Kristina Halvorson

CEO and Founder, Brain Traffic

You can’t have a conversation about content strategy without mentioning Kristina Halvorson. She is an industry-recognized content strategy expert, advocate, and educator. While her book is called Content Strategy for the Web, Kristina believes that content strategy is an essential practice for any organization that creates content across any medium or platform.

Despite the ebbs and flows of different content trends on the web, we appreciate how Kristina has stayed true to her north start of putting content first. Every few months, there is a new “must” for sharing ideas online: Video-first! SEO! User-generated content! Social media influencers!. Throughout it all, Kristina has remained steady, staying focused on the deeper truths and the bigger picture of meeting people where they are and helping them get where they want to go.

As the CEO and Founder of Brain Traffic, Kristina’s work focuses on creating useful, usable content. She does that through consulting engagements, workshops, and events. Kristina founded Confab and Button, content strategy conferences focused on helping content strategists, designers, and writers create content along the customer journey.

It might be evident that Kristina geeks out about content. She is also interested in creating safe spaces where folks can geek out about content together and share her love of cake.

🤓 I geek out about…

How people work together to make digital content more useful, usable, and accessible for everyone.

There are so many different roles involved here, and they’re all so interesting and awesome: content designers, UX writers, content engineers, content marketers … then we have website content strategists, enterprise content strategists, product content strategists … information architects, UX designers, SEO specialists, and on and on … THESE ARE MY PEOPLE. They love words! And meaning! And connections, and big questions, and how to collaborate! Also, they are often hilarious and kindhearted.

Right now I am most geeked out about creating inspiring, inclusive spaces where people can gather and geek out together about all things content. My passion projects are Confab and Button, the two big content strategy/design-focused events my company Brain Traffic produces. Those conferences really are a celebration of community and craft, and the people who attend and speak are always fantastic folks all around.

I’m also restarting The Content Strategy Podcast soon, which is mostly just an excuse for me to have super geeky conversations with people I admire.

🎒 I collect…

Before March 2020: frequent flyer miles

Since then: dust

💬 My friends ask my advice about…

Glasses

🧰 How my weird obsessions show up in my work…

I really love cake. Like, a lot. So when we launched our Confab conference in 2011 I promised cake to people who helped us promote it. We have therefore served cake—sheet cake, coffee cake, cupcakes, etc.—at every Confab since. Cake is part of the Confab brand. If we didn’t serve cake, people would demand refunds.

🌱 What form(s) of growth is/are most important for your company?

Right now, we’re the smallest we’ve been since 2007. When the pandemic hit, we had to transform our beloved Confab into a virtual conference in about six weeks. Then we launched Button, which is our brand-new conference (that was supposed to be in Seattle)—again, virtually. We barely held it together, and we lost a lot of money in the process. Basically, my business strategy in 2020 was “survive.” In 2021, it’s “stabilize.” Thankfully, things are going well.

In the future, “growth” for us might equal more revenue, more event types, new service offerings … lots of different options. I’m figuring that out. What’s most important right now is that we stabilize, and part of that process is creating new, repeatable processes that can scale over time. For a bunch of social, creative people, it’s SO FRUSTRATING and SO BORING. But we have to do it. Then we can grow however and wherever we want!

I think that the other form of growth that’s going to matter in the near future is really more re-growth, and that applies to us individually and as a team. As it did for so many, this past year really beat the hell out of us. (If the spirit is a garden, our gardens were fully uprooted by like ten tornadoes.) I’m closing the office down for a week in July so everyone can hopefully just rest for a bit.

🌤️ A thing that makes me hopeful about the future of business:

I’m wildly encouraged (and inspired!) by the focus the content strategy/content design community has placed on ethics and inclusivity in digital spaces, and how we can play an important part in helping build better experiences for everyone.

💭 I wish more companies would…

Pay their content people what they’re worth.

💛 How can companies and industries take better care of people?

Make employee mental health a priority beyond just offering yoga twice a month or putting up posters for “mental health awareness month.” People should be able to talk about depression and anxiety without worrying it will make them appear unstable. People who struggle with substance abuse should feel safe going to HR for support. It should be normal for people to cry at work. Especially now! Also let people go to therapy (and medical appointments for that matter) without taking PTO, what is this the 1800s

❓ A question I love:

Can you tell me more about that?

🚶 I would walk/drive/travel 500 miles to…

Hug my kids. Well, okay, I would walk/drive/travel to Mars for that.

You can learn more about Kristina on Wikipedia.