To answer these questions, I reached out to the stellar editors I work with at Skyword and asked them to describe their journey to me. Here are their responses:
“Although I am genuinely thankful for this industry, content marketing wasn’t my original intention, nor did I know what it meant. Like many student writers/journalists/content people, I interned at a newspaper before graduation, at which point any job would’ve been fine. I ended up freelancing for a ‘custom publishing’ agency and then again at another one two years later. Only the second time did I actually understand what I was doing, and with respect to current contributors, this is still a legitimate challenge within the space.
Nonetheless, the appeal of Skyword was half recognizing the term ‘content marketing’ and half ‘this is an open position.’ But within the first couple of weeks, the company dropped knowledge bomb after knowledge bomb about what it is I was doing the whole time on a contract basis. Today, I have yet to find a reason to leave.”
Braden is a copy editor at Skyword.
“I first got involved in brand journalism about two years ago on a part-time freelance basis. A friend (and former Skyword colleague) needed freelance editors for one of her clients. I was a full-time editor for an educational publisher at the time and could only work freelance on nights and weekends. But I agreed to help because I thought, ‘Why not give it a try?’ The health and beauty blog I edited was a nice change of pace from higher-ed science and history—and the extra paycheck was nice, too. I worked on that blog for nine months.
Then that same friend asked me to join the Skyword team. I thought hard about making the switch. I enjoyed brand journalism, but would I like it eight hours a day, five days a week? Would the blog posts retain my interest? I was used to editing long, involved academic writing and barreling through piles of research. Brand journalism is a different world.
After consulting a few people in the field, I decided to take the plunge. The opportunity to work with a variety of clients in a variety of industries—such as travel and health care—and lots of talented writers pulled me in. I soon found myself loving the collaboration, ideation, and constant stream of new challenges. And I’ve been steeped in brand journalism ever since!”
Julia is a copy editor at Skyword.
“For me, entering brand journalism wasn’t a conscious choice. Before and during graduate school, I worked in educational publishing—my goal was always to switch to trade publishing and edit fiction. But along with my courses in Book Editing, Book Publicity, and the Editor/Writer Relationship (among others), I also took Online Writing and Editing and Web Programming for Electronic Publishing. When I graduated, I knew three things: I wanted to edit, I wanted to make decent money, and I did not want to live in New York. My unwillingness to move pretty much shattered those trade-publishing dreams, since such opportunities in Boston are limited.
My friend was hiring remote freelancers for an Internet marketing company, and the skills I gained in those Web-based courses (plus special projects in educational publishing, like coordinating my department’s transition to electronic proofreading) made me a shoo-in. I worked with her for a few months, doing keyword research and rewriting metadata to help clients’ websites become best buddies with Google. I went back to educational publishing a job or two later, but found I missed marketing—and I realized the pay wasn’t as good. So, I accepted a position on the marketing editorial team of a prominent flash-sale fashion retailer. That was my last job before Skyword.
Fashion wasn’t my passion, but editing the retailer’s blog gave me experience in creating and editing content to meet brand goals. What bothered me was the blatantly salesy nature—the blog content provided value, but I also edited and proofread push notifications, banner ads, and terms and conditions statements. The appeal of Skyword, and brand journalism in general, was that I could focus on content and the benefits it offers readers, not whether ‘shop now’ was spelled correctly on 20 different marketing assets.
This is where my career led me based on the perimeters I gave it. I have never looked back, had any doubts, or questioned the integrity of brand journalism. I channel my love for books through writing and the occasional freelance editing project, and I’m happy that I’m able to edit, provide value, and pay the bills.”
Jess is an editorial manager at Skyword.
Though everyone’s path is bound to be different, it is interesting to hear other people’s stories about how they got involved with content editing for brand journalism—and why. If you are interested in making the switch and writing for top brands, join Skyword’s pool of contributing writers.