Content strategists form an essential part of any digital marketing team. They’re the people responsible for guiding the direction of a content marketing campaign, cultivating the voice of a brand, and optimizing marketing strategies.
Here’s everything you need to know about the role of content strategist, what it entails, and how to launch your new career.
What is a Content Strategist?
A content strategist is an analytical and creative expert in a marketing team. They’re responsible for determining the details and directives of content marketing strategies.
A content strategist plans, manages, executes, and enhances a business’s content strategy, ensuring it can achieve its goals.
They create specific plans for boosting brand awareness, nurturing prospects, generating leads, and more.
Content strategists take ownership of a company’s marketing plan, cultivating campaigns relevant to the buyer’s journey, content themes, editorial calendars, and the brand voice.
While the role of “content strategist” is frequently confused with “content manager”, there are some distinct differences between the two jobs.
A content marketing manager is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the content marketing production team. They handle and allocate budgets, hire new team members, schedule meetings, and guide other staff members.
Content strategists, on the other hand, focus on planning, goal setting, research, and strategy, using insights to power the creation of higher-quality content.
What Does a Content Strategist Do?
The role of a content strategist is brimming with variety. Initially, they need to determine what content topics, formats, and distribution channels will work best for their clients or company.
They work with digital marketing managers to determine marketing goals, then develop content marketing campaigns that propel the companies toward their target.
As a content marketing strategist, you’ll need to brainstorm creative ways of engaging audiences throughout the buyer journey.
You may also be responsible for conducting in-depth market research, creating user personas, and designing reports and visuals to track the success of campaigns.
Content marketing strategists need excellent communication, writing and SEO skills to thrive in their roles.
They should be able to work with the organization’s technical tools, such as analytics platforms, research software, and content management systems.
They also need a strong understanding of the brand’s missions and tone of voice. Common content strategist tasks and responsibilities include:
- Research into customer personas, competitors, and market trends
- Creating specifications and content guidelines for creative teams
- Strategizing content pillars and topic themes
- Planning editorial and promotional calendars
- Collaborating with creative and management teams on strategy
- Overseeing writing style and brand tone of voice
- Developing editorial strategies for content consistency
- Tracking and calculating content ROI
- Conducting regular content audits
- Ensuring content strategies meet business objectives
How to Become a Content Strategist Without Experience
- Start as a Content Writer
- Build SEO Copywriting Skills
- Master Content Strategy Techniques
- Get a Relevant Degree or Certification
- Get an Entry-Level Content Marketing Job
- Start Building Your Portfolio
- Apply For Content Strategist Roles
1. Start as a Content Writer
Content strategists need a number of hard and soft skills to excel in their roles.
However, one of the most important skills required for any professional in this industry is the ability to create and develop engaging content.
A good way to start your path into the world of content strategy is to start experimenting with content writing.
Hone your writing skills by taking courses related to content creation, SEO, and audience engagement.
You can also create your own blog to develop your writing skills further and experiment with different styles of content.
Creating your own website newsletter or blog will give you a behind-the-scenes insight into what kinds of content generate specific results for your brand.
It’s also a great way to start building a portfolio you can use to demonstrate your knowledge to employers.
You can earn money as you build your portfolio by investing in affiliate marketing, or you could consider working for other agencies or businesses, selling your writing services.
2. Build SEO Copywriting Skills
As well as mastering the art of content production, content strategists need a firm understanding of search engine optimization.
The content strategies you build will need to appeal to not just your customer’s audience but the search engines too.
Building your SEO skills means learning how to research and use keywords effectively in your content.
However, you’ll also need to understand concepts like “E.E.A.T”, Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trust, and look for ways to engage your readers.
Some other areas you’ll need to master include:
- How to incorporate imagery and alt descriptions into content
- Writing headlines that capture the audience’s attention
- Using keyword-rich phrases
- Structuring your posts for user experience
- Understanding search intent
- Writing meta descriptions
Mastering SEO can be complex, as the algorithms used by search engines are constantly evolving. However, there are various ways you can hone your skills.
There are excellent free and paid SEO courses available online that can walk you through the process of finding keywords (head and long tail), crafting engaging titles, and writing compelling content. Plus, you can follow industry experts online.
Excellent SEO skills often come with practice, so it’s worth continuing to publish content on your own blog or website.
This way, you can use Google Analytics and other insight-driven tools to determine which of your pages achieve the best rankings.
3. Master Content Strategy Techniques
The role of a content strategist goes beyond simply creating content.
In this position, you’ll need to be able to use various skills and methodologies to enhance the performance of your campaigns and drive better ROI results.
The first skill you’ll need to master is the ability to plan and design effective content. This means you’ll need fantastic research skills, so you can ensure you’re producing content that appeals to the specific audience you want to reach.
Other techniques you’ll need to master include:
- Crafting a brand story: The best content marketing strategies should raise awareness of a brand, its values, missions, and promises. As such, you’ll need to learn how to create brand and editorial guidelines for branding consistency.
- Creating audience personas: Content strategists need to identify the specific type of audience they want to reach and learn as much as they can about their purchasing journey. This will help them to create more tailored content.
- Keyword and content research: SEO forms a big part of many content marketing strategies. You’ll need to learn how to utilize effective keywords using resources like Ahrefs and SEMrush to track volume and keyword difficulty.
- Analytics and reporting: As a content strategist, you’ll need to demonstrate the success of your campaigns to business leaders. This means you’ll need to be able to analyze and report on crucial content marketing metrics and KPIs.
- Content production: Content strategists need to know how to produce effective content for a wide range of different channels and platforms. You’ll need to know how to optimize your content for the web and how to publish pieces effectively.
4. Get a Relevant Degree or Certification
While a degree isn’t always necessary for a role as a content strategist, it can help you to stand out in a competitive hiring market and give you an opportunity to improve your skills.
A related degree could help you to apply for senior content strategy roles and open the door to new opportunities in the digital marketing world.
You can pursue a degree in related fields to content strategy, such as business development, writing, and communications.
Alternatively, consider earning an online certification tailored to content marketing and strategy.
There are countless free and paid courses available, with industry-recognized certifications included.
These courses will teach you more about the intricacies of content strategy and production and help you to hone your marketing skills.
They’ll also give you an excellent opportunity to start building out your portfolio with different types of content.
5. Get an Entry-Level Content Marketing Job
The role of a content strategist can take a while to move into. Most hiring managers and agencies will want to see evidence that you have experience working in the digital marketing landscape and creating content yourself.
With that in mind, it’s worth looking for some entry-level roles that will help you to develop your skills and experience. You could consider starting with paid or unpaid internships, working with agencies in the marketing world.
You could also volunteer for roles that give you a behind-the-scenes view of the marketing world.
Alternatively, consider working for digital marketing agencies as a junior content creator or writer. Other entry-level roles you can look into include:
- Junior digital marketing specialist
- Entry-level SEO specialist
- Content marketing specialist
- Affiliate marketing manager
- PPC Specialist
6. Start Building Your Portfolio
A portfolio is one of the most important resources you have in the digital marketing world. It provides insight into your knowledge and skills and showcases your experience.
If you apply for entry-level roles and take content marketing courses, you should be able to start building a portfolio quite easily.
You can also use your own website or blog to share insights into your content creation techniques.
Remember, a well-structured portfolio is crucial to capturing the attention of hiring managers.
Make sure yours is easy to navigate and brimming with useful information, such as:
- An “About” page: The “About” page on your Portfolio will tell employers everything they need to know about your background and your experiences.
- Examples of your work: Include plenty of examples of your work, complete with statistics and insights into how you planned each content strategy.
- Reviews and testimonials: Endorsements from people you’ve worked with in the past can significantly improve your credibility.
Make sure you constantly update your portfolio over time as you build new skills and work on different kinds of content. A fresh, updated portfolio will capture more employer attention.
7. Apply For Content Strategist Roles
Finally, once you’ve earned adequate experience in the digital marketing world and have a strong portfolio, you can begin to apply for content strategist roles.
Search online for job descriptions asking for “strategists,” and ask yourself how your resume compares to the skills and experience they’re asking for.
When applying for positions, it’s worth researching each company you want to work for and learning as much as you can about their values and missions.
This will allow you to tailor your resume and cover letter to the specific position.
It’s also worth practicing your interviewing techniques, so you can ensure you make the right impression on hiring managers.
How Much Does a Content Strategist Earn?
Becoming a content strategist can be a highly lucrative career move for someone with the right creative and analytical knowledge.
The average annual salary for a content strategist is around $68,653 in the US.
In some cases, content strategists can earn a lot more, depending on their level of experience and their knowledge of concepts like SEO.
Some companies also pay more for content strategists than others.
For instance, content strategist roles posted by Meta and Google have an average annual salary of over $170k per year.
Is Content Strategist a Good Job?
Even as concepts like generative AI take over the marketplace, companies still need a strategy to determine how to create and use content effectively.
In a content strategist role, you’ll be able to enjoy a lucrative career, working with a wide range of different companies on powerful, engaging campaigns.
You’ll have a chance to explore various aspects of digital marketing and hone your skills over time.
Plus, many content strategists today can work remotely or on a hybrid basis, which could give you more control over your work-life balance.
You could even decide to launch your own business or start work as a freelance content strategist so that you can choose your own hours or clients.
If you love creating content, understand the marketing landscape, and have an analytical mindset, a content strategist role could be perfect for you.