I Used to Get Irritated About the Label ‘Content Creator’. Now I are one
Sometime around 2006 I started to see writers being referred to as content creators and it really ticked me off. Why did we need a new term? I’d managed to shake off the term wordsmith, which I still find insulting. Maybe it was because I’d long aspired to becoming a professional writer and when I achieved that aspiration I didn’t want non-writers assigning me a new label. But now in 2019, I’ve embraced the term because the things we are creating are more than words on a page.
We now live in a world where content can be consumed in a bewildering array of formats from those printed pages and their digital counterparts to podcasts and videos and blogposts and tweets and…the unifying thing about all this information flying around is that a writer is at the germ of it. But the stuff itself is content, the stuff that goes into the delivery medium. Writers are content creators, as are filmmakers, musicians, pundits, tech writers (a different breed of writers), screenwriters, visual artists, etc. Without content these technological shells, no matter how cool, are meaningless gimmicks.
These days I call myself a freelance content strategist and creator
I do B2B marketing and have been doing it in tech since the beginning of time, i.e. 1998. With the advent of content marketing, driven by open access to information that reduces reliance on sales people for information access, buyers expect information access, and want a lot of it before a sales contact is made. In fact, in most of the businesses I deal with the sales role has evolved into a combination of account management and customer success, the latest moniker for more personalized customer service. Deals are initiated and closed with information and easy access to experts for implementation and management, not fast-talking guys in suits.
Designing content for multi-media delivery
As a marketer who is principally a writer, my role has evolved from traditional advertising copy (hoopla and cleverness) to writing and curating libraries of content designed as a whole to fulfill the information requirements of various types of customers, those ubiquitous ‘personas’ we are told to develop and bring to life. Larry End-user wants easily digested documentation and training, Suzy Purchasing Manager has a checklist of requirements around price, quality management and vendor qualifications, and Miguel ‘C Suite’ Decisionmaker needs recommendations from both. Only then is some poor soul tasked with calling a sales rep. If they’re lucky they’ll get a customer success manager, but the old school salespeople are still out there in droves.
We’re arming the buyer with the information they need to cut through claims and exaggerations, and the ammo is content
The difference these days is that the poor soul calling sales is armed with information, a lot of information, and they likely call the shots. And I gave them the ammunition. I just hope my ammunition is more useful than the competition’s. That’s quite a different role than the guy writing brochures I used to be (I shudder to think how many of these beautifully printed, embossed, and varnished beauties reside in landfills slowly decomposing or preserved for future generations). At least my content these days doesn’t have much of an environmental footprint.
What’s the point? Writing for business is a whole other ballgame now
You can’t ignore this content marketing paradigm and you need to work with writers who understand it from a strategic point of view. If you’re a writer who wants to make a good living you have to become that person. Even the blogger or Medium writer who writes about personal trauma is likely to also be writing articles for other writers about how they got these accolades and the tricks of the trade they’ve discovered. We’re writers, that what we do. But we’re content creators too. I guess I can live with that…