The Epic List of Content Strategy Resources

              
     
     

Last updated: September 2, 2014 — revised the content strategy definition, added new resources, fixed broken links (or removed them), and tightened up text throughout.

I’ve collected 200+ of the best content strategy resources all in one place. This makes it easy for people to learn and ramp-up in the field of content strategy.

The people listed below are experts in the field of content strategy — I’m grateful to them for sharing their knowledge. This list of content strategy resources is my love letter to the industry that welcomed me into its halls.

Content Strategy definitionBooksJournalsBlogsArticlesEventsForumsMore lists

A Definition of Content Strategy

What do I mean when I say “content strategy”? Is content strategy the same as content marketing? No, never. Is content strategy just a weak, watered-down form of design or information architecture? No, not at all.

The core components that Brain Traffic considers for every content strategy. © Brain Traffic
The core components that Brain Traffic considers for every content strategy.
Graphic © Brain Traffic

Kristina Halvorson (@Halvorson), founder/CEO of Brain Traffic, states in A List Apart that “Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.

I think the word plans plays a key role in that definition. Planning is an essential skill for content strategists, who often do quite a bit of research within organizations to examine workflow, standards, governance, process design, publishing systems, and several other factors that go into the second part of Kristina’s definition: “…the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.”

But content strategists do more than just plan. That’s why I love Kristina’s distinction between the words useful and usable. A content experience must be both in order to be truly successful. Making content (and content systems) both useful and usable is where content strategy turns to implementation.

Rachel Lovinger (@rlovinger), experience director at Razorfish, adds to this definition in Boxes and Arrows when she states that content strategists use “words and data to create unambiguous content that supports meaningful, interactive experiences.

Note that here she specifically references both language and data, which indicates that we’re talking about “big-C” Content, not just blocks of text. It’s also clear that we’re talking about holistic experiences and how content enables experiences that help people succeed at their goals.

Rachel adds that “content strategy is to copywriting as information architecture is to design,” which helps us dispel the myth that all content strategists care about is text. We care about content as experience, which is why we focus on standards, voice and tone, governance, content inventories and audits, workflows, service design, systems and processes, metadata design, content modeling, delivery channels, and so on.

Remember: useful and usable. This is why content strategists aren’t content marketers. This is why content strategy isn’t the same as (nor anything like) content marketing.

Furthermore, content strategists aren’t just “weak information architects” or “weak designers” as we’re referred to in some communities. Rather, content strategists often take care of the elements of infrastructure and experience that those disciplines tend to shrug off.

Content strategists use language, data, and systems to build better experiences for people than either IAs or designers can working by themselves. Ideally, all three disciplines work together as part of a user experience team that puts the Why before the How.

So yes, we’re designers. Yes, we’re information architects. And yes, we’re builders, too. This is what I mean when I say “content strategy”.

Content Strategy definitionBooksJournalsBlogsArticlesEventsForumsMore lists

Content Strategy Books

There are several other books out there that would be helpful for content strategists, such as Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think, Peter Morville & Lou Rosenfeld’s Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, and Jesse James Garrett’s The Elements of User Experience among many, many others.

This list isn’t meant to (and can’t) be exhaustive. I’ve included the authoritative canon for practicing content strategists along with some newer additions (and editions!). They define the discipline, lay out its scope and modes of practice, and offer standards, tools, and techniques for building success.

Are any books missing? Please let me know on Twitter @jcolman or by sending me a note.

Content Strategy definitionBooksJournalsBlogsArticlesEventsForumsMore lists

Content Strategy Online Magazines and Journals

Many related industries (particularly UX and IA) recognize the value of content strategy and include it as an area of focus. I think that shows how our work overlaps with other disciplines – there’s a lot we can learn from each other. No one need practice alone.

Are any magazines or journals missing? Please let me know on Twitter @jcolman or by sending me a note.

Content Strategy definitionBooksJournalsBlogsArticlesEventsForumsMore lists

Content Strategy Blogs

Yet another incomplete list! I scoured speaking rosters at conferences, followed citations, and looked at the folks organizing Meetup groups to put this together. But as long as this list of content strategy bloggers is, I’m sure there are many more out there.

Are any blogs missing? Please let me know on Twitter @jcolman or by sending me a note.

Content Strategy definitionBooksJournalsBlogsArticlesEventsForumsMore lists

Content Strategy Articles and Blog Posts

Similar to the other sections above, this list is incomplete and there’s no reasonable way to make it complete. I’ve chosen authoritative articles and posts that make up the foundation of how content strategists approach their work, interact with neighboring disciplines, and solve common challenges. And I’ve selected a somewhat diverse set of voices sharing ideas from industries that are not too far removed from content strategy.

Are any articles or blog posts missing? Please let me know on Twitter @jcolman or by sending me a note.

Content Strategy definitionBooksJournalsBlogsArticlesEventsForumsMore lists

Content Strategy Conferences, Events, and Meetups

Are any events missing? Please let me know on Twitter @jcolman or by sending me a note.

Content Strategy definitionBooksJournalsBlogsArticlesEventsForumsMore lists

Content Strategy Online Discussion Forums and Groups

Are any forums, groups, or communities missing? Please let me know on Twitter @jcolman or by sending me a note.

Content Strategy definitionBooksJournalsBlogsArticlesEventsForumsMore lists

Yes, Virginia, There are Even More Content Strategy Resources Out There!

Content Strategy definitionBooksJournalsBlogsArticlesEventsForumsMore lists

What, That’s Still Not Enough for Ya?

Well, after going through over 200+ content strategy resources, you made it all the way to the end. Congratulations!

If you’ve created an influential, valuable content strategy resource that I forgot to mention here, please forgive me — no offense intended. If I accidentally left you and your work out, please just know that the spirit is willing, but the fingers (and clock!) are weak.

Is there anything missing from this epic list of content strategy resources? Please let me know on Twitter @jcolman or by sending me a note.

              
     
     

About Jonathon Colman

Jonathon Colman is a content strategist, keynote speaker, and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. You can follow him on Twitter @jcolman, Facebook, and Google+. Feel free to contact him directly.
This entry was posted in Work and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

106 Responses to The Epic List of Content Strategy Resources

  1. Victor Pan says:

    Hi John,

    I think my browser just crashed after going through 1/4th of this list.

    Jokes aside, I think it’d be a great idea to group and synthesize similar blogs/authors/resources under an umbrella school of thought/summary, instead of letting the readers wander into the jungle of content marketing. Otherwise, I’m not too sure what to make out of this pile of data! (Except for the fact that it’s an impressive list that people would share to boost their ego and most likely not read the important parts in depth!)

    • I completely agree. I’ll need to setup a polyhierarchical taxonomy to get to the solution that you’re after because the individual content strategy articles also touch on IA, UX, editorial policy, publishing systems, and probably a dozen other disciplines. What I’d love to do is organize these resources not just by format/delivery channel (e.g., book, blog, event, etc.), but by subject/topic like you suggest along with intended use/scenario (e.g., these are good for students, these are good for content marketers, these are good for experts, these are the newest, etc.)

      It would certainly be worth the effort, though impossible while I’m in grad school and doing a lot of speaking. But maybe sometime this fall…? :)

  2. thanks for compiling this. Will now steal it to use at work ;) Especially like the graphic at the top.

  3. most. epic. post. ever.

    great, great job.

    #impressed

  4. This is AWESOME! Thanks, Jonathon, for this exhaustive list!

    • Many thanks, Stacey! I got to know you and Suite Seven a little by way of compiling these resources and I really admire your work. Will you be at Intelligent Content this week? It’s practically in your backyard! I’m speaking on Thursday and will keep an eye out for you and Suite Seven folks. :)

  5. Matt A says:

    Knew I liked you for some reason. :)

    Amazing list of resources – thanks for sharing!

  6. Rachel K says:

    This list is full of win. Thanks so much for compiling the list!

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  8. Niki says:

    I feel like I want to kiss the keyboard that your hands are typing on. This list is exhaustive and amazing. No wait, YOU’RE amazing. Thanks muchos!

  9. Hi Jonathon, great resource. I’d like to nominate our blog, which has lots of free content on content marketing: http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/search?query=content+marketing

    Cheers

    Grahama

  10. Géraldine says:

    Priceless information. Well done. Enjoyed reading it.

  11. Just yesterday, I was wishing for exactly this kind of resource – what fantastic timing! Thanks so much for pulling this all together!

  12. James Deer says:

    Wow- what a great list!

    May I add our blog, http://blog.gathercontent.com — we’ve got lots of juicy CS related content :)

    • Thanks, James. Is there an issue with your CSS? All your blog content is loading unstyled for me. Let me know when it’s fixed.

      I’m also thinking about adding a “Tools” section as well.

      • James Deer says:

        Ah, damn— we’re having an issue with our load balancer, so 50% of folks see it un-styled. We’ll have it fixed tomorrow :)

        If you add a tools section, you should also check out the newly launched content-insight.com (great for content audits).

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  14. You just opened up a world to me… No lie, although this is my bread and butter it is hard to tell people what I do. Or why I am so interested in the disciplines that lie outside of copywriting. UX and Interaction design really fascinate me. Not only does content have to inform (and perhaps entertain), but it must also be useable as you say. Or else it will just sit with no one to show it any love except maybe the creators and friends.

    This is a bookmark worthy post and I am sure I will be coming back to it.

  15. hey jonathon,

    nice list.

    1) as far as structure goes, as you already mentioned above, the “ultimate” would be a relational taxonomy / ontology of sorts. that said, simply including a local page navigation (jump links) at the top of the post would be helpful.

    also, the structure you currently have, content type, is fine. if you add the suggested local nav they would work fine as your labels

    2) missing book: search analytics. i authored several chapters with lou rosenfeld. it bridges the gap of how to apply / use a mix a qual & quant analysis techniques with quant data (search queries) to provide answers for your content & experience

    3) missing blog: content analytics. i have a book coming out early next year on ‘digital content analytics” which is interdisciplinary approach and combo of content strategy & measurement (digital analytics). i specialize in measuring the effectiveness of business communication content. half of my presentations aren’t up on my site right now, but my slideshare page has some things of value

    4) as far industry power , scattered people, resources, etc. those are all signs / symptoms of every new / emerging field. what is completely missing at the moment is any type of governing body such as the “digital analytics association” is to analytics. while we get to go off an explore, try and make up new techniques that also implies that we have no currently accepted standards, commonality or rules that state “what is valid and what’s not”.

    i touch on this in the first chapter of my book. imho it’s the leading reason why measuring content is has been so difficult. until now any way

    5) CMS’s – the large ones have always sucked and will continue to suck. Adobe had a shot at the title and to do something great with “CQ” but it just sucks less. in order to best leverage their acquisitions of Omniture & day CMS they maintained the same code-base and created an additional platform layer on top to mange the system. i.e. requires heavy java to change anything. also (i think) because Omniture is page-based subscription the CQ CMS also works and treats content at the page level. i.e. it doesn’t distinguish/ separate content from presentation. best interface though.

    (that was kind of a rant, my bad)

    one enterprise CMS that is pretty well thought out and i have worked directly with them on changes to their system on several occasions is sitecore. imho they are best in their class right now, as far as meeting the needs of what and how businesses need to get done

    • Hey Marko, I wanted to thank you for this great feedback and input. I’ve just added jump links to the page and will start reviewing your other recommendations now. I think that listing CMSs will be out of scope (that’s a post all on its own), but I was thinking that Lou’s book should have been on the list. I’ll dig out my copy and have a look now.

      Many thanks again for sharing all your insights. Cheers!

  16. Great article and equally great comments. Nice job.

  17. As content becomes the main focus of our business and “old school” link building starts to take a back seat this resource is absolutely invaluable. I have shared it with my content development team. Thank you Jonnathon!

  18. Andre Van Kets says:

    Hey Jon

    I think you’ve just redefined the word EPIC. Once again, a stellar and thorough post on a topic we all care so much about. Great job.

    My humble, first attempt at summarizing Content Strategy for beginners – with 10 take away points – has just been put into perspective :)

    http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2012/11/28/content-strategy

  19. Henry says:

    I am an SEO Copywriter and have recently been tasked with reporting the success of my copy. Coming from a traditional writing background, I have found this to be quite the challenge and there are not a whole lot of online resources about how to measure the impact of success for SEO copy. I was wondering if you had any insights to share? Perhaps that can turn into a blog post in the future? So far, I have thought of the following:

    Keyword rankings for target keywords before and after publication
    Social signals such as shares, retweets
    Page bounce rate
    time spent on page
    traffic sources
    number of page visitors
    Whether links in the page are clicked to other areas of the site

    Those are the basics that I have been able to identify but I was curious if anyone had any thoughts on these and any other possible indicators?

    • I.S says:

      Hi Henry!

      I’ve been experiencing the same problem within my team. We know that we have to establish metrics but we’re not sure exactly how and if they will actually show the worth of our work. Especially when SEO metrics are more quantitative then qualitative.

      I think most of the items on your list are solid but the question is what and why are you measuruing? What are the objectives and targets and are these relevant to the content that you’re producing? Are you producing content for linkbuilding and can you track the sucess of that content?

      I know I’m just adding to your list of questions but I think this is where we need to start to work out metrics that gives our clients and us a fair representation of what we have achived.

  20. Ann Priestley says:

    How about a database? Separate pages at least. For me, it’s not really usable as it stands, epic or no.

  21. Helen says:

    What an impressive List! I think I found my sunday read.

    Thank you for your work on this epic compilation.

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  24. Pam says:

    I’d love to add Relly’s book to my growing collection (A Practical Guide to Creating Web Content), but on the 5 Simple Steps website, it appears to be unavailable. Do you know where else I can find it?

    Thanks!

    Pam

  25. Jonathon Colman –

    Thanks for your resource compendium –

    You’ve not missed anything big. Its just that ‘content strategy’ is lots of little things not one big thing.

    Depending upon where you sit in the creative development industry surrounding, ‘content strategy’ means something different – more a way of thinking than it is a job title. That arrangement may retard community development.

    Look for folks not only in technology, interactive design and development – but also in graphic design, advertising and other strategic creative disciplines. There are lots of “content strategists” who are really great that just don’t know to call it that.

    You are probably right about the more isolationist tendencies of planners and UX and brand thinky creative people. There are pockets of self-promotion to be sure, but these folks tend to be more fundamentally introverted personalities. Good people are also very busy and may not have time to network and build and contribute to community.

    Thanks again –

    CL

  26. Becky says:

    Jonathon – great list! It would be great to see a section on case studies too. I’m struggling to find many online at the moment, but so far have found these:

    http://www.dopedata.com/2011/08/04/energy-gov-a-content-strategy-case-study/
    http://www.businessesgrow.com/2012/08/28/case-study-medical-practice-increases-revenue-conversions-through-content-strategy/

    If you have any extras you can share that would be great! Thanks!

  27. Megan H says:

    As a newbie to content marketing I especially found the list of articles helpful. I didn’t have ti sift through other blogs to find information that appealed to me. One website lead me to another and another. I spent the entire day taking notes (up to 5 pages now). Really appreciate your time spent on this and have starred it for future reference.

  28. Jon:
    This is so excellent and I will study it and follow-up with you on this. I want to be one of the BEST content strategists on the web, and so this means a lot to me. See: griffgraff.squarespace.com
    All my best,
    Rob Griffin

  29. Monique Dietvorst says:

    You are missing Sarah O’Keefe’s book Content Strategy 101. It’s a goodie.

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  33. Michael says:

    I really like that you recommend Kriss Mausser´s article about personas and content marketing. Content marketing focusses on human beings and not on search engines. That is a fantastic trend!

  34. Conrad says:

    Great job bringing all that together. If I may make a recommendation: cut it in half, then cut it in half again. 200 is just too much.

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  37. Marco B says:

    Hi Jonathon,
    I’m inquiring, do you really follow all links you listed? If so how many time do you spend every day to do it? Anyway good job.

    • Ha, much as I’d like to, I can’t read these all of folks all the time. So I depend on a variety of filters — RSS reader, social media, word-of-mouth, etc. — in order to see what I should read to stay educated and part of the current conversation.

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  40. Ahoj Jonathon,
    I’ve been looking for resources on the business of content management to answer questions like:
    Where is the money in Content Management? Who hires for this service?
    Can I work as an independent contractor or are CMs always employees?
    Who are the best people to network with? Web designer? Marketing Managers?
    Thanks for any help!
    Nathan

  41. Greg Shuey says:

    HOLY RESOURCE! This is super impressive, thank you for taking the time to put it all together! Definitely a resource that can be shared with my team.

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  43. RosieWillyums says:

    Holy awesome resources! I will refer to this again and again. Nice work.

  44. Tilla Torrens says:

    Jonathon – I was just starting to put together my own list as I’m new to content strategy, focusing on the global content management and strategy for a sales portal, and this list is positively AWESOME. Thank you!

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  48. OMFG What a find! Thank you, Jonathan.

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  60. Spook SEO says:

    Hey Jonathon thanks for sharing your resources. Can’t wait ot go through these later tonight. Cheers.

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  62. Hi Jonathan! What. A. Post. I got nearly aheart attack. Love the infogram about the four parts of content strategy! As for the list, I’ll start with Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think” and then I’ll lock at the blogs. Whew! The are so so many in the list,. I think because social media marketing is all about the people, you can link a plethora of subjects to it… Hence the vast library of links.

    I personally also enjoy Thought Economics which is a blog about anthropological studies. Thank you so very very very much! :)

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  64. TheRogueSkolar says:

    Many thanks for putting these resources in a central location like this. I am familiar with some of these resources, others not so much. Really fantastic! You’ve outdone yourself with this great resource. I know what my reading will be comprised of over the following months. Bookmarked and shared !!! :-]

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  66. Noman Ali says:

    WHat you have done, ohhh LORD you made a post of the millennium (Y)

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  68. Trevor Klein says:

    How had I not seen this before? What a fantastic list — thanks so much for the resource, Jon. Do you have any plans to keep this evergreen and update once every long while?

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  71. Thanks for this – much appreciated!

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  76. Massive effort and pretty dam thorough CM compendium Jonathan! Only a minor gripe to offer. When I search Google for “How to Build a Content Marketing System” I usually see one of my websites, articles or social profiles (slideshare) show up so I’m wondering what metrics you used in your epic article? Strong work man!

    • Many thanks, Neil. The thing is, this list of resources is about Content Strategy, not Content Marketing. That’s why I try to define the term back at the top of the post. I’m mostly talking about content strategy from the perspective of systems, design, user experience, information architecture, voice and tone, on-site search, and content management… so you won’t find any content marketing resources in this list at all.

      Sorry to disappoint! The good news is that there are still plenty of other content marketing round-ups out there. And I’m sure some of them include your work. :)

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  86. Thank you for the overwhelming amount of help Jonathon! LOL I have been looking to find an online editorial calendar. Magazine companies have editorial calendars. Why couldn’t we have an editorial calendar for bloggers? What do you think?

    I’ve seen several editorial calendars specifically for internal use of organizing and keeping up on what content you’ve posted and scheduled. However, I haven’t found anything that plans content for all of us on the web so we can follow some sort of order for our niche market.

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  90. Kerry Lacy says:

    This post is absolutely amazing Jonathon. As someone who just started referring to themself as a content strategist (but have been doing the job without realising it for about 15 years!) I found your list of books and articles really helpful to gain quick insights from experts in this discipline. Thank you!

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