Estimate your content effort

3 minute read

We know just how hard it can be to get good quality content planned, created and published. Whilst every project is different, the same basic challenges crop up again and again.So we've published a book to help teams get content done! Written by Liam King, who also presents our Content Strategy Masterclass, it's called Content Delivery: Deliver high quality website content, on time and in budget. The book is completely free!

Content Delivery will help teams put content-first and arm them with techniques and know-how to deliver content on time. From upfront planning, to getting a team and process in place and implementing your plan, the book shares advice for every step of the way. It's a good basis for taking steps towards improving your content operations, and indeed, making your ContentOps as efficient as possible with the people, processes and technology available to you.

Whether you’re part of an in-house team or an agency working with clients, this book is for those who are responsible for websites with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of content items.Check out our extract below. This is one of the more practical parts of the book and aims to help teams estimate the effort needed to deliver their content, and yield insights to help them plan for the required resources.

You only need two things to start estimating the Effort and cost of your content delivery. If you have been following the book to this point you should know these numbers:A) The number of prioritised items for the new site in the content backlog (list)B) An estimate of how much Effort (in hours) it will take to progress a single content item through your workflow

Remember that you don’t need to include existing content you have decided to lift as it is into the new site - blog posts and news articles are a common example of this. But do allow some time for applying any new tagging and checking they look ok in their new home.

Warning: the time estimate from the workflow design workshop is the accumulated Effort (in hours) of several people working on the same item of content - the Subject Matter Expert + Copywriter + CMS Editor, etc. This total is important to know, but it is more useful to strip this back to the estimated Effort for the Copywriter in the workflow.Copywriters (and other content creators such as Animators and Illustrators) will contribute the most Effort to delivering an item through the workflow. Understanding and resourcing their Effort is therefore the most important thing at this point, especially if you need to find budget to hire them.Now start to dig a bit deeper for insights you can act on.

Now calculate the number of Available working days [E] between your proposed project start date and the launch deadline (if known).If Available working days [E] is smaller than Estimated Accumulated content Effort (days) [D] then you need to know about it because you are heading for a project delay as the content catches up.You have 3 levers to operate at this point to balance the equation:

  • Increase the number of Copywriters in the team (to increase available working days)
  • Reduce the amount of content items you prioritise for launch
  • Extend the window for delivery - start earlier and / or push back the website launch date

The temptation at this point is to reduce the estimated Effort to move a content item through the workflow. I know: I’ve done it. Don’t. Stick to your guns or you will simply feel the content pain later in the project when you run out of budget or have to delay the launch of the site. If, and it’s a big if, you have overcooked it then you will deliver early and have some budget left.

Piloting the workflow is a good way to validate and adjust your estimate before you commit. You can then update your calculations with more accurate numbers.If you need to hire in Copywriters (or other content creator types) you can now go out for quotes or do some day rate multiplication to estimate the price of content delivery.

About the author

Robert Mills

Rob is Head of Content at GatherContent. He is a journalism graduate and has previously worked as Studio Manager and Head of Content for a design agency and as an Audience Research Executive for the BBC. He’s a published author and regular contributor to industry publications including Net Magazine, Smashing Magazine, 24 Ways,WebTuts+, UX Matters , UX Booth and Content Marketing Institute. On occasion Rob speaks about content strategy and ContentOps at leading industry events.

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