The Content Marketing Mashup of Writing, Business, and Passion

I get asked quite frequently how I became a content marketer.  Not only is content marketing a newer role within an organization, but there has also been a lot of backlash against bad content marketing.  A lot of companies remain in the dark when it comes to making the right hire because it isn’t necessarily something you can major in. Choosing the right person to create your content is the difference between great content that inspires and bad content that sends buyers running in the opposite direction. If you decide to invest in content marketing as a strategy, you want to make sure you staff your team with the right mix of skills.

So, who do you choose? Do you choose someone who is a writer, someone who is a content expert, or someone who is a marketer? I think you need a really solid mixture of all of them. To write great business content you need not only a good grasp of language, but you also need to be able to understand the nuances of business and what it means to be a marketer. Being a good writer is simply not enough. That person has to be intertwined with your business for his or her writing to really resonate with your audience. Truly understanding who the right content marketer is for your organization is important because you likely won’t find someone with 10 years of content marketing experience on their resume.

A content marketer’s career

That brings me back to my initial question, how did I become a content marketer? I actually started as a writer with an English degree and a specialization in technical writing. A pretty good start, but I had no understanding of business, let alone tech.  Luckily, through a personal connection my first job was in sales which introduced me to the business world and eventually that led me to a marketing role. But, I felt that because I had an English degree I was missing some fundamental business skills, so I decided to go get my MBA.

During most of my early career I had actually abandoned my writing for the most part, until I really honed in on marketing. But even then I was still doing more general tasks like generating and managing leads and social media.  However, I found that really what I loved was the writing piece of being a marketer, and once I decided to specialize in content marketing I had found the perfect mix of writing and business.

Content marketing is more than writing

My story circles us back to who you should hire for your team. I would say, go for a great marketer first and a great writer second, because you have to do so much more than write when you are doing content marketing. Take a look at a blog we posted last week from my colleague Jason Miller, If Your Writing Sucks So Will Your Content. In it, he talks about how to really work on developing your writing skills and how to succeed in content even if you don’t have a writing background. You have to be able to tell the story of the business, understand customer pain points, not to mention have a solid understanding of what it means to project manage.  If you are a writer that doesn’t seek out learning more about how to use writing in a business context, you will be at a disadvantage. And conversely, if you are a marketer that is interested in content marketing but doesn’t care to learn how to write, you are also at a huge disadvantage.

Additionally, don’t underestimate the importance of hiring someone with passion.  As a writer, personality often translates to paper, so if you aren’t passionate about what you are doing, it will reflect in your writing. I am lucky. I am very passionate about what I do and the industry I am in and I believe that having that love for the craft truly makes a difference when it comes to creating great content.

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  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your thoughts Dave! I think that if anyone is going to write content, even a business owner, they should have a basic foundation for good writing. If taking classes is not an option, and it often isn’t, there are many great books out there that can help develop writing skills. Check out Jason Miller’s recent blog: If Your Writing Sucks So Will Your Content: It gives some great examples of books you can read to strengthen and refine your writing skills. It really depends on your business and how you are using content marketing as a strategy. Many companies aren’t at the point yet where they are staffing specifically for it in house. Instead, they are having a copywriter transcribe the content. However, I find that often when I work with a copywriter they sometimes don’t get it quite right. Certainly the goal is better content, but writing is a big part of creating content that is really able to tell a story and reach out and grab your audience.

  • Dave Young

    Again, it’s sometimes easier to say than do. We just signed up a new client who is a very successful business owner, yet profoundly dyslexic. Writing isn’t his strength. It will never be his strength. Spending more hours to improve his writing is not a good use of his time. He is, however, a great thinker. He is a great communicator. We’ll be interviewing him on topics of his choice and simply editing and cleaning up his transcript so it reads as good blog content. He will be able to invest an hour per month of his time and get weekly blog posts in return. If he were to write them, it would take him several hours per post…and he simply would not do it. He’s started a blog half a dozen times, and the friction always comes from the writing. We’re removing that friction for him.

  • Kevin Payne

    I thought this was a great article and I can certainly relate to it as I write the vast bulk of our content. You are right in that simply writing content is worthless unless it ties into the business value from the perspective of the reader (not the writer). I’ve had lots of third party content provided to me and most of it is pretty much unusable as submitted because the authors don’t understand how to put things in the perspective of the reader (and also because they don’t know how to write in English properly).

  • Anonymous

    Hi Dave,
    You are absolutely right. Certainly there are scenarios where writing is simply out of the question. When that occurs it is important that the thought leader and writer communicate very closely in order for the content to resonate with the audience illustrate the vision of the business and business owner. It also helps if the thought leader is consistently working with the same writer or firm so that the writer learns the business over time.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Kevin. Thanks for commenting! Glad you resonated with the post.

  • Toby Marshall

    “Content marketing is more than writing” – so true and yet a common misconception. In B2B marketing, content is king and so, as you say, passion is crucial to success. It is well worth investing time into producing useful and relevant B2B content that will get you noticed and respected in your field

Dayna Rothman is the Sr. Content Marketing Manager at Marketo. She runs the Marketo content initiatives and is the managing editor of the Marketo blog. Dayna has extensive experience in content marketing, social media, marketing automation, and inbound marketing. She has an MBA from Golden Gate University and lives in Oakland, CA.

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The Content Marketing Mashup of Writing, Business, and Passion

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