As a content marketer, my brain is always warring against itself.
Think about it: In this role, you need to be analytical and creative, objective and subjective, businesslike and playful, Google-friendly writer and human-friendly writer, and much, much more. It’s truly enough to tear your mind in two. (As for me, don’t stress — my wife’s a clinical psychologist. I’ll be fine. Or screwed. It's too early to tell.)
When I was a kid, my parents would often look at me and wonder if that exact phenomenon — that dichotomy of the mind — was happening before their very eyes in their poor little son. Now, it wasn’t like I was sitting in the corner cramming paste into my mouth (though I hear the 1982 Elmer’s was a great vintage). Instead, they'd stress over my mind's fate when they watched me play. According to them, I would create these wildly complex, far-fetched narratives about my toys ... then carefully, meticulously, and some might say obsessively line up each and every one in perfect order.
Uh oh, my parents would think. What did we do to this kid?
You see, my mom is a preschool teacher and my dad a software engineer. It’s like they could see their opposite traits — creative and logical, outgoing and introverted, abstract and orderly — slamming against each other inside my head.
Luckily, along came content marketing, and I could finally put this crazy brain of mine to work.
It’s because of this, uh, double...brained...ed...nessity?...that I feel right at home in content marketing. You need both halves to fully grok this stuff, I believe, and so I love the job because I feel right at home moving between what's business-y and what's creative.
The "Uh Oh" Moment: You Have to, Like, Create for a Living Now?
Unfortunately, not everyone feels at home practicing this strange approach to marketing, even after several years of the philosophy running amok in our industry.
Yes, content marketing is effective and ubiquitous, which many businesses understand. But what about the individuals tasked with execution? Few things seem more unreasonable than to expect thousands of marketers to simply drop into the field and suddenly be prolific, creative, and great at producing content and distributing it. It's unreasonable to assume that you can simply pick up the craft, and it's unreasonable to assume you can just over-market bad content, especially now that the first adopter wave and the loudest adopter wave have both already crashed. (Here's my longer rant on the subject of creative and quality in content.)
So I wondered: How do content marketers actually feel about their own creative skills?
And how do they feel about their careers, strange as they are in both their origins and their path forward and upward?
I mean, I never received formal training on how to create the various types of content I've been asked to create, and to do so in a business setting ... have you? And I sure as hell don't know what the career progression looks like in a nice, neat ladder ... do you? I'm positive I could be better at both creating stuff and growing my career, and I thought I'd ask others if they felt the same way.
So I surveyed my community group, Boston Content. We have over 850 members on our email list as of this writing, all in the New England area (though several appear to be from New York, California, and elsewhere — it’s the internet, after all). Fifty-four agreed to take the survey.
So without further ado, here’s a mishmash of stats from that small but eye-opening survey: