First, a content marketing hiring story.
It was April 2017 and I had just joined B2B marketing technology company PathFactory (then called LookBookHQ) as its new Director of Content Marketing. One of my first priorities was to hire someone to report to me as a Content Marketing Manager.
I had hired for this type of role before, so I knew exactly what I was looking for. I wrote and posted a job description, reached out to my network for help recruiting, and started screening candidates over the phone. On every call, I took some time to tell a pared-down version of my story and then asked the candidates to tell me theirs. I posed questions about various aspects of their cover letters or resumes, and asked them why they were interested in this role at this company in particular. Pretty standard stuff.
The topic of compensation was almost always the most uncomfortable part of the conversation, but we had to discuss it before I could advance anyone further in the hiring process. The one saving grace was that candidates always seemed pleasantly surprised by the way I phrased the question. Instead of asking, “What are you making now?” like so many tech recruiters and hiring managers still (unfortunately) do, I asked, “What would you expect to make in this role?”
Their responses absolutely shocked me.
Some candidates said they would be happy with a salary of about $35,000 CAD, while others told me they wouldn’t consider anything less than $100,000 CAD. Most were somewhere in the middle, but some of my top choices for in-person interviews were at the extreme ends of that spectrum. I couldn’t get over the enormous range I had encountered in such a small sample size: only about a dozen candidates or so.
I had a salary range in mind too, but it wasn’t that big. It was a salary range that both my boss and I thought was competitive for the role. It was also quite a bit more money than I had accepted in my first role as the first sole Content Marketing Manager at a similar tech company with a lot more venture capital funding fewer than four years earlier. The role I was hiring for was more junior, reporting to the head of content marketing (me) rather than directly to the VP of Marketing.
So, I was honest with every candidate.
For those who expected to earn a lot more, I was blunt: I told them our salary expectations were not aligned, explained vaguely how much money I had to work with, and asked whether they were still interested in pursuing the role. Some were not and chose to opt out of the process, which was fair enough. They all happened to be men, and they all had either significant editorial experience, a few years of content marketing experience, or an advanced degree — or some combination of the three. (Note: An advanced degree isn’t enough for me to want to interview someone; they had to have studied a related discipline and/or developed writing, editorial, or marketing experience in their extra-curricular activities while attending school.)
For the candidates who had severely undervalued themselves, I asked to meet with them in person. Some I genuinely wanted to interview further; with others, I just wanted to have an honest conversation about compensation. They were all women, and they also all had either significant editorial experience, a few years of content marketing experience, or an advanced degree — or some combination of the three.
That’s why I interviewed them in the first place. They were high-quality candidates. Just like the men.
An incredible amount has already been written about the gender wage gap, so I won’t go into much detail here, but the most recent reports show that women still earn less than men in Canada for a variety of reasons.
Two of these reasons became obvious during my hiring process and the subsequent conversations I’ve had with my fellow content marketers about compensation:
- Most of the women I interviewed devalued themselves during the very first opportunity they had to discuss compensation without even realizing it, sabotaging their earning potential. Meanwhile, most of the men tended to overvalue themselves — some really believed they were worth the higher salary, while others just wanted to test the waters to see what they could get. According to Statistics Canada, “editors” are one of the 20 jobs that have the biggest gender wage gaps in Canada, with women earning 28.5% less than men. Many of the candidates in my pipeline, both men and women, had some variation on the word “editor” in their recent job titles.
- Content marketing, as a career, is relatively new and there isn’t a lot of good data out there about what kind of salary content marketing professionals — specifically those working at venture capital-funded technology companies in Toronto — should make. Vitamin T publishes their Digital Creative and Marketing Salary Guide, but it’s in USD and it’s unclear whether they’ve actually surveyed anyone in Toronto, let alone at VC-funded tech companies. The Creative Group’s Creative & Marketing Salary Guide has Canadian numbers, but it doesn’t provide any specific details about company size, industry, B2B vs. B2C, public vs. private, VC-funded vs. not, etc. These guides are useful, to a point, but otherwise there isn’t a lot of transparency around content marketing salaries at technology companies in Toronto. I noticed that my peers and I didn’t ask each other about our own salaries because, of course, we‘ve been brainwashed to believe that it’s not polite to talk about money.
Then, I started talking about money more often.
As peers and mentees came to me to discuss new career opportunities, I made sure that we talked about money. How much were they making now? How much did they expect to make if they were offered this role? How much more could they reasonably ask for and still be considered for the job?
I told my recent hiring story more and more, encouraging my fellow managers to keep an eye out for this kind of disparity, and coaching them on how to have conversations with those women who should be asking for more.
More companies in Toronto are hiring content marketers than ever before and it’s an extremely competitive market for this unique talent. As recruiters and hiring managers started approaching me on an almost weekly basis to help them find the “perfect” content marketing candidate, I also started asking them — and telling them — about money.
These people valued my opinions, but they still needed something a little more. They wanted some evidence they could bring to the hiring manager to justify their salary expectations, or to their boss to ask for a raise, or to their CFO to increase the salary range, and they obviously couldn’t bring me into those conversations. They needed data.
So I surveyed content marketers working at tech companies in Toronto.
In February 2018, 37 content marketing professionals working for mostly B2B (some B2C) technology product or services companies in the Toronto area completed a lengthy survey about their roles and responsibilities, career ambitions, job satisfaction, and — of course — compensation.
I sent the survey to everyone in my Toronto Content Marketing Leaders Slack, to Ryan Bigge’s Toronto Content Strategy Slack, and to a number of Toronto-based tech content marketers in 1:1 direct messages on LinkedIn. I also published the link multiple times on my personal social media profiles.
Now, 37 may sound like a small, very non-scientific number for a survey like this, but consider this: The reality is there just aren’t that many of us in Toronto (yet) and I wanted to be specific rather than broadly inclusive. I wanted these numbers to be real and meaningful for me, my peers, and the people we hire. And I wanted a baseline for future surveys.
These 37 responses represent the majority of the best content marketers working at technology companies in Toronto in early 2018.
Content marketing salaries in Toronto, overall
- Including salary and bonuses, more than two thirds (70%) of the content marketers I surveyed made between $50,000 and $99,999 CAD.
- About one quarter (23%) earned between $100,000 and $149,999.
- Just 3% made less than $50,000 or more than $150,000, respectively.
- None earned less than $35,000 or more than $200,000.
Content marketing specialist/co-ordinator salaries in Toronto
According to the survey results, junior or entry-level content marketing professionals in Toronto typically make between $50K and just under $75K. A minority of content marketing specialists/co-ordinators earn a little more or less than this.
Content marketing manager salaries in Toronto
While 36% of content marketing managers earn between $50,000 and $74,999, more than two thirds reported earning between $75K and almost $100K. This might seem like a significant variation in compensation for the same role, but with the “manager” and “senior manager” titles it’s important to look a little deeper:
- Do they have to develop the content strategy or just execute it?
- Do they have final approval on all things content?
- Do they manage other employees or just themselves?
- Do they report directly the head of marketing or do they have a more senior content professional as their boss (e.g., a director or senior director of content marketing)?
Senior content marketing manager salaries in Toronto
- 17% earned between $50,000 and $74,999.
- Half made in the $75K to $99,999 range.
- One third were paid between $100K and $149,999.
Director/senior director of content marketing salaries in Toronto
Once you hit the director or senior director level, it’s clear that $100K is the basement in terms of salary and bonuses:
- 14% of directors/senior directors were paid between $75K and $99,999.
- Nearly three quarters (72%) made $100K to $149,999.
- Another 14% were in the $150K to $199,999 range.
Interestingly, it wasn’t the content marketers with the most senior job titles who broke through the $150K threshold — it was those who worked at B2C companies. Everyone else at this level identified their organization either as B2B-only, or serving both business and consumer audiences. (Note: B2C content marketers were an extreme minority among the respondents of the survey, so it’s unclear whether this holds true across the industry or it’s just a trait found in this minority. I hope to find more B2C content marketers to survey next year.)
This is just the beginning of the conversation.
I’m still crunching the numbers and analyzing the data. It’s taken me longer than I originally planned (hey, I’m a content marketer, not a data analyst!), but that’s OK. This is just the beginning of the conversation I want to have with my fellow content marketers and the people who hire us around compensation, career growth, job satisfaction, responsibilities, and more. I plan to publish a series of posts on these topics as well as the full survey data for your scrutiny throughout the fall of 2018.
Is this kind of data helpful? What questions does it raise for you? How can I make it more valuable to you? Please share your thoughts with me — I welcome your feedback!
Here’s how to get in touch with me: