really use your creative writing talents and have absolutely no connection to any of your degrees. At least until you get sick of filling out and filing insurance paperwork for a living.
Then you hurl yourself headfirst into journalism. Although you’ve written part-time for local and school newspapers, you’re heading for the big time now. You become a full-time reporter and columnist at a number of papers across the U.S.
You fall in love with the whole dang thing. You eventually end up in Arizona with a job at the Tucson Citizen. You buy a house. Get another dog. Expect to live happily ever after working at the best career, ever.
Then the whole newspaper industry topples. The big parent company that owns the Citizen decides to shut down the paper. You’re left jobless in Tucson with 60-plus other creative journalistic souls – and the housing market crashes so you can’t sell and run.
It is then, and then only – after all other avenues have been shuttered – you can confidently enter the field of content marketing and try your hand as a content marketing writer.
You have the writing talent and skills. You know how to research, investigate, meet deadlines, and make even ho-hum daily traffic reports engaging for the audience. You’ve lived in seven different states and held all kinds of jobs, both of which deliver a level of readymade expertise.
While your individual path may vary, you’re likely to do best if you gained tons of experience working and living in a variety of places and, like many content marketing writers, fell into the industry sideways.
Above all else, there is one final step you need to take before you take the plunge as a content marketing writer. Do one last check across the board to be sure there are still no openings for fortune cookie writers.