Virtually all businesses today need an online presence, which means that digital content producer roles are growing increasingly common. If you love to write, but also want to be well paid for the work you do, becoming a digital content producer could be a great career path for you. When former newspaper journalist Kirsty Rigg became disillusioned with her journalism career, she went on a literal search for fulfilment, eventually finding it as a digital content producer. Here’s her Ambition Plan story.
Name: Kirsty Rigg
Job title: Creative digital content producer
Years since changing career: 2
TAP: You work as a creative digital content producer for a fitness food company. Can you tell us exactly what your role involves?
KR: I work for Lo-Dough, which is a young company that produces a low-calorie bread and pastry alternative for fitness-conscious people. My job revolves around creating content and looking after search engine optimisation (SEO). This includes handling website content, press and PR, and generally putting the product on the radar of those who will benefit from it.
I briefly worked in the same role for a telecommunications company and discovered that it’s impossible to put your heart into a brand when you’re not behind it. My experience at Lo-Dough has been the opposite. It’s a great product that offers a new approach to healthy eating, and because I passionately believe in what I am marketing, I actually enjoy my job – something that doesn’t always come easily in life.
TAP: But you haven’t always worked in this field. Talk us through your first career as a journalist and how it led you to where you are today
KR: I started off as a trainee reporter for a local paper when I was 18. It was the year of the 2005 general elections, so I got my lucky break interviewing Tony Blair, David Blunkett, Charles Kennedy and others. I became a fully trained news reporter and worked for the various papers including the Surrey Mirror group, before starting to freelance for the national papers. As a young and roving reporter, it was an exciting time. The work was competitive, fast-paced and just what I needed to feed my youthful enthusiasm for life. But this changed drastically in the years that followed.
My idea of journalism was always the exciting, investigative Lois Lane stereotype, but the reality was so different. I began court reporting, covering murder scenes and child suicides, really awful stuff. I felt like I had a front-row seat to the world’s atrocities and I realised that it was a bad fit for my personality. The negativity and despair at the state of the world began to affect my mental health and wellbeing, so I knew I had to get out of journalism and do something more fulfilling.
TAP: After leaving journalism, you spent a few years abroad – something many career changers want to do while they work out what they want from life. How did you make a living while travelling?
KR: This was probably the best time of my life. In 2009 I packed my bags, left my family and friends and took off to Prague in the Czech Republic, where I trained to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL). I was 23 and I remember feeling a huge adrenaline surge when I stepped out of the airport and into this exciting new chapter. I can even tell you what I was wearing, it was one of those strong memories that stay with you forever. I had no idea at the time that I would stay there for half a decade.
I began teaching business English to adults, took on a job in a primary school, and discovered I both loved and was great at working with children (who knew?).
I think teaching filled all the gaps for me too, as I was able to satisfy my love for languages and writing, but in a positive, energetic and rewarding environment. I made a ton of friends in the expat community, learned to speak Czech, met local people and fell in love with a Czech man. It was a great time and hard news was far behind me.
For extra income, I did some freelance writing for Czech publications, but I wrote about topics I liked, rather than breaking news, so it worked out for the best.
Years went by on this adventure, but as I approached 30 I had another life transition. All my friends were getting married and having children, and after almost seven years of living life to the full abroad, for the first time ever I became something I’d never been before: homesick.
In 2016 I finally moved back to Manchester, where I decided I’d try and plant roots and move into a more meaningful career. That’s when I discovered SEO, and digital content production and marketing.
TAP: What advice would you give anyone interested in switching careers to digital content production?
KR: I’ve noticed that a lot of journalists are now moving into digital content production, which makes sense as you need to be a skilled writer to do this job. It’s an escape route for many trained journalists who feel they’re in a dying industry. Everything is going digital, so we must too. I really believe the future for writers lies in content marketing.
Writing skills are essential, but honestly, you have to love your brand. Lo-Dough is an incredible product that is about to explode in the fitness, nutrition and slimming markets, and I’m proud to be a part of it. That passion makes me good at my job. Be genuine about your passion. If you love video games then find a content job about video games. Passion makes up for lack of skills in this way.
TAP: Journalism is notorious for being badly paid. What kind of salary can someone expect to earn as a digital content producer?
KR: It’s 100 percent true that journalists are badly paid because the industry used to be so competitive that employers got away with paying peanuts. Content production and SEO is a much bigger and healthier line of work, so you can expect to be paid about £5k more on average if you switch from traditional journalism to digital content production.
TAP: Can you share three resources for breaking into digital content production
- Learn how to use WordPress and start a blog on something you’re passionate about. Having your own blog makes you a content writer by definition, so use it to show employers examples of your work.
- Learning the basics of SEO will always help. Use Moz for guidance and advice, and apply the tips given to your blog.
- Your network is the ultimate resource. Grow it by networking. Go to marketing events and join groups like Business Network International – contacts are powerful things.
TAP: If you had to share one secret to successfully becoming a digital content producer, what would it be?
KR: Again, love your brand and love your topic. I had a hard time writing about telecommunications because it does nothing for me on a personal level. Fitness and nutrition does, and I now work for a brand that I believe is the best thing since sliced bread (pun intended).
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