Enjoy the UK content salary survey report 2021, as conducted by Senior Content Manager for GoCardless, Andy Tweddle.
Table of Contents
Knowing your worth as a content specialist
Content roles have, for a while now, been core functions in marketing and communication teams. For example, 91% of worldwide organisations use content marketing, but there are still massive variations of job title (more on that in the report) and the expectations of those job titles from company to company. Combined with the lack of reliable salary data available to UK content marketers makes it almost impossible to know how much they deserved to be paid for their work.
To start addressing this problem, we conducted the first UK content salary survey, specifically focussed on in-house and freelance content specialists based in the UK. We felt that while there are great salary surveys being conducted in the US and elsewhere, cost of living differences make it difficult to fully compare.
We also wanted to understand salary discrepancies, including by gender, ethnicity and location. The UK community is diverse in many different ways, but there are still a number of troubling pay gaps.
Jump straight to the results.
How we conducted the UK content salary survey
- 76 people filled out the survey between the 15th December 2020 and 9th January 2021.
- The survey was open to both in-house and freelance content specialists
- We asked respondents about their ethnicity, but for the purpose of analysing the results compared white vs’ minority ethnic. There simply weren’t enough answers to break it down any further.
- We asked for gender and included an option for people to self identify. However, all respondents selected male or female, so results were analysed using those two options.
- One respondent had a salary over £100,000 higher than the next highest salary, and to avoid skewing the results dramatically, we removed this data point from the overall results.
- 69.3% of respondents are female. 30.7% are male.
- 85.3% of respondents are white. 14.7% are minority ethnic, including Asian or British Asian, Mixed, Arab, and African
- 59.5% of respondents are based in Greater London. 9.5% are based in Yorkshire and the Humber, 9.5% in the South East of England, and 21.5% are based in other locations in the UK.
- 27% of respondents are freelancers or contractors. 71.6% are salaried employees.
The UK content salary survey results
The average salary of all respondents is £42,830.
For salaried employees (in-hour and agency), the average salary is £40,150, while for freelancers and contractors, it’s £50,968.
If you break salaries down by number of years’ experience, those with 0-3 years’ content experience earn an average of £34,620. For those with 4-7 years’, it jumps up to £43,721, while those with 8+ years’ experience can expect to earn £50,219
Looking at gender, we can see that the average man working in content can expect to earn an average of £45,884, whereas women can only expect to earn £41,512. This means there is a content gender pay gap of 9.6%. This is smaller than the UK average gender pay gap (15.5%), but still shows more needs to be done to find parity.
Equally, there are differences between what white content specialists earn (£43,169) and what minority ethnic content (£40,416) specialists earn. The UK ethnicity pay gap 2.3%, while the UK content ethnicity pay gap is unfortunately higher, as 7.4%.
The biggest surprise from the survey was the comparison between those living in London and those living elsewhere. Accepted wisdom is that working in London pays better to account for the higher cost of living, but our survey showed the average Londoner working in content earns £42,356, while those outside of London earn £43,548.
We can speculate on why this may be. It could be a reflection of more remote-based roles in the wake of COVID-19, or it could be that roles based outside of London are beginning to pay better. Either way, it was a surprising find in the data.
We also asked salaried employees of their ‘seniority’ within their business. We got ‘associate’, ‘midweight/senior’ and ‘Head of/Director’ responses to get a picture of what those at similar levels can expect.
Associates can expect to earn £31,234. Midweight/senior content specialists earn an average of £40,105. Heads of/Directors see a sharp increase, with an average salary of £65,833.
We also asked freelancers/contractors for their day rate and typical rate for a 1000-word blog post. Freelancers will charge an average day rate of £426.75 and charge £352.50 for a 1000-word post.
What else did we find out from the UK content salary survey?
There is almost no conformity in job titles
Among our 76 responses, there were 56 different job titles. On the positive side, it shows the variety of roles on offer, and the different niches content specialists have made for themselves. On the other hand, it makes it extra difficult for UK content people to benchmark their title against similar roles.
UK content roles have been (fairly) resistant to COVID-19 turmoil
According to the survey, 79.2% of salaried content roles were not furloughed at any point, while 15.1% were furloughed but are now back to work. 5.7% are still furloughed. Plus, in the last 12 months, almost 60% of content specialists (salaried and freelance) have seen their salary increased, while only 4% saw their earnings decrease.
The majority of UK content specialists believe they’re paid fairly
We asked each respondent if they felt they were paid fairly. 59.5% said they felt they were paid fairly, while 16.2% said they didn’t now. 24.3% said they weren’t paid fairly. But without reliable data how can one be sure. Hopefully this salary survey will give content specialists more confidence in their worth.
What can you do to get a fairer salary?
Gather multiple data points to better know your worth
This salary survey is just one source of salary data. You can also find other surveys (most of which are US focussed), Glassdoor salary benchmarks, and advertised salaries on open job roles. The problem is none of these provide a complete answer. You need to use all of these for a complete picture of how much you deserve to earn.
If you’re feeling brave, the best salary data you can gather is that of teammates in similar roles.
Advocate for better salary practices
Ask your employer if and how they benchmark their salaries. How often do they carry out benchmarking? And is the benchmarking internal and external (i.e. comparing salaries to similar roles inside the company and other companies)? This is a good way to understand if your employer pays comparable salaries to other roles you are likely qualified for. If your employer doesn’t benchmark salaries, challenge them to start.
Prepare for that dreaded question
If you’re interviewing for a new job or negotiating a higher salary at your current company, make sure you know how to answer the question, “What are your salary expectations?” Prepare your answer ahead of time, give a single figure (a salary range is an invitation for the employer to choose the lower end), and be prepared to explain your answer. If you don’t feel a little bit uncomfortable saying your preferred salary, you’re probably asking for too little.