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Are You A Content Provider, Or A Content Strategist?


As you delve into the world of content, there are phrases and terms that seem synonymous. While the terms intersect, the incremental changes in their definitions change the relationship between writer and client in a manner that can augment the writer’s income. Consider the terms content provider and content strategist.

To understand the nuance between the provider and the strategist, we begin with their definitions. A provider from the individual aspect is a person that writes and edits content for publishing. A content strategist is a person that plans for “content creation, delivery, and governance.”

As a writer, you are primarily concerned with the meaning and readability of the content. Writers develop informational, educational or entertainment messaging. A strategist provides the framework for the information, ensuring the content is delivered in a manner that has high impact and yields an efficient return on investment.

Are you a content provider or a content strategist? Mashable writer Frank Marquardt offers advice on strategy that you can translate into a set of guiding questions.

1. Do You Know Your Client's Voice? 

Understanding the brand you're writing for keep the message's style and type consistent. Brands market to their target audience by maintaining a level of integrity to their voice. If you are looking to win clients, start with a true understanding of their brand and how they have amassed any audience they already have.

2. Are You Considering Content Timing?

Content strategists consider the message and its calendar relevance. Studying trends in the client's market or industry, tracking holidays and seasons, and mapping these characteristics over a content calendar will keep your writing effective. If your client is based in the UK you will want to consider bank holidays. If their industry is IT, ignoring unique opportunities to market content, like National Cybersecurity Awareness month could be a major mistake. 

3. Does Your Content Answer the Audience's Questions?

Writing for your readers should be a standard. However, as Brian Solis points out customer engagement and relations is not as common as it should be for content providers. If you are a strategist, you are looking at your content from the perspective of those affected by the messages.

Beyond these fundamental questions, a content provider builds strategies for their clients through a variety of methods:

  • Content analysis (metadata, taxonomy, SEO)
  • Web editorial strategies
  • Information Architecture

These are very different approaches to evaluating content, which is why a content strategist must have a variety of skills. Rachel Lovinger sums the typology of a content strategist as one who:

  1. Has a deep passion and respect for content
  2. Understands what makes content relevant and can edit the work to remove any deadweight
  3. Is familiar with content management systems and databases
  4. Analyzes with a logical and methodical approach
  5. Has superior communication skills using a variety of media

The role of a content strategist is relatively new in the industry. However, using a solid marketing framework to build and plan a content strategy and calendar that highlights client content and optimizes it for the web is a value add that make a content provider a tool any brand can't live without. Ask yourself, "am I a content provider or a content strategist?" The answer may boost your self-awareness and your bottom line.


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