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“Content strategy is to copywriting as information architecture is to design.”

“Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.”

In the web industry, anything that conveys meaningful information to humans is called “content.”

Every website has content. Companies with three-page websites probably only need a writer. But those with hundreds or thousands of pieces of online content need someone who can stand back and figure out what all that content should communicate. They also need someone to decide how best to communicate it, who should make it, and so on—a sort of combination editor-in-chief and air traffic controller. They need a content strategist.

In the last few years, the value of content strategy has been articulated in dozens of blog posts, articles, and books, but it’s quite simple and worth repeating. Done well, content strategy:

And this is only the beginning. Our discipline is in its infancy, and we’ve had only the tiniest peek at the internet’s full impact on the way we live and do business. Content strategy is rising because organizations all over the world have begun to realize that they desperately need it to handle their rapidly expanding online communications. Unless the planet gets hit by a comet, this trend is unlikely to reverse.

What’s in this book

This book is not an argument for the importance of content strategy. Neither is it a tutorial, a workbook, or a gallery of deliverables. It will not show you how to turn your BA in English into a $100,000 salary in ten easy steps. And it is emphatically not an exhaustive compendium of everything we know about content work. Instead it collects our discipline’s core principles, competencies, and practices for easy reference, divided into three sections:

You might think of these pieces as a (very) brief handbook, an introduction to a panel of potential mentors, and the key to the supply cabinet. Begin wherever you wish and end where you please. In the back of the book are additional examples and resources. When you’re done here, please join the raucous online content conversation, if you haven’t already.

When I get stuck on a project or intimidated by a blank page, there are a handful of books I reach for to remind myself what my options are: what else to try, what criteria I should use to judge my work, and how I might think differently about the obstacles ahead. If this book can be such a reference for some of you, I’ll consider it a great success.