When does the role of the content writer overlap with that of a content manager? And when you’re looking for either a content writer or a content manager, how do you know which skills will best suit your needs?
Let’s take a look at how being a content writer – or a copywriter – can easily merge into content management. In fact, many content writers may already be doing the content management job already.
You see writing a blog on its own is not necessarily the end of the story. It then needs to be cut up for social media, newsletters or even be used later for a book. A blog is never simply a blog when you look at it this way. The same is true for videos and podcasts.
So let’s take a look at each of these individual roles so you can either develop your skills to take on more or find the right person for the job.
What is the difference between a content writer and a content manager?
A content writer thinks about all of the elements on the page, not just the words.
They will consider all the good things that a copywriter does, as writing the copy is part of their job, and also how that copy is going to work with everything else. This can include graphics, video, lead magnets, content upgrades and where the reader is going to go next.
Your content writer’s job may well stop there. It may very well stop at the words and nothing more. Certainly, I work with clients who only need me to do part of the task where there is a wider team who cover other aspects.
More and more these days, I find that dipping in with my words and leaving them is less satisfying than seeing where everything goes afterwards. Let alone knowing that what I write has some impact on the website traffic and therefore sales. It’s like seeing part of the puzzle while knowing you can help solve more of it if only you could elbow your way in.
A content manager goes one stage further. They take all of this great content and make sure that it is part of the bigger picture. They will manage the website, ensure everything is up to date and working.
Often they will ensure that the email marketing platform, such as MailChimp or Active Campaign, is linked up to the website correctly and doing its job.
They will then make sure the content is being shared on the right platforms in the right way.
It’s this side of content strategy that gives the content manager a full oversight of what needs to go where and what else they need to create.
A good content manager will look at the bigger picture of goals they want this content to achieve, the journey someone will go on from first exposure to a brand right through to brand loyalty. And they will make sure everything works as it should do. That means checking the SEO, the links and most importantly, making sure the content strategy is working as it should be.
A content manager probably does a lot less writing than they would like to do but they know that the writing they do will work insanely hard to get good results.
Perhaps the most important job that a content manager will do is analyse the metrics. Reporting is a huge part of my job. Taking all that information from Google Analytics and platform metrics and putting it into an easy to understand format.
I use it to inform on what is happening now and what should be happening next. I test theories through the data and plan out the next strategic step for the content.
A content writer may not necessarily need to know the analytics, although they are likely to ask questions about data so they can understand how to best optimise the content for both the customer and search engines.
But a good content manager should be on top of what the data is saying so that they can make adjustments to the content strategy. And they know where to focus their efforts.
Spreadsheets (and lots of them)
You’ve got to love a spreadsheet if you’re a content manager. You need to get all of that good information out in front of you and understand what it is telling you.
I reckon around 20 per cent of my job is writing, perhaps the same in editing and the rest is looking at spreadsheets or data.
And the truth is, I love it. It makes me a better writer. I understand more about what the audience wants because the data tells me. I can nudge them in the right direction.
A spreadsheet also helps you keep track of what’s coming up and what you need to do when. It’s a bit like being an editor, especially if you edit the work of other writers who need to know what to submit and when. Plus, you’ll need to coordinate what is happening with social media so that every platform tells the same story.
I don’t always plan out everything on spreadsheets. Sometimes it goes across shared documents or a Trello board. Although, generally, a spreadsheet is the easiest medium for everyone to understand. No matter what software they like using.
And a spreadsheet is only as good as how often you use it. Create a fancy-pants content plan but look at it once and you’ve wasted your time. This is as much about forming habits as it is anything else.
What a content manager does best for their client is save them time. A whole lot of time so they can go off and do whatever business it is they are doing, safe in the knowledge that their content is working hard for them.
Taking content from inception to delivery requires lots of little tasks that when added up take up a lot of time. It’s why many businesses don’t put out regular content. They manage it for a few weeks and then get lost in accounts, admin, sales or client work.
And when content is such a vital part of marketing, you can’t afford to not give it the time. It just need not be your time.
Over the past year, I’ve started using Click Up to help organise these micro-tasks and get a true understanding of the time things take. The lovely Jane De Vos recommended Click Up and we used it as a team for a mutual client. It’s been an absolute headspace saver and I heartily recommend it to anyone handling content systems for their brand.
Systems and processes
A content manager will make sure there are systems and processes in place to manage the content. Think of it as project managing lots of very small moving parts.
Checklists, project management tools, and a keen sense of organisation are all part of a content manager’s job. It’s easy to get lost and miss something.
When you are a content writer, you are often delivering the copy. Sometimes you don’t even get to upload it onto the website and work your magic there. Sometimes you do. But that is often where your job stops.
Or you might get to put an email sequence in place and write all of the emails. But you are one part of a bigger picture.
As a content manager, you paint the picture, organise the logistics to the gallery, hand out the flyers to get people to look at it, and then stop them on the way out to ask them what they think.
I believe these job titles are increasingly connected when you have the skills that span the gap between the two. However, there is a clear difference between them. Let me know what you think
Need help with your content management?
I support content managers with pulling together their content strategy. And offer training to content writers who want to make the move to content management. Find out more here.