Content in disarray? Website a mess? Call the content strategist.
It’s the content strategist's job to make sure the content they create — whether for a website or across media channels — has a strategic purpose. Content should be designed and organized to help users do what they need to do while also meeting business objectives.
“Effective content strategists ensure that the content they're creating is discoverable, actionable and helps users achieve their goals,” says Carl Chatfield, an instructor in the UW Certificate in Storytelling & Content Strategy.
WHAT DO CONTENT STRATEGISTS DO?
On a day-to-day basis content strategists perform a wide variety of tasks that vary depending upon the project or team. Content strategists pore over market and user research. They perform content audits and analyze the competition. They consult with stakeholders to determine project goals. They consider technical questions related to taxonomy and content management systems. They plan for content production and maintenance, and they get knee-deep in SEO.
After content is posted, content strategists rely on various ways to measure its effectiveness, including web analytics, social media metrics and user feedback. If the strategy isn’t working, they re-strategize and try again.
Content strategists typically have strong communication and organizational skills, a data-driven mindset and a readiness to collaborate. They also have one other essential quality: a relentless commitment to the user.
“We’re embedded in an area where the end goal is user adoption and productivity,” Chatfield says. “In order to succeed at that, we have to remain highly focused on a users’ needs.”
DEMAND ON THE RISE FOR CONTENT STRATEGISTS
Common Job Titles
Content Strategist, Digital Content Strategist, Web Content Strategist, Content Strategy Manager
U.S. (2020-30): 7%
Washington state (2018-28): 56%
Median Annual salary
U.S. (2020): $78,200
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET
The content strategist role is only about a decade old, and there’s a reason why it coincided with the proliferation of all kinds of content online.
“Any user-facing content is a business asset,” Chatfield says. Because of this, organizations of all kinds have put an increasing priority on content strategy.
According to Lightcast, a job market analytics company, listings for content strategists are expected to increase nationally by more than 7% through 2030, and by 56% in Washington state, as many of Seattle’s tech-based companies increasingly look to bring on content strategists. In the Seattle area, companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Salesforce, Indeed and Expedia recently posted positions for content strategists.
GETTING STARTED IN CONTENT STRATEGY
Because content strategists use a lot of different skills, there is no single career path to content strategy. Many content strategists have backgrounds in marketing and communications, others have data analysis experience, and still others come from technical and UX writing, like Chatfield himself.
Those interested in specific training in content strategy may want to consider the UW Certificate in Storytelling & Content Strategy. In this eight-month program, students learn the vocabulary of content strategy and study the fundamentals of content design, storytelling and strategic analysis. Because content strategy is a collaborative enterprise, they also work in teams to build a comprehensive strategy for a real-world client.
“This certificate is a great way for students to learn how to create successful user-centered, data-driven content strategies," says Chatfield.
PROGRAMS AT THE UW
Besides the Certificate in Storytelling & Content Strategy, the UW also offers several related courses, certificates and degrees.