If you’ve ever struggled with being labelled or boxed in then you will relate to my difficulty with job titles. I’ve written about this before over here when I dissected the difference between being a copywriter and a content writer. Yet, when when I’m asked, what is a content manager, I tend to use the shorthand of copywriter with bells on. Which doesn’t even try to cover everything that a content manager does.
The problem lies in that it’s a bit of a new media, Web 2.0 job title. It didn’t exist ten years ago, even though many of the skills I learned through university and my early career are the foundations that make me a good content manager. So when asked what is a content manager, I tend to get blank faces.
I combine all my strongest skills to do something, that at the moment, is quite unique and something that most businesses need.
AVERAGE DAY OF A CONTENT MANAGER
Here’s what an average client job would look like: I’ll start by writing the content. Or organising the video. Perhaps sending off film or animation for editing. Writing the script for the podcast. That one main piece of content that is going to draw you, the audience, in to the website.
Then, if it’s written content, I’ll edit it. I have an awesome video editor on hand who does the AV side because that’s not my strong point and we all need to play to our strengths. It means my clients get a professional editing job done.
Editing takes up as much, if not more time than the actual edit. Writing is the fun part. I let the words flow from my fingers. Editing is the hard work. This is when I go back and think, “what the hell was I talking about there?” I have some clients who do the writing themselves and then I edit it into shape.
Next comes the SEO work. Now, I write for my audience first. Sometimes writing for SEO can destroy the soul of the content. However, well written content should naturally optimise for SEO because you know you are writing for what a person is searching. Although if only SEO stopped at the content.
Finally, I get the headline in place. This is the most important part of the content. It is what draws the audience in to read. Think “Freddy Star Ate My Hamster “rather than a wordy Financial Times headline. Headline writing is a real skill and one that you should learn if you want to be a content writer or content manager. I did four years of Journalism at University and had the chance to work with some very talented subs and editors at a national newspaper. It’s served me well over the years.
MAKING CONTENT WORK FOR ITS SPACE
Now the fun starts. You have your main piece of content and it’s time to get it out there in the world and start earning it’s keep. This is where, as a content manager, you have to dig into the heart of the story and know what to share, and on which platform. You need to disseminate this content through newsletters, social media, articles, flag waving, by pigeon. You get it.
The superhero skill of a good content manager is making that key piece of content work as hard as possible. And then see how it’s little content journey picks up potential customers and leads them back to the client.
That’s part of the job anyway. The other part I like to think of as website management. Ensuring the website is easily navigated, is kept updated and generally in good condition. I am by no means a web designer. I have a network of lovely web developers and designers who I can recommend for all the technical bits. But the daily handling of the site, that’s the bit where I get geeky.
I specialise in WordPress. And more specifically in membership sites. These are slightly more complex in their set up and sometimes it can be like negotiating your way around a maze. Without a map. Often my first job is to map out that maze so anyone popping onto the back of the site knows where they are going.
There is software that I prefer over others and I take the time to delve into them, learn their potential. You never know when you might need it.
I HEART SPREADSHEETS
Finally, I create a lot of spreadsheets. These are the bells on my writing. For me to do my best job as a content manager, I need to understand what that content is doing. This involves digging into Google Analytics, setting the strategy from the data, understanding what I need to be talking about, to who and where.
And above all, a good content manager is organised. I need to manage multiple projects, regular content and launches. I have systems in place that keep me on track to meet client deadlines. And I have a keen awareness that what I do impacts another person’s business. My job is to save them time so they can get on with doing the great things that they do.
While it makes it easier for some people to understand what I do by explaining it as a copywriter with bells on, the job as a whole does indeed require good writing skills, the ability to spot the story (especially in very dry B2B content), website management skills, knowledge of SaaS, project management skills, and online marketing. But the benefit a good content manager gives to a business is more than the marketing aspect or a witty blog. It gives them the time to concentrate on why they went into business in the first place.