As I’ve crossed paths with many smart people at conferences, I often get asked the same question: what is content marketing? I find many people have heard the phrase but aren’t sure what it means.

We often see content marketing defined as creating content to raise interest in products and services, but what does that really mean? Let’s separate the buzz from the reality so you can talk about content marketing with confidence. 

When people say content marketing, they’re usually referring to it one of three ways. 

The first way is a field of practice. To me, this means doing the work of planning, creating, and delivering effective content to achieve marketing goals.

For example, when I was head of content at Mailchimp, I established a center of content excellence to provide resources, training, and templates on the practice of content marketing. 

The second way to define content marketing is as an industry.

In my view, this means the ecosystem of buyers, sellers, and investors for content marketing products and services.

According to analyst firm, Technavio, global spending on content marketing will hit $413 billion by the year 2021.That’s double the spending in 2016. Content marketing as an industry is growing at lightning speed, and it’s creating lots of opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors. Just look at the rise of companies like Kapost (content operations workflow management), BuzzSumo (content curation and analytics), and ClearVoice (a content creation and marketing platform).

And the third way to define content marketing is as a career path.

I see this as THE opportunity to change or grow your career as the demand for content marketing skyrockets. A quick LinkedIn search demonstrates the vast array of content marketing roles out there right now, from entry-level opportunities through to senior leadership positions.

One of my favorite examples here is my friend Rebekah. She was a kindergarten teacher ready to make a change in her career. Her brother-in-law Greg knew she had a talent for writing and had a hunch she might do well in content marketing. So, Greg bought Rebekah a very kind gift. That gift was registration in a content marketing training. Rebekah took to the material like a fish to water, and before she had even finished the certification she had a new job in content marketing and a whole new life.

So, content marketing is more than a buzzword. It’s a sophisticated field of practice, a growing industry, and a huge career opportunity. The next time you talk about content marketing, you will feel confident. And don’t be surprised if that confidence changes your life the way it did for Rebekah. 

The Author

Colleen Jones is the author of The Content Advantage and founder of Content Science, an end-to-end content company that turns content insight into impact. She has advised or trained hundreds of leading brands and organizations as they close the content gap in their digital transformations. A passionate entrepreneur, Colleen has led Content Science to develop the content intelligence software ContentWRX, publish the online magazine Content Science Review, and offer online certifications through Content Science Academy.

Colleen has earned recognition as a top instructor on LinkedIn Learning, one of the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Content Marketing, a Content Change Agent by Society of Technical Communication’s Intercom Magazine, and one of the Top 50 Most Influential Content Strategists by multiple organizations.

Follow Colleen on Twitter at @leenjones or on LinkedIn.

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