Stoa's Guide to Becoming a Good Content Marketer

Content marketing is an important methodology, but not everyone understands it. Here’s how to improve your content skills.

In the last decade, content marketing has risen to become one of the most popular and effective ways to build a brand. With its relatively low cost, universal accessibility, and high rates of success, content marketing is an idea on the mind of almost every type of modern business today – particularly those with complex solutions that require a lot of information.

The prominence of content marketing in the modern business world means that those who are able to equip themselves with the most important content marketing skills will have an advantage when it comes to seeking employment.

The good news is, the skills needed to become a proficient content marketer are not especially technical, save for writing – and almost anyone can work themselves up to an acceptable level of skill for web writing with enough time and practice.

Learn content strategy

What is content marketing? Broadly speaking, it refers to the use of valuable content as a tool to drive business goals. In practical applications, it generally involves consistently publishing content on the internet and disseminating it to prospects and customers to build a relationship with them and nurture them to a purchase.

The foundation of successful content marketing is a solid content strategy upon which you can base your marketing efforts. Content strategy broadly refers to the way a specific type of content is governed, but is often (though not always) referencing efforts to drive new business to the organization.

You can break down content strategy into three main parts:

  • Target persona is also known as the buyer persona. All companies should have at least one persona, although some may have multiple if they offer different products or serve different industries. The persona usually includes a person’s name.
  • Business goals help an organization or company understand the goals they are trying to achieve with content marketing. For example, a SaaS web company may be engaging in content marketing as an effort to drive more monthly subscribers. On the other hand, a nonprofit or similar charitable organization may want to bring in donations or in some cases simply raise awareness of their cause or mission. To maximize results, content needs to serve both the business and the people consuming it.
  • Channel defines the method by which the organization or individual executing a content strategy reaches out to its intended audience. For example, YouTube has been a popular source for content marketers for several years – billions of people in countries around the world consume content on YouTube, including children.

You can see how these three concepts fit together in a content strategy: define the channel used to reach the persona to achieve the business goal through content.

To improve your own content marketing, break down each of its broader elements and spend time studying each one.

For example, when learning how to put together a persona, you can study guides and templates to better understand which specific traits go into a persona and how to gather the needed information. When learning about how to define content-related business goals, research other cases similar to yours or your company’s to get some example metrics and understand how to measure them.

The “channel” component of content strategy offers perhaps the most opportunity. Marketers who are able to jump on new channels quickly before they become mainstream can enjoy a significant advantage over competitors – this was the case in the early days of channels that are ubiquitous today, like Facebook and Instagram. If you want to get better at content marketing, you have to spend some time learning where content is disseminated.

Practice writing

While text is far from the only viable form for content marketing, written communication is still a part of almost every form of content marketing on the web today. Even if you are making videos, for example, you still need to have some text that can describe what goes on before uploading it to a social network or a website repository.

Regardless of how you feel about writing or your abilities, the truth is that with enough time and practice almost anyone can improve their skills to become at least a competent writer on the web. If you aren’t sure where to start, there are lots of excellent resources available online that will teach you the basics.

Generally, writing on the web should be shorter and more direct. You also want to write in a way that is “scannable,” since many people tend to skim content online and only pay attention to text that is emphasized with font sizing or formatting. Skill as a writer will not only make you a much better content marketer, it will make you more

Finally, practice often. Even if you don’t have a formal outlet, you can use your own social media profiles to sharpen your skills through publishing your writing on the web.

Speaking of which...

Start publishing

Content marketing requires different things depending on your target audience and channel. But one thing that will always be a requirement for success with content marketing is consistent publishing. Whether you create email newsletters, videos, blog posts, or any other type of content, understanding the cadence of publishing is a vital component of being a good marketer.

There are things you learn as you get into this rhythm that you won’t experience by studying content marketing theory or reading about the best strategies to pursue an audience. Like agile development, content marketing is an iterative practice, meaning it requires you to adjust based on progress to date.

If you start publishing content and find that a specific type of piece gets much more traction than other types, you can adjust your content calendar or similar planner to incorporate more of this type of content. To sustain success over the long term with content marketing, you must be able to understand and respond to audience feedback in the form of metrics and other similar data.

If you’re not a professional content marketer, you might wonder how you can get a feel for publishing. There are many options – even if you don’t want to purchase a domain and set up your own dedicated blog, you can use a social network like LinkedIn to publish long-form articles. Another idea is starting an email newsletter. Even if you have a relatively small, niche following, getting into the practice of consistently writing and sending emails is a great way to improve your content marketing abilities.

You can also join an online community and share your experiences and knowledge. Even writing posts in an informal message board setting can be an effective way to practice your ability to attract an audience.

Successful content marketers are always learning

Learning about the basic elements of content strategy, sharpening your writing skills, and understanding the flow of publishing content will make a great foundation for getting better as a marketer. The real key to success is staying up to speed on new developments in digital content and platforms for distribution.

With the help of a great online community – like the one created by expert advisors, alumni, and current students at Stoa School – it’s much easier to stay in tune with content marketing trends so you can add these skills to your repertoire and make yourself more valuable to employers.

Raj Kunkolienkar
December 7, 2021

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