Content workflow: Why its important and how you can create one for yourself

Content workflow: Why its important and how you can create one for yourself

4 minute read

Content workflow: Why its important and how you can create one for yourself

4 minute read

Content workflow: Why its important and how you can create one for yourself

Mat Murray

Content Strategist, Delete
A company's content workflow can make or break its marketing. Nearly every type of digital marketing campaign relies on some type of content to fuel it. Missed deadlines, off-topic content, and content getting stuck in the approval process can hold campaigns back from success or from even launching in the first place.

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On the other hand, a strategic and effective workflow that's clearly defined and documented makes the content creation process go smoothly. It ensures that all of the content your team creates is high-quality and delivered on time.

Let's dive into what content workflows are and how you can develop your own for more consistent and effective content.

What are content workflows?

Content workflows are the tasks that a person or content team will need to go through to complete a piece of content. Alternatively known as a Content Governance Model, content marketing workflows also define the roles, responsibilities, and documentation of the different steps in the content creation process.

Content workflows help remove the common pitfalls when it comes to producing content. It doesn’t matter how big the task is—from planning and publishing a simple social media post to a multi-channel campaign spread over numerous online channels—a defined workflow will help the process run smoothly.

A defined content workflow helps content marketing teams ensure:

  • Content is accurate, consistent, and timely
  • Content outcomes and deadlines are achievable
  • Common content problems are addressed e.g. bottlenecks and inconsistencies/errors
  • Employees see where they fit into the larger scheme of content creation, contributing to employee engagement
  • Employees with content responsibilities are clearly accountable

Your company's content workflow may look different from another's. It all depends on the content types you create, what your team of content creators looks like, and other aspects of your business processes.

How to develop a content workflow

Through early meetings, stakeholder interviews, and client workshops, we work to get a clear and complete picture of our client’s content landscape. By learning about a client’s system for content, we learn about the bottlenecks and current issues to develop a more holistic approach to content production in the business.

To develop a content workflow, we look at the process, the tasks, and the people involved when it comes to content creation, publishing, and management.

  • Process: From start to finish, how does content travel through the client, its partners, and onto the web?
  • Tasks: Which tasks are required to make the client’s content useful, usable, and enjoyable to its audiences?
  • ‍People: Who is responsible for ensuring that the client’s content is accurate, timely, on-brand, consistent, contextual, and so forth?

A content workflow is not just a “nice to have” thing that you create when you have time. It’s essential to creating quality content consistently without wasting time or money. In fact, there are some risks to working without a content workflow.

The risks of working without a content workflow

When working without a clear plan of action or defined content workflow, there’s the potential for web projects to suffer or fail from the earliest stage. People and processes sit at the heart of content workflows. When you don’t take both of these elements into account when creating content, things can get messy.

Without a defined workflow that includes who does which task in what order, there can't be a clear hand-off from one team member to another. For example, if your copywriter doesn't know who they need to send their draft to next, the draft will stay stuck in limbo and may not be completed in time for the publish date.

Another risk of creating content without a proper workflow is wasting time, money, and resources. Content can be expensive, and by eliminating the bottlenecks or costly problem areas with content production, publishing, or content management, workflows, you can save time, money, and resources as you reduce inefficiencies and improve consistency.

The 3 important components of a content management workflow

When creating a content management workflow, it’s important to consider what’s at the heart of producing content. Process, tasks, and people all need to be carefully considered when creating your workflow.

Process

By looking at the entry and exit point of every piece of content creation, approval, publication, and optimisation, we quickly learn where content slows down in the process. This allows us to easily see where we can make changes and develop efficiencies to make the entire content process much smoother for our clients and their customers.

The quicker content can be generated and published, the more reactive and relevant it will be. If you want to create quality content quickly, you need to have a smooth and efficient process in place that’s tested and well-documented.

As part of your process, be sure to consider the approval workflow. Developing a system for content approval helps ensure the quality of content and make sure everything that goes out is valuable and on-brand. Choose someone on your team to be in charge of improving all digital marketing content that goes out. This could be an editor, content manager, subject matter expert, or head of content.

An infographic showing Website content process cycle
Developing a process for your website content will help to ensure every piece of content is valuable and on-brand. Source

Tasks

The tasks that you include as part of your content workflow are also essential to creating a workflow that runs smoothly. Start by considering all of the tasks that need to be completed for a piece of content to go from ideation through to publishing.

Tasks will vary depending on the type of content that is going out. For instance, video content may require storyboarding, filming, editing, revising, getting approval, finalizing, and publishing the content. Whereas a LinkedIn post requires fewer tasks, so the workflow may look like drafting, editing, approval, and publishing.

Also, to ensure that content is useful and usable across multiple platforms, you need to reuse and repurpose content. When working with clients to develop content workflows, we employ methodologies such as COPE (Create Once, Publish Everywhere) and set up content production standards to ensure that publishing across different platforms and social networks doesn’t require any wholesale changes.

Visibility into which tasks are completed and which are still in progress is important for the team or at least the person managing the process. Using a project management tool makes it easy to track the status of all tasks as well as identify any bottlenecks. GatherContent takes the guesswork and chaos out of content project management by making it easy to create tasks, set due dates, and assign them to members of your team.

Content deadlines in GatherContent
Use GatherContent to set deadlines for each stage of your content creation process to set clear expectations and keep content moving.

People

The content marketers on your team play a significant role in how quickly and effectively each content project is completed. To keep content operations running smoothly, you'll want to make sure that each person is working in their "zone of genius" or completing tasks that make sense for their skill set, talent, and interests.

The people part of the content workflow is often where we can make the biggest changes to the way our clients manage content. Ultimately, the goal here is to maximise value for our clients. One of the ways that we do that is by ensuring the right content team member with the right skillset knows their responsibilities for the task they’ve been assigned to carry out.

To make sure the right people are focused on the right tasks, we map out the newly defined content process and determine which individual members of staff or internal teams own that responsibility. We determine this by considering each team member’s role and strengths as it relates to creating content.

A chart can be used to clearly plan and show who is responsible at each stage of the content workflow.


To keep the process moving smoothly for the whole team, you'll need a way for team members to clearly communicate with one another. For example, if a copywriter is writing a blog post but doesn't understand one of the directions on the content brief, they should be able to quickly reach out to the content strategist to get clarification so they don't miss their deadline.

GatherContent offers a variety of features that ensure everyone on your team is on the same page. You can assign tasks so people know exactly what they are responsible for and assign due dates so they know when it's due. You can also leave comments on the content during the editing process and leave notes for others working on the project so they are up-to-date with any information they need to know.

Need to know: GatherContent content workflow's make responsibility and actions clear, to keep content creation moving and avoid content bottlenecks.

Content workflow template you can use today

Content workflows can take many different forms and include a variety of different tasks and processes. The key to creating the best content workflows for your business is taking all of the following into consideration:

  • How each piece of content fits into your overall content marketing strategy
  • What tasks your team needs to complete to create good content based on best practices
  • What team members are best fit for each task
  • What resources each team member needs (style guide, management tools, etc.)
  • The amount of time a person needs to complete each task
  • How to streamline the process by ensuring there are no overlaps or redundancies

Here is a content workflow template you can use to get started creating your own customized workflow:

Strategy

  • Set a goal for content.
  • Responsible: Content strategist or content manager
  • Time: 10 minutes or 1 hour in bulk
  • Plan content topic.
  • Responsible: Content strategist or content manager
  • Time: 10 minutes or 1 hour in bulk
  • Assign the topic to a writer, and set a due date.
  • Responsible: Content strategist or content manager
  • Time: 10 minutes or 1 hour in bulk

Creation

  • Outline the post.
  • Responsible: Content strategist or copywriter
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Research the topic.
  • Responsible: Copywriter
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Write the first draft.
  • Responsible: Copywriter
  • Time: 3 hours

Editing

  • Edit content, and leave feedback.
  • Responsible: Editor or content manager
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Revise content with editing feedback.
  • Responsible: Copywriter
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Proofread final draft.
  • Responsible: Editor or content manager
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Optimize for the web by creating metadata and adding links.
  • Responsible: SEO manager, content strategist, or content manager
  • Time: 30 minutes

Design

  • Design content graphics.
  • Responsible: Graphic designer
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Design social media graphics.
  • Responsible: Graphic designer
  • Time: 1 hour

Publishing

  • Get final approval from the Head of Content.
  • Responsible: Content manager sends to Head of Content
  • Time: 1-2 days
  • Upload to WordPress or other content management system.
  • Responsible: Content manager
  • Time: 30 minutes

Promotion

  • Create social media posts to share.
  • Responsible: Social media manager
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Schedule social media posts.
  • Responsible: Social media manager
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Create an email.
  • Responsible: Copywriter
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Schedule email.
  • Responsible: Content manager
  • Time: 20 minutes

💡 See Also: This RACI template can help you when creating your content workflow to figure out who is responsible at each stage.

Be sure to adjust this template based on the type of content you are creating. If your editorial calendar typically includes video content, blog content, and social media content you'll want to make sure that you have a specific workflow for each of these types of content.

For example, content planning, creation, optimization, and publishing may be a part of every workflow. But things like storyboarding, proofreading, writing a podcast description, or repurposing into social media posts will be specific to the type of content.

In GatherContent, you can create customized content creation workflows to match the steps that each type of content needs to pass through on its way to being published.

Here's an example of a blog post content workflow in GatherContent:

An example in GatherContent showing a content workflow for a blog post.
Design custom content creation workflows for blog posts, so they match the steps content needs to pass through in order to be published.

Now, let's look at a case study content workflow template. Notice that it includes an extra step—client review—which is unique to case studies.

An example in GatherContent showing a content workflow for a Case Study
Design custom content creation workflows for a case study, so they match the steps content needs to pass through in order to be published.

Here's a website redesign content workflow, which includes some of the same steps as those above but with the unique addition of a legal review:

An example in GatherContent showing a content workflow for a Website Redesign
Design custom content creation workflows for a website redesign, so they match the steps content needs to pass through in order to be published.

Sometimes you have to come back to content and update it. When that's the case, you'll want to include it as part of the workflow like this GatherContent example of a help centre content workflow:

An example in GatherContent showing a content workflow for a Help Centre
Design custom content creation workflows for a help centre, so they match the steps content needs to pass through in order to be published.

Get started building your content workflow

An organisation has many different moving parts, and if those parts aren’t managed effectively, the whole business can fall apart. It’s the same with content. By defining your content workflow, you stand to increase return on investment, improve efficiency and generate well-executed, useful, and usable content for your customers.

A new, more efficient content workflow helps employees have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and where they sit in the process.

Team members will feel empowered and have more ownership of the work they carry out. In fact, our previous work with clients and their teams has led to improved morale in organisations, improved attitudes, and better work ethics across many different types of roles and levels of experience within businesses.

Ready to uplevel your content processes? Build a repeatable content workflow with GatherContent. Start your free trial today.

On the other hand, a strategic and effective workflow that's clearly defined and documented makes the content creation process go smoothly. It ensures that all of the content your team creates is high-quality and delivered on time.

Let's dive into what content workflows are and how you can develop your own for more consistent and effective content.

What are content workflows?

Content workflows are the tasks that a person or content team will need to go through to complete a piece of content. Alternatively known as a Content Governance Model, content marketing workflows also define the roles, responsibilities, and documentation of the different steps in the content creation process.

Content workflows help remove the common pitfalls when it comes to producing content. It doesn’t matter how big the task is—from planning and publishing a simple social media post to a multi-channel campaign spread over numerous online channels—a defined workflow will help the process run smoothly.

A defined content workflow helps content marketing teams ensure:

  • Content is accurate, consistent, and timely
  • Content outcomes and deadlines are achievable
  • Common content problems are addressed e.g. bottlenecks and inconsistencies/errors
  • Employees see where they fit into the larger scheme of content creation, contributing to employee engagement
  • Employees with content responsibilities are clearly accountable

Your company's content workflow may look different from another's. It all depends on the content types you create, what your team of content creators looks like, and other aspects of your business processes.

How to develop a content workflow

Through early meetings, stakeholder interviews, and client workshops, we work to get a clear and complete picture of our client’s content landscape. By learning about a client’s system for content, we learn about the bottlenecks and current issues to develop a more holistic approach to content production in the business.

To develop a content workflow, we look at the process, the tasks, and the people involved when it comes to content creation, publishing, and management.

  • Process: From start to finish, how does content travel through the client, its partners, and onto the web?
  • Tasks: Which tasks are required to make the client’s content useful, usable, and enjoyable to its audiences?
  • ‍People: Who is responsible for ensuring that the client’s content is accurate, timely, on-brand, consistent, contextual, and so forth?

A content workflow is not just a “nice to have” thing that you create when you have time. It’s essential to creating quality content consistently without wasting time or money. In fact, there are some risks to working without a content workflow.

The risks of working without a content workflow

When working without a clear plan of action or defined content workflow, there’s the potential for web projects to suffer or fail from the earliest stage. People and processes sit at the heart of content workflows. When you don’t take both of these elements into account when creating content, things can get messy.

Without a defined workflow that includes who does which task in what order, there can't be a clear hand-off from one team member to another. For example, if your copywriter doesn't know who they need to send their draft to next, the draft will stay stuck in limbo and may not be completed in time for the publish date.

Another risk of creating content without a proper workflow is wasting time, money, and resources. Content can be expensive, and by eliminating the bottlenecks or costly problem areas with content production, publishing, or content management, workflows, you can save time, money, and resources as you reduce inefficiencies and improve consistency.

The 3 important components of a content management workflow

When creating a content management workflow, it’s important to consider what’s at the heart of producing content. Process, tasks, and people all need to be carefully considered when creating your workflow.

Process

By looking at the entry and exit point of every piece of content creation, approval, publication, and optimisation, we quickly learn where content slows down in the process. This allows us to easily see where we can make changes and develop efficiencies to make the entire content process much smoother for our clients and their customers.

The quicker content can be generated and published, the more reactive and relevant it will be. If you want to create quality content quickly, you need to have a smooth and efficient process in place that’s tested and well-documented.

As part of your process, be sure to consider the approval workflow. Developing a system for content approval helps ensure the quality of content and make sure everything that goes out is valuable and on-brand. Choose someone on your team to be in charge of improving all digital marketing content that goes out. This could be an editor, content manager, subject matter expert, or head of content.

An infographic showing Website content process cycle
Developing a process for your website content will help to ensure every piece of content is valuable and on-brand. Source

Tasks

The tasks that you include as part of your content workflow are also essential to creating a workflow that runs smoothly. Start by considering all of the tasks that need to be completed for a piece of content to go from ideation through to publishing.

Tasks will vary depending on the type of content that is going out. For instance, video content may require storyboarding, filming, editing, revising, getting approval, finalizing, and publishing the content. Whereas a LinkedIn post requires fewer tasks, so the workflow may look like drafting, editing, approval, and publishing.

Also, to ensure that content is useful and usable across multiple platforms, you need to reuse and repurpose content. When working with clients to develop content workflows, we employ methodologies such as COPE (Create Once, Publish Everywhere) and set up content production standards to ensure that publishing across different platforms and social networks doesn’t require any wholesale changes.

Visibility into which tasks are completed and which are still in progress is important for the team or at least the person managing the process. Using a project management tool makes it easy to track the status of all tasks as well as identify any bottlenecks. GatherContent takes the guesswork and chaos out of content project management by making it easy to create tasks, set due dates, and assign them to members of your team.

Content deadlines in GatherContent
Use GatherContent to set deadlines for each stage of your content creation process to set clear expectations and keep content moving.

People

The content marketers on your team play a significant role in how quickly and effectively each content project is completed. To keep content operations running smoothly, you'll want to make sure that each person is working in their "zone of genius" or completing tasks that make sense for their skill set, talent, and interests.

The people part of the content workflow is often where we can make the biggest changes to the way our clients manage content. Ultimately, the goal here is to maximise value for our clients. One of the ways that we do that is by ensuring the right content team member with the right skillset knows their responsibilities for the task they’ve been assigned to carry out.

To make sure the right people are focused on the right tasks, we map out the newly defined content process and determine which individual members of staff or internal teams own that responsibility. We determine this by considering each team member’s role and strengths as it relates to creating content.

A chart can be used to clearly plan and show who is responsible at each stage of the content workflow.


To keep the process moving smoothly for the whole team, you'll need a way for team members to clearly communicate with one another. For example, if a copywriter is writing a blog post but doesn't understand one of the directions on the content brief, they should be able to quickly reach out to the content strategist to get clarification so they don't miss their deadline.

GatherContent offers a variety of features that ensure everyone on your team is on the same page. You can assign tasks so people know exactly what they are responsible for and assign due dates so they know when it's due. You can also leave comments on the content during the editing process and leave notes for others working on the project so they are up-to-date with any information they need to know.

Need to know: GatherContent content workflow's make responsibility and actions clear, to keep content creation moving and avoid content bottlenecks.

Content workflow template you can use today

Content workflows can take many different forms and include a variety of different tasks and processes. The key to creating the best content workflows for your business is taking all of the following into consideration:

  • How each piece of content fits into your overall content marketing strategy
  • What tasks your team needs to complete to create good content based on best practices
  • What team members are best fit for each task
  • What resources each team member needs (style guide, management tools, etc.)
  • The amount of time a person needs to complete each task
  • How to streamline the process by ensuring there are no overlaps or redundancies

Here is a content workflow template you can use to get started creating your own customized workflow:

Strategy

  • Set a goal for content.
  • Responsible: Content strategist or content manager
  • Time: 10 minutes or 1 hour in bulk
  • Plan content topic.
  • Responsible: Content strategist or content manager
  • Time: 10 minutes or 1 hour in bulk
  • Assign the topic to a writer, and set a due date.
  • Responsible: Content strategist or content manager
  • Time: 10 minutes or 1 hour in bulk

Creation

  • Outline the post.
  • Responsible: Content strategist or copywriter
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Research the topic.
  • Responsible: Copywriter
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Write the first draft.
  • Responsible: Copywriter
  • Time: 3 hours

Editing

  • Edit content, and leave feedback.
  • Responsible: Editor or content manager
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Revise content with editing feedback.
  • Responsible: Copywriter
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Proofread final draft.
  • Responsible: Editor or content manager
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Optimize for the web by creating metadata and adding links.
  • Responsible: SEO manager, content strategist, or content manager
  • Time: 30 minutes

Design

  • Design content graphics.
  • Responsible: Graphic designer
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Design social media graphics.
  • Responsible: Graphic designer
  • Time: 1 hour

Publishing

  • Get final approval from the Head of Content.
  • Responsible: Content manager sends to Head of Content
  • Time: 1-2 days
  • Upload to WordPress or other content management system.
  • Responsible: Content manager
  • Time: 30 minutes

Promotion

  • Create social media posts to share.
  • Responsible: Social media manager
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Schedule social media posts.
  • Responsible: Social media manager
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Create an email.
  • Responsible: Copywriter
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Schedule email.
  • Responsible: Content manager
  • Time: 20 minutes

💡 See Also: This RACI template can help you when creating your content workflow to figure out who is responsible at each stage.

Be sure to adjust this template based on the type of content you are creating. If your editorial calendar typically includes video content, blog content, and social media content you'll want to make sure that you have a specific workflow for each of these types of content.

For example, content planning, creation, optimization, and publishing may be a part of every workflow. But things like storyboarding, proofreading, writing a podcast description, or repurposing into social media posts will be specific to the type of content.

In GatherContent, you can create customized content creation workflows to match the steps that each type of content needs to pass through on its way to being published.

Here's an example of a blog post content workflow in GatherContent:

An example in GatherContent showing a content workflow for a blog post.
Design custom content creation workflows for blog posts, so they match the steps content needs to pass through in order to be published.

Now, let's look at a case study content workflow template. Notice that it includes an extra step—client review—which is unique to case studies.

An example in GatherContent showing a content workflow for a Case Study
Design custom content creation workflows for a case study, so they match the steps content needs to pass through in order to be published.

Here's a website redesign content workflow, which includes some of the same steps as those above but with the unique addition of a legal review:

An example in GatherContent showing a content workflow for a Website Redesign
Design custom content creation workflows for a website redesign, so they match the steps content needs to pass through in order to be published.

Sometimes you have to come back to content and update it. When that's the case, you'll want to include it as part of the workflow like this GatherContent example of a help centre content workflow:

An example in GatherContent showing a content workflow for a Help Centre
Design custom content creation workflows for a help centre, so they match the steps content needs to pass through in order to be published.

Get started building your content workflow

An organisation has many different moving parts, and if those parts aren’t managed effectively, the whole business can fall apart. It’s the same with content. By defining your content workflow, you stand to increase return on investment, improve efficiency and generate well-executed, useful, and usable content for your customers.

A new, more efficient content workflow helps employees have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and where they sit in the process.

Team members will feel empowered and have more ownership of the work they carry out. In fact, our previous work with clients and their teams has led to improved morale in organisations, improved attitudes, and better work ethics across many different types of roles and levels of experience within businesses.

Ready to uplevel your content processes? Build a repeatable content workflow with GatherContent. Start your free trial today.

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About the author

Mat Murray

Mat is a content strategist at Delete; a digital agency based in London, Leeds and Munich that has been creating digital experiences since 2000.

You can connect with him on LinkedIn, or better still, say hello on Twitter, which is where you’ll find him talking tech, video games and the limited beta release of the some hot social app you’ve never heard of.

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