Why These 5 Unexpected Content Marketing Skills Are Must-Builds in 2021

Today’s digital age is creating a new world, where fresh, creative, human talent and newfangled digital skills are in demand.

For example, Google fills over 6,000 roles in one year alone. (They receive over 1 million applications – and hire less than 1%.)

But traditional education may be failing to properly prepare our next generation for what’s really necessary to succeed.

One recent study at Kaplan University, led by QuestResearch Group and published in Forbes, found that

“there are very few believers in the work readiness of college graduates. Only 13% of U.S. adults, 11% of C-level executives and 6% of college and university trustees strongly agree with statements about the work readiness of graduates.”

That’s why self-built skills are becoming more and more necessary.

The good news?

If you’re new to our amazing industry of content marketing – which is set to be worth over $400 billion this year – or even marketing in general, a college degree isn’t always a prerequisite to succeed.


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In fact, Google doesn’t even require a degree — and they’ve been open about this online, suggesting career certificates instead. Apple, Tesla, IBM, and even Whole Foods, Costco, Hilton, Bank of America, are following suit and also don’t require a degree.

So, you can get a great job without the college degree or debt.

But how?

The answer lies in building real, market-ready skills.

5 Skills to Build to Win Market-Ready Placement in the Content Marketing Industry

1. An Understanding of Brand Strategy

You can’t get by in any content marketing job unless you understand the mechanics of what’s below the hood.

That’s called content strategy, an industry that’s barely 10 years old, even though the base foundations of the techniques go back hundreds of years.

If you don’t know your way around building a brand strategy, there are six cores.

6 brand content strategy cores

  • Underlying knowledge: Know how to define content strategy and what the various parts are.
  • Actionable knowledge: Know your audience, and build a brand differentiation factor.
  • Actionable knowledge: Know how to find and put together great keywords.
  • Actionable knowledge: Know how to build authority over time with a dedicated brand website.
  • Actionable knowledge: Know how to create consistently awesome, optimized content.
  • Actionable knowledge: Have a process and system in place to manage that content (editorial calendar, promotional strategy) and the ongoing maintenance of it.


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These steps don’t sound light, because truthfully, they aren’t.

If you’re new but want to be taken seriously in this market and get a job based on your skillsets, consider getting a mentor and investing in a course on how to build a content strategy led by an industry practitioner.

Another good idea is an internship in a job where you can learn, real-time, how to build these skills.

2. An Understanding of SEO

Just a few reasons why more marketers and brands are turning to SEO:

  • Over 90% of US traffic comes from Google: Google search, Google Images, and Google Maps.
  • SEO drives almost 11X as much traffic as organic social media.
  • 68% of all online experiences begin with a search engine.

Inbound SEO content is a win in today’s era, where Google searches surged to double per day in one month in 2020.

Over the pandemic (March 2020 – current), Google search traffic went from 3.6 billion searches/day to 6 billion searches/day.

In short, the amount of people using Google to search for answers to their questions has never been greater.

SEO as a skillset revolves around a few things, including knowing how to write and optimize content for search, maintain and update older content, track content, and use tools (e.g., Google Analytics, SEMrush, Ahrefs, Yoast).

Companies hiring content marketers are looking for an understanding of SEO.

Build your knowledge in this area.

Find and follow SEO experts, consider taking an SEO course, and build your knowledge.

It will be worth it.

3. An Understanding of Great Online Content

What does great online content look like?

Can you quickly identify it?

You can’t get by in the content marketing industry for long if you haven’t sharpened your content recognition skills.

Brands are not lenient when it comes to the quality of the content they expect their content marketing team to produce.

So, know how to identify good content across these formats:

  • Social media posts.
  • Webpages.
  • Product descriptions.
  • Meta content.
  • Blogs.
  • Headlines.
  • Emails.
  • Case studies.
  • Ebooks.
  • Lead magnets.
  • Whitepapers.
  • Video scripts.


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All of these are used across a wide variety of content marketing campaigns, no matter the industry.

If you don’t have good content recognition skills, build it by interning at a content agency, taking a lower-paying gig in exchange for content-building skills, or investing in a course where online (not essay or AP English) content writing is a main subject.

4. An Ability to Research Deeply

It’s not enough to go and “source a statistic” anymore.

You should know how to find the original study, and additionally, make sure you’re never linking to anything that’s outdated.

For example, if your source is a blog linking to a study from 2018, depending on your industry, it’s quite possibly outdated and won’t add authority to the content piece.

Finding great statistics and sources for the content you build or manage in a content marketing campaign comes down to researching just a bit more deeply than the average person.


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Statistics and facts matter in an age where trust is now one of the most important buying factors consumers consider when purchasing from a brand.

(See how I linked directly to a study, found the original PDF, and made sure the study was within 12 months or less?)

5. An Ability to See It Through

This is a simple trait I also like to call tenacity.

It’s the simple ability to stick with it.

Content marketing, above all, must be a commitment on the part of the person spearheading the campaign.

Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute and the biggest content marketing conference on the planet, has said that it takes 12-18 months to see content success.

One big reason for content marketing failure is simply that the company doesn’t have patience and kills the campaign too early, according to Pulizzi.

when marketing programs fail

Crazy, right?


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It sounds so simple, but if you’re headed into the content marketing industry, this is something you must know and be aware of.

Be a proponent of one of the biggest reasons for content marketing success – the tenure of how long a company tenaciously stays with it and produces content that builds their brand and trust factor over time.


There are many more subskills below these.

However, these are what I believe to be the top five of the more unexpected – but extremely important – content marketing skills to master.

You have your skill-building path work cut out for you.

Go forth and prosper!

More Resources:

Image Credits

In-post Image 1: contentstrategycourse.com
In-post Image 2: Content Marketing Institute