Pybop’s Shelly Bowen on Website Content Strategy

Portait Headshots of Shelly Bowen for PYBOP.

Portait Headshots of Shelly Bowen for PYBOP.Building a great website is about more than coding—it’s also about developing and producing informative, helpful content that fits a client’s brand and needs.

The burgeoning field of content strategy is dedicated to helping businesses define their content needs and build websites that integrate those goals. Ebyline spoke with Shelly Bowen, principal of the San Diego-based content strategy firm Pybop, about her take on this innovative new field.

What’s your definition of content strategy? What does a content strategist do?

Ah, those are big questions! Content strategy is the practice of ensuring that your content aligns with and supports your business goals. At Pybop, we have a 5-step process that is customized to fit the brand, budget, and resources (both people and content) of the client. This includes:

  1. Audit
  2. Analyze
  3. Plan
  4. Execute
  5. Review and Repeat

Here’s an illustration of that process.

The content strategist works with whatever resources are available to ensure the best outcome. In my case, I do a lot of asking and listening, organizing, and rephrasing to make sure I’m able to share the client’s brand story effectively across platforms.

How do you market your services and attract the right clients?

The large majority of my clients are referrals from other clients. But some find Pybop through social media, search, and old-fashioned networking. My approach is not to advertise, but to be as helpful as I can to potential clients and the content strategy community through different channels. I share articles I’ve read or written, I draw pictures, I share stories. In May 2012, I’ll be speaking at Confab, the content strategy conference.

At what point in the web design/development process should a company bring in a content strategist?

As early as possible. Content influences design and development, and design and development influence content creation and. These people all should talk strategy. The content strategist should be familiar with the responsibilities of designers and developers and their process.

How does a content strategist collaborate with developers and designers?

We discuss our individual approach to different aspects of the project, keep each other in the loop, and get ideas from each other. Specifically, after any of us finishes a piece, we’ll share and provide feedback. That way everyone has a chance to discover opportunities early.

What types of writers are good candidates to get into the field of content strategy? What sort of background and skills are most useful?

Freelance writers who have a broad range of experience may do best in content strategy. These are writers who have worked on many types of content — from advertising to whitepapers and everything in-between, who love to collaborate, analyze, troubleshoot, and organize, and feel comfortable presenting recommendations persuasively to different shareholders, including CEOs, marketing managers, and developers. They need to be flexible and change the gameplan on a dime, based on data and the people involved.

It might be helpful for writers to look at this list of content strategy deliverables to see what kinds of work they might be diving into as a content strategist.