Looking to increase your content production, or just want to make your content team more efficient? Let’s talk about your content workflow. If you’re falling behind on deadlines or you’re not able to publish at the cadence you want to, ironing out your content workflow can make all the difference.
Back when I used to manage the blog of a major brand, I took that baby from a cadence of biweekly posts to eventually five articles per week. During that time I learned a thing or two about establishing a content creation workflow. Below you’ll find my top learnings.
The sooner you establish a content creation workflow that works for you, the sooner you can take your content production to the next level — not to mention, save yourself and your team unnecessary stress.
1. Start with strategy
A lot of businesses are understandably eager to pump out articles from the get-go — and who can blame them given the amazing potential of SEO content? But in their enthusiasm they tend to miss a vital first step, the very foundation of any content marketing effort: the strategy.
In short, a blog content strategy tells you:
- Who your target audience is (hint: there are probably multiple audiences)
- What they want to read about and what they’re searching for on Google (There’s no use writing about a topic your audience isn’t looking for in search queries.)
- Which topics and keywords make the most sense for your business to go after
- What types of content to produce, such as interviews with how-to guides, listicles, expert interviews, storytelling features, infographics, ebooks, etc.
What you’re really aiming for with your content strategy is to make sure you’re finding that sweet spot between content that your audience would love and content that your competitors aren’t providing.
A good content strategy is never a final thing but a work in progress continually refined over time as one studies the results of one’s content. It is often filled with hypotheses and tests. I like to revisit mine every six months or so, and definitely at least every year.
When you have a content strategy in place, you can take advantage of these benefits:
- It’s much easier and faster to generate topics and write briefs.
- You don’t have to spend as much time getting approvals on topics or final content
- You know exactly what metrics to track
- Your articles will perform better because you’re addressing the needs of your target audience
- It’s easier to tie your content marketing results to your overall business strategy
While crafting a strategy might seem overwhelming, don’t let yourself get intimated. I know you can do it! Read ”How to Perform a DIY Content Strategy for Your Blog” for a step-by-step guide to crafting a content strategy that will help you grow your business.
2. Let your brief do the heavy lifting
Simply put, a well-written brief will change your content life. I even use a truncated brief myself for this very blog right here, even though, as of now I’m the only content contributor. This helps me write much more efficiently and ensures that at the end of the article, I won’t need to make significant edits to optimize it for SEO.
When you have a team of writers, mastering your briefs is a must. After all, this is what a well-prepared brief can get you in a team setting:
- It sets the expectations clearly for everyone.
- It signals to the writers that you care about quality.
- It results in better content.
- It can save you HOURS of editing.
- Depending on the scope of your project, it can save you hundreds to thousands on a project. 🤑
Check out 17 Ingredients of a Killer Content Brief and download our free content brief template to take your brief writing to the next level.
3. Use an editorial guide
One of the best investments you can make in your blog is taking the time (and it doesn’t have to be that much time) to put together a centralized document that summarizes the style preferences and other requirements for your publication.
Here are some of the advantages to be gained from a thoughtful, clearly written editorial guide for your blog:
- It saves time onboarding new freelancers, employees, and agencies.
- It ensures consistency throughout your blog.
- It saves editors and managers time.
- It allows your brand to put its best face forward with every piece of content you publish, no matter who produces it.
- In short, you’ll save everyone a ton of time and effort.
In your guide, aim to lay out the following. You can keep it in a simple, view-only Google Doc.
- Audience and purpose
- Tone and voice
- Spelling and grammar preferences
- How to use sources and links
- Word count guidelines
- Formatting preferences
- SEO best practices
- Submission guidelines
4. Clearly define roles and responsibilities
Got too many cooks in the content kitchen? Or not enough cooks? If you’re looking for efficiency, it’s important to have all the necessary roles filled, but make sure they’re also clearly defined.
Here’s an example of a great content team structure that’s worked for me in the past.
- Content manager who oversees the content team and strategy
- Freelance writers who are veteran content creators
- Two editors well-trained in your editorial guidelines
- Marketing coordinator who manages the calendar and uploads and publishes content
You may want your writers to collect images or you may ask your editors to. Your marketing coordinator should also be adept at selecting and resizing imagery. Team members can also wear multiple hats. For example, your marketing coordinator may also do some of the editing.
Don’t have the resources to staff up your content team with the roles above? Consider hiring freelance or agency help part-time to manage your content production and/or write and edit your content. For example, at C-POP, we have turnkey packages available where we essentially act as your entire content team — defining your strategy, managing your content calendar, producing content, and even publishing articles to your blog. This can be a great solution if you’re not ready to hire full-time in-house help. Reach out to our team with your content production needs.
6. Create a defined workflow for your unique team
One of the best ways to smooth out any content workflow is to, well, define it. Don’t underestimate the power of clearly diagramming your content creation process from beginning to end. This workflow will vary for every content team depending on your team structure and preferences, so take the time to work out which steps work for you.
In a content workflow:
- The content creation process is broken down into a chronological series of sub-tasks.
- Each step is clearly defined and assigned to an owner.
This makes it easy to track projects as they move through your workflow in a Google sheet or content management software.
7. Use the right project management system for your team
No matter the size of your team or scope of your content endeavors, utilizing a digital project management system is a must for staying organized and efficient, especially if you work in a hybrid environment or utilize content resources both inside and outside of your organization.
Ask content managers which project management system they prefer, and you’re sure to get a different answer from everyone you ask. The top choices tend to be Asana, Clickup, Zoko, Wrike, and Trello. I recommend Asana, which I’ve used in the past and offers a robust, free version, but I hear great things about these other programs.
A worthy content management software program offers the following in one centralized place:
- A calendar layout as well as options for other views such as timelines and Gantt charts
- Project file storage allowing easy access to all team members
- The ability to assign tasks to owners and make status updates to keep the team up to date on progress
- Customizable and automated workflows
- Automated email notifications regarding project updates
On the other hand, sometimes simpler is better. Don’t underestimate the value of a well-laid-out Google Sheet, which is currently my preference.
Establishing a content workflow can take some time, but by taking the steps above, you’ll soon have a content production machine on your hands. And remember, if you need any help with your content creation — anything from producing the content to managing your content production — don’t hesitate to contact our team.