It’s a simple question with a not-so-simple answer:

What aspect of content creation do you find most challenging?

In theory, you’d expect people to pick the thing they are least good at in the content creation process. 

Turns out, that’s not necessarily the case. 

We polled dozens of marketing professionals across many disciplines, and the results were clear—albeit interesting, and worth dissecting. 

Let’s discuss, starting with the results of our poll. 

And the hardest aspect of content creation is …

Graphic designers, videographers and website developers everywhere: Take a bow. 

Because the work you do has been selected as the most challenging aspect of content creation. 

In answer to the question, “Which aspect of content creation do you find most challenging?,” here is how our audience voted:

  • Design/visuals: 29%
  • Distribution/promotion: 27%
  • Writing/editing: 24%
  • Content ideation: 20%

What I find interesting about this breakdown

1. There are no real outliers. 

It’s a tight race, with there being only a 9% difference between the “most” and “least” challenging aspects of content creation. 

Every aspect of content creation has unique challenges, and these results seem to overwhelmingly support that.

2. “Designs/visuals” (29%) and “Distribution/promotion” (27%) take the top spots.

Design and distribution are resource-intensive functions that almost always require technology—and skilled command of that tech. 

Have you ever tried making an animated video without editing software? Or an infographic without graphic design software? Have you ever tried sending an email blast without email automation tools? What about doing all of these things without knowing how to use those tools?

By contrast, anyone can technically write, in the same way that anyone can come up with content ideas. There’s no hard barrier to entry for these content-creation activities. Of course, that which is accessible is not necessarily easy, and it would be a mistake to assume otherwise. More simply put, a Google doc and a brain does not a great writer/ideator make.

There is also a cost factor here. 

Many respondents were department heads and business owners who may instinctively put price tags on challenges, and videography, development and design tend to cost more than copy. In this case, cost-accessibility is, in fact, an indicator of what is perceived as “easiest.”

Finally, and intriguingly, multiple art directors, graphic designers and other visual professionals flagged design and visuals as the hardest element of content creation. Ostensibly, the very thing that they are best at is the thing they find most challenging. 

Likewise, a good number of marketing strategists said content distribution is the greatest challenge (and it is admittedly what I would have picked).

By contrast, not a single person with “writer” or “editor” flagged writing as the greatest challenge. 

Are writers just more confident? Lord knows they have to sound the part. Or maybe designers and content distributors are acutely aware that they need skill and experience, as well as technology and resources, to do their jobs effectively.

3. The elephant in the room: AI.

AI is fundamentally changing what we define as “easy.” 

It took me 30 seconds to make the image of this elephant in a room full of kitchen china.

What’s my point? It’s plausible that generative AI tools have fundamentally changed what content marketers perceive as a content-creation “challenge.”

Hindsight is 20/20, and I wish we’d run this survey in a pre-Chat GPT world.

We have a chance to atone; we should run this survey again in another couple of years, and see how people feel. 

Of course, we’ve made our views on AI very clear elsewhere on our blog. Great marketing content is not easier to create now than it was two years ago. The reason? Everyone has access to generative AI, but not everyone knows how to do great things with it. 

Like I said: Accessibility does not always equal simplicity, and that is very much the case with generative AI and content creation. 

A closing thought

This is neither the first nor the last survey we’ve conducted. 

If you’d like to read more insights based on polls of marketers, you can check them out here

Otherwise, I’ll leave you with this parting image of a content ideator, content writer, graphic designer and social media marketer engaged in a 4-way wrestling match: