Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gals We Admire: Shannon Fisher

As the founder and owner of her own web writing and strategy consulting business, Shannon Fisher says she "likes making the web suck less." Her services include digital writing workshops where she trains content teams to write for the web. "I love watching clients move from stuffy, robot speak to a more authentic, conversational voice," says the passionate and feisty content strategist.

Name: Shannon Fisher
Profession: Writer and Content Strategist
Twitter handle: @shannonfisher

Describe your typical work day, from start to finish
I try to start my day by clearing my mind with Morning Pages à la Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way. I scribble out my "cloud thoughts" and get acquainted with the dark corners of my psyche. I love that Cameron refers to Morning Pages as meeting my shadow and taking it out for a cup of coffee. I’m not always successful at making time for Morning Pages, but on the days I do, my brain thanks me.

Once I’ve seen my daughter off to school, I spend too much time catching up on the essays my favourite people share on Twitter and Facebook. On days that an one tickles my feelers, I can be found writing a response for my personal blog,

Eating is the only other typical part of my day. Maybe I’ll talk to you about what I do as content strategist at, instead. Content is the introduction to a business. It’s the seven-second first impression, and without it, a website is just a pretty black hole. I help clients craft content that attracts, grows, informs and delights an audience.

Content strategy means having a clear plan for content execution and delivery. It’s an outline of the content a site requires and a plan for ongoing creation and delivery. Having a content strategy means clients can stop wasting time on articles, copy or blog posts that don’t fit the plan.

Of the services I offer, my favourite is the digital writing workshops I run training content teams to write for the web. Most of us are still stuck writing the way our teachers taught us to: formally and without personality. I love watching clients move from stuffy, robot speak to a more authentic, conversational voice. As a content strategist, it’s my job to assess the state of an existing (or future) site and create a road map to where a client would like to be.

When you were a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
I remember talking about being a lawyer, but somewhere along the way I started believing I was stupid. I struggled in school, and by struggled I mean I stopped trying. When I graduated, I planned to never step foot in an educational setting again. Three years of being miserable as an office administrator was the push I needed to go back and get my BEd degree (which I used for nine years teaching elementary students before quitting to write and start a content strategy business). I kicked GPA butt, by the way!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
As my content strategy friend Karen McGrane says, I like “making the web suck less.” I love being a source of even small strategies to improve content and the overall feel of a site. Sadly, there are so many websites that make my eyes bleed. It’s fun to be part of a global team whittling away at those numbers. And the content strategy community really is a fantastic team. I’m so lucky to call some of them friends.

What do you find to be the biggest challenge in your profession?
Convincing people that content strategy is worth the investment. Well, that and explaining what content strategy is and that it’s separate from writing and social media. Content strategy is like the script of a play. You need it before you start designing the set. But people with businesses get excited and skip the strategy to move straight into setting the stage. It’s a costly mistake.

Do you believe you had a "calling" for your profession?
I love people. My friend Annelie once told me that I’m a fish and people are my water. She’s right. My job is about connecting people to people—and that’s exactly what the web it about. If I can help clients internalize that, my work is exponentially easier. Making the web a more human-friendly place is rewarding. As an open person I make connections easily, so it’s not a stretch to help clients find ways to connect with and delight their audience. So yeah, I was born for this!

What are the three most important pieces of career advice you would give to other Canadian Career Gals?
Believe you have something to offer the world in your style that no one else can. This is what keeps me writing about topics thousands of others have already covered and running workshops offered elsewhere. No one can or will do that thing I do.

There’s enough for everyone. Just because someone else is executing your idea, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. If it really excites you and you’re good at it--go for it. We need you! I suppose this is a repetition of #1, but it’s worth repeating.

Use Google Calendars, sign up for a project management account and don’t forget to hang out with friends (especially if you work alone, from home all day). These things will save you.


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