Content Writer or Content Strategist?

Female content strategist organizing Post-it® notes on an idea board

No doubt about it, content is the beating heart of many company’s marketing efforts.

In fact, SEMrush did a survey of marketers and found that 94% of them were investing in content … so basically everyone.

Whatever industry you want to work in, whatever dream client you’re hoping to land, there’s a good chance — 15 to 1 — that they use content. That means if you enjoy writing content, the world is your oyster. There’s a never-ending need for the service you offer.

But there is a way you can you make what you do stand out from other content writers while delivering more value to your clients and helping them get a better result.

Become a Content Marketing Strategist.

Help Your Client Understand Their Audience

When you work as a strategist, you’ll do more than write great content. You’ll help your client figure out who their audience is.

A lot of businesses have some notion of their audience, but many of them think about their audience as people who could benefit from their product. That’s not enough to connect with the audience on a deeper level.

When you’re a strategist, one of the first things you’ll do is help your client get a very good feel for who a typical member of their audience is.

You’ll talk to your client about who their buyer is in terms of demographics — things like age, income level, and education level.

But you’ll also research what values and beliefs the audience has … what problems they have that your client can help them solve and how they talk about those problems … and what it will mean to them if those problems are resolved, both in their professional life and their personal life.

You’ll investigate what the audience likes to read and watch, what kinds of stories resonate with them, even their political and religious leanings.

You’ll take everything you learn and distill it into a character summary for your client. Then whenever anyone at the company writes something that prospects will read, they can picture the person they’re writing to.

Figure Out What Content the Audience Wants

Another role you’ll take on as a Content Marketing Strategist is helping your client plan out the topics they need to cover.

You’ll review questions that customers have asked.

You’ll brainstorm the information that new prospects need to know if they’re going to become customers.

You’ll think about the obstacles or resistance points potential customers might have.

Then using what you come up with, you’ll put together a list of topics — including possible headlines — that your client needs to cover so that their prospects can find all the information necessary to make an informed buying decision.

Design Content Journeys

Most companies have an ongoing need for content. But most of them don’t create their content strategically.

They create one-off articles that stand alone. And they create them without giving much thought to how their audience will find them or what they will read next.

They also don’t give much thought to how they might use the content they create in different ways. They may post it to their website but overlook how they could use it on social media or as part of email campaign.

They often miss opportunities to repurpose the content they create to reach a broader audience. For example, a well-written content piece could provide the material for creating an infographic, a slide show, a video series, and a podcast.

And many companies don’t take the time to plan series of content that creates an educational or inspirational journey for their readers.

With a content journey, each time a reader finishes one content piece, you offer them the next. The pieces come to them in a logical order that deepens their understanding each step of the way.

By the end of the content journey, readers will see the value in the product or service your client offers and making a purchase will be a natural next step.

Yes, You Still Get to Write Content … If You Want To

Becoming a strategist doesn't mean you’ll stop writing content.

After creating a documented content marketing strategy for your client that includes who they are writing to, what they need to create, and the order it should be delivered in, it’s only natural that they would hire you to write the content you’ve suggested.

By starting with the strategy, though, you’ll accomplish a number of things.

  • You’ll set your client up for success. Companies that use a documented content marketing strategy see a greater Return on Investment than those that don’t.
  • You’ll get to see how well you work with the client while providing a high degree of value. The content strategy can be something you offer as an initial project. If at the end, you don’t feel the relationship is a good fit, they still have everything they need to create strategic content working with other writers.
  • You’ll position yourself for retainer arrangements. If you and a client are a good fit, you may find yourself writing two to six content pieces for them each month as part of an ongoing relationship.
  • You’ll add value to what you do, and to your bottom line. You can charge between $2,500 and $5,000 for creating a content strategy — and that doesn’t include writing the content.

Becoming a Content Marketing Strategist will elevate your content services. Your clients will enjoy better results, and you’ll move from the role of writer into valued partner. If you enjoy writing content, it’s worth considering adding this service to your offerings.

Do you have any questions about getting started as a content writer and strategist? Let us know in the comments.

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Published: November 9, 2021

3 Responses to “Content Writer or Content Strategist?”

  1. This is a great article. I hadn’t thought about the role of a content strategist. As I read, I got ideas for planning out the next phase of my own blog which up to now has been creating single articles. This article spoke to me at a good time. Thanks!

    Guest (Sandy Stiefer)

  2. I see myself as more of a Content Strategist and then a Content Writer.


  3. Heather, this article is gold!
    I took notes, and put my comments in as they jolted new ideas or reinforced other concepts (e.g., "keep readers engaged" and "these are things needed to Make an Offer").
    I need to do exactly this for my own marketing efforts!
    By creating this documented roadmap, it also makes creating the content easier. Plus, the way he pieces fit together forms a logical next step. By the end, the next logical step is commitment to purchase!
    Thank you!

    Jeff Jackson

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