A great question came up on Facebook a few days ago: How do I get my “foot in the door” with my first job as a Content Strategist?
Of course, there’s not one magical thing you can do to clinch your dream job. You have to do several things. But before you get overwhelmed, realize that you DON’T have to do them all at once.
The steps I’m going to tell you to take have to do with making you a part of the global community of Content Strategists. Fortunately for all of us, that community is both welcoming and generous in sharing knowledge.
The Things You Have To Do fall into two categories: getting input, and producing output.
Here’s the information you need to be putting into your brain to get you ready for that job.
There are tons of books about Content Strategy. I’m going to focus on the two you need to start with:
- The Web Content Strategist’s Bible: The Complete Guide To A New And Lucrative Career For Writers Of All Kinds by Richard Sheffield. This book is from 2009, so it’s a little dated, but it still provides excellent advice for writers, including very specific instructions about applying Content Strategy to your projects.
- Content Strategy for the Web, 2nd Edition by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach. When I say “they wrote the book on Content Strategy,” I’m talking about Halvorson & Rach, and “the book” is THIS BOOK. You have to read it.
(These are affiliate links, but I really do read and use these books myself.)
If you’re not on Twitter, go ahead and sign up. It’s a great source of information about Content Strategy and User Experience. Don’t worry if it’s weird at first. You just need to follow interesting people. This list by Max Johns is a great place to start (click “Subscribe”).
If you need a little help, check out this Wired article on How to Use Twitter.
Michael J. Metts’ Content & UX Slack is an excellent resource. As with Twitter, there’s no need to worry if it’s unfamiliar at first. You’ll soon get the hang of it!
Slack has a great introduction for new users—check it out!
You’ve heard of Facebook, right? Good. I have 2 groups I want to recommend:
- Content Strategists. This group was created by Amy Thibodeau and it has lots of great info for practicing and aspiring Content Strategists.
- Become a Content Strategist. This is my group, created solely for people making the transition to Content Strategy.
And of course, you should sign up for my FREE email course.
Here’s the thing: you need a blog. After I was hired for my first job as a Sr. Content Strategist at Rackspace Hosting, my boss told me, “I hired you because of your blog. If you didn’t have a website, I wouldn’t have hired you.” Kind of spells it out, doesn’t it?
What to talk about
What should you talk about? You may not realize it, but you have plenty. Here are some articles you could write:
- Book reviews
- Lessons you’ve learned at work
- Lessons you’ve learned in your personal life that apply to work
- Why you’re interested in Content Strategy
- Interesting trends you’ve noticed
Back in 2009, I had a friend design a custom WordPress site for me. Today, you don’t need to do that (unless you want to!). You can set up a site for very little money—and the out-of-the-box templates for these platforms look very professional. Here are the platforms to check out:
- WordPress.com. You can choose a free site, or the Personal plan for $2.99/month.
- Squarespace. These templates are super-professional and easy to set up.
A word about Medium. Medium is a popular blogging platform that makes it easy and free to publish beautiful articles. It’s excellent for discovery, since you can follow people and they can follow you and read your posts.
Medium is a good supplement to your personal site, but in my opinion, it doesn’t take the place of having your own web property. If you only used Medium, you’d be depending on it for your articles to show up in search, and it’s not built for people to contact you (unlike the contact form you’re going to add to your site).
There’s a lot more I could talk about, but this is enough to get you going!
If you’re a Content Strategist, are there any other tips you’d add?