What Are Content Managers, and How Do You Become One?
When I was in college, I had a mentor during my summer internship. When we were talking about my career goals, I explained to her that I wanted to be someone who creates, distributes, strategizes, and promotes content.
“It sounds like you want to be a content manager,” she said.
I had no idea what she meant by that — I’d never heard of a content manager. Instead of asking her to clarify, I decided to smile and nod. But my curiosity was immediately sparked.
After all, I had no idea there was a ‘perfect’ role out there for me.
Ultimately, my mentor was right. Content managers have a hand in content strategy, creation, and distribution of marketing communications for a company. They’re organized, well-versed in fostering a brand voice, and often know their way around a blog post.
Maybe you are in a position like the one I was in — someone just learning about the content management role, and want to know the basics. Or, maybe you know this is the job for you, but want to make sure you’re prepared to be successful.
Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about content managers, from what they do to how to become one. Let’s take a look.
What are content managers, and what do they do?
According to Senior Brand Manager Alicia Collins, “Content managers wear many hats. Their job consists of so many moving parts — managing blogs, managing social, managing offers … in some cases, they can be a one-person marketing team.”
The role of a content manager can depend on company structure and size. For instance, a startup’s content manager might be their only marketer, while an enterprise company might have content managers assigned to multiple teams. Even so, there are common characteristics that define a content manager.
Content managers are creative. They develop and distribute timely, relevant content for audiences. To do that, they have a deep understanding of the voice their brand takes and use it to communicate with customers.
In addition to creativity, being a content manager usually involves the management of projects and a content team. They also might collaborate across other teams for projects.
This role is usually not entry-level — content managers are generally expected to lead their team and foster growth, so it’s a job that’s usually filled by someone with a couple years of experience in marketing, communications, and project management.
You might find a content manager taking the ownership over an editorial calendar, developing content topic strategy, data reports, managing social media accounts, or writing long-form editorial pieces.
That was just an overview of content managers and the job role. Next, we’re going to talk about some specific duties of a content manager.
If you’re a content manager, you are most likely spending some time analyzing datasets. Data from past campaigns, SEO research, and audience behavior are all helpful numbers to look at in order to execute job functions — they inform leadership decisions and collaborative projects.
If you don’t analyze the results from your content performance, you won’t know if your messages are accurately connecting with your customers.
As a content manager, you’ll also spend ample time working on strategizing how to deliver those messages.
According to content manager Justin Champion, “An effective content manager needs to have a vision of what story they’re trying to tell. This will help them stitch together all of their mediums to create the best experience possible for their audience.”
“An effective content manager needs to have a vision of what story they’re trying to tell. This will help them stitch together all of their mediums to create the best experience possible for their audience.”
Content managers are brand advocates and know that the way stories are delivered reflect their company’s brand and audience preferences.
So, you know what a content manager does. What about some of the skills you’ll need to exceed as one? Let’s talk about a few, next.
The skills needed for content management.
We’ve lightly touched on a few of the skills you need to be a content manager, including creativity, leadership, data interpretation, and organization. But it’s also imperative to have working knowledge of a few other things.
For instance, a general understanding of SEO rules and familiarity with how to use keyword research software are also needed. In addition, you’ll also have to know how to be a storyteller using the voice of a brand, and how to connect with customers using that brand voice.
Take it from Senior Podcast Producer Matt Brown, who says, “Empathizing with your audience and telling a story worth listening to is always the greatest skill a content manager should have.”
In order to deliver those stories, they’ll need to be familiar with copywriting and editing. Writing skills would be applied to writing marketing communications, blog posts, and when editing the work of others.
It’s also a good idea to know about how social media is used as a business tool, and when that applies to marketing campaigns for your company. To help with social media management, knowing how to use a CMS like HubSpot would be beneficial.
Generally, knowledge of one or two online tools for every facet of content production and management will cover your bases. This includes programs to enhance content as well, such as automatic grammar check software or graphic design tools.
So, you know what it takes to be a content manager. But how do you get there? Time to find out.
How to Become a Content Manager
You can start sharpening your skills today. If you’re looking to become a content manager, deepen your knowledge of the skills mentioned that you know you can brush up on.
Refining your skillset ensures that you’re staying up-to-date with industry changes. This is a must for content managers. If you don’t know how the industry is changing, you won’t be able to effectively connect to your audience.
Two other skills you can start working on are writing and SEO practices.
If you’re new to both, try starting a blog on a platform that has built-in, guided SEO capabilities, like HubSpot or WordPress. These functions will help you on a two-for-one front — practice with writing for a specific audience, and optimizing.
If you’re worried about the grammar and comprehension front when it comes to writing, check out Hemingway Editor or Grammarly. Hemingway Editor is a free website that checks your writing for technical errors and readability, while Grammarly is software that analyzes your work, spell-checks it, and offers suggestions on how to improve sentence structure.
You can also take courses to help you strengthen your content marketing skills. Champion recommends starting with this certification course. Upon completion, you’ll get a certificate that verifies your comprehension of content marketing (plus, you can add it to your LinkedIn profile).
When I was in college talking to my mentor, I didn’t know that the skills needed for content managing transition into my current role — even though it’s not my job title, I’m still in charge of creating content that resonates with readers. I also need to be proficient in SEO language, comfortable with collaboration, and have an organized workflow to do my job effectively.
Now that you know all about content managers, have you spotted some similarities between the role and what you do? If so, you’re already on your way to becoming an awesome one. As the saying goes, “It’s not about the destination, but they journey,” and I know that once you reach your destination, you’ll make waves as a content manager.