“What is your one tip for managing a content production workflow?”
We’ve learned a lot about businesses and their content here at EditorNinja. In particular, our experience, customer interviews, and in-depth market research have taught us this salient fact: each company has a content production workflow that is different from every other company.
Remarkably, we’ve never come across two companies that do it the same way.
To get an idea of the range of workflows out there, let’s look at some hypotheticals:
- Company A is a pharmaceutical consulting company. Their content strategist partners with the marketing team, with each content strategist partnered directly with the marketer in charge of a specific business unit. Sometimes the content strategist proposes ideas, and sometimes the marketer does. Part of their company process is having both legal and the subject matter expert (often a VP) review and approve the piece before it’s published.
- Company B is a Series F unicorn tech company. Their content managers use AI to help them outline content, which is then passed to a freelance writer or written in-house by the content manager. The Director of Content reviews and edits everything (up to 30 pieces a month). They publish every piece of content under an executive’s name, depending on the topic, but that executive needs to review and approve each piece of content before it goes live.
- Company C is a content agency. They use a content marketplace to produce content, written by non-subject matter experts. They’re handling the editing in-house, but that editor is also a writer who is not able to write as much as they’d like. The company wants the editor to handle the structural edits and ensure briefs are followed, but they’re stuck on copy edits and proofreading before they can do that. They’re looking to offload that work so it’s done before their structural edits so that they can focus on what they’re best at and dramatically reduce the time they spend editing at the same time.
As you can see, different companies have different needs. Maybe your workflow looks like one of the examples above, but it’s not quite working for you.
Ten Expert Strategies for Content Production Workflow
To help you figure out how best to manage your content production workflow, we spoke with ten content marketing leaders. They gave us these great strategies and tips for you to follow:
- Group the Same Tasks Together
- Take Creative Breaks to Refresh Your Mind
- Plan and Define Roles and Responsibilities
- Make Use of an Editorial Calendar
- Set Reminders
- Use Templates Where You Can
- Have Separate Teams for Each Task in the Workflow
- Use the GAP Method to Prepare a List of Topics
- Have a Standard Operating Procedure for Everything
- Set Realistic Deadlines
Read on to hear what the experts have to say.
Group the Same Tasks Together
For example, you can reserve a few hours to work strictly on the blogs for all of your content projects, then social media captions for the same tasks, etc.
If you jump around too much from editing to design to writing, you may start to feel scatterbrained.
Take Creative Breaks to Refresh Your Mind
While grouping can be helpful for focus, focusing for too long can lead to your brain feeling like mush.
If you struggle with effective content workflow, take creative breaks to refresh your mind.
Content production needs creativity, but we tend to repeat redundant ideas when we are stuck with one subject for too long. The only way to stop this is to switch to another topic.
After coming back, your mind will be open for new views, so your workflow will go much more smoothly.
Plan and Define Roles and Responsibilities
Being creative is great, but it’s tough to manage a scaling content workflow without having clearly defined roles and responsibilities, says Natalia Brzezinska, Marketing & Outreach Manager at PhotoAiD.
[My] best tip for managing content production workflow is to plan and define roles and responsibilities.
There is no better and more efficient thing than developing a detailed plan.
With the support of suitable tools, you can quickly identify and assign tasks to each team member involved in each phase of your content production. Each individual will know the work to be done, the deadline, and their responsibilities. At the same time, they will know whom to contact in case of questions for other stages of production.
Make Use of an Editorial Calendar
When you have roles and responsibilities defined, it’s time to create a content calendar to manage your production to make sure everything gets done. Content calendars are an internal tool for managing production, and are separate from a publishing calendar.
There are various sizes and shapes of content calendars.
It’s critical to have a central location containing the specifics and logistics of each piece of content, regardless of the size of your marketing team.
Make sure that all team members may easily access it. Use a calendar that records due dates, specific tasks, and tactical information, if at all possible.
Although it should address how to prepare ongoing content, the editorial calendar should also change as your approach does. Your calendar will also become more effective and organized as your workflow does.
A well-planned editorial calendar is capable of much more than simply recording due dates.
While failing to plan is planning to fail, the best-laid plans can still go awry. To counter this, Erin Sullivan, Digital & Inbound Marketing Manager at the University of Advancing Technology, says you should set yourself reminders.
Set reminders on your phone or your email, wherever you will see them. There is a lot going on, and you’re going to miss something every now and again.
There are two main parts of managing content production — content that can be planned and scheduled out, and content that happens unplanned, in the moment.
If you hear about something happening in two days or two hours, set a reminder. We all like to believe we’ll remember, but our plates are most likely overflowing, and something will inevitably be overlooked.
By setting reminders, you’re setting yourself up for more success and better content.
Use Templates Where You Can
Content creators love to be creative, but setting up processes and templates can help you scale effectively without compromising quality or even creativity!
Finding places to templatize often helps improve the content production workflow.
Blogs, emails, etc. are all areas of content that benefit from a basic template to start with. This saves employees time in having to start from scratch with each new post and supports brand unity.
Less time spent on the form means more time to be creative with unique new content.
Have Separate Teams for Each Task in the Workflow
While defining roles and responsibilities is key, a lot of companies often try to put all of the content production work on just one or two people.
Many companies make the mistake of putting content ideation, creation, editing, and publishing in the hands of just one or two people.
Don’t do that.
Bring more people into your process, where each has specific and replicable responsibilities. Ideally, you would have separate teams for things like topic and keyword research, writing, editing, publishing, and marketing every piece of content that you produce.
If you expect one person to wear multiple hats, they will often excel in one area of their responsibilities, while they do poorly in another. Instead, think of each member of your team as a specialist.
A writer is not an editor, and an editor is not a webpage formatter. Empower everyone to instead focus on what they’re best at, and you’ll have the best possible outcome every time.
Note: this is exactly why EditorNinja exists — to help content teams and agencies scale their content production with expert editors. Learn more here.
Use the GAP Method to Prepare a List of Topics
Coming up with content ideas can be fun, but is often quite time-consuming. To create content effectively, you should have a plan for what content you are creating and when.
Lukasz Zelezny, SEO Consultant at SEO Consultant London, takes it a step further and recommends that you put together a list of keywords that your competitors are ranking for (and likely getting customers from) that you are not yet. Prioritize these.
Start by preparing a list of topics using the GAP method. What is GAP? It’s a simple method that compares what (which keywords) your competitors appear on in the search engines and you/your client are not yet (but would probably like to). In this way, you prepare content that will not only be read but also searched for. Nothing is more frustrating than writing exciting content that nobody reads because they can’t find it.
Therefore, instead of writing about “5 ways you need to…,” it’s better to write about “How to [and insert what the article is about here].”
Remember that Internet users are looking for answers to problem questions.
And these begin most often with “how” and “what,” and less often, but nevertheless, with “why” and “when.”
Have a Standard Operating Procedure for Everything
Roles, responsibilities, and people assigned to each are important parts of the content process, and to scale from there, you need a standard operating procedure (SOP) for each as well.
Process and documentation are everything, especially when you’re expanding your content team.
My one tip would be to set and document your process and then stick to it.
There is a set of documents you’ll need to create: your content style guide, content quality checklist, persona/funnel matrix where you add content ideas per persona and their stage in the funnel/intent, article brief template, content distribution playbook and a checklist, content calendar and the process for providing feedback to the writers.
With all those elements, you won’t have to reinvent the wheel every time and will make sure to maintain the high content quality that resonates with your Ideal Customer Persona and their intent.
Set Realistic Deadlines
Finally, scheduling content can be challenging, and keeping to a tight calendar will burn out a creative mind (trust me, I’ve been there).
Sandeep Kashyap, Founder at ProofHub, recommends setting realistic deadlines so that you don’t burn out the team and you end up producing even better content that gets better results. Better to produce less that is better, than more that is subpar.
Leaders in content marketing often put too much pressure on their teams to do work faster.
This can be the case if you have a large backlog of content that has to be distributed or if you wish to make the content available before your competitors do. Whatever the cause, it’s important to keep in mind that the quality of your content will suffer the more quickly you produce it.
If you give your team unreasonable deadlines for each stage of the workflow, they will inevitably take shortcuts, and the workflow will finally not yield any useful results.
A content workflow is successfully implemented when the timelines are logically defined while taking into account the constraints of each individual.
Producing Content At Scale and Need Editing?
If you’re managing a content production workflow at scale and ready to outsource your editing work to professionals, schedule a time to chat with us at EditorNinja. We’re specifically set up to help content teams and agencies who are producing content at scale outsource their editing so they can spend more time producing better content.