Are You a Content Strategist?

There are days on my projects when I feel cold and alone and prone to the pressures of external forces. Also I'm bottom-heavy.

There are days on my projects when I feel cold and alone and prone to the pressures of external forces. Also I’m bottom-heavy.

Like most people, I didn’t know I was a content strategist until someone told me. That doesn’t happen to me often in life; usually I’m the first to define who I am and what I think I stand for. (I mean unless you count my homecoming queen mom insisting “you’re a girl” when I first donned combat boots in 9th grade or how my sister relentlessly tells me I’m a Republican.) But this time, being told felt good. A bit like finally receiving a diagnosis for a disease that somehow I alone–out of everyone at my company–contracted.

I remember the first time I went to Confab, after 2 years of everyone in the office looking at me like I had 3 heads. Everything made sense. And there was lots of cake.

“Ah! I’m among my people. I’m not crazy. I’m not wrong.” Phrases like these replayed in my head as I moved to from session to session, walked the halls and lamented with the other 3-headed people I met over awesome snacks. Back home, high-pressure months on top of months created cracks and callouses in/on my soul, cracks in the foundation of what I thought was right, callouses of self doubt surrounding my abilities.

No, I’m not a web developer. I’m not a UX designer or an information architect (I don’t think they’re separate, which is probably why I have a website with my resume on it). I’m not a writer, or “webmaster,” editor, graphic designer, negotiator, snake charmer, project manager or change management specialist. I am not a single one of those things, because I am actually all of those things. That’s what a content strategist is.

In this blog, I want to capture my current journey before it’s all in the past. I plan to do it openly and honestly, so I might need you to hire me by the end of this year (though I will change names to protect the living).

Mostly, if you’re here and reading this and are fighting the good fight in your work, I want you to know you are not alone (my time at NAMI taught me well). You are not alone and you are not crazy. No matter how they look at you, no matter how many people turn on you, end-run you, undermine you. You are doing good work, in fact the best kind of work. You, and quite possibly only you, are putting your company first by putting your users first. And from what I can tell so far, that takes a certain personality and ambition level and perhaps a bit of suspending disbelief. Just never forget you have a rare gift. And if your company is keeping it real, and smart enough to see what you’re really trying to do, they have a rare gift, too.