Ah January – that beautiful, inspiring, positive month when you are full of fresh ideas and plans, but have no budget to act on them. That’s why our opening post this year gathers up our pick of the free resources out there, from ebooks, to white papers to online courses, to help benchmark and boost your professional development and training this year.
Whether you’re a content strategist or digital marketer, an information architect or a metadata specialist, there is something here for you.
Happy new career!
Content strategy / UX
Gather Content has just released a new 63-page content strategy guide, exploring content strategy and UX design on an example website design project. It’s aimed at UX professionals and anyone who works with designers on content projects.
- what user stories are
- how user stories can help to define your content needs
- how to complete an effective competitor analysis
- how to map user flows
- how to design content models including concept sketching
- the difference between templates and content types
- how to prototype with proto-content (and why)
- how to validate your content
- how to user test your content
Download the guide: Content Strategy: A Guide for UX Designers.
This is the latest in a series of free content strategy resources from Gather Content, which also include guides to governance, production planning and how to go content-first on your web projects. Find them here.
We previewed Ayima’s five-module DIY Content Marketing Strategy e-course last month in Turning content into an asset (rather than an expense). Delivered by email the five modules are written by former content strategist and Head of Content Danny Chadburn, and are aimed at intermediate/advanced-level content marketers and strategists, social media and PR managers, and heads of SEO and digital marketing.
- how to develop a framework to improve the ROI of your content
- how to produce core pieces of content that are designed to become valuable company assets
- about conversion points and meaningful objectives
- how to get inside the head of your audience to find out what they need
- how to integrate your content into the user journey
- about hooks, editorial calendars and attracting media interest
- how to test your content roadmap
Sign up for the course: DIY Content Marketing Strategy course.
For editors and digital marketers already in charge of a content hub, getting more of their existing content seen is a big challenge in the era of information overload. We like this 35-page ebook from Uberflip, which covers a mix of content strategy and content marketing to focus on how to improve the discoverability – and the ROI – of your content.
- why and how your target audience is seeking your content
- how to organize and assemble your blog or resource center
- how to build a content experience that enables content discoverability
Download the ebook: How to Increase Your Content’s Discoverability.
Lisa Welchman presented on digital goverance at Intelligent Content Conference 2015. Here is the 20-page ebook primer on the topic, based on her advice. It offers a step-by-step process for designing how your team operates – who should decide what, when, how and why.
- what is digital governance
- how to get started with digital governance
- a four-step process for developing a digital-governance framework
- creating your framework document
Download the ebook: Digital Governance: A Primer for Content Marketers.
Hootsuite, one of the leading platforms for social media marketing and content distribution, has put out a 28-page social media strategy workbook for users to work through. It’s a bit old – it covers the waning Google+ platform on there – but it works as a basic primer in social media marketing for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
- how to audit your social media presence
- how to get started in a number of social networks
- about planning your strategy
- how to increase engagement
- how to raise brand awareness
- about measuring analytics
Many publications and resources in this field are available through paid memberships of organisations such as STC or ISTC. For those looking for a free primer in technical communication, technical writer Tom Johnson’s long-running I’d Rather Be Writing blog includes a long list of resources on getting started in technical writing.
Also, check out Cherryleaf’s 18-page ebook in a graphic novel format introducing the DITA authoring standard and how it benefits businesses.
- How DITA aids re-use of content across different business communications
- About breaking content into separate chunks and adding metadata
- About finding out what clients wants from your content
Download the guide: The DITA Man.
We came across mStoner’s free webinars and resources when learning digital skills using cake, and became an instant fan. The mStoner field is higher education but the lessons are often work more widely and there are lots of best practice tips for IAs and content professionals. Their latest resource gives an overview of six key IA principles, with examples to click through to.
- about being visitor-centric in your IA
- why established conventions are useful
- about the logic of clicks
- to create multiple points of entry
- to separate internal v external information
- how IA enhances SEO
Download the IA guide: Six Principles of Information Architecture on Higher Ed Websites
Metadata and search
For a general explainer of metadata for content marketers, Michelle Linn has written a useful post in Metadata 101 for Content Marketers: Your Questions Answered.
For those already working with metadata in their digital communications, Varonis has put out an interesting 10-page white paper on enterprise search and the move to search engines providing answers rather than just a list of pages. Metadata is providing an important role in this next evolution of semantic search, and the paper explores how it is making enterprise search better and smarter.
- how search is changing
- about the role of metadata in smarter search
- practical application and semantic schema
Download the white paper: Enterprise Knowledge: Unlocking Hidden Knowledge in Unstructured Data.
Adaptive / structured content
This 38-page guide from the CMI looks at where content meets technology and tools, and how to automate more of your content process so that it serves your business.
- about standardising content to enable automation
- how content models work
- about categorising content with semantic metadata
- how to reuse and reconfigure content
- how adaptive content enables more relevant content delivery
- about authoring and markup tools, eg, DITA/XML.
Download the ebook: Getting Started With Intelligent Content.
We also recommend our recent set of adaptive content explainers from content strategist Noz Urbina here on the Firehead blog: Adaptive content – a guide for businesses and content workers.