Welcome to the world of content marketing, new person. Here you will find the shiniest videos, the twinkliest words and the sparkliest people. Here, you will also find coffee fuelled tantrums, wine weary late nights and inspiration barren heads being bashed against their keyboards. But fear not, because almost half of all businesses increased their content marketing staff levels in 2016, so you’re not alone in being new to all this.

Search any popular digital marketing blog and you’re bound to find advice for content newbies. Everyone’s already told you not to copy and paste, and how important it is to be relevant to your audience, but what do you really need to know? Here are 7 crucial tips for a newcomer to content marketing that will really give you the inside track.

You’re writing for people, not search engines

As much as your content marketing efforts may have an element of SEO about them, remember that you aren’t writing to appease the bots. If you write for robots, you’ll only get robots viewing your content.

Human readers are so much more valuable than just search engines. Human readers can do cool stuff, like sharing your content with their friends, and adding links to your content from their own blogs and websites. Backlinks are valued as one of the four most important ranking factors, according to industry research, so instead of stuffing your content with keywords, focus on developing awesome, relevant, sharable content that real people will love to read.

A diverse approach is better than putting all your eggs in one basket

What does content marketing mean to you? A blog? Infographics? Video content? Well, actually, a good content marketing strategy will make use of all available channels in order to reach the maximum number of people.

Developing content for multiple channels doesn’t have to mean exponential addition of effort. In fact, one amazing piece of content could serve to fulfil all sorts of mediums, if you use repurposing effectively. Imagine you’ve written an outstanding blog post on, say, 7 things a content newbie needs to know. Could you repurpose that into an infographic, expand it into a white paper, condense it into a Facebook post…? One for all and all for one!

You do need to document your content strategy

Only around a third of content marketers say they work from a documented marketing strategy, and yet it has been proven, time and again, that there are multiple benefits to be gained from developing a strategy for your activities. From focussed brand messaging to ensuring you’re targeting the right audiences, get your strategic hat on before you start developing any content for your company.

You should be measuring your successes (and failures)

Content marketing is one of the harder forms of marketing to measure. Unlike email marketing, for instance, where you can define your success by clicks, opens and other interactions, content creation can sometimes feel a bit like the ugly sister at the ball, with very little in the way of defining features.

There’s no silver bullet here; in fact, 71 per cent of organisations say that measuring the ROI of their content marketing is one of their biggest challenges. However, if you’ve taken the time to develop a strategy (see point 3), you’ll already know what success looks like. Determine what your KPI’s for content marketing are going to be, and keep measuring to ensure you’re staying on track.

Take the time to learn from the best

Who pops up on your Facebook feed most often? Which brands do you feel are winning at content marketing? Who, in your industry, has the most interactions day to day? Find these winners and drill down into what they’re doing that works, so that you can learn from their experience.

Love them or hate them, Buzzfeed are one of the biggest brands to really run with the whole content marketing thing. They’ve taught us the importance of great headlines (not clickbait), how list articles can really work (listicles? Maybe.) and how newsjacking is a solid strategy for tonnes of valuable interaction. They invest in great images to accompany their articles, and make it super easy for you to share their content too. Lots of lessons here, so learn them and apply them to your own content strategyDon’t try to do everything yourself

Are you an awesome wordsmith? Great; well you’re already in a winning position for content marketing. But even if you’re not, that doesn’t mean you can’t be an outstanding content marketer too.

Whether you like to write and create yourself or don’t feel you really have the talent, working alone is never a good strategy. Share the load by bringing in freelance writers, able to create professional, insightful content in a jiffy. Enlist industry leaders and influencers to guest blog for you, or offer to guest blog on their sites too. Collaborate with other people in your business who have the skills you don’t, such as image creation, social media integration and coding. Remember, there is no I in TEAM.

Don’t be afraid to swim against the tide

If you’re reliant on repurposing other people’s content for your own blog, site or social channels, all you’re going to be doing is boring your readers and risking a lawsuit somewhere down the line. Don’t just do what everyone else is doing; learn from them by all means, but find your own path through the content jungle.

We’re reaching critical mass of content. There’s so much being posted online, you couldn’t read it all if you lived for 100 lifetimes. 41 per cent of people feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content on the internet right now, and if you’re trying to compete with trusted authority sites for your place in the rankings, you can expect to languish on page 10+ for many years to come. Forge your own style, your own topics, your own niche. Be different, and create content which is truly out of the ordinary if you want to stand out from the crowd.

Coming into content marketing as a newbie at this late stage is no bad thing. You’ve got decades of research, information and experience from which to learn your craft. You’re actually in a really powerful position to go out there and do it right from the start, so take heed of our advice, and go be a content king!