So I was reading educational advice over at Brain Traffic from content strategists responding to a query from a student wanting to work in content strategy. And my comment kept getting longer and longer until it dawned on me I needed to just write a blog post and link to it.
My philosophy is that content strategy is a transdisciplinary field (see the variety of people practicing it who used to be marketers or information architects, journalists or library scientists). As a novice to content strategy who already has a degree and experience in writing, my personal development plan has a stronger bent toward practice than formal schooling. More working on sites than talking pontificating about the Web (fun as that is). Here’s my current approach to learning more about and practicing content strategy:
- I’m cobbling together my own training regimen, including reading relevant SlideShares, blogs and articles/books on content strategy, UX and IA, and completing CSS/Photoshop tutorials through Lynda.com. End result: I balance out my overdeveloped writing background with more software/Web savvy, i.e. the technical nuts and bolts)
- Since I happen to work for an insitution of higher ed, I am taking classes in the only program grad-level program I find relevant (a post-bacc certificate in multimedia writing and technical communication). I get to take classes online in visual communication and technical comms, respectively. Watch this space for my portfolio, which I actually get class credit to do! In the future I will consider more comprehensive programs, like those listed by Karen McGrane, of Bond Art Science. End result: Some reflective discussions, papers and eventual piece of paper.
- I’m carving out content strategy-type chunks for web site redesign and creation at work and getting involved in more aspects than I normally would. Job description is mostly editing at end of process. In practice there’s other gaps that can be massaged to attack content more thoroughly and strategically: doing content inventory with clients, navigation development, usability testing. End result: more hands-on learning in a collaborative workplace with actors from different disciplines.
- I’m getting a sense of the types of job descriptions and sectors where content strategists work by reading through their About Me pages, LinkedIn bios and current company’s sites. When people have enumerated their positions, responsibilities and accomplishments, I view them as potential road maps. Like, “here’s a template I can work off of; let me see what opportunities I can find to get me from here to there.” Rahel Bailie lists her last few positions, none of which were called “content strategist.”
I’ve taken the advice to joing the Google group and the mailing list mentioned by Jeffrey MacIntyre and Kristina Halvorson. And I guess I can add blogging to this list. It’s a way to hash out ideas and connect with other like-minded people
So what are people’s thoughts on formal education versus on-the-job training as it applies to content strategy? Comment here if you like or back at the original post.