Ever wondered what the role of a Content Manager entails? In this edition of our Career Insights series, we go into the role, capabilities, skills and typical salary for a freelance content manager, and what you need to do to become one!
Hello and welcome to a new addition of our articles series “Career Insights”. Here, we have an in-depth look at different freelancer jobs and talk about what they do, which skills are required and how well they’re paid. For today, we’ve picked a job that is needed by virtually any bigger company with some kind of serious internet / social media presence – the content manager.
What Does a Content Manager do?
The answer to that question seems easy, right? This person manages content. And that is correct, but not very descriptive. Content can by anything: video, audio, text, images or a mix of those. Furthermore, what does managing it even mean?
Here’s a definition for you: a content manager is responsible for finding the right content for the target audience, delivering it in a good way that will reach that audience and leveraging that content to reach a certain business goal. This might sound a little complicated, so let me give you a straightforward example. You are a content manager, responsible for a website that sells flowers.
You’ve decided to go for a lot of visual content because that appeals to your target audience. They don’t necessarily want to read two pages about flowers, but would rather just buy some that look pretty. Depending on the business, you might want to spread that content through social media or offline marketing. And you have to make sure the pictures of flowers not only reach a lot of people but also convert into sales. Who gets the pictures, where are they posted, how much should the company invest in them and what is the expected return of investment? Those are the questions you have to ask yourself as a content manager.
Here are the skills you’ll need to do so:
Looking for a Content Manager?
1. Content Management Systems (CMS)
First and foremost, your bread and butter will be your CMS. There are many different types out there, but they all exist with the purpose of allowing you to easily add and manage content on a website. Easily being the keyword here, as CMSs basically have the goal to take out a significant portion of the coding when building or updating a website. You don’t have to be a web designer to use a CMS.
Types of CMSs:
There are dozens of viable content management systems, each with their own focus. The three most popular do account for over 70% of the market, according to w3Techs. Here’s a short overview of those three:
Over a quarter of the entirety of the internet is run via WordPress. It’s open-source, it has a huge community and it has proven itself as one of the simplest CMSs. Companies like Spotify, CNN, Sony and Disney all use WordPress, so don’t believe the cliché that it’s all amateurs.
Although not nearly as beloved as WordPress, Joomla! takes a deserved second place in the list of most-used CMSs. This is the system you pick if you also want to get your hands dirty with some coding. While Joomla! has a higher entry barrier, its back-end integration and scalability is superior to WordPress. Also, Harvard uses it for their website.
Out of all three most popular content management systems, Drupal is the one with the steepest learning curve. Out of the box, it’s also the most powerful. Many engineers and developers prefer this CMS because of all the possibilities it offers. Due to the fact that it’s not nearly as popular as WordPress, it can be harder to find someone to help you out on it. On the flip side, Drupal expertise is more valuable than the other two, since it’s also the rarest. Notable user – The White House.
2. Understanding the Content
As a content manager, you will also need to have a deep understanding of the kind of content you manage. Let’s take text as an example – authors will always have their own style and preference, but it’s often up to you to do the final edit. What is the best headline? Do you need a teaser? How long does a text have to be to get noticed, but still get read? For every type of content, there will be such questions. As a content manager, you will be the one that has to provide the answers.
3. Knowing the Latest Trends
It’s not just about being able to edit the content properly and put it in the right kind of environment, it is also about understanding what your audience is looking for. Assuming you’re working in a niche with more than a couple of companies, that means keeping up. If you’re managing a website that is all about technology, you’ll want to know when the next big Apple keynote or gaming expo is going to hit and prepare accordingly. Simply put – to deliver the right content, you’ll have to stay informed.
Looking for a new job?
As we said in the beginning, content management is a huge field – every bigger site has an employee or a team of employees managing their content. According to Payscale, the median yearly salary is about 55,000 USD, with a quarter earning 70,000 or more. As every job, the pay varies a lot among countries, regions and even companies.
If you want to get a better feeling for what you can expect to earn as a content manager, we recommend checking out Payscale and Glasdoor. Put in content manager as the job title, enter your country and maybe even some prospective clients and voilà – you’ve got your estimate.