Real talk about working in content marketing
It's the questions you've always wanted to ask about content marketing in tech — answered. Plus, work/life balance, internal mobility, imposter syndrome. The monday.com content marketing team tells all.
Breaking into hi-tech can be difficult and often feel like searching for treasure without a map. That’s why for our latest cohort of the Content Marketing progam at monday U, we pulled together a panel of content marketing guild members at monday.com.
Together, they answered the program participants’ burning questions about the scope and untold secrets of working in hi-tech — from content on-the-job to hustle culture to imposter syndrome.
The following is a shortened version of their panel discussion. Enjoy!
Can you describe the scope of work of a new content marketing hire?
Jackie: It definitely depends on the size of the company.
If you’re at a bigger company, your role is much narrower and there’s a very specific skill set you need to do that job.
If you’re at a smaller company, there’s a lot of initiative that is appreciated. You might see that there’s part of a job that nobody is doing. If you feel like taking that on, that’s a great way to prove yourself and take ownership over projects.
The flip side of that is you might end up at a place where responsibility is thrust upon you, and suddenly you realize you’re not just managing the content, but you’re actually managing the whole ad campaign: you’re buying media and you’re doing some graphic design and anything in between.
So when you’re looking at different kinds of companies be aware of that. Especially interviewing at smaller companies, try to understand what the expectations are from the get-go.
Tova: I think there’s a heavy amount of fighting imposter syndrome in this job. No matter what kind of role you start in, there will always be a point where you get asked to do something and you’re like, “Well, I’ve never done that before”.
You just need to take a beat, do your research, and get to work. The next time you’re asked to do it, you’ll have already done it. It’s a skill that you get better at with time.
Do the roles of a new hire differ compared to those who are more veteran at a company?
Aaron: I think as a new hire, I can say that there are different sorts of writing tasks that a new joiner should already be good at.
As an example, for myself, being able to do good research and connect that research to the piece of content that I’m creating is a skill I would be expected to have when I start a job.
That said, learning a company’s tone and messaging, that’s something that’ll take some time for a new joiner to learn. So they’ll need guidance from somebody more senior to learn that.
Shoshi: I’ve found that the “graduation” of moving from junior to veteran isn’t so much about a change in the type of kind of content you write, but an invitation to more strategic meetings.
That’s intentionally built into this program — to help you build the skills to ask those strategic questions: What are the KPIs? Who’s this audience? Why should they care?
The idea is that the sooner you ask those questions, the more people say, “Wow, that person is a real strategic thinker and we wanna make sure to invite them to the table”.
What is the most challenging and what is the most satisfying part of your job?
Jackie: I think the most challenging thing is taking feedback and not getting attached to your ideas.
Be able to take a step back and put your idea into the middle of the table and let everyone else around mold it in different ways.
Also, always try and double-check yourself — “Am I advocating for that copy I wrote because I genuinely believe that this certain way is the right way to do it, or do I just love my copy?” Separating those can be hard to do, but it’s a really important exercise.
Danielle: Something that’s been challenging for me is stepping out of a perfection mindset.
Taking ideas and running with them is something that’s essential to working at a fast-paced hi-tech company. So that’s been a challenge for me, but it’s also been a great learning experience to get out of my head and just put my ideas out there and trust myself.
The most satisfying thing is we have very exact metrics so we can see the results coming from our work. So in SEO for instance, seeing exact signups that I got from an article on the monday.com blog that I optimized or SEO practices that I put in place, that’s definitely rewarding.
Tova: One satisfying thing is learning a ton all the time. I can tell you for example that I’m now a semi-expert in both diamond jewelry (from my time at James Allen) and efficiency in enterprise-level corporations (from monday.com).
This goes back to the imposter syndrome idea, but the fun flipside of it. People aren’t going to believe what you’re writing if you don’t really invest yourself in becoming an expert on that topic. So, you always get to learn.
Another part is seeing something come to life. I remember in my first content job, seeing my first blog or my first email go live and I was just like, “I wrote that! That was me!”
Aaron: One of the most satisfying things for me is seeing, for example, an ad that we launch turn out successful.
Because regardless of what research you’ve done and how strong your hypothesis is, the ultimate success of a campaign will always be dependent on the people who see it.
So when those things all align, that is the most satisfying feeling for me.
Can you talk about the difference between what it means to be a copywriter and a content writer?
Aaron: I’ve done a bit of both copywriting and content writing and I find I’m very inclined to write short copy that’s based on a lot of research.
Really taking a big idea or a big message and refining it down into a single line that makes sense to the exact message that we were going for — that’s a process that I really enjoy.
On the other hand, when I’ve done more long-form writing, I’ve struggled.
You have to choose where your strengths are and where you see yourself doing better and giving your best.
Jackie: Having worked in small startup companies, there was no differentiation between the two, and coming to monday.com is the first time I’m experiencing that differentiation.
So if you start your career at a smaller startup, it’ll help you also discover what your strengths are and what you prefer. Then wherever you go next, that will help inform what you’re looking for out of your next job.
Danielle: Yeah. I’m still kind of like figuring out the distinction between the two and I don’t have much experience with copywriting. I do enjoy long-form content — it’s just a better fit for me, having more creativity and room to convey messages.
Still, we’ll see! Maybe I’ll try copywriting someday and figure out I like that more.
Jackie: Also just a point on that, don’t be fooled by thinking that if you can write more words, you don’t have to be as precise!
Let’s say you’re writing a 700-word blog post. So maybe nobody’s looking at it with a toothpick at every single word but you still want to maximize the impact of every word.
So if a word doesn’t need to be there, get it out. If there’s a shorter way to say something, shrink it down! Whether you’re writing four words or 400 words, clarity is always the goal. That’s what you’re after.
Let’s discuss hi-tech — particularly work/life balance and “hustle culture” in tech. How much of that is real or is it a myth?
Tova: I feel very strongly about this. I’ve seen when people in hi-tech don’t set limits, they can be pushed to the extreme. When you establish boundaries, even if it can be really difficult, people will respect them.
It’s a skill to be able to say, “I am not working right now, let’s talk about it tomorrow.” Or to say, “You know, this is actually not enough time for me to be able to do this.”
Aaron: Speaking of boundaries, saying yes to every content request that comes your way because you are in a content role does not mean that that’s a professional decision. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
If you say yes to every request, you’re gonna give lower quality copy, you’ll be frustrated, and probably not say anything about it.
At the end of the day, you’ve been hired to be a strong content professional, not just a yes-person. So the professional thing to do is to say, “These are my limits; so I can always be creating strong quality content.”
Jackie: Also, suggest an alternate solution. Say, “I can’t do this for you by tomorrow, but I can do it for you in three days from now.” Or “I can’t do this for you, but you should hire someone on Fiverr to do it.”
That can help you set boundaries and feel like you’re not just saying no because you’re saying no. You’re saying, “This is outside the bounds of what I’m responsible for” or “That’s not my area of expertise”.
Tova: Talking about hi-tech culture, it can sometimes be seen as shiny or even scary. It’s this sense of, “If they provide all the benefits, then you’ll never leave the office.” That’s a place for you to be mindful about how you’re spending your time.
Unfortunately, there are also some companies who might provide a lot of free mugs and then not treat you so well. Before taking a job, try to parse out that workplace culture.
Danielle: I’ll add that, this being my first job in tech, so I’m experiencing for the first time those elements of that “hustle culture” and whatever. But I find that there’s also a sense of community. People are really passionate about their jobs and the friendships they make at work.
I don’t think you get that at many companies. I’ve certainly not experienced that before. And I think that the tech scene does foster that.
Shoshi: I’ll say one thing just for all the parents. Hi-tech can be really intimidating because I think there is a myth that you will never see your children.
I can say, as a parent, it’s not true. If you look at my work calendar, you will see every day that after 5PM, you can’t reach me. You can’t schedule time with me. If you wanna Slack me, go for it. I’ll see it in the morning.
We talked a lot about boundaries, but it’s really up to you to set them as a parent. Regardless of what company you worked at, set family time and people will generally be respectful of it.
It’s also incumbent on all of us to build the culture that we want. We all have the power to build that company culture. It starts with us.
Have you found that there’s room for lateral or internal mobility?
Shoshi: I’ve worked on four different teams since I joined monday.com about a year ago. So personally I can say yes because I’ve been offered and experienced internal mobility first-hand.
Regardless of size, I’ve found companies rather find work that’s good for you and your growth than lose you altogether. If you’re a good company fit and they’ve already invested in you, it would stink to find someone else to write in your place, but they rather do that than see you go.
Jackie: Also at small companies, you have some room to take initiative outside your direct realm. So definitely take advantage of that opportunity to try new things and see what suits you.
From my experience, the fact that I started at a smaller company was actually perfect. I got so much hands-on experience. I had a strong mentor. That set me up to go to the bigger companies when the time was right.