Since 2017, I have interviewed 59 content strategy experts. My guests have spanned the scope of business, product, and technical content strategy. I have interviewed content strategists at huge tech companies like Google and Facebook, at small content agencies, and everyone in between. The podcast is my main effort in my mission to democratize content strategy.
CONTENT STRATEGY STARTUP
I’m developing a community of startup founders and content strategists to share content strategy best practices. After conversations with several dozen startup founders in 2019, as well as a few consulting projects with startups, I formed the hypothesis that tech startups are uniquely well positioned to benefit from content strategy. Like any startup, Virtual CCO is a work in progress. I intend to start by building community around the concept and to eventually monetize the venture with subscription revenue, first from publications and insider access to the community, and later from a SaaS product.
I worked with the founder of this fintech startup to craft and begin implementation of a comprehensive content strategy.
CONTENT STRATEGY & BUSINESS DESIGN
I’m working with this very successful and prominent psychotherapist, helping both to formulate a web content strategy for her practice and to expand her practice with digital-media product offerings.
The founder of this innovative waste water treatment company recruited me to help update the company’s aging website and move it to a new domain name. We are currently formulating a web content strategy which includes updating and migrating the site’s current content to a new WordPress installation.
WEB PUBLICATION STARTUP
I conceived, raised funding for, designed, and operated this digital “active office” publication. Content included meticulously researched and very detailed Consumer Reports–style active-office product reviews and a comprehensive “Standing Desk Buying Guide.” I also prototyped a personal-wellness podcast and blogged on the active-office industry.
WEB DIRECTORY STARTUP
I funded, developed, designed, and built this large database-driven directory that listed massage schools and continuing education classes for massage therapists and bodyworkers. I designed the web site and its underlying database, hired technical and editorial contractors to build it and populate the database, and launched the site in October 2007. Using only SEO, we got the site up to about 10,000 visitors per month in less than a year.
Search Engine Marketing System
I collaborated with the executive and technical leads to design and implement a systematic and highly automated program to deliver search engine marketing services to software-developer clients. I developed the functional specification and worked closely with the technical team to implement the automated portion of the system, and I developed and staffed a new marketing production department to handle the manual aspects of the system.
As part of an organizational shift in focus, I worked with company executives and technologists to design and develop a site designed to sell our marketing services to independent software (AKA “shareware”) developers. I also designed and specified a new database-driven product catalog.
WEB DESIGN/CMS IMPLEMENTATION
As Executive Producer at workz.com, I oversaw both the redesign of the company’s flagship web site and the implementation of a new custom-built content management system. In addition to managing both projects, I handled the process of “scrubbing” the existing site content and migrating it over to the new system, and I wrote and edited the documentation and administered staff training for the new system.
STRATEGIC WEB INITIATIVE
The workz.com Marketplace
As Director of Special Projects at workz.com, I developed a comprehensive product launch plan – including a complete business plan, detailed policies and procedures, functional mock-ups, sales support materials, and legal contracts – for The workz.com Marketplace. This “contextual B2B e-commerce initiative” would give our readers access to the best vendors of the products and services related to the content they were reading and would give our business partners access to our readers just at the point when they were ready to shop. A key component of this initiative was a complete overhaul of the company’s website information design, specifically the taxonomy used to organize and access the extensive content database. I took the project from a vague idea to a fully developed plan in about four months, while also handling other special projects.
AGENCY MANAGEMENT STARTUP
In December of 1998, David Johnson, the president of workz.com, and I went shopping for web advertising banners. We couldn’t find anyone who would make us a high-quality banner for less than $600. We talked about the problem and decided to solve it ourselves. I researched the market, hired a designer, and launched BannerWorkz a month later. The tag line “affordable, effective banners – fast” summed up our mission. We quickly carved out a place in the online graphics industry as the place to go for reasonably priced, high-quality, custom banner ads and affiliate program collateral. Our client list soon included established brick-and-mortar companies like Countrywide Home Loans and Investors Business Daily as well as high-profile internet companies like 24/7 Media, Half.com, Infonautics, and the Nexchange affiliate program. We also developed co-branded versions of our site to serve the customers of our business partners like Commission Junction and Shop Now. At its peak, I supervised as many as 15 in-house and remote designers. The revenue we generated at BannerWorkz paid the rent during a crucial growth phase at workz.com. For strategic reasons, workz.com decided to spin off BannerWorkz in early 2000.
Toward the end of 1998, Pinnacle WebWorkz got its first round of funding from internet.com. One of the many initiatives this allowed us to undertake was a redesign and database-ization of the company’s website, then known as The WebWorkz. I developed the original database specification, site information design, and page layouts for the new site, and I wrote and edited much of the website content.
Strategies for Success
As Marketing Manager for Benjamin/Cummings Publishing, I spearheaded a project to create a web presence for the industry’s leading college biology publisher. We built the site around the imprint’s well-established “Strategies for Success” brand. I worked closely with the editorial, marketing, and technical units, as well as with top management, to create a one-stop-shopping virtual presence for the brand.
After delivering a talk on DIY standing desk designs, I was recruited to join the Ignite Seattle organizing team. I was the event slide wrangler for three years, helping speakers prepare their decks. I was also part of our core organizing team, planning events and managing the operation. I later became a team member, promoting the event and doing various content tidying.
I was the co-leader of a large volunteer team that produced this two-day, 500-attendee event held at the Washington State Convention Center. We recruited about a dozen co-organizers, 55 speakers (the majority of whom were women, possibly a first for a general-interest tech event like this), 50 volunteers, and 31 sponsors. Feedback from attendees who go to WordCamps all over the world was that this was one of the best WordPress events.
I recruited 26 sponsors for this annual gathering of WordPress enthusiasts. I also managed the event experience for 10 exhibiting sponsors. I joined the organizing team fairly late in the event-planning cycle, so I had just three months to identify the sponsors and bring them on board.
As stage manager for this local TED event (now called TEDxSeattle), I was part of the organizing team, focusing on planning the stage experience. On the day of the event, I coordinated all on-stage activity, working with venue, tech, speaker, and other teams to ensure a TED-worthy user experience.
As a jack-of-all-trades production manager for this local TED event, I worked with the organizing team to plan and produce the event. After the event, I managed a volunteer team of video editors to prepare recordings of the talks for upload to the TED website.
As a “Compassion Ambassador Concierge,” I helped high-level ($10K+) sponsors navigate this complex, city-wide, five-day event. I joined the organizing team a couple of months before the event and worked closely with both Seeds staff and a professional event-production company.
Every spring I volunteer for several shifts at the world’s largest comedy/variety/vaudeville event. I have helped with building out the venue, event security, food services, stage management, and lighting.
As a board member for the Seattle World Percussion Society, I helped produce three editions of this annual event that drew as many as 10,000 percussion enthusiasts to the Seattle Center each spring. I was part of a large volunteer organizing team that created a program that included three days of performances, workshops, and vendor exhibits.
I spend much of my free time producing, promoting, and attending Seattle community events. This list came about as the result of about 1,257 conversations which had culminated with, “Shoot! I wish I’d known about that.”
Each Sunday, I publish a painstakingly curated list of 10-20 events across a broad range of personal interests (community, civics, content strategy, design/UX, world music, and offbeat personal expression).
WORDPRESS COMMUNITY PROGRAM
I worked with a team of volunteer trainers to help WordCamp and meetup organizers recruit and prepare women and other underrepresented populations to speak at WordPress events. This was train-the-trainer work conducted entirely online with event organizers around the world.
WORDPRESS COMMUNITY PROGRAM
Both as a Community Deputy on the WordPress open-source software project and as an organizer for Seattle’s annual WordCamp, I became aware of a number of issues surrounding year-round, non-event activities in local WordPress communities. Months of discussion and cogitation on the issue culminated in this proposal for a “sourdough starter kit” to build a basic infrastructure for local year-round WordPress communities.
As an interviewer in many professional and community settings and as a life-long student of interpersonal communication, I have worked a lot on my own listening skills. This community-listening-station idea occurred to me several years ago, and I recently fleshed it out to a “minimum viable product.” I would love to devote more time to this, but so far my existing community obligations have kept me busy enough to keep this project on a back burner.
Before I landed my first Seattle dot-com job, I was going stir-crazy working at home. So I invited some friends to lunch. Within a couple of months, a dozen or so of us were gathering every other Friday to commiserate about work-at-home life. The “noodle group” became a neighborhood institution and eventually grew to several hundred members. I quit organizing the gatherings in 2013, but rogue noodle groups still meet in Seattle, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.
I researched, wrote, and professionally self-published (hired editor, cover designer, and other production talent) this book on sitting disease, ergonomics, and self-care for computer/office workers. I recruited the former head of NASA’s Life Science division to write the foreword for the book. Currently distributing via CreateSpace, Kindle, and IngramSpark.
As the Publisher of Cascade Books, I edited and published this juggling how-to book, which is still regarded as the best resource for serious 3-ball jugglers. A review of Beyond the Cascade called it “one of the best instruction manuals on the market, an exciting book that will give three ball jugglers many hours of challenge and a lot of new material.”
A few writing samples. More available on request.
Three Flavors of Content Strategy
VirtualCCO.com, January 2020
A Content Strategy Process Model
EllessMedia.com, December 2018
Sourdough: The Local-Community Starter Kit
WordPress.org, October 2017
The Best Affordable Standing Desks
Well9to5, August 2016
The Best Standing-Desk Mats
Well9to5, July 2016
The Definitive Guide to Actual Famous Standing Desk Users
Well9to5, June 2016
ErgoExpo 2015 Conference Wrap-Up
Well9to5, November 2015
Scared Sitless: 3 Strategies for Proper Ergonomics with Laptops, Tablets and Smartphones
GeekWire, November 2014
Tae Kwon Do Champ Knocked Out by Sitting Disease
LarrySwanson.com, November 2014
The 3 R’s of Habit Formation
LarrySwanson.com, February 2014
When It Comes to Stress, Are You an Orchid or a Dandelion?
LarrySwanson.com, April 2013
LarrySwanson.com, July 2004
Design Your Web Pages for Fast Loading
Inc., October 1999
Design Your Site for Your Users
Inc., October 1999