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If you have a passion for writing and editing and want to work in marketing and communications, becoming a content manager could be a smart career choice. Content managers tend to work in fast-paced digital environments and handle a wide range of responsibilities, from production to distribution. Find out what to expect from this role and learn how to become a content manager.

What Is a Content Manager?

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A content manager supervises the creation, strategic development, and promotion of a company’s messaging efforts. In this role, you typically take responsibility for everything from writing and editing copy to hiring creators and overseeing distribution. This position generally requires strong communication, marketing, and leadership skills.

Although content manager is one of the most common titles for this role, some companies may use similar labels. These alternative titles encompass the same duties and requirements:

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  • Head of Content
  • Content Marketing Manager
  • Digital or Web Content Manager

What Does a Content Manager Do?

Content managers tend to divide their time between a few major duties. Typical content manager responsibilities fall into seven categories, ranging from research to optimization.

Research and Analysis

For most content managers, work begins with research. In this role, you need to understand the type of content your audience wants and the best methods for producing it. You may need to interview or poll your audience or talk with colleagues or subject matter experts to get inspiration.

If your organization has an existing content library, then you may need to review its contents to assess what you have and how you can build upon it. If you’re building or revamping a content-management process, you may also have to evaluate software solutions to manage and publish the content.

Planning and Strategy

In addition to pursuing background research, content managers also map out content plans and develop strategies. To create an effective strategy, you may need to meet with fellow managers or company executives periodically. Then you can design content strategies that best achieve your company’s business and marketing objectives.

In some cases, you might be responsible for a single type of content, such as blog posts or videos. However, in most cases, content managers must incorporate a wide range of media into their plans, from copy and downloadable assets to images and videos.

Staff Supervision

If you join a smaller organization, you might work independently and manage the vast majority of your tasks alone. Essentially, you could be a digital marketing team of one. However, if your workload becomes too large, you might contract out some of the writing or content creation tasks to one or more freelancers.

If you work for a larger organization, you’re likely to have an entire in-house team to oversee. Your team members might include writers, editors, social media managers, search engine optimization (SEO) specialists, and other digital marketing professionals. As the content manager, you’re responsible for assigning tasks, providing feedback, and offering guidance to your staff.

Content Creation

Depending on the specifics of your role, content creation may be a large or small aspect of the job. If you’re a team of one, then you might be responsible for creating a large percentage of the written or visual content that your company publishes. In this case, you might spend more than half of your average workweek on writing articles or scripting videos.

However, if you manage a larger team, you probably have to do more delegation and quality assurance than content creation. In this case, you might be responsible for creating some higher-level pieces of content while assigning the rest to your team.

Publication and Monitoring

After producing content, there’s still much more to do. Content managers are often responsible for publishing content on the company’s website and performing basic quality assurance.

When publishing content in a location where readers can comment, such as the company blog, content managers may also have to monitor engagement. This task often involves acknowledging comments, answering questions, and removing access from malicious or spammy users.

Content Promotion

In addition to publishing content, professionals in this role also tend to be responsible for increasing readership. As a content manager, you may work with marketing colleagues to identify promotion opportunities, such as social media or syndication.

Once you decide which opportunities to use, you may need to oversee content submission or modification to meet the different outlets’ requirements. In this role, you may also have to build relationships with promotion outlets or secure optimal placements.

Reporting and Optimization

Most content managers have to meet performance goals, which may include anything from article views and comments to more advanced conversions like email signups or purchases. To track progress, you will create periodic reports that compare your results to the key performance indicators (KPIs) that your team set.

In addition, you may have to analyze your results, such as explaining the reason for your success or how you plan to improve your outcomes during the next time frame. If your results need improvement, expect to recommend adjustments to optimize your content management strategy. You may also have to demonstrate the value of your work so that your organization can calculate the return on investment (ROI).

Where Do Content Managers Work?

Most content managers work at a desk in an office setting. Although some do their jobs in office buildings alongside co-workers, others work remotely or from home. If you work remotely, you may rely on chat or video applications to communicate with co-workers.

No matter where your content manager job requires you to work, you need access to a computer and an internet connection to fill this role effectively. Content managers typically use computers to write, edit, strategize, and promote their organization’s messaging.

Because any organization can benefit from a skilled professional managing its messaging, content managers work in virtually every industry. In some cases, you might work for an agency that specializes in marketing, advertising, or public relations. Or you might work in the marketing department of a company in finance, insurance, manufacturing, trade or other industries.

Regardless of your industry, you can generally expect your content manager job to be a full-time position with 40-hour weeks. On occasion, you may have to work overtime or unusual hours to meet deadlines or to coordinate successfully with collaborators.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Content Manager?

To stand out as a strong candidate for a content manager job, you need a few standard qualifications. In addition to professional experience in the field, you have to meet the educational and training requirements below.

Education

To get a content manager job, you usually need a four-year degree. Some employers require a specific major, while others simply ask for a bachelor’s degree with any focus area. Some of the most common majors for content managers include:

  • Marketing: One of the most common majors for content managers, a marketing degree can help you master market research, consumer behavior, and strategy. As a marketing major, you can expect to take classes in public relations, branding, and research methods.
  • Communications: Content managers who major in communications tend to excel at producing effective messaging in a variety of media. This degree program often includes courses in marketing, journalism, and copywriting.
  • Media Studies: When you major in media studies, you typically develop a high-level understanding of research methods, media theory, psychology, and sociology. Media studies majors often take courses in politics, history, art, and literature, which allows them to take a critical approach to media.
  • English: Earning an English degree is another common choice for content managers, as this area of study can help you develop strong writing, research, and critical analysis skills. As an English major, you generally take classes in composition, creative writing, linguistics, and literary theory.

In some cases, employers may require a master’s degree, especially for higher-level positions. Some of the most common master’s degrees for content managers include:

  • Master of Business Administration (MBA): For ambitious content marketers, the most common master’s degree is an MBA with a focus on marketing. In this program, you can master audience research, marketing analysis, and brand management while becoming a more strategic and business-focused marketer.
  • Master of Science in Marketing (MSM): Content marketers who pursue an MSM degree usually take more advanced courses in market research, consumer behavior, and branding, becoming more knowledgeable and well-rounded as a result.

Training

Some organizations might have on-the-job training requirements for content managers and other marketing staff members. However, there’s no official content management training program for professionals in this field.

Instead, most employers will expect you to have several years of relevant experience with content marketing. Some may also prefer that you have specialized experience with content in the organization’s industry, which could be anything from finance and insurance to food and beverage.

Which Skills Do Content Managers Need?

No matter what type of organization you apply to work with, you need several soft and hard skills. Most companies require these soft skills or attributes:

  • Analytical Skills: Content managers must be able to process and evaluate information and draw informed conclusions. In this role, you have to be able to analyze everything from industry trends to KPIs.
  • Attention to Detail: As a content manager, you have to oversee a seemingly infinite number of moving parts. You need strong attention to detail in order to identify and correct errors before publication so your organization can maintain consistent messaging.
  • Communication: For content managers, excellent communication skills are critical. You have to be able to write clearly and speak effectively to get your organization’s message across. You also have to be able to communicate assignments and provide guidance to your team.
  • Creativity: Even if you aren’t actively producing content, you have to think creatively. As a content manager, you need a creative approach to developing strategies and connecting with your organization’s audience. You also need an original vision to create top-tier content.
  • Leadership: Whether you’re a team of one or you’re in charge of several staff members, you need strong leadership skills to excel in this position. You must be able to set goals, manage conflicts, and build trust to accomplish key objectives.
  • Organization: Because content managers take responsibility for such a wide variety of tasks, you must be organized. You should be able to plan your day, week, month, or quarter successfully, and you should know how to establish workflows that help you work efficiently.
  • Time Management: With so many tasks to tackle, content managers must plan their time wisely. In this role, you have to be able to meet deadlines and work on tight schedules.

In addition, many organizations expect you to be proficient with these hard skills or adept with these types of software:

  • Content Management Systems (CMS): Most content marketing teams use a CMS like WordPress to organize and publish their content. As a content manager, you should be fluent in these programs.
  • HTML: Many content managers need to know basic HTML, an essential language for creating webpages. With basic HTML skills, you can easily edit and optimize digital content.
  • SEO: Even if you work closely with an SEO specialist, you need to know best practices to produce optimized content. You should understand how to do keyword research and how to incorporate keywords into your content.
  • Social Media: To succeed as a content manager, you need to be comfortable using major social media platforms for business purposes. Many content managers assist with preparing captions for social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
  • Website Analytics: To track your results effectively, you have to understand website analytics. You should be able to use programs like Google Analytics to monitor KPIs and evaluate goals.
  • Word Processing Programs: For content managers, word processing programs like Microsoft Word and Google Docs are essential. You should be able to use these applications to write, edit, format, and collaborate with others.

What Is the Typical Content Manager Career Path?

As the title suggests, most content manager positions are management or executive-level jobs. That means you won’t usually qualify for this type of role if you’re new to the industry. Instead, you need to have several years of entry- or junior-level experience first. Many content managers gain experience in jobs like:

  • Content Marketer: These professionals research and write content for websites. They may specialize in blog posts, long-form content, webpages, or other types of materials.
  • Editor: Most editors work closely with writers and content managers in an effort to perfect and optimize web-based content. They may also participate in content planning and strategy.

Although some content managers land roles that allow them to grow and flourish for much of their careers, others use this position as a stepping stone toward other executive roles. Once you gain experience with content management, you might become qualified for roles like:

  • Marketing and Promotions Manager: Content managers who have more well-rounded marketing experience often seek out this management position. Marketing and promotions managers typically guide a department’s digital marketing efforts and lead teams.
  • Chief Marketing Officer: Many content managers aspire to take on this executive role. CMOs oversee all of a company’s marketing efforts, providing strategic direction and working with other executives to make key business decisions.

How Much Do Content Managers Earn?

If you’re thinking about applying for a content manager job, it’s important to set your salary expectations appropriately. In the United States, the average content manager salary is $58,907 per year, according to Indeed.

Along with this annual salary, you can expect to get benefits like health insurance, paid time off, and retirement fund matches. Some organizations also offer sabbaticals, gym memberships, and food, provided that you work in the office rather than from home.

It’s also important to keep in mind that content manager salaries can vary depending on the company, the industry, or the location. For example, content managers in New York City earn an average of $11,109 more per year than those who work in Chicago, according to Indeed. New York City content managers earn an annual average of $15,603 more than those who work in Miami. If you want to maximize your salary, taking a flexible approach to location may help.

What Is the Job Outlook for Content Managers?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that job opportunities for marketing managers will grow 7% between 2019 and 2029. Overall, the BLS anticipates 19,100 new jobs for marketing managers during this time period. This growth rate is faster than average, which suggests a positive job outlook for content managers.

As the print industry continues to decline, the need for print-focused content managers is likely to decrease. However, as organizations of all sizes continue to embrace digital marketing and strive to reach more customers, the demand for web content managers is likely to increase.

Although the marketing and content management field is competitive, you can take steps to stand out as a strong candidate. By gaining extensive experience with digital and web-based content management, you can better position yourself as an expert in the field. In addition, getting professional experience in related roles like content writer, web editor, or market research analyst can help you qualify for the content manager position you want.

What Are Some Common Content Manager Interview Questions?

If you apply for a particular content manager job and your application stands out from the competition, you could land an interview with your potential employer. To prepare, practice your answers to some of the most frequently asked content manager interview questions:

  • What does good content mean to you? Interviewers often ask this basic question because they want to know how you measure success. A good answer should convey your passion for clear, effective writing as well as your commitment to developing content that meets the needs of the organization.
  • How do you set goals for content marketing? Hiring managers may ask this question to assess your understanding of marketing objectives. Discuss how you work with colleagues to decide on parameters and how you use research to set KPIs. You might also touch on your reporting process and how you revisit your strategy to improve results.
  • How do you decide which topics to cover? This question can test your creativity and your ability to develop an effective strategy. When you answer, talk about your research process, which might involve such steps as interviewing customers, meeting with the sales team, reviewing website analytics, or analyzing industry trends.
  • What’s your process for establishing a brand voice? Hiring managers may ask this question to ensure you can create content that truly captures the organization’s message and tone. Explain some of the steps in your typical workflow, which might start with reviewing existing content, analyzing the organization’s mission, and collecting customer testimonials. You can also describe how you develop style guides for writers and other marketing coworkers to use as a means to keep messaging consistent.
  • Do you have a preferred management style? Because content managers often have to supervise staff members or contractors, you can expect the interviewer to inquire about your management style. Whether you tend to use a visionary, democratic, or coaching style, explain the reasoning behind your preference. Strive to tie your management style to employee growth, organizational success, and other important objectives.

With the right qualifications and experience, you have a chance to land a great content manager job. Thanks to the relatively strong demand for this role, you could look forward to an exciting and rewarding career as a content manager.

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