Web Content Strategy may be one of the best writing/editing jobs out there. I’ve done everything from technical writing, to book authoring, to freelance writing and, so far, Web Content Strategy offers the best mix of creativity, autonomy, and a fun team environment that I’ve found in any job.
In the context of a large Web site development project, Web Content Strategy is a repeatable system that defines the entire editorial content development process, from very early tasks such as analyzing and classifying readers to the very last tasks, such as planning for the ongoing content maintenance after the project launches.
It is the Web content strategist’s job is to:
Make sure that every individual piece of content on the proposed site is recorded, accounted for, assigned, and tracked
Assign a specific person (not a department) for creation, editing, copy approval, translation, translation approval, legal approval, meta data definition, electronic storage and retrieval, periodic review, etc. for each content item
Write site content and edit content submitted by others
Track the ongoing progress of each task
Create, and get approval for, contingency plans for major content milestones
Train and supervise the content staff and possibly create an editorial style guide for the Web if none exists
Work with the technical leads to represent the end users when creating Web Content Management Systems, templates, and automated workflows
Most Web content strategists work for creative, Web site design and development studios. Here work is done by the project so each project team is like a small company, working independently from all the other project teams. So you really feel that you have a say in how things get done and you get the credit for doing a good job. You get the stability of a larger company, and lots of great social interaction with team members, without being completely independent and working alone in your house all day.
So who can be a Web content strategist? I’ve seen writers with proven backgrounds in technical writing, PR writing, copywriting, corporate communications, journalism, and book editing all be very successful in this field. If you are a proven, smart, well-organized writer, with an interest in the Web, you have a good shot at a career in Web content strategy.
Monster.com, Career Builder, and Dice.com all list web content strategy jobs as do many local web sites devoted to tech writing, interactive marketing, and Web development. A good first step in towards getting a job in the field is to re-label work you may have already done and listed in your resume. If you have written Web content, and helped the client figure out what needed to be written, or helped plan the writing project, then you have already done some content strategy work! Change, or add these items to your resume and you already have one foot in the door. A second good tactic is to look for work as a contractor. Most companies would rather work with you on a contract basis before hiring you anyway, so work with a local technical contract placement company to get your resume out for contract only positions.
The outlook for web content strategy work is good and growing as web sites get larger and contain more content. Salaries and hourly rates are also good. I know web content strategists with a few year experience who are making six figures! Remember, this field is not yet ten years old, so no one has all that much experience. Many companies are just now figuring out they want to standardize how they do content strategy so this is a great time to get started!
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