After years of gawking over web design, flash animation, scripting languages and relational databases, I think we can now safely agree the internet is made of and for content (it’s King alright). It’s the impetus for nearly all innovation on the web.
But if you’re a content specialist like me, the career path feels a lot like the Wild West: opportunistic (make thousands a day from home with Google!), risky (do I blow my next paycheck on the latest and greatest blogging course?) and discouraging (out of work writers/journalists/editors).
Thankfully a few qualified content specialist genres exist. Let’s briefly examine them:
The content strategist strikes me as a cerebral editor type concerned with things like style guides and editorial execution. Many of them work behind-the-scenes for large Fortune 500 brands (like eBay) or savvy web consultancies (like Razorfish).
Pros: Disciplined, serious and passionate about all things content. Put content before marketing. Understand digital medium.
Cons: Seeming obsession with self-definition and taxonomy, less focus on marketing makes them better as consultants or part of a large team.
Bloggers are content renegades, pioneers who constantly test new waters to see what works and what doesn’t. A few bloggers have figured out how to go pro and earn a sizable living from their blog. Elite bloggers often achieve internet marketing celebrity status.
Pros: Fresh and energetic, highly innovative, influential and fluid. Profitable self-publishers and effective guerrilla marketers.
Cons: Lacking in editorial discipline; usually put monetization and marketing before content and publishing; easy come, easy go.
Media Industry Professional
These are the writers, journalists and editors — the talent pool of content specialists. They’ve been hit with tough times that include mass layoffs, corporate restructuring and severe underpay.
Pros: Very savvy writers and editors who are experienced, educated and well-connected in the publishing industry.
Cons: Jaded, slow to adapt new content business models, many stuck in stodgy newspaper mentality.
What about ‘Branded Content Marketer’?
I know it’s an unusual term, but what I’m getting at is someone who publishes niche content in a commercial capacity under the umbrella of their “content brand.”
So let’s say Wordful starts publishing and monetizing several content-rich websites for niche audiences. The websites become popular based on their own merit as well as the merit of Wordful brand. Kind of like a highly-decentralized media company.
It’s certainly a gamble, but I’m convinced it can be done given the right mindset and resources. Of course what I’m hinting at here is a hybrid of all three content specialists mentioned above. You’d need the discipline of the content strategist, the innovation of the blogger and the experience of the media industry professional.
Is anyone else picking up on this besides me [ and Jonathan Kahn of Lucid Plot who makes a brief but notable mention at the very end of his article, Content Strategy for the Web Professional]?Photo by *Mandana.