Getting Started With Content Strategy

So, you've decided to dip your toes into the content strategy waters. Welcome! Let's walk you through some basics.

What exactly is content strategy?

That depends on who you ask. You'll get a different answer from most everyone you talk to. But because I'm the group manager here, I'll take a first crack, borrowing heavily from Richard Rumelt's take on business strategy generally. Content strategy uses content to strengthen an organization's position in the marketplace, by aligning the people who create an organization's content with the people who consume it (through policy and procedure).

A more commonly cited definition comes from Kristina Halverson, who has since evolved her writing on the subject: "Content strategy means getting the right content, to the right people, in the right place, at the right time."

Rather than try to fine-tune this definition to death (which happens regularly in every content strategy group in the world), I recommend you just start reading. Cue the following question...

Where can I learn more about content strategy theory, best practices, tools, and {insert additional thing here}?

There's a ton of information out there. One great place to start is our own Content + UX Resource Library (full disclosure: Jess gets a small credit if you sign up for AirTable using this wasn't set up this way; it's just how AirTable works).

Two other great and massive resources are Jonathan Coleman's aptly named Epic List of Content Strategy Resources, and Brain Traffic's Content Strategy Reading List.

That oughta keep you pretty busy.

What kind of background or experience do I need to work in the field?

You'll find a huge variety of backgrounds and skill sets in this field. It's common to meet folks with backgrounds in journalism, editorial and publishing, and marketing and communications. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Because content strategy deals with the organization of information, content strategists tend to be system thinkers, with a proclivity for details, spreadsheets and, of course, language.

Where can I find content strategy jobs?

You can start with the #jobs channel in this Slack group. Also check out the listings in the groups mentioned below.

What other content strategy groups exist?

There are also content strategy meetups in lots of cities around the world; check local listings for one near you, then go meet some new people.

How can I start doing content strategy in my current job?

This is often the first and easiest step for folks who want to get into the field. A few tips:

  • Start by understanding your team or organization's existing content. This means doing an inventory and auditing it for things like quality and performance.
  • Get to know how people in your organization produce content. Talking to people about their work and understanding their processes, priorities, and pain points will help you: 1) make allies, and 2) identify things you might be able to improve.
  • Learn about your organization's core business goals, and think about how your content serves those purposes (or doesn't, but could).
  • Go for small wins. Start by talking about this stuff with people. Then document your efforts. Then introduce small, easy-to-implement ideas to improve your organization's content quality, production processes, or content infrastructure. With each small success, communicate it across your organization, particularly to leadership. You'll slowly build buy-in and gain support for bigger efforts.
  • Be patient. Because content strategy impacts people and processes, it often requires organizational change. This can take time. So be patient and celebrate your small wins as you go. You'll get there.

Anything else I should know?

Make friends. This is a growing field, but it's close-knit. We love to help each other, to support each other, and to see each other succeed. Don't be afraid to ask questions, and don't be afraid to pay it forward when you can. We're happy to have you!