Wondering how to become a content marketing consultant?
Michelle Lomas has 15 years’ experience in both agency and publisher side, working in Australia and in the US. She has been Head of Content at Bauer Media and VP, Head of Content & Social at Hearst/iCrossing in New York. She has also led Brand Partnerships divisions in top media agencies such as Mediabrands and Mediacom. She is currently based in Sydney, Australia and recently launched her own consultancy, Xtrordinate, which is designed to help brands and businesses grow through content marketing.
She has created highly successful content marketing strategies for some of the largest brands in the world such as Microsoft, PepsiCo, Target, Unilever and Hyundai, as well as worked with some of Australia’s largest advertisers such as Coles, Australian Defence Force, and Bunnings.
I’m lucky enough to have landed what I consider a few dream jobs – I’ve worked in a big Magazine and Digital publisher in New York City, worked in my favourite publisher in Sydney had a job that placed me on some of the biggest TV sets in the country with some of the coolest and most inspiring creative talent and celebs.
I’m now in a unique position to be able to launch and run my own consultancy, calling the shots on what I work on and where. Another dream job to be my own boss, work from home, and be able to find a better work life balance. But it’s only after 15 years of hard work and plenty of pivoting (and mistakes) that I got here.
Landing the incredible jobs I’ve had so far didn’t happen overnight, it took years of hard work. So instead of telling you how I got here, I want to share with you my best advice that I can offer to make your career rewarding, and hopefully land you that dream job too.
TREAT EVERY CAREER CONVERSATION LIKE A PITCH
You would never walk into a pitch without doing your homework and presenting a good case as to what makes your organisation great. The same approach should go for your career conversations.
The most impressive people I have managed have always walked into my reviews and career conversations prepared. Sharing the work they have done, how they have progressed their skills and the things that they have learned. It made it hard to deny them that hard earned promotion when the inevitable question came around.
Being promoted isn’t a numbers game. It doesn’t matter how long you have been somewhere or whether you feel you are ready – a manager looks for personal growth and a growing skill set. So get ready to pitch why you should be promoted – what have you done to grow, where have you evolved since last meeting to discuss your career, and what do you think you can offer the organisation if you progress to a new level. Taking control of the conversation will make you feel empowered, and show your manager you are ready and serious about stepping up.
NEVER STAY IN A CONTENT MARKETING CONSULTANT JOB YOU DON’T LIKE FOR THE SALARY OR TITLE
Salaries and titles are overrated – experience is everything. If you are offered a job that is 20% less than what you are earning, but will teach you something new, in a company that you are excited about – take it. Without hesitation. Your salary will go up again, but the opportunity might not reveal itself again.
And if it’s loyalty that is making you stay, here is an observation that may sound a little negative but true. Loyalty isn’t always rewarded in organisations. Time and again I’ve seen people made redundant to make way for restructures and new talent – people who have sometimes spent 20 years or more in an organisation. It’s sad, but true – so make sure you always put ‘you’ first.
Chase those jobs that excite you, and organisations that give you a good feeling. Trust me you will be happier, and when you are happy in an organisation you thrive.
BUILD YOUR NETWORK OF PROMOTERS
The person who is going to promote your worth the best in your organisation is you. But you can’t be everywhere at once and sometimes it’s good to know you have people in your corner who will promote your worth when you aren’t in the room.
Building your network of promoters is always important, especially in a complex hierarchical organisation. There are plenty of ways to build your network of promotors. Start with asking more senior employees to mentor you, or volunteer to work on some of their projects to show your worth. Also volunteer for high profile projects, pitches and be part of cultural events and initiatives. The more visible you are, the better you can build your network and supporters. Simply getting out there, being yourself and showing what great work you do is all it takes.
ALWAYS BE CURIOUS
I pivoted multiple times in my career. I started in digital media planning, moved to cross-channel planning, stepped in brand partnerships and sponsorships, back to digital performance media and then finally into content marketing. Now, 15 years later, this experience across so many facets of marketing means I can charge premium rates to my clients. I don’t specialise in one thing, I specialise in various areas – and that’s in high demand from clients.
If I had been rigid in my vision and not been open to new roles and experiences, I never would have been in the position I am in now. I never once turned an opportunity down, even when it was something that I was nervous about or did not feel qualified for. Going with the flow and seeing where my career would take me has served me well. I’ve always enjoyed my jobs, and I loved learning new things. So, take that chance, be brave and be endlessly curious about the possibilities. Remember you don’t always need the right answers, just the right attitude.
BRING A POSITIVE ATTITUDE TO EVERYTHING YOU DO
Ever noticed how those negative people in the office never get invited to the big pitches and projects? It is because their energy brings the team down. Collaboration in a workplace is the cornerstone of success. If you aren’t the one bringing the positive energy into a collaborative environment, then it’s likely you could get left out of those great pitches. And this could slow down your career. The fastest road to getting noticed in an organisation is being part of the big projects where everyone from the CEO down is invested.
So instead of being ‘too busy’ to work on that pitch, make it work and recognise this a great opportunity and investment in your future that you are making. Instead of being negative about the ideas in the room, be positive and plus up the ideas. Instead of finding a challenge too hard to surmount, find it interesting and brainstorm ways with your colleagues to find the right solution. Your energy and solutions focused enthusiasm will be noticed, and likely rewarded with more high-profile projects and ways to show your worth. And you might just feel more positive about the work you do at the same time.
So with that all said, I’ll share a final parting thought. Life is long, and so is your career. I’m 35 years old, been working for 15 years and now entering a new phase of my career working for myself. I have at least another 25 to go in my career, maybe more. Who knows what my next dream job will be in the next 5, 10 or 20 years’ time. I certainly couldn’t have predicted this when I was a 21-year-old walking into my first job at McCann. So enjoy the ride, and one day you might just stop and realise you have been working your dream job all along without realising it.