So you want to work in content?
The oft-quoted statistic on the exponential growth of the internet is that the volume of content available roughly doubles every two years.
Whatever the specifics, the scale and pace of content creation is staggering. We’re posting, sharing, snapping, ‘gramming, Tweeting, blogging and vlogging at a supersonic rate.
This in turn has led to the rise of a whole new category of jobs focused on ‘content’ and its creation, management and dissemination. Some roles are ideal for people who might have worked as journalists, graphic designers or technical writers. But they’re also great for people fascinated by digital technologies, websites, social media, human behaviours, networking and information management. Perhaps that’s you. Or perhaps you’re simply keen to explore this ever-growing area.
At Pickle Jar Communications we know first-hand that working in the wonderful world of content keeps us engaged every day. Here are our five top tips for developing your own career in content.
1. Survey your surroundings
Start with taking a good look at your current organisation. What are their attitudes to things like audience research, stakeholder engagement or content design? If they think of content as just ‘putting words on paper’ (or on a screen), it’s going to be a difficult environment in which to explore your interests.
2. Reflect on your role
No matter what environment or role you’re currently in, you’ll be learning things that can help you make the move into a content-based career. Take the time to think about where those crucial lessons might come from. If your role encompassing audience research or talking to audiences or “customers”, then a move towards a more user experience (UX) research role might work for you. If you spend a lot of time writing, then a role that focuses more on content production or workflow might be a great next step for you. Or perhaps you’re trained in systems design, or information management (maybe you even work in a library!) then a role in information architecture, content modelling and content structuring could be perfect for your next step.
It’s also helpful to keep a portfolio of your work or write up case studies of the projects you have worked on. Particularly if you have a varied role, getting those experiences down on paper will make sure you don’t forget anything.
3. Pinpoint your passion
Think carefully about how and where you want to position yourself within the expansive landscape of content-based careers. Roles will vary enormously – a content creator will do a totally different set of tasks to someone focused on governance, a strategic lead, or to someone with a more technical slant. It’s impossible to be an expert at everything, so find the niche that really appeals to you and focus your energies on that.
4. Determine your direction
Don’t be swayed too much by looking at what jobs are out there. Decide in advance what is is that you want to do and find a way to do it. Having clarity about your perfect role will help you to make better decisions about which roles to apply for. Or if your current job is not a million miles away from the ideal, it will give you a solid basis on which to have an open conversation with your employers about how you could shape your current role so that it comes a little closer to your vision.
5. Boost your brain
The most important advice we can give is this: become a lifelong student of content best practice, content strategy and UX. The more that you understand the breadth and complexity of the profession for yourself, the better empowered you will be to convince an you employer that they need this skill in their organisation, to talk your way into that dream job, or to persuade your clients that you really know your stuff. You could try:
Good luck in your quest to capturing that dream career in content.