The Commerce of Content refers to the practicalities of creating and publishing content for learning and communication.
Although most instructional designers, trainers, professional communicators, information architectures, and content strategist and developers primarily focus our energies on creating materials that their intended users can easily read and whose advice users can integrate into their lives, we create and publish this material in the context of the real world.
Most of the time, we create and publish at the requests of others, called sponsors or clients.
1. When sponsors and clients request that we create content for them, the sponsors and clients usually need for us to publish it by a particular date–called a drop-dead deadline–at a particular cost, and at a designated level of quality.
The Project Management microsite of this website explains how to schedule projects so you can complete them when sponsors and clients need material, how to prepare the budgets for projects, and how to identify the quality requirements the project must meet. Most significantly, the Project Management microsite of the website explains how to monitor schedules, budgets, and quality during a project and how to address those instances when you might miss one or more of these goals.
2. Despite the image of the solitary writer cranking out material, creating and publishing materials for learning and communication is a team effort.
The People Management microsite of this website explains how to supervise the people on the team. It explains how to identify the skills needed on the team and recruit and hire people with those skills. It also explains how to establish expectations of the performance of individual members of the team as well as how to evaluate their performance later. In addition, the Project Management microsite of this website explains how to address issues with people that arise while a project is ongoing, such as telling a worker when something went off-track, as well as offers advice on developing the talents of individual members of your team.
3. Perhaps the most challenging effort facing groups that product learning and communication materials for the workplace involves attracting and retaining clients, and ensuring the ongoing satisfaction of sponsors. That many people who produce learning and communication materials for the workplace work as regular employees of the same organizations as their sponsors makes this task all the more challenging, because how does one “market” to a group that has to work with this group anyway.
The Business Management microsite of this website explains how to attract and retain clients and ensure the ongoing satisfaction of sponsors. First, it guides leaders of groups that produce learning and communication products through the business planning process, which involves identifying the business model under which the group operates, defining its long-term strategy for operating, and developing business cases for significant proposed projects towards achieving that long-term strategy. Next, this microsite assists leaders of learning and communication groups with the tasks of defining their business processes to manage expectations of sponsors; determining the prices for their products and services, and marketing (promoting) the availability of those products and services.
To develop skills in the Commerce of Content, consider reading an entire section at a time. To apply the skills, use the worksheets and samples provided.
But people can also use this website as a reference, referring to a microsite or a particular article as a need arises in the workplace.
This page was prepared by Saul Carliner in support of his courses, workshops, research, and consulting on management-related issues for instructional designers, trainers, and technical communicators.