Top Qualities of Successful Content Strategists

By Jackie Ostrowski

The responsibilities of content strategists vary from job to job—daily tasks differ depending on the employer and industry. At VSA, the Content Practice helps plan and execute content for a variety of digital projects. And, while some content strategists might have more hands-on experience than others, certain characteristics are more likely to predict success. In my experience both working in the industry and hiring content strategists, I’ve come to value these key traits that often help candidates succeed in the role.

Be comfortable with many different types of work
No two days as a content strategist are alike. You might spend your morning heads-down in a competitive audit, your afternoon doing research on content marketing trends, and post-lunch break learning how to create content workflows. A diverse array of clients means you’ll get real-world experience with many types of content projects.

Have a POV… But be ready to listen, too
This role isn’t for wallflowers. It’s for curious minds—people who aren’t afraid to jump right into a discussion and come ready to share their perspective, whether it’s over coffee in the morning or during a client presentation.

But as important as it is to share your thoughts and ideas, it’s also crucial to listen to others. Learning from coworkers—and clients—is a huge part of being a successful content strategist. Be open-minded when working with a team you haven’t worked with before or collaborating with other disciplines. Commit to getting familiar with what your colleagues do, because empathy for their work will help you thrive when you’re collaborating. You’ll be processing lots of new information each day, so take notes and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Stay current with content trends.
Content strategy isn’t just about being an impressive writer—though that’s a great start. It’s a field for for stellar communicators who are comfortable articulating and sharing their ideas on content trends. What methods do you see brands using for storytelling? What makes certain publishers popular? How is the line between branded content and editorial content evolving? Keep these types of questions top of mind and come to team meetings ready to discuss them.

Be able to juggle multiple tasks/workstreams
Okay, that’s listed in every job description, but it really applies to content strategists. The very nature of content work means figuring out the best way to prioritize many demanding tasks—an invaluable skill for whichever direction your career takes you.

When interviewing candidates, I’ve found that those who exhibit the above traits have been the strongest hires and most enjoyable teammates. Hard skills can always be taught, but those who walk in the door equipped with the right mentality tend to thrive in this discipline.

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Jackie Ostrowski is an Associate Director of Content at VSA Partners. With a background in both editorial and digital content management and strategy, Jackie is at once a creator, planner and organizer of content for modern digital experiences. She specializes in finding efficiencies in executional workflows and maximizing the use of technology to make it easier for content owners to contribute and create exceptional content. Her current clients include Marvin, Google, and CME Group. Jackie can be contacted at jostrowski@vsapartners.com.