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Calling all Creatives

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Every so often, I’ll hear someone disparage the wisdom of majoring in English or history. “What a useless degree,” they’ll exclaim. Better, I guess, to major in engineering or accounting, both of which – I agree – are fine choices for future employment.

The disparaging of English and history is quickly followed by what’s wrongly believed to be a truism about the job market: “an English or history degree won’t get you hired.”

In other words, these graduates simply don’t have any marketable skills.

But I disagree wholeheartedly. These are the two most writing-intensive majors. I believe if you can write well, you have a marketable skill – one that is becoming ever rarer and more valuable.

As Jay Acunzo said in a recent post, we are facing a content talent crunch: there’s simply not enough content marketing talent to go around. The comment I found most interesting in his post was this: the second most requested type of talent he receives from startups – behind software engineers? Yep. Content, and specifically, writers.

This mirrors closely my own experience. People are coming to me and other writer friends for help writing their blog, ebooks, white papers, infographics, scripts, and social media posts. They’re less interested in public relations – or at least, traditional PR. Content is the new PR.

But really, the shift is more than that. Many of my clients can write. They often don’t have the time. Many are also looking for creative talent, the kind that can elevate their content to new heights. It’s not enough to be prolific anymore; businesses need content that grabs and holds people’s attention. In fact, 63% of content marketers say the biggest challenge is creating quality engaging content, according to the Content Council’s latest State of Content Marketing research.

Surprisingly, this is not as common a skill as you might think. We’ve been trained over the years to think that writing is a commodity, a belief that has valued writers accordingly. But businesses and their marketers are beginning to realize that captivating an audience for more than an Internet moment takes real creative talent and skill.

In the recent New York Times Magazine article, “The Creative Apocalypse that Wasn’t,” Steven Johnson points out: “People will still pay for creative works.” In fact, there are more opportunities for creative revenue than ever before, as writers, musicians, artists, and designers mix commercial projects with artistic endeavors.

In 2013, the Content Council put the size of the content marketing industry at $44 billion. If this is still true – and there’s a good chance it might be bigger today – then demand is outstripping supply.

I may not have an accounting degree, but I understand the dynamics of supply and demand. More demand in a market of limited supply translates to higher prices.

So as it turns out, this is a great time to be a writer. And those heading into college to major in English and history? Smart move.

Image via Pixabay: skeeze.

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