What is a headless CMS?

5 minutes
December 14, 2021

What is a headless CMS?

There's been a lot of buzz in the content marketing world recently about headless CMS. But what is it? And how is it different from today's CMS? Also, why?

In this fast guide, we're going to cover the basics of headless CMS and how it can benefit your content marketing efforts. If you're looking to modernize your content marketing, save time, and embrace omnichannel approaches, then this guide will get you up to speed on the latest in this sector. 

What is a headless CMS?

Headless CMS is an "update" to traditional CMS systems. We'll explore the differences below, but the gist is that headless CMS allows you to deliver content to multiple channels simultaneously. 

For example, say you wrote an article and wanted to push it to your website, your LinkedIn blog, and Medium. But you also want to share it on your social media channels and email newsletter. And if you have an app, it might be good to send out a push notification there, too. 

As most traditional CMS options center around publishing to your website, you're going to have to do a lot of this posting, updating, sharing, and notifying manually. Uploading an article to your blog isn't the last step of content creation –– it's the first. 

Headless CMS turns this on its head by building your content in a way that it can be delivered across your channels with one button push. 

Headless CMS vs Traditional CMS

The typical traditional CMS process involves creating a piece of content, typically a blog post, adding it to your CMS, and clicking "Publish". This publishes it to your website, and then it's up to you to share and copy it across your other media channels (Twitter, Medium, LinkedIn, email, etc.). 

Traditional CMS was great in the earlier days of the internet, but it's not great at keeping up with today's needs. That's where headless CMS comes in. It allows you to create your content in a more structured, "chunked" way. You put each piece of the content and its metadata into fields, which takes a little longer than writing and clicking "Publish". 

Once you do publish it, however, it's able to be shared across all of your channels at once. That's because you've specified the title, description, content, images, hashtags, keywords, taglines, etc., ahead of time. Your website and assorted channels can then pull the components of this content (titles and hashtags for Twitter, descriptions, and samples for emails, etc.) and send them out instantly. 

The benefits of headless CMS

Flexibility and scalability 

The primary benefit of headless CMS is its flexibility. By dividing your content into chunks rather than leaving it as a wall of text, standalone video, or a lengthy podcast, you allow it to be easily tailored to whichever channel it's being shared on. 

A true multi-channel approach

Another key benefit of headless CMS is that it replaces the one-size-fits-all nature of traditional CMS. A blog post isn't just hard to share on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok –– it's impossible without just sharing a link. Headless CMS allows you to craft content in such a way that it can be molded to fit on any of these platforms. 


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