What is a web content manager?
Are you a good writer and editor? Do you enjoy working with graphics and video? Are you interested in or have proficiency in using digital and web technology? For people interested in career paths that combine these skills, a position as a web content manager is a good one to explore.
Web content managers oversee the planning, organization, creation, and publishing of content for an organization or company website and, sometimes, social media and email. They work with leadership (usually a marketing or communications director) to develop and publish content for their target audiences. Web content managers are typically located in an organization's web team or communications department.
What does a web content manager do?
Web content manager responsibilities can include:
- Developing a content strategy
- Writing blog posts
- Updating web content
- Building an editorial calendar
- Content promotion
- Identifying new content opportunities
- Monitoring and reporting on website traffic
- Holding staff accountable for meeting content deadlines
They may also oversee:
- Website maintenance
- Technical troubleshooting and fixing issues
- Digital marketing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Social media management
- Email marketing and production
It is important to note that — despite the role being identified with the web — web content managers are not web designers or developers. Designers create a website's look and feel. Developers build and configure its structure and functionality. Web content managers create, upload, and organize the content (text, images, multimedia, documents) that populate a website.
Skills and experience
Web content management for most organizations is not an entry-level role. Instead, this position is typically filled by a college graduate with one or two years of experience in marketing, communications, project management, and website management.
In addition to writing and editing, skills required include:
- HTML and CSS
- Graphic software
- Content management systems
- Accessibility and compliance
- Project management
HTML and CSS
Skills in HTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are a basic requirement. Despite software now being common that can make writing and editing code easier, proficiency in hand-coded HTML and CSS will enhance your ability to perform on the job. Mastery of these fundamentals will help you recognize badly written code or fix incorrect code that software often generates. Gaining proficiency in HTML and CSS as the first step towards a career in web content management is highly recommended.
Web content requires working day-to-day with images, logos, charts and graphs, infographics, and other visual media. This work requires skills to resize files, convert from one file type to another, edit and crop images, and sometimes, create your own visuals and graphics. To do this, proficiency in graphics software such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator is a must.
Content management systems
Unlike the early days of the web, most organizations with websites now use a CMS or a content management system. Common CMS platforms include WordPress and Drupal. A CMS allows site administrators to create and edit web pages from a central, online location. It also locks down and separates a website's design from content. This means a web content manager can edit and create content without affecting the site's functionality, design, and navigation. Being the in-house expert on an organization's CMS is a requirement for web content manager jobs.
Accessibility and compliance
Accessibility means making your website and web content accessible to people with disabilities. Because of laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers — particularly government and organizations who do business with government — increasingly require accessibility skills for web content managers. This means learning to recognize when web pages, images, web forms, or uploaded documents are not accessible and being able to fix the problem (by yourself or hiring an accessibility specialist).
Web content managers start their careers coordinating the work of colleagues to produce and submit online content. Later, web content managers may also contribute to technical and design scoping for website builds and redesigns, write RFPs (requests for proposals), and manage the work of web development and design vendors hired to execute web projects. These tasks can give web content managers experience in higher-level skills to advance one's career: technical scoping and writing, formulating and managing budgets, working with stakeholders, coordinating communications up and down an organization, and vendor management.
Salary and career outlook
Web content manager salaries vary depending on years of experience, education, location, and size of the company and industry. In the U.S., web content managers can make around $60,000 to $87,000 on average. The median annual salary for this position is $70,500 ($33.89 per hour), with the top 10% earning $122,000 ($56.85 per hour). The job outlook for web professionals is bright, with employment expected to grow faster than average in the next ten years, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Digital Communications Manager, Results for Development
Full-time digital communications manager for a DC-area nonprofit. Freelance writer on the side. I focus on writing about how nonprofit staff use technology and how accidental techies (people in charge of technology without traditional tech backgrounds) manage technical projects successfully.