What is a strategy?
It took me four semesters to actually wrap my head around what a (content) strategy is. Now I know, it is simply a plan. A path that is paved for your content to reach the goals that you want it to reach.
Content stratgy looks at content from the angles of content design (editorial & experience) as well as systems design (structure & process). What helped me understand it, is Brain Traffic’s Content Strategy Quad.
Know the organization you're working with
Speaking of goals. If you don’t know where you want to go you will have to walk a lot of extra miles. To avoid that, get a detailed insight into your organization’s goals and pain points. That will also help you to derive suitable methods for creating the right strategy.
Listen to your target group
Oftentimes companies are focused on themselves a little too much. That is a problem since they probably don’t want to sell their products or services to themselves but rather someone from the “outside world”. That’s why it’s important to shift their focus and make them listen to their target groups.
Many organizations have not realized that content is an asset and therefore don’t treat it as such or maintain it well. Be prepared for chaos and get ready to clean up. Declutter their websites, declutter their processes, declutter everything you can (it’s fun!). Bring order into the content mess and enforce sustainable change.
You don't have to be an expert on every topic
It is simply not possible to know it all, and that’s fine. The important thing is to be aware of what you can and what you can’t do. Ask for help if you need it and keep in touch with your network. For me, my fellow students are the perfect start. They are not only lovely people, but they are all experts in their fields. I know I can reach out to them to get their opinions on content problems (and on life 🙂).
It takes time, it is annoying, but what I do have to admit: it is helpful to think back and reflect on tasks, projects, or interactions. What worked well? What would you do differently next time? Reflections are useful for yourself and even more useful if they are shared with your team. They foster open communication and create an environment in which you don’t have to hide mistakes but learn from them. Another way to reflect on what you’ve learned and share it with others is a portfolio, just like the one you’re currently reading.
Working full time, doing volunteer work and next to that starting a masters degree: that’s a lot. More than ever I am aware now, that it is important to take breaks and give your brain time to unwind (or you could quit your job). If you want to know how to balance work, life and studies, my colleague Marie Theres shares insights with you in her article.
You got this
You’re doing just fine, so put aside your impostor syndrome. One of the most important things my studies made me realize: many roads lead to Rome and many roads lead to the right content strategy. Most of the time there is not only one right approach to a problem. The important thing is to know where you want to go and then take it step by step, adjust if necessary, and keep going.