Most content marketers are aiming for 3 core goals at the center of all content production efforts.
If you consistently find your team running up against the same bottlenecks or fighting to keep content quality consistent, it’s time to establish or improve your content workflow.
Follow our 11-step guide to create your well-oiled content machine, and use our content workflow template to document your process as it evolves.
Let’s dive in!
If you’d like to listen to one of our Co-founders and our Content Production Manager discuss content briefs and killer workflows, feel free to listen to the Content That Grows podcast episode below:
A content workflow is the sequence of tasks that moves your content from an idea to a published and distributed piece of content. It should be repeatable across the majority of related content objectives to allow your teams to smoothly execute and later scale their efforts.
The best workflows include:
Defining your workflow from start to finish gives your entire content team what it needs to stay on track, whether they’re in-house, contract, or freelance.
In turn, you’ll have room to adjust the scale of your content creation to fit the demands of your publishing needs and your available resources to build that content. Otherwise, you run the risk of lowering the quality of your content — and its ability to attract the desired engagement.
There are many other advantages to building effective content workflows:
More efficient time budgeting: It’s easier to set realistic deadlines, and for your team members to meet them, when you have a clear understanding of the tasks involved. If you work with clients, you’re able to communicate timelines without overpromising.
Clarity around responsibilities: A solidified content workflow ensures that everyone — internal and external — understands their duties and how they impact other parts of the process. Not only is this helpful for reshuffling tasks if someone is out/unavailable, but it provides insights when team members are overburdened and need additional bandwidth resources.
Better team coordination: A clearly documented process gives your team members clarity and flexibility — they can collaborate, delegate tasks, and step in to support one another when needed. This is especially helpful for improving internal communication and reducing silos or bottlenecks, one of the biggest marketing challenges noted in Content Marketing Research’s 2022 survey.
That said, companies may fail to get content workflows working as effectively as they’d like for a number of reasons. Here are some of the most common challenges from our experience:
Now let’s talk about how to build a process that puts quality and consistency first.
Recommended Reading: What is Great Content? [+ How Marketers Create It, Consistently]
Start by building a content roadmap with the topics and deliverables for a particular period or campaign, which you’ll use to reach your goals (whether for your own company or for your clients). This may include new content and existing content updates.
If you don’t already, make sure you have a good understanding of the ideal customer profile (ICP). You should generally align your content — topic strategy, messaging, and distribution — to match your their pain points and content consumption habits.
Recommended Reading: Using Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs) To Improve Your Content Marketing’s Efficacy
After completing your roadmap, it’s time to upload your content topics to a digital location that’s accessible to all relevant team members. Keeping everything centralized in one place reduces the risk of disjointed content or information silos.
You could run the roadmap successfully from a spreadsheet as well if you’re still operating a small program or you can’t quite get a project management tool to function the way you like.
Once you upload your roadmap, add a deadline for each task and assign the person responsible for completing it. Talk with each team member about how you allocated the work and ensure they understand how to access and update the content management tool.
The SEO strategist, content strategist, or SEO specialist needs to identify individuals who can provide more insight into a given industry, product/service, or topic. This is what’s known as a subject matter expert (SME).
There are many ways you can leverage SMEs to create great content, from getting helpful background info and feature quotes to having them write content or simply lend their name as the piece’s author.
It’s typically the responsibility of the SEO specialist to prepare questions ahead of time for the SME. They should have the answers to your questions and additional recommendations on what information the writer should include in the final draft of the content.
Your content brief, handed off to the writer, paints a picture of what you expect in the final product. Be as prescriptive and descriptive as you can and try not to leave any room for uncertainty. This accomplishes a few things:
The key is finding a balance between too many details and not enough. You don’t want to overwhelm the writer, but you also want to avoid leaving them feeling unprepared or like they’re responsible for the direction of the piece.
Have the SEO specialist do competitor content research and use SME materials to create a unique brief that includes:
Decide which writer will handle the piece and share the brief and deadline. They should be fully equipped to craft content that aligns with your guidelines and successfully promotes your ideas or products.
That said, be ready to jump in and answer questions or provide clarification. Even detailed briefs can leave room for interpretation. You may also need to adjust them if the writer comes back with new info, ideas, or suggestions.
The SEO or Content Strategist should talk with the graphic designer about what they want the look of the piece to be. It could be as simple as one feature image or as complex as an original infographic, video storyboarding, etc.
Be mindful of how the content will appear in different formats, like a desktop screen versus a smartphone or tablet. It’s a good idea to share brand design guidelines or inspiration with the designer if you have them.
The editor should go through the content with a fine-tooth comb, proofreading, checking facts, and improving language to ensure a piece’s accuracy and quality.
If needed, they’ll send it back to the writer for corrections. After completing all revisions, the editor can send the content for final approval.
Have content sent back to the writer to perform rewrites or address accuracy issues if needed. It can sometimes take multiple rounds of revisions before an editor is satisfied with the content.
Get the stakeholders’ approval before publishing content on the relevant website, social media channels, or mobile apps. They may decide that the piece doesn’t yet meet their standards or change their mind about the direction they wish to take with the content. If that happens, be prepared to move back to an earlier stage, like brief creation (step 4) or content revision (step 7 or 8).
Make sure you have a clear understanding of the feedback and what’s a must-have change versus a nice-to-have change.
There are many content management systems (CMSs) you can use to simplify and automate the uploading process. They may also have handy SEO or quality-assessment tools you can use to give your content a final check.
Make sure you include all your design assets and take care of any technical SEO details like adding the title tag, checking headers and internal links, adding alt text to images, and setting up the URL structure, author, or content category.
Once you have your content assets all loaded and fromatted, you can schedule your CMS to publish content to a variety of digital marketing channels automatically.
For more tips and tricks on building a comprehensive content workflow, listen to our podcast episode: Leveling up Your SaaS Content From Good to Great.
Limited bandwidth, experience, or resources can be a major hurdle for any company’s content strategy, but that doesn’t have to be the end of the story.
Our SEO content workflow produces top-notch content that looks and feels like your brand while growing your organic traffic and bottom line. Let us help you scale up while prioritizing quality and performance — Book a call with our CEO, Nate Turner to see if SEO-focused content is a good fit for your company.