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8 Essential Skills Content Marketers Must Have in 2018 

by Kevin Payne
featured, money & life

With 91% of B2B companies and 86% of B2C companies employing content marketing as a strategy, it is clear that there is a demand for freelance content marketers.

However, as with all marketing strategies, content marketing has evolved through the years. Marketing technology, artificial intelligence, and even changes in buying decisions all played a part transforming content marketing into a sophisticated and complex media outlet.

To keep up with the changes and maximize opportunities, it is a must for content marketers to enhance their current skills and learn new ones. Whether you are just starting out or have been a content marketer for some time, these are the 8 essential skills you need to develop in 2018.

1. Analytics

Data and metrics are essential skills for determining the impact of your content. Different metrics will measure every phase carried out in a content marketing campaign.

As a content marketer, you need to know which metric that is important to track. You also need to know how to interpret this data to determine what strategies work best. Data can be used to enhance and improve your content, it can also give your boss insight into how the campaign is performing.

“One of the most important things business owners want to know in a marketing campaign is the ROI,” according to Ryan Kenny, Co-Founder of Pause Meditation. “You stand in a much better position convincing your boss that the campaigns you run are a success if you can show the numbers and explain what these mean.”

2. Writing skills

Being able to write quality content is the core of solid content marketing. Chris Long, Sales Manager of US Container Sales, explains that many of those that pursue a career in content marketing sadly lack this skill.

“A lot of would-be content marketers out there have this misconception that just because you can write, you can make it as a content marketer,” according to Long There’s a lot more to content writing than just being able to put words and sentences together.”

With so much content available online, it is crucial that a content marketer knows how to balance quality and readability. You need to be able to write content that’s packed with valuable information yet simple to understand. Doing this helps make your content more engaging, which means your audience stays longer on your site and takes action.


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3. Understanding inbound marketing principles

Content marketing and inbound marketing are relatively similar. Both place importance on the company’s buyer persona—a semi-fictional representation of your company’s target audience.

Quality content marketers understand the target audience and know their most pressing questions. They should also be able to transform complicated and technical topics into content that’s easy to read.

Another inbound marketing principal content marketers need to be familiar with is the buyer’s journey: the consumer’s progression through researching and deciding to purchase a product or service. According to Social Media Today, 95% of customers are more likely to go with a company that provides them with valuable content regardless of where they are in the buyer’s journey.

“Content marketers need to understand that there are different types of customers,” says Hunter Payne, Owner of HomeLinkCincinnati. “Some are those that are ‘looking around’ while there are others that are deciding whether the company’s product or service is the best option for them. It is the content marketer’s job to make sure that there’s enough content available to cater to these types of customers.”

HubSpot offers a free inbound marketing certification program that teaches the fundamentals of inbound marketing, and how to implement them. Taking this class will enhance your credentials, making you more appealing to potential clients.

4. Journalism skills

Freelance content marketers that have a background in journalism offer a huge benefit to any company, according to Christopher Greaves, Senior Director of Research & Development at Code & Poem Holdings points out.

“Journalists do an excellent job when it comes to researching for information to use on a topic. They have been trained to not only look for relevant information but also verify the quality of the information source.” He goes on to explain, “They know how to create a story from this information that evokes emotion and engagement from their audience. More important, they know how to keep the interest of their audience on one topic.”

There are several online journalism courses that you can enroll in to learn how to apply the basics to your content marketing projects.

5. Organization skills

As you take in more clients, you need to be able to balance your time to make sure that you complete projects on time without compromising quality. The last thing you want is to turn in your work late.

6. Long-form content writing

Back in the day, writing a 500-word blog post was the norm. These days however, the average length article or blog post has doubled. In fact, a study done by Orbit Media shows that companies experience more success with their content marketing using long-form blog posts.

It is important to mention here that length is not the only determining factor. The article or blog post should also be packed with valuable information for your audience.

7. Verbal communication skills

You probably are wondering why on earth would you need this. After all, most freelance content marketers work from home, and everything is done online, right? On the contrary, you need to develop and hone your verbal communication skills.

Arianne Espinueva, Attorney at Lexton Law Firm, explains that freelancers need to be wary of cultural differences when they communicate with their clients, especially if they live in a different country.

Culture is an important factor in determining how writers should communicate. “A certain word or expression may be acceptable in one culture but is offensive in another,” according to Espinueva. For a multi-cultural business relationship to work, both parties need to be sensitive and willing to adapt to avoid sending mixed signals and misinformation.”

8. Creating videos

Content marketing is no longer limited to articles and blog posts. With video now accounting for 74% of today’s internet traffic, it is one of the many content marketing trends you need to prepare for in 2018.

Again, you do not have to be an expert in this. However, it will give your portfolio an edge over other freelancers if you at least know the basics.

Content marketing is it is evolving. In fact, it is very likely these essential skills will change in the next few years. Nevertheless, you need to be flexible enough to shift and adapt to trends by updating your skillset. This way you can stay at the top of your game, gain more clients, and build a successful career.


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Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne is the Founder of Kevintpayne.com, an inbound marketing agency and HubSpot Partner that helps tech startup founders implement inbound marketing campaign sprints to increase their qualified leads.