What’s it Like Transitioning from Journalism to Content Marketing?

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What's it Like Transitioning from Journalism to Content Marketing?Newspapers are closing. Television stations are downsizing. Brands are becoming publishers.

Thankfully, journalists are chameleons who can easily transition into the growing world of content marketing. Their skills — researching, interviewing, working on deadline — are all coveted by companies who are now publishing their own articles, videos and podcasts online.

Last week I was interviewed on the Brand Storytelling podcast from Newsmodo. Phoebe and Rakhal asked me how traditional journalists from the mainstream media can transition into the world of content marketing and be successful.

I explained that I left my last brick-and-mortar newspaper job six years ago this month. I was working on content for brands on the weekends for several years before I took the plunge and became self-employed as a full-time freelancer in the content marketing world (and I still do some traditional freelance journalism work too!)

At the end of the day, the work is very similar. I still find sources, conduct interviews, write on deadline and have a byline. I use my AP Stylebook daily and still collaborate with copy editors to polish my writing.

However, the biggest things you’ll notice when transitioning from a traditional journalism job to writing, creating video, taking photos or recording podcasts for a brand client is who’s paying your paycheck and where the content is published.

Who Hires Content Marketers?

Brands, companies and corporations are now paying journalists. When you start working in content marketing, you’re generally hired on contract (as a freelancer) to complete a project or campaign. Of course that campaign has an agenda to support a specific company, and they ultimately are the one signing your paycheck.

This means you are your own company, and to get repeat work, you have to promote yourself. In traditional journalism work, you’re more likely to be an employee, report to the office each day, and tackle a list of assignments. When you work in content marketing as a content creator, you have to build yourself up as a brand.

I spend time each day networking and growing my online presence. I maintain this blog and website, have business profiles on several social media platforms and reply to work emails daily. I promote the articles I write for my clients and interact socially with the sources and experts featured in my posts. It’s all part of being my own company and creating a positive online impression on the future marketing companies and brands who hire me to work on their campaigns.

Where Does Your Work Get Published?

When you work in content marketing, your blog posts, articles, social media messages, newsletter content (and a variety of other things) aren’t published by one single entity in one format. Instead, they’re usually spread across several verticals to help the brand get their name out to their potential and current consumers.

For example, I’ve worked on marketing campaigns that have led to posts on company blogs, text on static web pages, articles in email newsletters, social media updates, feature articles in print magazines, feature articles on company websites and even videos on YouTube! I really enjoy that when a new campaign comes along, I often have an opportunity to try something new, like making a video (even though my background is in print journalism and photojournalism). And, the clients love that I’m willing to experiment and create content that speaks to their audiences across so many mediums.

As you transition from traditional journalism to content marketing, it can be difficult to keep a collection of your published work. (Remember string books? Those are long gone!) I update my online writing portfolio once a week and try to share samples of my work across my professional social media accounts daily as live, current resumes of sorts. Potential clients can see what I’m working on and what types of projects I enjoy simply by browsing my Twitter feed or scanning my portfolio.

When I was in journalism school, I never thought I’d someday work for brands as publishers and be creating for so many different outlets. But, I’m glad I’ve migrated into this type of work. Just like the old newsroom days, I’m still learning about new topics daily, interviewing interesting people and getting paid to be creative.

Are you thinking of getting involved in content marketing? Are you transitioning from a traditional newspaper, magazine or radio job to work with brand names? Tell me how it’s going for you in the comments below! I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about this wild, crazy career!

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