A Day in the Life of a Content Marketer

Published on 7/22/2021

I became a Content Marketer because I love writing; I’ve been jotting down stories in notebooks since I was eight years old. Writing blogs seemed like a way to make a living and develop my work whilst retaining that creative streak. And in many ways, it is that. Writing for a specific audience or in a determined tone of voice pushes you as a writer, and so does writing about topics you have no knowledge or interest in. But it turned out that Content Marketing is a lot more than blog writing, something I grew to love.

For example, I don’t even start my day by writing.

One coffee: Stand up

I start my day by joining my company’s stand up meeting. We have one every morning, and given the company’s rapid growth, it’s become optional to share. Everything is still over Hangout, so you use the ‘raise hand’ function to share. You then share your success from yesterday and something you plan to focus on today. Alternatively, you can also just share an insight or ask a question.

As a content marketer, I don’t often have many successes to share for this. The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, my accomplishments are pretty hard to explain, as no one understands why they matter in the long run, so my work feels invisible compared to many other departments. I just start referring to Google as if they were my BFF and watch everyone’s attention drop off like I was discussing their tax returns. Secondly, I do the same stuff most days, so it would be awfully repetitive.

But I love listening to other updates as they often hold great clues for marketing. For example, someone from the Support Team might mention that they received complaints about the number of emails sent, and so I know to check over our email flows. We’re still a pretty small company, so I’m responsible for SEO, website content and email marketing. Or they could say that people are confused about our new policy, so I know to reread the website text to ensure it’s clear.

After the stand-up, I always check my inbox. I send many emails looking for backlinks (more on that later), so I often have responses in my inbox. I’d love to say that I immediately work through the emails, but I just read them and then click them as unread again, to be dealt with later. Not a productive use of my time, but I’ll just claim that I like to muse over them for a while. Then I get started with the task I’ve planned for the day.

Two coffees: Blog posts

I plan my blog post topics ahead of this time. For this, I’ll schedule an afternoon where I check the search volume for a bunch of relevant keywords. I use Google Ads for this, and I love that it suggests similar keywords. I aim to have a minimum of three keywords for a topic, but if I find five highly relevant ones, I’ll use all of those. My company is focused on the UK, so I ensure the search is for UK traffic, even though we rank in the US and other places as well. Doing this often leads me to topics I hadn’t considered, as they’ll be suggested as alternative keywords. For your search, it’s important to try several formats of the same term, and to really think of what someone is actually Googling. Instead of writing a complete sentence, write the short term that someone would actually take the effort to type.

If I don’t have any ideas for blog posts, I’ll do a bit of googling myself and look at relevant sites. I also love using the tool Ahrefs and doing a ‘Content Gap’ search with a relevant website, perhaps even our competitor. This highlights the terms our website isn’t ranking for and theirs is, so we know where to barge in next.

All of these terms are entered into a spreadsheet, where I then plan them week by week. This gives a sense of priority and takes additional thinking out of the equation later, but there’s also flexibility if needed. I truly believe that passion is vital when writing a blog post, as Google can just tell somehow, so if you really can’t be bothered with a specific topic, plan it for a different time and find something a bit more fun. Once in a while, it’s okay to write a topic that isn’t the highest-ranking, as sometimes you can end up with a successful article that you didn’t know people were looking for. Those can also be great for sharing on social media channels.

I start a blog post by opening a Google Doc and entering my keywords at the bottom. This ensures that I keep them in mind and naturally introduce them rather than shoving them in later. Then I do my research, reading relevant articles or searching up the facts that I’ll need. I make sure to properly read first rather than reading as I go to ensure I reword it rather than copying anything. I add relevant links as I go, as I know Google and my reader appreciates these, and it ensures they’re organically embedded.

There’s always a lot of discussion about the minimum length an article should be, and I usually hear 600-800 words. Personally, I aim for 1,000 and above, and my pieces seem to rank well for it. There is always more to be said about a topic. I like to distinguish my articles by including the extra details that others don’t, going that extra mile for my reader.

Once the blog is written, I do a grammar check using Grammarly Pro and reread it several times to edit. Then I look for photos to use, either through my company’s media database or Unsplash. I adapt these to be the correct size and then upload them with the blog to the website. At this point, a priority is an alt text for photos, the meta-title and meta-description, as well as including a few links within the website.

A blog usually takes a month or more to start being recognised by Google, so after that, it’s a waiting game! I keep track of the blog’s success using Google Search Console.

Three coffees: Linkbuilding

In an ideal world, all the links to your website would be obtained organically. You write great content and people link to it. That’s what happens with my own website, and it’s a slow but steady growth. When it comes to a company, you want to speed up the process, and so you reach out to people for backlinks to your website. It’s vital to reach out to relevant companies, bloggers and websites, as anything irrelevant to your topic won’t help. Again, I use Ahrefs to check if a website is suitable.

I always focus on writing a friendly and personal email to avoid being marked as Spam, and explaining what we can offer them in return, e.g. our website’s high Domain Authority. There’s a lot of different advice out there about backlinking, but my main focus is organic anchor text, so you don’t sound like you’re forcing your keywords.

I also track everyone I reach out to in a spreadsheet to check where links were posted and who I’ve already contacted to ensure I don’t bother them again. I aim for five links a month, and some months I exceed this, others I fall just under. Of course, a lot of backlinking is dependent on your budget and time.

Four coffees: Email marketing

I share marketing responsibilities with another marketer, so whilst I don’t handle social media anymore, I take care of email marketing. We have a fantastic email marketer who manages the practical parts of it, so my focus is coming up with ideas and writing copy for it. This isn’t a daily task in itself, but often a larger project or a one-off. For example, sometimes we’ll be adding a new email flow, so I spend my whole week writing out the emails for it. Other times we’ll be sending a campaign to encourage bookings or offer a discount.

I’ve been working at my company for years, so I really know the tone of voice as I helped to define it. This makes writing emails relatively easy, and the first draft takes an hour at most. It’s vital for emails to keep them short as individuals skim them. You have to resist the blog writer in you and really keep things brief.

Once I write an email and check it, I send it to my colleague for her opinion. You only get one chance with an email, so you have to ensure the copy is engaging but also clear, so the second pair of eyes is vital for this. I make any changes she suggests or discuss why I disagree, and then it goes to our email marketer. They always send me a test email for it, which is a vital step. Things may look different in the email itself, perhaps how the paragraphs are structured or the length of text on a button. Maybe you’ll pad out a section or reduce another. The test email is a great time to see this. Now it is ready to send! We often do A/B tests for emails to work out the best times to send or test different subject lines and snippets. Later I receive the results so I can try to use that moving forward. A great tool for testing your subject line and snippet for how it appears on different devices is Email Tool Tester.

No more coffee: Odd jobs

A lot of my time is taken up by little odd jobs that pop up. That could be creating a landing page for a new partnership, updating our FAQ text or writing an email newsletter for an affiliate. Even though these odd jobs can add up, it really helps to be involved in them to ensure the consistency of our text and tone of voice. It also gives me a chance to meet with my colleagues as being a content marketer can be a quiet job. This is something I love, but it doesn’t allow you to get to know others like you would in other roles.

This can be tough, but something that’s helped me a lot is Flown. They describe themselves as “Facilitated deep work sessions to help you with accountability and focus”. You sign up for a session where everyone is on a Zoom call together whilst you work. At the start and end, you’re in a breakout room where you discuss your intentions for the session and whether you achieved them, as well as a fun extra question. It can feel a little jarring to think we need this to focus, but maybe that’s the reality of working from home. I really enjoy the Flown sessions and aim to join the two-hour deep dives at least twice a week. It helps me stay focused and not jump between tasks or answer emails, whilst also feeling like I have some social interaction and meet new people. I wrote this article in a Flown session, as I also use it for my own writing.

A lot of people don’t understand what I do in my job or think it’s just about writing a Facebook post or a quick blog post about any random topic. A lot of people are curious about my job, mainly writers looking for a day gig, and want to know if they could do it too. So here’s everything to consider if you want to go into Content Marketing.

If you want to be a Content Marketer...

  • You need to be comfortable juggling several things at once, but also knowing when to block everything else and work intensely on a single task. It’s up to you to set boundaries.
  • You’ll need a lot of online tools for finding keywords, measuring trends and analysing results. I’m a bit of a technology failure, so if I learned how to use these, anyone can.
  • You should enjoy writing. You won’t always like what you write, but enjoying the process of writing will ensure it comes across as if you do. You need to be comfortable with long, chunky texts.
  • You need to be able to improvise. Whether that’s in a meeting, talking to a client, or just in your writing. You need to sound like you know what’s going on until you actually do.
  • You need to think outside the box; there’s a lot of competition out there, so you have to stand out somehow.
  • You need to have your own voice for writing but also be able to adopt someone else’s. Both are vital.
  • You need to practice and be comfortable with failure. My first blog posts performed poorly, but I kept working on them until I ranked at the top of Google searches. Now I return to those old posts to edit them, and I’m horrified by how poorly I wrote them.
  • You need to be always learning. Google is constantly changing, and this is a field that evolves monthly, so be ready to learn that what you’re doing is wrong and a totally new way of doing it.
  • You need to be able to sell yourself or your company. If you don’t, who will?

There you have it, the exposed reality of a day as a Content Marketer. But my experience will differ greatly from someone else, namely based on the tasks they’re responsible for. It can be a one-size fits all kind of job, or it can grow to be more focused and specialised. I’d love to say that my days are spent in Starbucks or on a beach in Bali, typing away at a life-changing blog post. But in reality, you’re more likely to find me at my desk or my couch, writing a blog that won’t change any lives, maybe just their holiday plans at most, and that’s really okay. Content Marketing is finding the balance between promoting your company and helping your readers in what they’re looking for, and it’s a balance I check daily. It’s not the glamorous Millennial job it’s portrayed to be, but it allows me to always be writing and growing.

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