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Content workflow template: What it is and how to create it in 7 easy steps

Content workflow template: What it is and how to create it in 7 easy steps

7 minute read

Content workflow template: What it is and how to create it in 7 easy steps

7 minute read

Content workflow template: What it is and how to create it in 7 easy steps

Masooma Memon

GatherContent Contributor, Writer
Having a well-defined content workflow template is crucial for effortlessly executing your content strategy by a set schedule. In fact, it makes all the difference between a smoothly executed marketing campaign and one that hits bottleneck after bottleneck.

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If you and your team find yourself grappling with clarifications, working on easily avoidable errors, even rehashing entire content pieces, you need a defined content workflow.

In this post, we’ll quickly recap what a content marketing workflow template is and give you a step-by-step breakdown of how to create one.

What is a content marketing workflow?

A content workflow template is a fleshed-out plan covering all the steps involved in executing your content strategy across multiple marketing channels

To this end, it’s based on three foundational pillars that implement your content strategy:

  • People
  • Processes
  • Tools

The benefits of having a content workflow template

Using a content marketing workflow template to run your content operations delivers a plateful of benefits such as:

  • Better clarity: Everyone on the team is clear on what they have to do and how they have to do it.
  • Enhanced team productivity: Repeatable (and documented) processes save time – not just with producing new content but with onboarding new team members and freelance writers, too.
  • Accurate time budgeting: With better clarity of responsibilities, a proper content collaboration channel, and documented processes, everyone can work by a predetermined schedule.
  • More time for content promotion and for focusing on quality: A well-defined process and reduced repeat work leave room for focusing on content quality. This also gives more bandwidth for often neglected processes like content distribution, updates, and refreshes.

Convinced you need a content workflow template? Let’s walk you through how to make one.

A comprehensive content workflow template

Since a simple content marketing workflow covers everything involved in creating and distributing content, a basic template should address:

  1. Full review of your content strategy including your goals, content formats you’ll create (such as case studies, blog posts, video content, and podcasts), and the channels you’ll create content for (e.g., social media platforms and search engines).
  2. Collaboration over content creation. This covers creating briefs, keyword research and SEO optimization, design work, and sharing documented notes such as brand voice, style guide, buyer personas, and a design guide for the team graphic designer among others.
  3. Publishing covering formatting and uploading content to your content management software (CMS), social media scheduling tools, and other marketing channels.
  4. Distribution addressing your content promotion strategy on where and how you’ll promote content.
  5. Analysis or studying content performance including periodically updating content to keep it fresh and relevant. As your content bank grows, this part will include content refreshes as well.

An example case of a content marketing workflow in GatherContent

Now to show all this theory in practice, here’s an example of blog content workflow in GatherContent.

A typical blog content workflow covers:

  • Topic ideation
  • Creating briefs and assigning blog posts
  • Reviewing the blog post and sharing feedback
  • Readying for publication
  • Distribution

Once you’ve selected blog topics to cover, start creating briefs within the platform.

Need to know: GatherContent helps streamline the process by minimizing back and forth and making it easy to track progress with template briefs. Each step in the process is included in the template so team members working on the piece know what’s expected of them.

As you build out the templates needed for your team, you can make sure to include the most relevant information needed by your content team to make sure it follows your content strategy.

An example of creating a GatherContent Blog Post template
With a template that allows you to embed guidelines and expectations in your editing environment, it makes it easy for authors and editors to follow your content plan and rules.

This example blog post template, for example, shows the assets needed from a writer – complete with specific guidelines on what screenshots shouldn’t include.

An example of creating a GatherContent Blog Post template
By including guidelines for what needs to be delivered and how it should look, you no longer have ambiguity over content requirements

By clicking on the brief’s status bar at the top center of the dashboard, you can also quickly set due dates.

GatherContent workflow status due dates for briefs
By assigning deadlines to each stage of your content, expectations are clear for the person assigned to that stage of the workflow.

And, track progress using the coloured rounds beside each project.

Once the writer finishes their job, they can change the draft’s status to review and tag the editor or project manager. This person, in turn, can easily share feedback using inline comments.

GatherContent inline comments for content
With all feedback and edits in one place, GatherContent truly allows contributors to have real-time content collaboration which helps eliminate bottlenecks or lost feedback chains.

Next step: getting the post ready for publication. By integrating GatherContent with your CMS like WordPress, this process should be a breeze. The workflow tool automatically uploads blog posts to your CMS with their formatting intact – ready for publication.

Finally, for promoting each piece of content, create a checklist-based blog promotion template within GatherContent. With each published post, follow through the steps in the checklist so you’re giving your content the love it deserves by promoting it well enough.

7 steps in content workflow management

Creating a well-oiled content workflow takes more than broadly breaking down your content processes into a template.

It also involves correctly estimating the amount of time each step in the process takes – something we aren’t very good at doing as we tend to underestimate the time it takes to do something (technically, known as planning fallacy).

The solution? Follow these steps as you start creating your workflow:

1. Select the tools you’ll use

Good tools facilitate the workflow by providing content marketing teams a platform to collaborate in one place.

So the basic tools that you’ll need are:

2. Review your content strategy with the team

This will give you and your entire team a refresher of:

  • Your content goals
  • Who your target audience is
  • The channels you’ll market on
  • Type of content to create
  • Your publishing frequency

If you already haven’t, you’ll want to document your strategy, goals, and buyer persona. These will help guide the creation process.

Based on your goals, don’t forget to decide on the key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics you want to track for a defined time.

3. Write down each step involved in the process and for creating each content type

Example steps for a case study:

  • Reaching out to customer
  • Interviewing them
  • Transcribing the interview
  • Assigning the brief and other documents such as case study template
  • Editing, publishing, and distributing.

4. Time each step using a time tracking software

Use Toggl to understand exactly how long each workflow task takes in real-time. Then add buffer time to the estimates so you have built-in fail-safes to keep production on schedule.

5. Identify who will do each task involved in the process

Ask yourself questions like who brainstorms content topics for the quarter? Who assigns briefs? Who designs branded graphics? Who formats content for publishing?

Depending on your team size, you might have people responsible for different roles. This means you might not have a social media manager or specialized proofreaders on the team. But you need to specify exactly who’ll be executing the work that these roles come with.

💡 See also: Organise your content team: Bring clarity using this roles and responsibilities chart

6. Document your processes

This includes outlining your workflow around assigning content pieces, editing them, publishing them, and so on.

You’ll also want to create checklists to guide decision-making. For example, create checklists for content submission, SEO optimization, and promotion.

GatherContent content workflow checklist example
The GatherContent platform allows you to build these custom checklists into each of your templates.

Create one for approving content ideas as well so your team works on the best ones only.

💡 See also: Checklist Template: Validate Content Ideas

7. Build your content calendar

Finally, create a schedule with dedicated timeslots for promoting content and analyzing its performance.

GatherContent editorial content calendar
With a workflow that includes all the steps from ideation to analysis you are able to see exactly what stage the content in your calendar is in.

With your editorial calendar set, your content marketing workflow template is ready to guide your processes and deliver its benefits.

Tips for planning and executing workflows

Before we wrap this up, here are four more tips to help you build an effective content workflow template:

☑️ Use quality-control checklists

In addition to steps-based checklists, create checklists for monitoring quality. For example, make checklists for writing high-quality blog posts, editing and proofreading them.

☑️ Set realistic goals

This is harder said than done. But if you’re focusing on quality over quantity in content production, make sure you choose a publishing frequency that’s achievable.

☑️ Work ahead of time

For each piece of content, create two dates: complete date and publishing date. This way, you can have publishable content ready well in advance, which helps to stick with your publishing schedule.

☑️ Reiterate as needed

Tweak and improve your content workflow based on what you learn by putting the workflow to practice. This will help you add and remove channels to your workflow too.

If you and your team find yourself grappling with clarifications, working on easily avoidable errors, even rehashing entire content pieces, you need a defined content workflow.

In this post, we’ll quickly recap what a content marketing workflow template is and give you a step-by-step breakdown of how to create one.

What is a content marketing workflow?

A content workflow template is a fleshed-out plan covering all the steps involved in executing your content strategy across multiple marketing channels

To this end, it’s based on three foundational pillars that implement your content strategy:

  • People
  • Processes
  • Tools

The benefits of having a content workflow template

Using a content marketing workflow template to run your content operations delivers a plateful of benefits such as:

  • Better clarity: Everyone on the team is clear on what they have to do and how they have to do it.
  • Enhanced team productivity: Repeatable (and documented) processes save time – not just with producing new content but with onboarding new team members and freelance writers, too.
  • Accurate time budgeting: With better clarity of responsibilities, a proper content collaboration channel, and documented processes, everyone can work by a predetermined schedule.
  • More time for content promotion and for focusing on quality: A well-defined process and reduced repeat work leave room for focusing on content quality. This also gives more bandwidth for often neglected processes like content distribution, updates, and refreshes.

Convinced you need a content workflow template? Let’s walk you through how to make one.

A comprehensive content workflow template

Since a simple content marketing workflow covers everything involved in creating and distributing content, a basic template should address:

  1. Full review of your content strategy including your goals, content formats you’ll create (such as case studies, blog posts, video content, and podcasts), and the channels you’ll create content for (e.g., social media platforms and search engines).
  2. Collaboration over content creation. This covers creating briefs, keyword research and SEO optimization, design work, and sharing documented notes such as brand voice, style guide, buyer personas, and a design guide for the team graphic designer among others.
  3. Publishing covering formatting and uploading content to your content management software (CMS), social media scheduling tools, and other marketing channels.
  4. Distribution addressing your content promotion strategy on where and how you’ll promote content.
  5. Analysis or studying content performance including periodically updating content to keep it fresh and relevant. As your content bank grows, this part will include content refreshes as well.

An example case of a content marketing workflow in GatherContent

Now to show all this theory in practice, here’s an example of blog content workflow in GatherContent.

A typical blog content workflow covers:

  • Topic ideation
  • Creating briefs and assigning blog posts
  • Reviewing the blog post and sharing feedback
  • Readying for publication
  • Distribution

Once you’ve selected blog topics to cover, start creating briefs within the platform.

Need to know: GatherContent helps streamline the process by minimizing back and forth and making it easy to track progress with template briefs. Each step in the process is included in the template so team members working on the piece know what’s expected of them.

As you build out the templates needed for your team, you can make sure to include the most relevant information needed by your content team to make sure it follows your content strategy.

An example of creating a GatherContent Blog Post template
With a template that allows you to embed guidelines and expectations in your editing environment, it makes it easy for authors and editors to follow your content plan and rules.

This example blog post template, for example, shows the assets needed from a writer – complete with specific guidelines on what screenshots shouldn’t include.

An example of creating a GatherContent Blog Post template
By including guidelines for what needs to be delivered and how it should look, you no longer have ambiguity over content requirements

By clicking on the brief’s status bar at the top center of the dashboard, you can also quickly set due dates.

GatherContent workflow status due dates for briefs
By assigning deadlines to each stage of your content, expectations are clear for the person assigned to that stage of the workflow.

And, track progress using the coloured rounds beside each project.

Once the writer finishes their job, they can change the draft’s status to review and tag the editor or project manager. This person, in turn, can easily share feedback using inline comments.

GatherContent inline comments for content
With all feedback and edits in one place, GatherContent truly allows contributors to have real-time content collaboration which helps eliminate bottlenecks or lost feedback chains.

Next step: getting the post ready for publication. By integrating GatherContent with your CMS like WordPress, this process should be a breeze. The workflow tool automatically uploads blog posts to your CMS with their formatting intact – ready for publication.

Finally, for promoting each piece of content, create a checklist-based blog promotion template within GatherContent. With each published post, follow through the steps in the checklist so you’re giving your content the love it deserves by promoting it well enough.

7 steps in content workflow management

Creating a well-oiled content workflow takes more than broadly breaking down your content processes into a template.

It also involves correctly estimating the amount of time each step in the process takes – something we aren’t very good at doing as we tend to underestimate the time it takes to do something (technically, known as planning fallacy).

The solution? Follow these steps as you start creating your workflow:

1. Select the tools you’ll use

Good tools facilitate the workflow by providing content marketing teams a platform to collaborate in one place.

So the basic tools that you’ll need are:

2. Review your content strategy with the team

This will give you and your entire team a refresher of:

  • Your content goals
  • Who your target audience is
  • The channels you’ll market on
  • Type of content to create
  • Your publishing frequency

If you already haven’t, you’ll want to document your strategy, goals, and buyer persona. These will help guide the creation process.

Based on your goals, don’t forget to decide on the key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics you want to track for a defined time.

3. Write down each step involved in the process and for creating each content type

Example steps for a case study:

  • Reaching out to customer
  • Interviewing them
  • Transcribing the interview
  • Assigning the brief and other documents such as case study template
  • Editing, publishing, and distributing.

4. Time each step using a time tracking software

Use Toggl to understand exactly how long each workflow task takes in real-time. Then add buffer time to the estimates so you have built-in fail-safes to keep production on schedule.

5. Identify who will do each task involved in the process

Ask yourself questions like who brainstorms content topics for the quarter? Who assigns briefs? Who designs branded graphics? Who formats content for publishing?

Depending on your team size, you might have people responsible for different roles. This means you might not have a social media manager or specialized proofreaders on the team. But you need to specify exactly who’ll be executing the work that these roles come with.

💡 See also: Organise your content team: Bring clarity using this roles and responsibilities chart

6. Document your processes

This includes outlining your workflow around assigning content pieces, editing them, publishing them, and so on.

You’ll also want to create checklists to guide decision-making. For example, create checklists for content submission, SEO optimization, and promotion.

GatherContent content workflow checklist example
The GatherContent platform allows you to build these custom checklists into each of your templates.

Create one for approving content ideas as well so your team works on the best ones only.

💡 See also: Checklist Template: Validate Content Ideas

7. Build your content calendar

Finally, create a schedule with dedicated timeslots for promoting content and analyzing its performance.

GatherContent editorial content calendar
With a workflow that includes all the steps from ideation to analysis you are able to see exactly what stage the content in your calendar is in.

With your editorial calendar set, your content marketing workflow template is ready to guide your processes and deliver its benefits.

Tips for planning and executing workflows

Before we wrap this up, here are four more tips to help you build an effective content workflow template:

☑️ Use quality-control checklists

In addition to steps-based checklists, create checklists for monitoring quality. For example, make checklists for writing high-quality blog posts, editing and proofreading them.

☑️ Set realistic goals

This is harder said than done. But if you’re focusing on quality over quantity in content production, make sure you choose a publishing frequency that’s achievable.

☑️ Work ahead of time

For each piece of content, create two dates: complete date and publishing date. This way, you can have publishable content ready well in advance, which helps to stick with your publishing schedule.

☑️ Reiterate as needed

Tweak and improve your content workflow based on what you learn by putting the workflow to practice. This will help you add and remove channels to your workflow too.

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