For any online business to scale via organic means content marketing and a content workflow management process are crucial for creating growth workflows that every digital business should be starting with.
Do we still need to remind ourselves of the value of content creation? Hopefully Not!
I believe you create content on a weekly or monthly basis and you know the value of content. However, the question you should ask yourself is “how efficient is your content creation process?”
While creating content is great, you need a system to organize your content marketing and scale.
Creating excellent content should not be by chance or happenstance. It should be repeatable and consistent.
You should know what works and what does not, what new things to try out, and what old practices to stop entirely.
Without an efficient and properly documented content workflow, your content creation process appears all muddy, and consistently producing top-notch content seems like a game of chance.
Whether you’re a one-man team or you manage a team of freelancers and marketers, you need a content workflow system to simplify your content creation and distribution process.
I’m sure that by now you are already thinking and asking all the vital questions: what is content workflow? What are the benefits? How do I create a content workflow system that helps me achieve results? What tools do I need?
Relax! This article was written with you in mind and I’ll be providing answers to all your questions.
I’ll also be sharing with you how you can set up a content workflow management system that helps you and your team produce excellent pieces of content consistently.
What is a Content Workflow?
Content workflow is a documented sequence of processes that entails everything involved in your content strategy and execution, from planning to publication and further promotion.
A content workflow provides answers to all the questions about how you seek to achieve the desired results with your content strategy;
- Why am I creating this content?
- What type of content do I want to publish?
- What are my goals and objectives for each content type?
- Who is responsible for what?
- What channels should I use?
- What tools should I adopt?
An effective content workflow encompasses everything involved in content creation from the ideation stage until publication. From strategy (the why) to processes (the how), tasks (the what), the channels (the where), and the people (the who)
About 70% of marketers are investing actively in content management. Hence, there is a need to create better workflows to optimize the content creation process.
Benefits of Using a Content Workflow Management System
No matter the stage your online business is in its content marketing, a content workflow gives you the big picture at a glance.
A workflow management system is a tool or software that helps you create clearly defined processes for content creation. It streamlines the sequential steps that a piece of content would travel through, from ideation to completion.
An efficient content workflow management system offers the following advantages over manual email collaboration.
- Consistency of Content: creating great content is similar to how you make your favorite meal. For you to produce excellent results all the time, you need a recipe. You should think of your content workflow as your recipe for excellence.
A content workflow management system helps you create standard processes and routines for all the tasks involved in content creation.
You get to create a pattern to achieving excellence without restricting creativity. Thus producing great content becomes a regular thing for you and not a one-time fluke.
- Better teamwork and collaboration: workflow management system helps your team be more productive through better communication and collaboration.
Everybody on the team has a well-defined role; they understand it and the job description that comes with it.
Apart from knowing and appreciating individual roles, team members can also see the bigger picture and how they fit in.
These factors are crucial in managing a marketing team. Accountability and communication are ensured when using such an approach.
- Better quality of content: a content workflow management system helps you define and document set down processes for completing a task.
When a problem arises, troubleshooting is made easier. You can quickly identify where precisely in the content production pipeline is substandard.
Team members also know their roles, what to do, or who to reach out to in such a situation. Hence, content creation is not haphazard nor rushed, resulting in a better quality of content.
- Creates room for automation of repeatable processes: you don’t have to be stuck all day sending emails, hand-filling a content calendar, or responding to eternal social media responses.
A content workflow management system helps you organize these processes and introduce specific software to manage repeatable tasks and processes.
With the right automation tools, your content strategy and workflow become easier to execute and monitor.
According to stat, 75% of businesses use one form of automation or the other, and you should not be left behind.
- Enhances other aspects of content strategy: after a perfect execution and your content gets published, what next? I hope you do not think that’s the end?
You have to promote your content, track results, and optimize content for better performance as the need arises.
Many marketers tend to downplay the impacts of content promotion and optimization to their detriment. Only 51% of brands think updating old content is their most efficient tactic.
With a content workflow management system, nothing is overlooked or carried out abruptly. Everything gets the attention it deserves. Thus, high performance is ensured.
How to Create a Content Workflow
Content workflow varies depending on the content type, client needs, and channel of publication. Creating a blog post for a company’s blog will be different from designing graphics for an Instagram campaign.
However, the overall pattern and flow are much alike compared to the minor differences.
These steps are all-encompassing and can be modified to suit each content type as the case may be.
1) Identify What Needs to be Done
Defining the task is the first step in creating a content workflow that makes you feel like a superhero.
Here are five reasons why you should identify tasks first when designing a content workflow.
- It makes your work easier
- It reduces the potential for error and delays
- It helps when assigning roles and responsibilities
- It ensures maximum output
- Content is produced faster, thus more reactive and relevant
It is best to take your time in identifying all the details of your content creation process rather than using a generic template.
Using a template might not be adequate because each company has its mode of content operation and management.
To create a personalized workflow that helps you achieve excellent results, here are the key areas you should consider when coming up with a list of tasks to be done:
- Content planning
- Content Creation (from written to video)
- Content publishing
- Content distribution
- Content promotion
These phases can then be further broken down into smaller tasks such as research, SEO analysis, creating an outline, writing, editing, proofreading, social distribution, performance analysis, and optimization.
Defining each task in detail is important when tracking performance and for setting standards and guidelines.
For example, under the task editing, you might have spelling and grammar, style, format and tone, readability, on-page SEO checklist, the accuracy of facts and statistics.
Highlighting all these details ensures that your workflow runs smoothly and pitfalls are correctly identified to prevent any inconsistency or delay.
2) Identify Who Needs to Do What
After having a clear idea of the tasks and processes involved in executing a content strategy, the next step in creating an effective workflow is defining the skill sets required and assigning tasks to the right team members.
Identifying roles and responsibilities helps you ensure that round pegs are put in the corresponding round holes. Each team member will know their roles, the expected standard, and the deadline expected with each task.
This reduces excuses and ensures that all team members are responsible for their actions and inactions. Team members understand their roles and how it all fits into the overall content strategy.
Also, you get to provide answers to questions about your team setup by defining roles and responsibilities.
- Do current team members have the required skill set or not?
- Do team members need more training to be more efficient on the job?
- Should I keep this position in-house or outsource it to a freelancer?
- Oh, John is good with graphics, but can he edit our videos?
Depending on how complex a project is, roles and responsibilities may vary, and as a content manager, you should be up to managing such complexities.
You may need to define functions such as content strategist, copywriter, editor, graphics designer, project manager, UX expert, etc.
Spelling out each person’s job also creates the right channel and flow of information and communication.
For example, the content writer and editor can work more closely to understand each other’s roles and timelines. When the final edit is ready; those in charge of publishing and promotion know precisely when and how to carry on.
3) Identify the When and How
One of the reasons marketers prefer to use the term “workflow” is because it connotes an ordered sequence.
Remember, it is a recipe, and to produce a delicious meal from it, you have to follow the appropriate order, adding each ingredient at the right time and in the correct quantity.
Matching the relevant tasks to the appropriate role is not enough to produce excellent results. Priorities and deadlines must also be set.
Assigning priorities and deadlines help you identify with pinpoint accuracy where a piece of content is in the production pipeline at any given time.
This helps you track results and monitor team members. You can quickly identify red flags and resolve issues before they turn into more significant problems.
For example, if you hire a freelance writer to create a blog post, they will need guidelines and input from your content strategist to write to your standard.
After completing the first draft, they also need to work with an in-house editor for the post to match your style and tone. All these are time-dependent. So, to achieve the best results, the sequence and deadlines must be adequately spelled out.
4) Educate your Team
If you’re just thinking of adopting a content workflow system, then there’s a need to educate your team on how your future operations will run.
Using a workflow efficiently requires shared knowledge and understanding. It is more true if you are introducing new processes, tools, or team members.
An onboarding video that explains the role and task of each of your team members will provide a sense of responsibility to your team members.
Doing this helps everyone on the team get onboard about the new ways of doing this. More importantly, it reduces excuses such as “oh i didn’t know that was part of my job.”
Some team members may also need further training to function appropriately in a new role. You may have to invest in educational programs, online courses, and conferences to help your team stay ahead.
The goal is to create a top-level, highly motivated, and engaged team. Being on the same page with your team makes your work as the manager more straightforward and efficient.
When everyone on the team understands their roles, there is synchrony and better collaboration resulting in high-quality content.
Content Workflow Tools
If you manage a large team and your content workflow is appropriately set up, you’ll reap lots of benefits by investing in content workflow tools.
They allow you to automate all or part of the content creation process, thereby maximizing productivity.
Here are some types of tools to invest in to speed up and centralize your content creation process.
Project Management Tools
A project management tool is one of the most critical tools you can’t but have to create a content workflow system.
Take a few minutes to ask yourself these questions: what’s been accomplished (completed projects)? What’s in the pipeline (ongoing projects)? What’s next (outstanding projects)? Who are those in charge?
Providing answers to these questions helps you stay on track. It’s OK If you oversee a small team and manage a few simple projects.
But as the projects become more complex in structure and number, you may find it difficult to keep up. That’s where a project management tool comes in.
A good project management tool is the delight of any content manager or marketer. It makes it easier to keep your objectives in sight and see how every task contributes to the ultimate goals.
The ideal tool should help you do the following:
- Identify where a piece of content is in the production pipeline at any given time
- Identify who is responsible for each task and process
- Streamline your workflow into manageable tasks
- Recognize pitfalls and allows for prompt corrections
The digital marketing atmosphere is filled with good project management tools, but Nifty is one of the best.
G2 awarded Nifty the #1 project management platform. It helps you streamline and centralize all your tasks, create a clear plan of action, and automate progress tracking.
Content Calendar Tools
Since we are talking about content workflow, you can’t omit a content calendar tool. Manually updating a spreadsheet can be cumbersome and daunting. It is the same for publishing and responding to messages on social media.
What if you have a tool that could do these without much hassle? I’m sure your work life would be less chaotic and more systemized.
The good thing is that some project management tools have inbuilt editorial and scheduling features.
However, for cases where you need a better handle on your editorial calendar, using a third-party tool is important.
The ideal tool should be responsive, user friendly, and helps you with vital processes such as:
- Planning for contents in advance
- Documenting ideas and curating content
- Integrating campaigns across several channels
- Prompt changes and tracking of deadlines
- Automatic scheduling and publishing of content
CoSchedule and Buffer are two of the most reputable platforms that can help you with all these functionalities.
With the recent work-from-home push necessitating more remote work, the need for a more coherent means of communication and collaboration becomes more pronounced.
Your team members can be anywhere across the globe. With the right tool, brainstorming, information sharing, and innovation would still be flawless.
Using email as the primary means of communication is going out of fashion and is no longer efficient.
Not everyone finds the time to go through their mail. So, timely information may not be attended to promptly. Several other problems might arise:
- Delayed or spammed messages
- A longer time of response
- Plenty of room for misunderstandings
- Messages can contain viruses
You need something better. You need a real-time communication platform where all team members can work on the same project together.
Although there are many such tools out there, Slack easily comes to mind here. It is a real-time collaboration and channel-based messaging platform.
When it comes to communicating with team members and clients, Slack is your one stop solution. It allows for file sharing, organised conversation, voice or video calls, and connection of other apps and tools.
Content creation should not be a nightmare for you. It should be as delightful and seamless as possible.
The key to achieving this is creating an efficient content workflow and using the right tools.
Coming up with a personalized workflow for your team should not cause any headache if you follow the well-laid-out approach I have highlighted in this post.