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Content production: 6 steps to ensuring your content actually helps you meet your goals

Content production: 6 steps to ensuring your content actually helps you meet your goals

7 minute read

Content production: 6 steps to ensuring your content actually helps you meet your goals

7 minute read

Content production: 6 steps to ensuring your content actually helps you meet your goals

Marijana Kay

Freelance writer and content strategist
Regardless of the scale or scope of your content, you need to have a strategic and robust content production process. If you don’t have a content workflow to rely on, it will delay content projects, and the content itself could be inconsistent and poorly executed.

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Without a clear process in place, the content most likely won’t help you achieve your business goals or meet the needs of your audience, which results in a waste of any resources you’ve used creating content.

If you're a small (or one person) team, it may seem like you don't need a process at all. But here’s the problem with that: without a process, there’s a chance your content isn’t serving its purpose.

Creating a content production process, collaboratively

By creating a solid content production process, it ensures that every person on your marketing team knows:

  • The goals they’re working towards
  • Tasks they need to complete
  • Time allocated for them
  • Any due dates
  • Other team members they depend on
  • Where each piece of content lives

To scale and streamline your process, you need to establish a solid content workflow. This process for creating new content will need to take into account any challenges your marketing team and business will go through.

Get your content team together and find a way to document your process, like using a whiteboard, a blank wall with post-its, a spreadsheet, or GatherContent.

Then, you will create your content production process by defining each of the six factors involved:

  • Goals
  • Tasks
  • Roles
  • Task order
  • Timeline and due dates
  • Content inventory responsibilities

Let’s look at each of these elements in more detail and go through the actions you need to take to define your content process.

1. Map out the goals of your content.

If your content is not mapped to your business goals, digital marketing goals, and audience needs, then there is no process that can help you move your business in the direction you want. When each piece of your creative content has a defined goal, you have the power to measure its performance and focus on the optimization of your future efforts.

Knowing whether your content aims to increase your search engine rankings, brand awareness, lead generation, or anything else of importance to your business helps you make an actual difference with this content.

content goals
Writing out your content goals will help you to keep on track and stay aligned with your business goals (Source).

How to do it

Here are some things to keep in mind as you map out content goals:

  • The best time to assign goals to each piece of your content is at the topic planning stage or whenever you are coming up with content ideas, such as during the discovery or kick-off phase for website projects.
  • Planning your content topics in bulk is the most common and efficient way to define your content calendar, and it's also a great time to define content goals for a quarter or even a whole year ahead.
  • After you have listed your content ideas for the quarter, use the space next to the topics and types of content to add a goal for each piece of content.
  • Review the goal for each content asset to see if it aligns with your overall business and marketing goals.

If your content goals do not align with your business goals, you'll need to reconsider the types of digital content and topics that you are focused on. For example, if your overarching goal is to increase lead generation by 15%, but the majority of the goals you assigned to your topics are aimed at growing brand awareness, then you're not going to meet those goals.

It's time to go back to the drawing board with your topic planning with these overarching goals in mind so you can build an editorial calendar that will actually help you meet these goals. This is why it’s valuable to plan at least a quarter ahead. It gives you a chance to review the effect your content will have on the big picture and time to revisit and adjust your entire content marketing strategy based on that.

💡 See Also: This checklist can help you and your team to critique, discuss and validate content ideas when creating goals for your content.


2. List out all the tasks that are part of your content production process.

Not knowing the tasks involved in your content production process can delay or derail projects. If you don’t have your content production tasks documented, your content may not get published on time, or it may never get published at all.

For example, when you set aside the time for writing and editing, but not for design and revisions, you will suddenly need extra time to complete the project. It may just not be possible for your team to complete these unexpected tasks immediately. This results in delays and lots of frustration.

Content tasks example
Clearly list out every single stage of the content production process so that no tasks are overlooked (Source).

How to do it

Here are a few tips for making sure that your list of tasks is complete and effective:

  • List every single action that needs to happen for a piece of content to move from the brief to approved and published. Sounds simple (and obvious), but it’s easy to forget about certain steps and substeps. Go ahead and list everything that happens during your production process. And I do mean all of it!
  • Be as detailed as possible when listing tasks, and do not consolidate your tasks just yet. For example, list every single revision you need to do, like copy revision, headline revision, graphics revision, instead of simply listing general revision as a task.
  • Don’t forget stages like fact-checking, proofreading, translation, or legal review, too. This ensures you don’t forget any of the smaller tasks that become a bottleneck in the process when forgotten. This may result in a long list that may appear to create more work for your team, but the steps that follow after this one will help you refine the list and make it actionable.
  • Consider every type of content as you are creating your task list. For example, podcast and video content and require different steps than written content like whitepapers or LinkedIn posts.
  • Check in once again with everyone who helps you produce content to make sure all of the tasks are identified. Your team members may be able to point out tasks that you neglected to add to the list.

When you’ve gone through the process above, you’re ready for the next step!

3. Assign roles in your content production process.

Assign each of the tasks you created in the previous step to the person who is responsible for getting them done. It’s important for everyone on your team to be on the same page when it comes to knowing what tasks they are expected to complete in the content creation process.

If the tasks are not complete, more than just your deadline is at risk. Having uncompleted tasks becomes a ground for blame-shifting and unhealthy team relationships, which can carry long-term consequences.

Content production roles
Every task in the content production process has to be assigned to a person so that everyone is clear on who is responsible at each stage of the process.

How to do it

Once it’s time to assign roles and responsibilities to each person on your production team, you will:

  • Consider each person on your team, their overall role, and their talents and interests before assigning tasks.
  • Then, go to your task list from the previous step, and add a name next to each of the tasks.
  • If you find that more than one person is assigned to a single task OR a task is too big for just one person, break the larger task into subtasks.
  • Make sure everyone involved is on the same page, and each team member agrees on the scope of their responsibilities.

If you are the only person involved in the process, then you won’t need to assign tasks. However, it is important to finish the remaining steps below.

💡 See Also: Download this free template - Roles and Responsibilities Chart

4. Identify the order of steps in your content production process.

If the order of tasks in your content production process doesn’t make sense, you will have people waiting on each other to finish tasks. Instead, they should be maximising their time and working simultaneously whenever possible to shorten the production process.

Once you’ve created your content production process, you’ll need a way to manage it. With GatherContent, you can create content workflows and manage each step of the content production process so that everyone is on the same page.

Content production process
The content production process outlines every step you need to complete in order to reach the desired output.

How to do it

Now, it’s time to go back to your task list to decide what order the tasks should be completed. Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Document which tasks are dependent on other tasks. For example, a content writer will need to finish their task before the editor can do their work.
  • Identify which tasks can be completed simultaneously. Are there any tasks on your list that can be completed at the same time to maximise efficiency?
  • Create a logical order for your tasks keeping dependencies in mind. Go back through the entire process to make sure everything looks right before you implement it.

Here is a simple example. Let’s say you have two people who look after all graphic elements for your content, but one of them sources photography and graphics, while the other will edit them based on your brand guidelines. The task to edit the images should never come before sourcing the images. Otherwise, one person will be wasting their time waiting for the other one to complete their task.

Another time-saving activity here is to look at your content production stages from a higher perspective and look for any tasks you can do concurrently. For example, while your copy is still in its second revision, the person in charge of sourcing images can probably get started with their task.

5. Establish a timeline and due dates.

Establishing a timeline and due dates is the final building block for an effective content production process. It’s what glues together all the pieces into a repeatable process defined by dates and milestones.

Again, after you establish a timeline and due dates, you'll need an easy and organized way to set content deadlines and track progress. GatherContent offers features that allow you to create content assignments, assign them, set content deadlines, and view the overall content calendar so that everyone is on the same page (and turning stuff in on time!)

Content timeline example
Using a content timeline allows you to set deadlines for your content and track the progress along the way (Source).

How to do it

There are two parts to this step, which I like to call ‘time to complete’ and ‘days before’ components. Each of your tasks now has its owner and is positioned correctly. Work with each of the task owners to add the estimated time it takes for a specific task to be finished.

If this is your first time mapping out your production process, make sure to keep these times rounded up at first. For example, if you and the task owner believe it takes 45 minutes to complete a task, round it up to an hour.

This is also the best time to look into consolidating tasks and the time it takes to complete them. Obviously, you’ll only want to do this when multiple tasks are of a similar nature, and a single person is in charge of them. Doing this will also give you a clearer overview of the entire process and everyone involved.

The second part of this step is to map out all the tasks backward from your publish date. For example, let’s say you want to publish a piece of content every Tuesday, and you want to have it in your CMS by Friday of the previous week.

Working backward may look something like this:

  • A blog post goes live every Tuesday
  • Schedule blog post for publishing in CMS: 4 days before, Friday
  • Write and schedule social messages: 5 days before, Thursday
  • Insert graphics into the post: 7 days before, Tuesday
  • Design header, body, and social media graphics: 8 days before, Monday
  • Second revision and final proofread: 11 days before, Friday
  • First revision: 13 days before, Wednesday
  • First draft: 15 days before, Monday

…and so on.

Work with everyone involved in the process to adjust it to what works best for them. By doing this, they will get a clear picture of what amount of time needs to be allocated for content production each week.

And the best thing about this is that the more you go through this process, the better you get. Over time, you may realise you can consolidate more tasks. You may coordinate roles that can work closely together to get something done faster. You could decide to allow for more time for reviews and quality checks to improve the value your content is bringing to your audience.

Need to know: The GatherContent platform allows you to create content assignments, design content workflows, set content deadlines and so much more to help with content project management.

6. Identify content inventory responsibilities.

Content inventory responsibilities must be defined so you never misplace a piece of content. Just like responsibilities over tasks, each team member should be certain about their role in maintaining the content inventory.

Content Inventory Example
Creating and using a content inventory will allow you to stay organized, keep track of all your content so that nothing ever gets lost and stay on top of all updates (Source).

How to do it

Most of the tasks you defined will come with a specific addition or a change to your content inventory. For example, the person in charge of writing the first draft will create a document that will contain that draft.

The person reviewing it will make changes to that same file. The person sourcing your images will share them with a person in charge of editing those images. That person then needs to store the new graphics they create. The person that will upload them to CMS needs to access them and write social updates for that piece of content.

So your action here is to assign a content inventory responsibility—if there is one associated with the task, of course—to each of the tasks. So if the task is “Write 10 headline versions: 11 days before, Friday”, you can add “Create a Headlines file in post’s folder” to it. The specifics will depend on whatever system you use to organise your files.

By defining inventory responsibilities at the start, you can ensure that no one will ever have to waste time searching for a file when they need it.

Wrapping it up

Creating a content production process will get you on the path to creating high-quality content without delays, pushbacks, misunderstandings, and frustrations. The best place to start is to look at your most recent content and audit the actions that led up to it.

While auditing your process, take note of:

  • Any delays that happened
  • Anything that was put on hold because it depended on another team member
  • The state of your content inventory and any fixes to it you had to make after publishing that content
  • Any occasions where ownership over a task wasn’t clear

The list that comes out, as a result, is your set of weak spots. Now, set aside several hours with your team (or for yourself if you’re on your own) and go through the six steps with these weak spots in mind.

Complete all the tasks and document everything you discuss. And then, you’re ready to implement your new process for the first time and grow it into a challenge-resistant workflow.

Without a clear process in place, the content most likely won’t help you achieve your business goals or meet the needs of your audience, which results in a waste of any resources you’ve used creating content.

If you're a small (or one person) team, it may seem like you don't need a process at all. But here’s the problem with that: without a process, there’s a chance your content isn’t serving its purpose.

Creating a content production process, collaboratively

By creating a solid content production process, it ensures that every person on your marketing team knows:

  • The goals they’re working towards
  • Tasks they need to complete
  • Time allocated for them
  • Any due dates
  • Other team members they depend on
  • Where each piece of content lives

To scale and streamline your process, you need to establish a solid content workflow. This process for creating new content will need to take into account any challenges your marketing team and business will go through.

Get your content team together and find a way to document your process, like using a whiteboard, a blank wall with post-its, a spreadsheet, or GatherContent.

Then, you will create your content production process by defining each of the six factors involved:

  • Goals
  • Tasks
  • Roles
  • Task order
  • Timeline and due dates
  • Content inventory responsibilities

Let’s look at each of these elements in more detail and go through the actions you need to take to define your content process.

1. Map out the goals of your content.

If your content is not mapped to your business goals, digital marketing goals, and audience needs, then there is no process that can help you move your business in the direction you want. When each piece of your creative content has a defined goal, you have the power to measure its performance and focus on the optimization of your future efforts.

Knowing whether your content aims to increase your search engine rankings, brand awareness, lead generation, or anything else of importance to your business helps you make an actual difference with this content.

content goals
Writing out your content goals will help you to keep on track and stay aligned with your business goals (Source).

How to do it

Here are some things to keep in mind as you map out content goals:

  • The best time to assign goals to each piece of your content is at the topic planning stage or whenever you are coming up with content ideas, such as during the discovery or kick-off phase for website projects.
  • Planning your content topics in bulk is the most common and efficient way to define your content calendar, and it's also a great time to define content goals for a quarter or even a whole year ahead.
  • After you have listed your content ideas for the quarter, use the space next to the topics and types of content to add a goal for each piece of content.
  • Review the goal for each content asset to see if it aligns with your overall business and marketing goals.

If your content goals do not align with your business goals, you'll need to reconsider the types of digital content and topics that you are focused on. For example, if your overarching goal is to increase lead generation by 15%, but the majority of the goals you assigned to your topics are aimed at growing brand awareness, then you're not going to meet those goals.

It's time to go back to the drawing board with your topic planning with these overarching goals in mind so you can build an editorial calendar that will actually help you meet these goals. This is why it’s valuable to plan at least a quarter ahead. It gives you a chance to review the effect your content will have on the big picture and time to revisit and adjust your entire content marketing strategy based on that.

💡 See Also: This checklist can help you and your team to critique, discuss and validate content ideas when creating goals for your content.


2. List out all the tasks that are part of your content production process.

Not knowing the tasks involved in your content production process can delay or derail projects. If you don’t have your content production tasks documented, your content may not get published on time, or it may never get published at all.

For example, when you set aside the time for writing and editing, but not for design and revisions, you will suddenly need extra time to complete the project. It may just not be possible for your team to complete these unexpected tasks immediately. This results in delays and lots of frustration.

Content tasks example
Clearly list out every single stage of the content production process so that no tasks are overlooked (Source).

How to do it

Here are a few tips for making sure that your list of tasks is complete and effective:

  • List every single action that needs to happen for a piece of content to move from the brief to approved and published. Sounds simple (and obvious), but it’s easy to forget about certain steps and substeps. Go ahead and list everything that happens during your production process. And I do mean all of it!
  • Be as detailed as possible when listing tasks, and do not consolidate your tasks just yet. For example, list every single revision you need to do, like copy revision, headline revision, graphics revision, instead of simply listing general revision as a task.
  • Don’t forget stages like fact-checking, proofreading, translation, or legal review, too. This ensures you don’t forget any of the smaller tasks that become a bottleneck in the process when forgotten. This may result in a long list that may appear to create more work for your team, but the steps that follow after this one will help you refine the list and make it actionable.
  • Consider every type of content as you are creating your task list. For example, podcast and video content and require different steps than written content like whitepapers or LinkedIn posts.
  • Check in once again with everyone who helps you produce content to make sure all of the tasks are identified. Your team members may be able to point out tasks that you neglected to add to the list.

When you’ve gone through the process above, you’re ready for the next step!

3. Assign roles in your content production process.

Assign each of the tasks you created in the previous step to the person who is responsible for getting them done. It’s important for everyone on your team to be on the same page when it comes to knowing what tasks they are expected to complete in the content creation process.

If the tasks are not complete, more than just your deadline is at risk. Having uncompleted tasks becomes a ground for blame-shifting and unhealthy team relationships, which can carry long-term consequences.

Content production roles
Every task in the content production process has to be assigned to a person so that everyone is clear on who is responsible at each stage of the process.

How to do it

Once it’s time to assign roles and responsibilities to each person on your production team, you will:

  • Consider each person on your team, their overall role, and their talents and interests before assigning tasks.
  • Then, go to your task list from the previous step, and add a name next to each of the tasks.
  • If you find that more than one person is assigned to a single task OR a task is too big for just one person, break the larger task into subtasks.
  • Make sure everyone involved is on the same page, and each team member agrees on the scope of their responsibilities.

If you are the only person involved in the process, then you won’t need to assign tasks. However, it is important to finish the remaining steps below.

💡 See Also: Download this free template - Roles and Responsibilities Chart

4. Identify the order of steps in your content production process.

If the order of tasks in your content production process doesn’t make sense, you will have people waiting on each other to finish tasks. Instead, they should be maximising their time and working simultaneously whenever possible to shorten the production process.

Once you’ve created your content production process, you’ll need a way to manage it. With GatherContent, you can create content workflows and manage each step of the content production process so that everyone is on the same page.

Content production process
The content production process outlines every step you need to complete in order to reach the desired output.

How to do it

Now, it’s time to go back to your task list to decide what order the tasks should be completed. Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Document which tasks are dependent on other tasks. For example, a content writer will need to finish their task before the editor can do their work.
  • Identify which tasks can be completed simultaneously. Are there any tasks on your list that can be completed at the same time to maximise efficiency?
  • Create a logical order for your tasks keeping dependencies in mind. Go back through the entire process to make sure everything looks right before you implement it.

Here is a simple example. Let’s say you have two people who look after all graphic elements for your content, but one of them sources photography and graphics, while the other will edit them based on your brand guidelines. The task to edit the images should never come before sourcing the images. Otherwise, one person will be wasting their time waiting for the other one to complete their task.

Another time-saving activity here is to look at your content production stages from a higher perspective and look for any tasks you can do concurrently. For example, while your copy is still in its second revision, the person in charge of sourcing images can probably get started with their task.

5. Establish a timeline and due dates.

Establishing a timeline and due dates is the final building block for an effective content production process. It’s what glues together all the pieces into a repeatable process defined by dates and milestones.

Again, after you establish a timeline and due dates, you'll need an easy and organized way to set content deadlines and track progress. GatherContent offers features that allow you to create content assignments, assign them, set content deadlines, and view the overall content calendar so that everyone is on the same page (and turning stuff in on time!)

Content timeline example
Using a content timeline allows you to set deadlines for your content and track the progress along the way (Source).

How to do it

There are two parts to this step, which I like to call ‘time to complete’ and ‘days before’ components. Each of your tasks now has its owner and is positioned correctly. Work with each of the task owners to add the estimated time it takes for a specific task to be finished.

If this is your first time mapping out your production process, make sure to keep these times rounded up at first. For example, if you and the task owner believe it takes 45 minutes to complete a task, round it up to an hour.

This is also the best time to look into consolidating tasks and the time it takes to complete them. Obviously, you’ll only want to do this when multiple tasks are of a similar nature, and a single person is in charge of them. Doing this will also give you a clearer overview of the entire process and everyone involved.

The second part of this step is to map out all the tasks backward from your publish date. For example, let’s say you want to publish a piece of content every Tuesday, and you want to have it in your CMS by Friday of the previous week.

Working backward may look something like this:

  • A blog post goes live every Tuesday
  • Schedule blog post for publishing in CMS: 4 days before, Friday
  • Write and schedule social messages: 5 days before, Thursday
  • Insert graphics into the post: 7 days before, Tuesday
  • Design header, body, and social media graphics: 8 days before, Monday
  • Second revision and final proofread: 11 days before, Friday
  • First revision: 13 days before, Wednesday
  • First draft: 15 days before, Monday

…and so on.

Work with everyone involved in the process to adjust it to what works best for them. By doing this, they will get a clear picture of what amount of time needs to be allocated for content production each week.

And the best thing about this is that the more you go through this process, the better you get. Over time, you may realise you can consolidate more tasks. You may coordinate roles that can work closely together to get something done faster. You could decide to allow for more time for reviews and quality checks to improve the value your content is bringing to your audience.

Need to know: The GatherContent platform allows you to create content assignments, design content workflows, set content deadlines and so much more to help with content project management.

6. Identify content inventory responsibilities.

Content inventory responsibilities must be defined so you never misplace a piece of content. Just like responsibilities over tasks, each team member should be certain about their role in maintaining the content inventory.

Content Inventory Example
Creating and using a content inventory will allow you to stay organized, keep track of all your content so that nothing ever gets lost and stay on top of all updates (Source).

How to do it

Most of the tasks you defined will come with a specific addition or a change to your content inventory. For example, the person in charge of writing the first draft will create a document that will contain that draft.

The person reviewing it will make changes to that same file. The person sourcing your images will share them with a person in charge of editing those images. That person then needs to store the new graphics they create. The person that will upload them to CMS needs to access them and write social updates for that piece of content.

So your action here is to assign a content inventory responsibility—if there is one associated with the task, of course—to each of the tasks. So if the task is “Write 10 headline versions: 11 days before, Friday”, you can add “Create a Headlines file in post’s folder” to it. The specifics will depend on whatever system you use to organise your files.

By defining inventory responsibilities at the start, you can ensure that no one will ever have to waste time searching for a file when they need it.

Wrapping it up

Creating a content production process will get you on the path to creating high-quality content without delays, pushbacks, misunderstandings, and frustrations. The best place to start is to look at your most recent content and audit the actions that led up to it.

While auditing your process, take note of:

  • Any delays that happened
  • Anything that was put on hold because it depended on another team member
  • The state of your content inventory and any fixes to it you had to make after publishing that content
  • Any occasions where ownership over a task wasn’t clear

The list that comes out, as a result, is your set of weak spots. Now, set aside several hours with your team (or for yourself if you’re on your own) and go through the six steps with these weak spots in mind.

Complete all the tasks and document everything you discuss. And then, you’re ready to implement your new process for the first time and grow it into a challenge-resistant workflow.

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About the author

Marijana Kay

Marijana Kay is a freelance writer and content strategist for B2B, marketing and SaaS brands. She’s obsessed with improving how content marketing is done by focusing on actionable and purpose-driven writing.

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