Where to Learn the Top 5 Content Marketing Skills for Free
What are today’s most in-demand content marketing skills? What should you learn if you want to make yourself invaluable and advance your career? And how can you acquire these skills at no cost?
Ambitious and driven content marketers, join us on a journey to professional growth.
Dividing and Conquering Learning Objectives
Some will argue that you should seek to become an expert in all of the skills listed below. I don’t necessarily agree. Sure, if you have aspirations of leading your department, then you’ll probably want to be adept in each of the areas we’ll cover and beyond, but I find it’s generally more helpful to focus on becoming great at a few things than good at a lot.
The learning materials we reference below are good starting points, but if you really want to gain expertise and build new cornerstone skills, it’ll be more of a commitment.
So my recommendation is to pick your battles, and attack one at a time. At Harvard Business Review earlier this year, Mike Kehoe proposed an emphasis on the following four habits for online learners:
- Focus on emerging skills. I think we can safely say that any of the traits mentioned below qualify. Pick the ones that feel most relevant to you and your trajectory.
- Get synchronous. Enlist a friend or colleague to embark on this quest alongside you, and keep each other accountable.
- Implement learning immediately. Find projects or tasks at work that enable you to quickly apply what you’re learning. As Kehoe notes, research shows that “enactment enhances memory by serving as an elaborative encoding strategy.”
- Set a golden benchmark. Where would you like this learning process to ultimately lead you? A new job? A promotion? Develop a specific objective and keep it front-and-center.
With this blueprint in hand, let’s explore some of the most critical skills for today’s (and tomorrow’s) well rounded, indispensable content marketing pro.
The Future-Proof Content Marketing Skill Set
Some of us end up in this line of work because it was our aspiration from the beginning. More often (from my experience at least), it seems as though we land here because of particular strengths that were conducive.
Maybe you’re a former journalist whose ability to churn out copy under deadlines made you a fit. Maybe you were in sales or customer service, and developed a knack for connecting with customers. Maybe you were an account manager with broad knowledge of marketing programs, and wanted to get more into the creative production side. Maybe you simply love to write and wanted to apply that passion.
We all have core competencies to build around. The next step is adding and sharpening complementary skills to fill the gaps or broaden our expertise. Here are five key areas for content marketers to pursue.
Learning about audiences and personas is a different animal than brushing up on biological classes at the library. Knowing how to quickly navigate and find what you need is a hallmark of efficient, trustworthy content creators.
Where to Learn It: HubSpot has a really informative post from Debbie Farese that includes a five-step course to researching prospects for a marketing plan. It offers guidance for primary and secondary research, and even includes a granular breakdown of what a 30-minute survey of a B2B buyer could look like. Check it out.
For a more general online research pointers, this cursory guide from WikiHow is actually quite comprehensive and covers important items like scrutinizing search results and evaluating for credibility.
This might be the most vital emerging skill. Possessing the ability to accurately measure your own content’s performance will give you a real leg up. Bonus points for being able to demonstrate and articulate these results to your colleagues and superiors.
Where to Learn It: Google offers a free Analytics Academy with videos that walk you through the basics and well beyond. Once you’ve gone through the training, you can take the Google Analytics Individual Qualification exam. Score 80% or higher and you’ll receive a certification that looks very nice on the ol’ résumé.
You’re not going to replace the function of a professional designer (unless that happens to be a true specialty of yours) but you can beef up your visual content marketing chops enough to be an asset. There’s value in being able to create quick, sharp-looking blog post graphics or promo images for social media.
Where to Learn It: Canva is one of those go-to graphic design tools for those of us who lack natural artistic aptitude, offering drag-and-drop functionality and pre-built templates. Luckily, they also put together a great list of design guidelines for non-designers, which you can adhere to while using their freemium product (or others). Good insights on font choice, color selection, spacing, hierarchy and more.
If you’re looking to grow your role within a marketing team, it’s perhaps more important to be able to speak the language with designers than to actually produce visual content on your own.
The final point above ties into this imperative. Today’s most effective marketing teams are driven by content collaboration, seamlessly bringing together various disciplines to make their whole greater than the sum of its parts. Those who can inspire and facilitate this type of collaboration will be in high demand.
Where to Learn It: Study the art of agile teamwork. I know some folks are resistant to this world of scrums and sprints, but once you get past all the buzzwords, agile methodology offers plenty of smart principles for efficient teamwork. Explore this framework, and you’re bound to come away with techniques that’ll make you a better collaborator. CollabNet offers free agile e-learning resources to get you started.
Last but certainly not least: writing (and, more broadly, communicating) is the most essential skill for any content marketer. It tends to be a foundational prowess for many of us, but it is one we can eternally refine and improve. As more and more marketers embrace the power of storytelling, narrative writing in particular is a strength to keep growing.
Where to Learn It: Nothing will improve your writing more than practice, practice, practice. Read your favorite bloggers and authors, picking up the subtleties that set them apart. When it comes to writing stories, I recommend watching this TEDx Talk from author John DuFresne, which covers the topic thoroughly:
Put Those Content Marketing Skills to Use
Brick by brick: Don’t rush this process, but tackle new goals and make progress each day to be on your way.
Once you’ve expanded and solidified your content marketing skill set, you’ll be able to fully unleash your research, analytics, design, collaboration and writing skills through DivvyHQ’s comprehensive content planning platform.
Request a demo and we’ll show you how the tool supports each of these key skills.