When most people think about content marketing, they think about the tangible (or semi-tangible) products of the campaign; they think about the articles, links, and engagements from users, and the resulting data that indicates whether or not the campaign was a success. And for the most part, this is a useful way to look at your strategy, as it boils your efforts down to practical causes and effects.
However, it’s just as important to think of your strategy in terms of the person (or people) executing it, especially if one of those people is you. You owe it to yourself to develop your personal characteristics and abilities to be more conducive to high-quality content marketing.
All in all, these 10 qualities every content marketer must have are some of the most essential skills you can and should develop.
First, if you want to be successful in content marketing, you need some level of direction. This may not seem like a personal characteristic at first, but think of different types of people in terms of how they approach tasks and problems. There are people who start working on a problem immediately, tinkering with different approaches and potential solutions, and there are people who take a moment, evaluate the situation, and come up with possible solutions before ever trying them. The latter group is one with direction, and in the content world, this saves much time and tends to produce better ultimate results.
Content marketers need to be passionate about what they do, for a number of reasons. First, passionate workers tend to work harder—they won’t stop when they get a case of writer’s block, or when their first few articles fail to generate interest. They’ll be less likely to lose steam when they encounter roadblocks, and they’ll work harder to improve themselves over time. Second, passionate workers are less likely to “burn out,” which is a high risk in the content industry; burnout leads to high worker turnover, or even worse, stale reproductions of articles.
Though not a strict requirement per se, good content marketers are often naturally curious. They want to check in on the status of their work to see how people have responded. They want to know what their competitors are doing. They want to know what changes their audience is going through. This thirst for information leads to more informed, more invested content marketers.
It takes a lot of work to pull off a successful campaign. Sometimes that means working longer hours. Sometimes it means making a fifth round of changes to a massive, grueling piece of content. Sometimes that means making a personal sacrifice to comply with what your audience is demanding. Only the most dedicated content marketers are able to provide these things.
Logic isn’t the only thing that a good content marketer needs. In fact, strictly non-logical things, like intuition and emotion (more on this later) can be valuable, or even vital to a campaign. However, for the most part, the most successful content marketers are the ones who base their opinions and actions on the most logical outcomes. They’re able to reduce the impact of their work down to raw numbers, and they’re unafraid to make intimidating or counterintuitive changes to their campaigns if it means more practical results.
Unfortunately, content campaigns rarely go the direction you think they will. You might outline a series of articles you’re particularly excited for, but if the audience doesn’t bite, you’re going to have to change your strategy. Not to mention, new technologies and new trends demand fast adaptability. As a content marketer, you need to be flexible enough to recognize and adopt these changes whenever you can.
Most content marketing campaigns are a team effort, with writers, editors, and publishers working together under a handful of visionaries who oversee the direction of the campaign. Only by working together, making up for each other’s strengths and weaknesses, are they able to produce the best possible campaign. Even if your content team is only one person, you’ll still have to work with other departments to see the best overall results.
Everybody has their own routines, their own habits, and their own approach to work. But these routines, habits, and approaches must exist. The best content marketers are the ones with enough discipline to see their plans through to fruition—they’re the ones with set schedules, strict deadlines, and ongoing commitments that never slip through the cracks. They’re the ones with the most discipline to get the work done, and get it done right.
A good content marketer needs to have a sense of empathy, even if it’s only slight. Why? Because you aren’t writing for yourself. You’re writing for a specific target audience, and you need to know how different approaches, different word choices, and different topics might make that audience feel. A good content marketer is able to get in the heads of his/her readers, and understands the hows and whys of different potential emotional reactions to his/her written work.
No matter how good your content strategy is out of the gates, it isn’t going to be successful overnight. In fact, it might not have any measurable effects for the first few weeks. You’ll see blips on your radar—a few extra visitors, or a few additional comments—but it takes a long time for your campaign to develop any meaningful momentum, or even get to a position where you can learn from your past efforts and strategies. Successful content marketers need a degree of patience, or they’ll get desperate and start making changes before they know what changes to make.
The beauty of these 10 qualities is that they aren’t exclusively genetic, or innate. For the most part, these are skills or abilities that can be practiced, honed, and developed; even the ones that can’t be can at least be imitated, or managed through planning and execution. These characteristics are meant to enable your content team to be more efficient, producing higher quality material with fewer inconsistencies, and with a clearer vision of the future—so if you find content marketers with all these qualities, snatch them up as part of your team.
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Image by Álex Quirós