Before I co-founded my company, Masthead Media in 2012, the practice of content marketing was very much experimental. Very few people outside of the still-nascent industry had even heard the term before, and it was virtually impossible to find a single class--let alone a full certificate program--that focused on content marketing.
Today, content has become an essential way that brands connect with audiences and its a compelling career field with ever-growing income opportunities. Because there's so much interest among would-be students, several companies (and at least two universities) have begun offering courses designed to prep the next generation of content marketers.
If you're looking to make a career transition, or simply want to expand your skills as a marketer, here are six programs you should definitely consider.
While I wasn't able to find a university that offers a full-degree program in content marketing (I predict that time will come soon!), NYU's School of Professional Studies does serve up this eight-session in-person course that focuses on the strategic planning side of content.
In addition to traditional lectures taught by an instructor, you'll hear from real-world speakers who are actively working within the content industry and break out into smaller groups to work on projects.
During the course, you'll learn how to align a brand's goals with specific kinds of multimedia content, repurpose content to maximize its value, and use analytics to tell if your efforts are working. One hidden benefit to attending this course (where I've a been a speaker) is networking opps: many students already work for major brands and are in class to sharpen their skills.
The T Brand Studio (the branded content unit The New York Times) is renowned for executing groundbreaking campaigns with major advertisers such as Delta, Netflix, Adobe, BMW, and GE. Together along with the School of the New York Times, T-Brand is sharing its extensive knowledge of content marketing with students through this five-course online certificate program.
This beautifully shot digital program details the specific tools the T-Brand Studio uses to create high-quality native advertising (a specific element of content marketing) on behalf of brands. Taught by current and former T-Brand Studio staffers, the courses include "Story Mining and Strategy," "How to Tell Brand Stories with Video," and "Thinking About the Other Side?" a video geared toward journalists looking to make the switch to from journalism to branded content.
I've been turning to HubSpot for years for well-written, insightful articles teaching every aspect of inbound marketing and customer relationship management. Considering the emphasis that the inbound marketing company puts on education, I'm not surprised they developed an 11-course, 32-video series design to teach students the fundamentals of content marketing. What's amazing is that you can watch the courses online in a single afternoon: It takes just 4 hours to view them all (the related quizzes will take you a little longer)
The Hubspot course will help you learn a basic framework for producing goal-oriented content on a consistent basis, and to create (and repurpose) content designed to please both people and search engines. It's a great way to learn or brush up on the fundamentals of content marketing before creating and executing your own strategy.
Even if you're getting into content marketing because you're passionate about words, it's critical to understand how to use the numbers to help you tell a better story. No platform is more widely used to do exactly that than Google Analytics. Most major brands use GA to track how customers are interacting with their content--but content teams don't always know how to interpret the numbers and use them to make strategic changes.
If you want to make use of all of that incredible data, take full advantage of Google Analytics Certificate program. The course is the gateway to learning how to set up analytics on a website, customizing the numbers and information that you're viewing, and staying on top of changes Google is making to the program. The videos and quizzes are super short--and you can come back to where you left off during your last lunch break viewing. For those looking to transition careers, having a GA certification on your content marketing-focused resume is a major win.
Okay, I'm officially obsessed with LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com), which I originally begin using to amp up my skills as an amateur photographer. Now I know it has a lot to teach me about content marketing, too.
The site (and related app) offer thousands of individual videos and full courses focused on every aspect of content marketing, from SEO Keyword Strategies to Marketing on Instagram to Becoming a Thought Leader.
Because I watch these videos and courses on my commute (and can't stream content while underground on the subway) I love that I can download and watch them offline. It's also really nice to see comments and rating from other LinkedIn users which gives me a good sense of whether any individual class or course will be worth my time.
Cost: Starting at $25/month or free with LinkedIn premium memberships
SEO is one of the trickiest aspects of content marketing to master--but doing so is crucial to ensure the content you spend hours and hours perfecting will actually be discoverable by a wide audience.
Udemy offers an easy beginners course (2.5 hours of video, 7 hours of audio), to help you learn how to add valuable keywords, tags, and search engine vocab into your brand's or clients' content. You'll also get a stronger understanding of how to write content with search engines in mind, and check out SEO case studies from the AARP and Southwest Airlines.
Udemy offers plenty of other content marketing courses, which, like LinkedIn Learning, feature ratings and comments to help you hone in on the course that's right for you.
Cost: SEO training is free; most courses starting at $11
Are we missing any other great Content Marketing courses or degree programs? Please let us know on social @mastheadmedia.com.