From Solo to Scaled Cover

From Solo to Scaled

Building a Sustainable Content Strategy Practice

By Natalie Marie Dunbar

Published: July 2022
Paperback: 240 pages
Digital ISBN: 1-933820-67-5
ISBN: 1-933820-57-8

Content strategy is clearly critical to your organization, but where do you start, and how do you grow it into a true practice? Whether you’re a lone content person tasked with creating a content strategy practice from scratch, or a leader struggling to scale one up, From Solo to Scaled is your blueprint for creating and managing a content strategy practice that is sustainable and successful.

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Testimonials

This will be an instant classic among the content strategy core library. It builds on those books that have gone before it and leads the practitioner further on their journey. Hard to do, but Natalie managed it and made it look effortless (even though I know it was not).

— Amy Mihlhauser, content strategist

This book is a fantastic guide for anyone who is trying to navigate through the fog of establishing and scaling a content strategy practice. I love how Natalie cuts through the chaos and ambiguity and offers practical, actionable advice and frameworks to follow. As I continue to scale up the practice at my company, this book will definitely be a valuable resource.

Andy Welfle, coauthor of Writing Is Designing, Head of Content Design at Adobe

If you’re often the only ‘content person’ in the room, you’ll learn the frameworks you need to articulate content strategy—and your value—across your organization.

—Justin McKinley, content director, Fortune 100s and startups

Wow, this is a comprehensive, relatable yet no-frills manual for success for content designers and strategists of any level. It’s really a cheat code.

Aladrian Goods, Content Design Manager, Intuit

I’ve had to build and scale a content strategy practice from scratch, and I can tell you that it would have been 100% easier if I’d had Dunbar’s book in my hands.

—David Dylan Thomas, founder, CEO at David Dylan Thomas,  LLC, author, Design for Cognitive Bias

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Content Strategy Practice Blueprint
Chapter 2: Structural Alignment
Chapter 3: Building Materials
Chapter 4: Expansion: Building Up or Building Out
Chapter 5: Measuring Success
Chapter 6: Maintaining a Strong Core
Chapter 7: Retooling
Chapter 8: Scaffolding for Sustainable Growth
Chapter 9: Inspection-Ready: Engaging the Executive Suite
Chapter 10: The Final Walkthrough

Foreword

In 2009, a Google search for “content strategy” returned around 8,000 results. There were two books about it on Amazon. You could send connection requests to all 30 people on LinkedIn with the title of “content strategist.” And if you looked really hard, you could dig up four, maybe five blogs devoted to the topic.

I know these factoids because that was the year I was trying to do research for my book, Content Strategy for the Web. That was also the year I did, in fact, send connection requests to all 30 content strategists on LinkedIn and discovered that I wasn’t alone: there were other folks out there who wanted the same thing—get the wider UX field to embrace content strategy as an essential practice. So we all started talking, and the conversation quickly picked up steam. Meetups were held. Books were written. Conferences were born. UX teams got excited, content strategist jobs were posted … and voilá! Everyone everywhere understood the strategic value of content, and all was right in the world. The end.

Ha! Ha! Ha! Not really. Things were still hard. Things are still hard. Many organizations out there have leadership that still views content as a commodity—easy to come by, easy to publish—and don’t dedicate meaningful resources toward content strategy, content design, or UX writing. (We know these organizations because their websites suck and their apps are hard to use. I am just saying.)

However, good news: there are also organizations waking up to the fact that content can make or break a user’s experience… and they’re ready to get serious about content strategy.

Of course, there’s a massive gap between “seriously interested” and “seriously invested.” That’s where you come in. Your job is to help your team (or client, or leadership) transform their thinking and processes so that content strategy becomes part of the very fabric of how business gets done. No big deal, I know. But it is achievable. And From Solo to Scaled:Building a Sustainable Content Strategy Practice will help you make it happen.

Natalie‘s book is by no means a magical, failsafe formula for scaling up a content strategy practice—no organization is the same, and your path will be yours alone. It’s also not a fairytale with a happy ending where all things content play nicely together, no matter who owns them or where they sit. However, it is a gloriously informational and empowering work that our field has needed for actual decades. Natalie presents a “blueprint” for change that doesn’t require months of banging your head against the wall trying to get people to get it. It’s a pragmatic guide to navigate the path of growing a sustainable content strategy practice grounded in shared principles. It is a game-changer, and I’m so grateful it’s here.
So. If your personal endgame is better content for everyone, then you’re holding your new favorite playbook. Go forth. Get started. Natalie has your back.

—Kristina Halvorson, founder and CEO of Brain Traffic and author of Content Strategy for the Web

Excerpt

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