Although Not Measured in the Survey, It’s Clear that Content Marketing is the Next Big Marketplace for Freelance Writing Opportunities
In February, I participated in a hiring survey. In March, I received the results.
The results have some interesting insight for freelance writers who want to work in the Content Marketing arena.
As I’ve explained previously, Content Marketing is the technique of creating and distributing relevant, educational, and high-quality content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined target audience with the objective of driving profitable action.
First a little bit about the survey. It was conducted by Kapost, a Content Marketing software company. The company’s software helps enterprise brands grow revenue with content by simplifying the creation, distribution, and analysis of content assets across a range of channels and integrations.
In response to growing curiosity around the topic, Kapost decided to research the state of hiring for Content Marketing. The company stated, “We saw a significant void in understanding how marketing teams hire to fill their content needs. Strategies for structuring a content team have been discussed, but no real data exists to support or refute these best practices.”
The company had three goals for the survey. To better understand:
- How the content marketing category is growing.
- Which types of people and positions are most in demand.
- The priorities that are leading organizations to hire content marketing teams.
Based on 522 replies, the company created The 2014 Kapost Content Marketing Survey.
Results from the Content Marketing Hiring Survey
The survey results illuminate four major trends in Content Marketing hiring:
- There is growth in hiring and demand for Content Marketing professionals.
- Content Marketing is a highly valued and prioritized area within the marketing segment.
- Marketers struggle to hire Content Marketing teams — finding it “challenging” to find people with the right skills.
- The people doing Content Marketing hiring range in seniority — from Content Marketing Directors to the company’s President.
When asked how much they plan to grow their content teams over the next year, the majority (almost 80%) of the people who answered the question said they plan to grow their teams by one to three people. Plus, most companies indicated some hiring growth.
Making this even more interesting is the fact that a 2013 survey conducted by InfoGroup found that companies are cutting back on hiring for traditional marketing departments. This contrast speaks to the value of companies’ emerging Content Marketing functions.
Another finding of the survey is that the top three metrics content marketers are being measured by are:
- Driving awareness (56%)
- Generating leads (45.6%)
- Sales enablement (25.8)
Over 33% of marketers say content marketing teams are responsible for all of the above priorities. This speaks to the fact that Content Marketing is a discipline that cannot simply produce content to fill the void — but must create content that delivers results.
Survey Finds that Finding Content Marketing Talent is “Difficult”
The third finding of the survey is particularly interesting for freelancers. Over 83% of respondents said finding talent for content marketing is “somewhat difficult” or “difficult.” Most companies start by hiring a writer, and then move on to other roles such as head of marketing and editors.
What’s more, “a whopping 94.5% of marketing teams seek individuals with writing or editing skills. Writing skills, in fact, are more highly sought-after than marketing experience (56.9%), SEO experience (38.1%), or graphic design/web development skills (24.3%).”
As such, most firms look for people with a background in English or journalism, or content marketing experience (combined 75% of respondents).
Further, most hires are found through LinkedIn or referrals from colleagues. Those doing the hiring range from marketing managers to CEOs, which Kapost says “is likely to be a result of the vastly different sizes of organizations polled for this survey.”
Reading Between the Survey’s Lines for Freelance Opportunities
So what does this survey mean to freelancers?
Here’s what I think.
The discipline of Content Marketing is in high growth mode. In any fast-growing market, hiring freelancers is always a viable option. We bring expertise, time, and availability without the investment of hiring full-time staff writers.
This is especially relevant when companies either don’t have enough work to fill a 40-hour workweek, or they are just ramping up and want to get a writer working on content development “today.”
When newsletters were all the rage back in the 1980s and 90s, many companies hired freelance writers to help write the many articles that had to be produced every week, or month, or quarter. When companies needed websites in the 1990s, they would often hire freelance writers to create the content.
But as big as those two (and other) marketing trends have been, Content Marketing is much bigger. Companies who really want to play in this arena need a never-ending supply of fresh, high-quality content that includes (but is not limited to) ebooks, white papers, how-to guides, blog posts, articles, and more.
The conclusion: There has never been a better time for freelance writers who understand the Content Marketing discipline to find new clients, carve their niche, and reach their freelance career dreams in the rapidly expanding and evolving Content Marketing marketplace.
So what do you think?