The Content Strategist’s Bible by Richard Sheffield (review)

Learning content management and strategy is one of my many self-directed learning goals. At 210 pages (2657 locations on the Kindle), The Content Strategist’s Bible by Richard Sheffield is a quick and useful read for anyone who want to get a job in the content management field (like me!).

After spending some time explaining the processes and ideas behind web content strategy and exploring the career path, Sheffield moves directly to the task at hand: how to actually do the job.

Since the job of content strategist is closely linked to that of a web developer, the phases are more or less the same. However, the book concentrates on what the content strategist has to do:

  • Discover
  • Analyze
  • Design
  • Build
  • Maintain

This is a pretty clear picture of what kind of work being a content strategist entails.

He also ads a few useful chapters about dealing with translation, SEO, web content management systems and finding a job in the field.

Good things: the book is highly practical and doesn’t spend much time talking about research or theory. I especially appreciated the SEO section where Sheffield gives clear and no-nonsense (i.e., free of marketingese) instructions on how to optimize a web site. It gave me an action plan that’s more practical than anything I have read in Audience, Relevance and Search. If you are lost with all the theoretical SEO stuff out there, the book is a must if only for this chapter.

Less good things: If you come to this book with the right frame of mind (you want a practical book to show you how to do the job, not throw numbers and research at you about the job), you shouldn’t have any problems with the book. What it lacks in theory (which is easily accessible through a slew of other books, ebooks and blogs out there anyway) it compensates in tips, templates and an on-the-ground impression of what it really is to be a content strategist.

After reading this book, I’m pretty sure I could be awesome at that kind of job (wink, wink!). As he says in the book,

What any company mainly wants when looking to hire a content strategist is:

  • A decent writer and editor (check)
  • Someone who understands how to plan and implement a project (check)
  • Someone who really wants to do this kind of work (check)
  • Someone who understands the bare basics of how the Web works technically (check)

The rest is all gravy.

The book is expensive-ish on paper but the Kindle version is definitely more affordable. Highly recommended for those who want to explore this new career option!

The Content Strategist’s Bible
Richard Sheffield
Createspace, 2009
21o pages.


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