Looking to start your content marketing career? Here are the 3 main pathways you need to know

Content marketing jobs come in all shapes and sizes. You could be the sole content marketer in a startup, responsible for everything from marketing content to content for sales enablement and customer education. Or a content marketer on a much bigger content team, responsible for just product-related content. You could work at an agency, delivering one specialised service to a large client base. Or you could go solo: freelancing and finding your own clients.

I’ve worked in content marketing for *checks LinkedIn* seven years. In that time, I’ve been a freelancer, worked in agencies, and worked in companies as their content marketer. Each type of content marketing role gave me different opportunities and challenges to overcome.

From this experience, I’ve put together an overview of some of the most common routes into a content marketing career. When you’re looking to start a career in content marketing, there are three main pathways: freelancing, working for an agency, or working as an in-house content marketer at a company. Here are the pros and cons of each path to help you choose the best opportunity for you.

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Content Marketer Career Track: Freelance

A freelance content marketer is a self-employed person who offers content marketing services to companies. They often work for multiple companies and on several projects at once. Some people combine freelancing with a full-time job at another company, but this is by no means essential for becoming a successful content marketer.

Pros of working as a freelance content marketer

  • Freelancing can provide a high level of flexibility – you don’t need to work 9-5, Monday-Friday.
  • Freelance content marketers tend to earn more than their in-house peers. Research by Superpath found that in 2022 freelance content marketers earn an average income of $105,787 versus $91,502 for full-time, in-house content marketers.
  • You’ll have a degree of freedom to choose what you work on as you’ll pitch clients for projects and apply for freelance work, so you can focus on projects that most interest you.

Cons of working as a freelance content marketer

  • It can be hard to find clients when you’re just getting started.
  • You have to run a whole business, not just work as a content marketer. For example, you’ll need to handle pitching for new clients and projects, planning your workload, and all the administrative work like invoicing and chasing payments.
  • You’ll likely have an unstable workload and income, which will vary month on month depending on how many projects you have on the go and how promptly your clients pay up.
  • You don’t get any sick pay, paid time off (holiday), or benefits as a freelancer.

How to get started as a freelance content marketer

To start working as a freelance content marketer, you’ll need to find your first customers. Here are some places to look for freelance work:

  • Service marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork.
  • Social media where companies and in-house content marketers may share that they’re looking for freelancers to work with.
  • Online communities like Peak Freelance and ContentUK

You will find it useful to put together a portfolio to share with potential clients where you showcase previous work examples. If you don’t have previous content marketing experience, you could start your own blog or Youtube channel and publish your own content as a way to showcase your skills.

Content Marketer Career Track: Agency

An agency is a company that offers a particular service to other companies. If you work as a content marketer at an agency, you’ll provide content marketing services to the agency’s clients. There are dedicated content marketing agencies, but generalist marketing agencies often have content marketing as part of their service offering too.

Pros of working as a content marketer in an agency

  • At an agency, you’ll often work for multiple clients at once. This gives you variety in your work and exposure to creating content for different audiences, products, and markets so you can see what you enjoy and where your strengths lie.
  • You’ll probably be working alongside other content marketers, so there are lots of people around to learn from.
  • Depending on your agreements with your clients, you’ll probably have a fairly predictable workload. For example, this could mean producing 2 or 3 articles per week.

Cons of working as a content marketer in an agency

  • All the work you produce belongs to the client, so you often don’t get listed as the author of your content. This makes it difficult to build a portfolio of work you can share publicly.
  • Agencies can be fast-paced work environments, and you will likely need to produce lots of pieces of content per month. The pace of production doesn’t suit everyone.
  • You have less ownership over the overall content strategy and its results than in an in-house role. Depending on the relationship with your client, you may simply be delivering the content they ask for. This makes it difficult to build the strategic skills you’ll need to progress in your career.

How to get started as a content marketer at an agency

To start working as a content marketer at an agency, you’ll need to find a job at an agency. Some common routes include:

  • Apply for a job.
    Visit agencies’ websites and find their career pages. These will list their open job vacancies, and some agencies keep job applications open year-round to attract good-fit employees. Some content marketing agencies you may want to consider include: Animalz (global, fully remote. Disclaimer: I currently work here, and I think it’s great!), Grizzle (UK-based company, fully remote), Grow and Convert (global, fully remote, but their team is only in the US and Europe at present).
  • Provide freelance services to an agency.
    Many companies are slowing hiring at the minute, but agencies still have a service to provide to their clients. Some hire freelancers to support their content production. This can help you get to know an agency, learn their processes, and get a feel for what they’re like to work with without committing to a full-time role.
  • Internship opportunities.
    Many agencies have started offering internships for new graduates and/or under-represented minorities who want to get started in content marketing. These can be a great opportunity to get your foot in the door and get some initial experience. However, internships are normally short-term. And be wary of companies offering unpaid internships – if you’re delivering real work to their clients, you should be paid for it! (These should be uncommon now, but when I started my career, they were commonplace.)

All of these routes will likely include a formal application process. This will probably include at least one interview and a job-related task, such as drafting a blog post or putting together a list of content ideas on a particular topic. Some agencies pay applicants for completing these types of interview tasks, but not all of them.

Content Marketer Career Track: In-house

An in-house content marketer is someone who works at a company producing content just for that specific company. Depending on the size and type of company you work at, you may be the only content marketer in the business, or you may be part of a larger, dedicated content team. If you’re the only content marketer, you’ll be part of the marketing department. So most of your work will be to support the company’s marketing goals, but you may also work closely with and produce content for the sales department, product department, or customer support department.

Pros of working as an in-house content marketer

  • Working in the company you’re creating content for can give you greater ownership over your work. For example, you may be listed as the author of your content or be involved in setting the overall content strategy rather than just delivering content.
  • It’s easier to make sure that the content you’re producing supports the overall goals of the business, as you will have more context about the business goals, challenges, and upcoming priorities.
  • You’ll get the opportunity to build content marketing skills that can help progress your career, such as content strategy, keyword research, and SEO.
  • It’s easier to measure the impact of your content. You’ll have access to your company analytics data, and you may get verbal feedback from other teams that use your content. For example, a sales rep might let you know if a topic or article resonated with a prospect they’re speaking to, or a customer support agent might let you know if your help centre articles get a lot of visits.

Cons of working as an in-house content marketer

  • You only get the experience of producing content for one audience or industry, rather than at an agency or freelance, where you’ll produce content for many companies at once.
  • You may have less flexibility to experiment and try new content topics or types than if you worked at an agency.
  • The amount and type of work you get involved with will vary depending on the size and type of team you work on. Working on a one-person content marketing team is a different experience than working in a bigger content marketing team. Depending on your team set-up, you’ll have to deliver different quantities and types of work.
  • Salary is often lower than for agency and freelance content marketers.

How to get started as an in-house content marketer

To get started as an in-house content marketer, you’ll need to find companies that are hiring. Some places to look for content marketing jobs include:

  • Online job boards.
    Job boards bring together lots of job ads from different companies. ContentUK has a dedicated jobs board for UK-based content marketing job vacancies, so it is worth checking out.
  • LinkedIn.
    Many companies list their job vacancies on LinkedIn. LinkedIn also shows you how many applicants there have been for that job ad (though it doesn’t know about applicants from other places, such as directly through the company’s website), and how well your LinkedIn profile matches up with the requirements for the job listing.
  • Company websites.
    Is there a company you’d love to create content for? Try your luck and check out the careers page on their website to see what roles they’re hiring for. 

When you find a job vacancy you’re interested in, you’ll need to put in an application. Content marketing jobs often have a multi-stage hiring process that combines interviews and practical tasks you complete at home. For example, you might be asked to provide an article draft or come up with some content ideas. Just like agencies, some companies pay you to complete interview projects, but it isn’t common practice.

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