Digital: The new king of content

Ghostly hands by Michael Hashizume

The realm of online copywriting has upped its game, gone are the days of dumping regurgitated written copy onto web pages to fill in the gaps.

Nowadays it’s all about content in a much broader sense of the word and the candidates are certainly proving this to be true with up to 73% of our traditional copywriters, registered in the last year possessing additional digital content focused skills.

So what does this mean for the traditional copywriter?

Print has always received a higher value over digital due to its tangibility, status and the fact that you usually have to pay to read it. However, it would appear that online copy is becoming more relevant than ever and an essential tool for any business wanting to develop its online presence.

This has manifested in the sharp rise in digital copywriting briefs we’ve been receiving, which is matched by candidates as 39% of  registered content producers  and copywriters have digital experience and over half of those (57%) registered within the last year.  So why the sudden surge?

Since the digital boom, content has begun to evolve; it is no longer just about written copy as companies have branched out into areas such as social media and video channels. Candidates in the industry are well aware of this and the expanding parameters of content, as a result they are broadening their skill sets to cash in.

We took a sample of 1,800 CVs from the last two years and discovered that 26% of candidates have experience with video production and 51% of these were registered in the last year. Results were similar for candidates referencing social media (73%), YouTube (59%) and SEO (57%) also in the last year.

The success of YouTube meant that many companies clamoured to get videos uploaded in very much the same way they did websites some 15 years ago. In many cases, videos are thrown on to sites with no real care as to what their purpose will be or the relevance of their content.

However, we’ve seen a considerable rise in the number of briefs requesting copywriters with video production experience which shows that companies are really investing in new forms of content such as video. This is met by a 19% annual increase in the number of candidates with this experience. 

The increase in candidates with SEO experience is particularly interesting as the rise of social media and the blogosphere means that the reach to communicate with the consumer is almost limitless. So, making sure content is accessible to potential consumers is paramount and content must be correctly optimised with metadata to ensure that it can be found. Whilst digital copywriters don’t need to know the ins and outs of SEO they must have a basic understanding and the ability to factor in SEO when creating copy by using the correct key words.

To really excel in the world of digital content production, you must make sure that your copy is punchier, more engaging and more concise as it has to compete with the skimming eyes of the web reader. It also has to be specialised for the site as well as the reader, there is no room for generality, so a good copywriter or content producer also needs to be commercially aware.

As we’ve already mentioned, an understanding of SEO is becoming more and more relevant for roles within this area so try and gain a basic understanding of how this works, ensuring that this is considered with every piece of content you write.

It’s also worth getting some experience with video production as this is set to be a booming aspect of content with the majority of companies already having their own YouTube channels.

Photo (cc) Michael Hashizume.


Content creation skills

Sam said "tough life for those coming out of the traditional print world."

Exactly right, but plenty of them are adapting well.

And the range of specialisations is going to broaden, so there will be opportunities for people to make their mark.

Eg, content strategy is an emerging field as businesses realise their content is a business asset, like their factories once were.

Data visualisation (infographics, data crunching and presentation) will suit people who can tell stories by combining stats, copy and nice graphics.

Information organisation specialists are learning to think in terms of crafting microcopy and the content needed to guide user tasks and journeys.

Then there's demand for video, as you mentioned.

A few pointers people might find useful:

David McCandless on the beauty of data viz:

Teaching tech to journalists:

Content strategy:

Salaries for Online Content Producers & Copywriters

Interesting to see so many content producer-types, getting to grips with the digital skills - going to make life tough for those coming out of the traditional print world.

I've noticed lots of digital content roles being advertised on Chinwag Jobs recently, but given the number of grads/interns and people looking to re-skill from traditional media, is this pushing down the salaries for content producers? 

The likes of Demand Media and its content factories are driving demand for piecework in the digital content world. Combining this with falling display ad revenues makes me think it's time for content people to focus on where the high value inventory is: extremely targeted SEO-friendly niches and increasingly video content.