Your Content Strategy Reading List for 2016

January 27, 2016

If you're thinking about improving your website, you should be thinking about content strategy. Simply put, content strategy means getting purposeful about your content and creating habits that support its ongoing success.

Typically, however, content strategy is not a solo endeavor. You may need to both persuade and inform others in understanding and adapting a content strategy approach to managing their website. This is easier said than done, though our best practices guide on making the case for content strategy provides a great primer on how to tackle this.

One of the greatest assets you have in this effort is education. To that end, here are some of the most informative and accessible resources we've seen that help people understand the ins and outs of content strategy.

Blogs

Gather Content: In addition to running a great service that helps structure and guide content creation for website authors, the fine folks across the pond at Gather Content also publish an extraordinarily helpful blog. Including posts from their own sharp staff as well as guest posts from experts across a range of industries, this blog contains invaluable insights on topics such as pair writing, user stories, and writing more effective "about" pages. This past holiday season, they published a Content Strategy Advent Calendar, featuring short videos by top professionals in the field on a variety of content strategy hot topics.

Moz: This stalwart of the SEO scene has much to offer across multiple aspects of digital marketing and publishing. The Whiteboard Friday videos, in particular, convey critical concepts in a lighthearted yet informative manner.

24 Ways: Speaking of advent calendars, every December this blog publishes 24 days' worth of advice from leading web pros on relevant topics in web design and development. Nerds across the globe look forward to each day's reveal, which this past holiday season included posts on topics ranging from customer service to web security to accessibility.

Content Strategy Inc.: This content strategy consultancy's blog is really geared toward the content strategy neophyte, sharing a variety of how-tos, case studies, and process breakdowns.

Books

Nicely Said: Writing for the Web With Style and Purpose. This book by Kate Kiefer Lee, communications director for MailChimp, and Nicole Fenton, content project director for the 18F digital services agency, is not your grandfather's web writing how-to. You'll learn from two skilled and experienced writers about how to craft meaningful content that both reflects your brand personality and adheres to the conventions that digital content requires in order to thrive.

The Content Strategy Toolkit: Meghan Casey of Brain Traffic, the firm whose founder Kristina Halvorson evangelized content strategy through her foundational book "Content Strategy for the Web," compiles an invaluable assortment of tools, exercises, and templates to give your content strategy a kickstart. What makes the book even more clutch is the code that gives you access to dozens of templates and guides available for free (yes, free) download. If your budget is tight, this book is worth every penny you pay and so many more.

Content Strategy at Work: Branding and content strategist Margot Bloomstein shows how content strategy comes to life through a series of case studies. Written in a light, whimsical tone, find the fun in the fundamentals of content strategy by seeing how it is applied at small organizations and Fortune 500 companies alike.

The Elements of Content Strategy: In this slim, must-have tome from the A Book Apart library, author Erin Kissane breaks down the ins and outs of content strategy in a remarkably clear and accessible way. It's like a manual you can stuff in your website's glove compartment and pull out time and time again.

Content Everywhere and Content Strategy for Mobile: These books, authored respectively by content strategists Sara Wachter-Boettcher and Karen McGrane, will give you a solid foundation in planning structured, reusable content that can succeed in an unpredictable digital landscape.

Other Resources

VoiceAndTone.com: MailChimp publishes their content style guide, which serves as an industry standard example. Showcasing how to write across a range of contexts through descriptive examples, learn how to balance brand, end user emotions and motivations, and business goals in your content.

StyleGuides.io: A handy dandy selection of style guides, covering content, visual design, and front-end web development. Learn how some of the most cutting-edge companies out there get it done.

Content Strategy LinkedIn group: Got a question? Ask a content strategist. This group is populated by experts and newbies alike, serving as a friendly forum for general questions, more specific inquiries, and a healthy dose of real talk.

What resources have you found helpful in educating colleagues about content strategy?

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