A content process can help create a content pipeline—a steady, directed flow of moving content ideas from brainstorm to published.
Bottom line, getting things done gets easier when you clearly know what it takes to produce engaging content.
Few things makes me happier than pressing “publish” on a content article I wrote, sending out an email marketing campaign I created, or deploying web pages I helped to craft or refresh. You get the gist—getting things done gets me going! Yet the creative journey to get there can be less than thrilling and even more frightening when you do not have an organised process in place to create content from start to finish.
Add to this scenario the fact that your content team consists of you, yourself, and well…just you, and the task can feel even more daunting and content chaos even more imminent.
I primarily work as a lone (content) ranger, as a consultant for B2B companies in the healthcare industry. For the last two years I’ve single-handedly developed and managed the user communication and content development department at Philadelphia-based health engagement tech startup, Life.io. I understand what’s it’s like to create content when resources are limited and budget is tight.
Content is far from a one person job. I wear many hats—writer, editor, strategist, project manager, and web publisher—often creating and implementing content strategy simultaneously. Having a process has saved me valuable time and made it easier to collaborate with writers, designers, and even stakeholders who are not directly involved with the creative process like C-suite leadership and clients.
For now, let’s discuss why it’s important to know what it takes to produce content, what to do to map out your content production process, and how one can accomplish this using practical steps.
Why you need a content process
First things first, what is a content process? In short, it is the system you have in place to move content from planning to publish.
When I didn’t have much structure beyond my “get ‘er done” mentality, my process involved lots of meetings, stacks of notes, and long hours especially as the volume of content grew. Maybe your current system is like that?
The main reason why I created an organised content process was because there’s only one of me, but there’s also:
- Many pieces of content to create
- Many channels of content to manage
- Many users’ needs to consider
- Many stakeholders to satisfy
- Many projects and priorities to juggle
The pressure to deliver was high and the pace often felt hurried. Ultimately, there was more tasks than time to complete them. After working on a chaotic content project where copy was written by several different writers, multiple versions of documents were in more than one place, and a standard writing template didn’t exist, that’s when I finally sat down to write out my process. The benefits of having a content process include:
- You can give more realistic estimates of your time
- You can be honest about what you can and cannot accomplish
- You can determine exactly what you need, from staffing to budget, to get the job done (and you know how I love getting things done!)
I’ve learned that a more structured content process can help you clearly set content standards, define and assign roles, and communicate to stakeholders outside the creative process what’s required to create content.
What it takes to map your content production process
Again, a content process is a systematic way to view all of the stages of content development and should account for every task, person, material, requirement, dependency involved in each stage. Ultimately, your content process should be the answer to this question: “What does it take to make content at my organisation?”
This is critical to answer because obtaining a budget or making the argument for hiring additional staff depends on how well you can answer this question. So what should you do to be equipped to answer this question?
Create a visual table of the tasks, steps, resources, stakeholders, and time frame involved in creating a single piece of content. Identify a piece of content you create regularly like a weekly email newsletter and list the following items involved in creating and publishing this content:
- Each work task or step (e.g., Write, Edit, Approve, Proofread, Load, etc)
- Each person and their role (e.g., Writer, Designer, Developer, etc)
- Any necessary materials or software (e.g., CMS)
- Any stakeholders involved in content review or approvals
- Estimated time involved in each task
Then repeat and do this for every piece of content you create. The key is to document this information so you can share it with your co-workers and leadership. It can also help you identify where you’re spending your time and opportunities to incorporate tools and software to automate tasks and help you save time. (Editor’s note: GatherContent is a tool to help teams organise and produce lots of website content).
By using this method, I have been able to educate stakeholders, particularly those who manage budgets, on the needs of a content department and the investment required to create engaging content. In fact, I was able to build the case to incorporate GatherContent software into our content development practice, which helped to create transparency and streamline our production process.
Here’s how you start creating a content process today
Building a content process is a lot like creating a financial budget—both help you know what’s coming in and out so you can operate within your means. You should identify common content items you create and list tasks, assigned roles, and the timeframe needed to move the item to completion. I recommend you do this with anyone on your team that is involved in creating or publishing content to ensure you have a comprehensive list. When you know what it takes to produce content you can create strategies that help you do more in an efficient and sustainable manner.
Malaika is speaking at Confab this May in Minneapolis. Use code GATHER18 for a $100 discount off your ticket.