Despite the fact that content strategy has been around for many years, content strategist positions have recently become a highly sought after job as the phrase ‘content strategy’ continues to garner buzz across industries.
Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, what’s content strategy? The Content Strategy Consortium defines content strategy as “the practice of planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.” So, as a content strategist, you’d likely have some hand in the organization’s online messaging and branding, information architecture, editorial strategy and writing, search engine optimization, metadata strategy, content management and channel distribution strategies.
Does this sound like something you’d love? If so, let’s keep going.
Based on a panel between Margot Bloomstein, author of Content Strategy at Work and founder of Appropriate, Inc.; Georgy Cohen, Associate Creative Director, content strategy at OHO Interactive and co-founder of Meet Content LLC; and Niketa Patel, Managing Director of Rebel Media Lab; there were 4 recurring themes that would help anyone seeking to become a content strategist.
1. You must love (and be good at) problem solving. Content strategy’s purpose is to solve a business problem. Depending on the needs of an organization and the business goals they have, your role as a content strategist will look differently. Margot regularly solves business problems through style, tone, and different content types, and Georgy explained the importance of asking the right questions and acting like a journalist so you can fully grasp the business problems at hand.
2. You need to be able to synthesize information and create order out of chaos. You may not be the one writing daily public-facing content, however, there’s certainly a lot you’ll need to write. Once you determine how content strategy can be used to solve a business problem, Georgy explained how it’s up to you to synthesize the information and convey it to your team as well as your clients. Some common content strategy deliverables include a message map, editorial strategy, style guide, workflow diagrams and much more. All of these require a strong writing ability to convey the proper strategy.
3. You’ve got to have an open mind and be hungry for new challenges. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to land your dream job right away, so you’ll need to be open to other positions. Margot’s advice is to take a position at an agency and learn from those who have been in the industry for a while. You should work with several clients from different industries so you can see how content strategy differs depending on the business problems at hand. After you have quite a bit of varied work under your belt, perhaps you may be interested in consulting. If that’s the case, make sure you’re well networked as Georgy mentioned that it’s likely the only way you’ll earn work once you first get started.
4. You’ve got to network and reach out to those within the industry. People are very well networked within content strategy. This means you need to be as well. Fortunately, people within the industry are incredibly friendly and most are happy to give advice and point you in the right direction. Niketa explained that she got to where she was today through her network. Her biggest advice to someone seeking a position in content strategy is to be open to meeting new people and to be the person at the table with the ideas. You won’t make it very far within the industry being a wallflower.
These are by no means a fool-proof or full list of how you could become a content strategist, but these 4 tips are certainly a good start. Now it’s up to you to take the first step.
Are you a content strategist? What advice would you give to someone seeking a position in content strategy?