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Confessions of a content marketer

Content + SEO / 8.15.23 / By Emma Alexander

At DS+CO, I work on our own marketing for the agency. With my team of brilliant and witty colleagues, we create content for Provoke—our blog and email newsletter you’re reading right now. As the senior content strategist, I’m typically the one finalizing the topics and building a strategy around our content that’s geared toward marketing executives.

So when I sat down and told myself it was time for a new piece to add to our “Confessions of a …” series, I said no.

Nope. No way. Not happening. I like sarcasm too much, so this probably won’t end well. Then again, I am overly passionate about the evolution of content marketing, so let’s give it a go.

Confession #1:

I gave in. I convinced myself to do it because it was the right thing to do. Content marketing and strategy can be a point of confusion for clients, so I know there’s a need. I sometimes see content being produced and distributed without a content strategy in place first.

What channels are you showing up on? Which ones are you NOT showing up on? Why? And when? And how does it all connect back to your larger marketing and business goals?

Plus, writing this is going to be therapeutic. I’m definitely using this platform for my own mental health gains.

Confession #2:

It’s not just clients who can be confused by content marketing. Content marketers are confused, too. But it’s not the work that’s confusing—that’s the fun part. It’s being able to tell you what we do in one sentence. And it’s not actually you, it’s my mom. She doesn’t get it, but I’ll still try to tell her when she asks every few months.

Confession #3:

When brainstorming this blog, I asked myself if we should actually do it in video format instead. You know, since consumers now prefer video over any other content type. I said that’s more of a “phase two” thing.

Confession #4:

One of my content marketing pet peeves is when a brand publishes a blog (or any piece of content) and shares or promotes it only once. There’s a better way, my friend.

Confession #5:

The main thing I’m thinking about while writing this piece is how many confessions I should have. Five is pretty low, and I know have more confessions than that. Seven or eight is good—those numbers look great at the beginning of a headline. It can’t be nine because I’d have a breakdown wondering why it’s not 10. Like, you couldn’t think of just one more? But 10 is boring. And with so much content being published every day, I can’t afford to be boring. So what’s the right number? The answer is simple: however many are needed to provide value to the reader.

Confession #6:

I hate to say it, but as a content strategist, it needs to be said: It might not be “thought leadership” your brand is looking for. But don’t worry, we’ve got a whole thing about that.

Confession #7:

I’m overly passionate about content marketing because, like I said, it’s evolving. And it’s finally being noticed and taken seriously by marketing leaders. It’s a magnificent mix of creativity and strategy that keeps me on my toes.

Confession #8:

It’s a maddening mix of creativity and strategy that keeps me on edge. Watching Instagram reels making fun of marketers late at night helps a lot, though.

Confession #9:

Speaking of Instagram, social media really is a content marketer's best friend. It was once seen as more of a nice-to-have tactic, but today it’s grown into a strategic and necessary part of your brand's content marketing.

Confession #10:

I grapple with what someone might mean when they ask for "high-quality content." What does “quality” mean to you? It’s subjective, isn’t it?

Sure, we have standards as our foundation for quality, as any brand should: accurate information, formatting for readability, grammatically correct copy.

Then again, the McDonald’s Instagram account often writes “u” instead of “you” and there’s almost never any punctuation. And I thoroughly enjoy this content. It’s high quality—because it works.

Confession #11:

When I stopped trying to make the platform work for my content and started making content that works for the platform, I saw some pretty amazing results. And I had more fun doing it.

It’s a bumpy road to admitting you can’t just post the same creative or caption across channels. I wanted to believe that could work—that my content was so good, I just needed to share it everywhere. But audiences and algorithms don’t care, and with the amount of content created every day, I learned the right move is to think platform first and my content second.

Yeah, 11 seems good. Sometimes we have to remember that just because there are formulas for headlines or frameworks for how to write a blog, that doesn’t mean we have to use them.

People are inundated with status-quo content. Take a step back, ask yourself if you would read, watch or listen to what you just created. If not, make the decision to shake things up.

If you’re overly passionate about this, too, email me at and tell me your confession.


Emma Alexander

Emma Alexander is DS+CO’s content manager and email strategist.