Web world, just you wait!
October 6, 2011 7:13 PM Subscribe
How do I become a content strategist? How do I self-train? What do I need to know? How do I find clients, or better yet, an employer?
My professional background includes more than a decade of writing and editing for book publishers and academic presses. I've also studied foreign languages, linguistics, rhetoric. So I know a lot about text, but thus far I've been applying this knowledge to the products of a swiftly shrinking industry. I need to flip careers. FAST.
Naturally, tech beckons.
And caveats emerge. For example, I have barely any samples from all my time in publishing. In the beginning, this was because publishers gave tests, or had me perform sample work directly on their materials. After I got good at it, however, people quit asking. So good references, but few samples. Also, no interest in blogging or tweeting, the modern method of getting noticed. (Is this going to hurt me?) No interest in programming either, and I don't know Visio or Photoshop. (Is this going to hurt me?) And, finally, no money to go to strategy conferences, or to school for professional training.
Still, I soldier on. This is what I've done to make myself more appealing:
- I've joined a local usability group and recently participated in an hour-long critique of a website in need of updating. That was extremely useful--and interesting; I'm good at things like usability analysis!--but they only meet monthly, so it will be a while yet before their next rendez-vous.
- I've joined content strategy meet-ups in the city closest to mine, but they will not be convening for a while yet, either.
- I have considered approaching two or three very small businesses and offering to write/edit their webpages for free, assuming that's kosher. (Whaddya think? I'm talking about companies so small they would never dream of hiring anyone to do it for them.)
- I've done extensive online reading about content strategy: Its journalistic ethos, its brevity, etc. and the main tenets are no different than they were in book publishing, so I don't think it would be hard for me to master this part at all.
Now for my questions:
1. Just how much experience (counted in months?, years?, projects?) do I need before hanging out a freelance shingle?
2. Am I missing any skills, critical or otherwise?
3. Where can I find samples of content strategy resumes?
4. How do I learn enough Web terminology to sound professional? (Does this matter?)
5. What's the breakdown in responsibilities between content strategists and copywriters? Is it only larger companies that employ both? And am I correct in thinking that copywriters are more responsible for page hits, etc., than content strategists?
6. Where can I find jobs? I see no listings in any conventional source (craigslist.com, indeed.com. I've tried looking on twitterjobs, etc. but have only ever happened upon placement service ads, asking for five years experience.)
7. And if I am offered a job, how much does one typically charge for this work?
8. What other steps should I take?
9. Is there ONE must-have reference book for the field?
10. Finally, I'm correct in thinking this is a major growth specialty, right?