Why you need a strong editorial process (and 5 Steps to Build One)

Why you need a strong editorial process (and 5 Steps to Build One)

5 minute read

Why you need a strong editorial process (and 5 Steps to Build One)

5 minute read

Why you need a strong editorial process (and 5 Steps to Build One)

Afoma Umesi

GatherContent Contributor, Writer

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Why You Need a Strong Editorial Process (and 5 Steps to Build One)

If you’ve ever been to a factory or watched a production assembly line, it’s easy to understand the value of having a process.

An editorial process is the content marketing equivalent of a factory conveyor belt and its checkpoints. It refers to the journey your content takes from idea generation to post-publication and the actions you and your team take to prepare the content.

We’ll review the key benefits of a strong editorial process and highlight the top five elements needed to build one.

Why a strong editorial process is important

Having an organized and effective editorial process is essential for three reasons:

Supports brand consistency

A factory without a predetermined production process will produce mismatched, uneven items. It’s the same for your marketing team: they’ll struggle to maintain consistency without a good editorial process. Some content may be overlooked, while other content will be optimized to top quality.

On the other hand, when you implement an editorial process, you refine and align each piece of content with your brand. An editorial process requires you to plan content in advance so that the finished product is intentional and effective.

This way, you produce valuable content that helps your audience and drives revenue for your business.

Increases work efficiency

With strong editorial policies in place, efficiency is bound to increase. A clearly outlined process ensures everyone knows the required workflow and where they should step in. As content moves through the process, all relevant team members stay up to date.

This organizational style means team members never have to think twice about what tasks they need to accomplish. Plus, an organized team reduces duplicated efforts. They clearly understand their work and the goals behind it.

Ensures distributed effort

When you have an editorial process, it’s less likely that all tasks will fall on one individual. Instead, tasks are evenly distributed to appropriate team members.

A screenshot of the GatherContent platform shows several content items (Email 1, Email 2, etc) with two prominent drop-down menus. One is for Assignees, and team members are listed underneath. Another is the status of the piece, including Draft, Departmental review, Marketing review, Legal review, and Approved for publishing.
Clear communication is a critical component of even task distribution.

To achieve this efficiency, your team should document their work processes. Clear roles and responsibilities make it easier for team members to pick up the slack when another is absent.

A strong editorial process gives your team the best shot at running like a well-oiled machine. Everyone knows where they should be, the workload is fairly distributed, and you can consistently produce content aligned with your brand.

Top elements of a strong editorial process

If you’re wondering where to start setting up your editorial process, here are the main elements. You can adjust the workflow to suit your team’s needs.

Topic ideation

The first phase in your editorial process is the planning phase. This involves brainstorming content based on your audience’s needs, your business goals, and keyword research. Once you’ve settled on relevant topics, adding these to a content calendar will help you and your team stay on track.

For example, for book, magazine, and academic publishers, topic ideation is typically in the form of an idea pitch. Most publishers have a submission system with a stringent submission process. After submission, the editorial team reviews the pitch, and upon a favorable editorial decision, the idea proceeds to the next step (the drafting phase).

💡 Learn more: How to find audience-relevant content ideas: 13 sources to try today.

First draft

Once the ideas are ready, it’s time to start assigning them. Most teams use a project management tool to assign pieces to freelancers or in-house content writers.

To make the first draft a success—especially for first-time collaborators—create a content style guide that outlines how your brand prefers to communicate. This will also ensure that all content (regardless of the source) is harmonious.

Content calendars are an excellent tool and popular for content production. Once you’ve established a deadline and assigned the content, a writer has everything they need to turn a content idea into a draft in progress.

A screenshot of the GatherContent Calendar view. Under each day of the week, content pieces are listed. Headshot bubbles appear next to some of them, showing that each piece of content has been assigned to a specific team member.
In GatherContent, you can set up a content calendar and assign articles to team members.
Good to Know: With the calendar view in GatherContent, team members are automatically notified of their assignments—no need to send documents back and forth! You can also embed content guidelines (or a checklist) and a content brief within the project. Once their first draft is ready, they can re-assign the piece to another team member.

Review

When the first draft is done, it’s time for the first major revision. Typically, marketing teams assign revisions to their in-house or freelance copy editors. This person reviews the piece for accuracy, structure, narrative arc, value, and overall adherence to the company’s style guide.

To make the review process helpful for the writers, the editorial board or copyeditor should leave review comments that explain heavy edits. These comments will also be invaluable for helping the writer revise the piece thoroughly.

For example, in the world of academia, first drafts go through an initial scientific screening phase with a member of the editorial office. Then there’s a peer review process during which academic experts in a similar field will recommend whether the draft can be published as is or will require minor to major revisions.

Revisions and final proofing

Revising is the writer’s process of reviewing a draft or manuscript to implement suggested edits. Once a draft is revised and sent back to the editorial team, they’ll do a final proofread to ensure that the piece is in proper shape for publication.

A screenshot of a piece of content in the GatherContent platform. At the top, we can see it's in the Editorial review stage. In the text, we can see cursors from multiple different team members. One team member has highlighted some text and left a comment with a suggestion for using title case.
GatherContent makes it easy for team members to communicate their edits through comments.

For a successful revision process, having a workflow in place is essential. The writer, authors, and co-authors are often required to track changes as they implement edits to allow the editorial staff to follow these changes.

All editorial policies for the revision process should be clearly communicated before the writers begin revising to prevent unnecessary mistakes.

When a revision process works well, team members contribute their expertise to make content the best it can be. Once feedback has been implemented, the content is the best it can be.

Publication

Finally, it’s time to hit publish! The process of publishing content will differ depending on your content management system and your content publication schedule.

Some teams find it helpful to set up a content distribution plan linked to publication. This might mean preparing social media content to publicize the post at publication and for periods after. You can also use newsletters or repurpose content as infographics or videos.

Publish in one go: GatherContent makes it easy to publish your articles to the CMS of your choice using integrations. We have integrations for WordPress, Squarespace, and Drupal. No need to copy and paste—publish straight from your content hub.

Editorial process flowchart

Want to grab this process and go? Here’s a handy flowchart:

Topic ideation → First draft → Submission review → Revisions and final proofing → Publication and distribution

It’s worth noting that the content lifecycle does not end at publication and redistribution. Make time to repurpose, optimize, and refresh already published content to give it new life and keep it performing at its best. (Hubspot reportedly increased organic traffic by 106% using content refreshes.)

Build an efficient editorial process with GatherContent

Whether you’re a content marketer, an editor-in-chief of a magazine, or the senior editor of an academic publication, an efficient editorial process is critical for success. Knowing the path of your content pieces from idea to publication helps set the process on auto-pilot.

Although useful, it can be challenging to streamline an editorial process. GatherContent makes it easier to keep all your content creation tasks on track without needing a million tools. Plan, write, edit, and publish all on one platform.

Ready to see how GatherContent fits into your editorial process? Start your free trial now.

Why You Need a Strong Editorial Process (and 5 Steps to Build One)

If you’ve ever been to a factory or watched a production assembly line, it’s easy to understand the value of having a process.

An editorial process is the content marketing equivalent of a factory conveyor belt and its checkpoints. It refers to the journey your content takes from idea generation to post-publication and the actions you and your team take to prepare the content.

We’ll review the key benefits of a strong editorial process and highlight the top five elements needed to build one.

Why a strong editorial process is important

Having an organized and effective editorial process is essential for three reasons:

Supports brand consistency

A factory without a predetermined production process will produce mismatched, uneven items. It’s the same for your marketing team: they’ll struggle to maintain consistency without a good editorial process. Some content may be overlooked, while other content will be optimized to top quality.

On the other hand, when you implement an editorial process, you refine and align each piece of content with your brand. An editorial process requires you to plan content in advance so that the finished product is intentional and effective.

This way, you produce valuable content that helps your audience and drives revenue for your business.

Increases work efficiency

With strong editorial policies in place, efficiency is bound to increase. A clearly outlined process ensures everyone knows the required workflow and where they should step in. As content moves through the process, all relevant team members stay up to date.

This organizational style means team members never have to think twice about what tasks they need to accomplish. Plus, an organized team reduces duplicated efforts. They clearly understand their work and the goals behind it.

Ensures distributed effort

When you have an editorial process, it’s less likely that all tasks will fall on one individual. Instead, tasks are evenly distributed to appropriate team members.

A screenshot of the GatherContent platform shows several content items (Email 1, Email 2, etc) with two prominent drop-down menus. One is for Assignees, and team members are listed underneath. Another is the status of the piece, including Draft, Departmental review, Marketing review, Legal review, and Approved for publishing.
Clear communication is a critical component of even task distribution.

To achieve this efficiency, your team should document their work processes. Clear roles and responsibilities make it easier for team members to pick up the slack when another is absent.

A strong editorial process gives your team the best shot at running like a well-oiled machine. Everyone knows where they should be, the workload is fairly distributed, and you can consistently produce content aligned with your brand.

Top elements of a strong editorial process

If you’re wondering where to start setting up your editorial process, here are the main elements. You can adjust the workflow to suit your team’s needs.

Topic ideation

The first phase in your editorial process is the planning phase. This involves brainstorming content based on your audience’s needs, your business goals, and keyword research. Once you’ve settled on relevant topics, adding these to a content calendar will help you and your team stay on track.

For example, for book, magazine, and academic publishers, topic ideation is typically in the form of an idea pitch. Most publishers have a submission system with a stringent submission process. After submission, the editorial team reviews the pitch, and upon a favorable editorial decision, the idea proceeds to the next step (the drafting phase).

💡 Learn more: How to find audience-relevant content ideas: 13 sources to try today.

First draft

Once the ideas are ready, it’s time to start assigning them. Most teams use a project management tool to assign pieces to freelancers or in-house content writers.

To make the first draft a success—especially for first-time collaborators—create a content style guide that outlines how your brand prefers to communicate. This will also ensure that all content (regardless of the source) is harmonious.

Content calendars are an excellent tool and popular for content production. Once you’ve established a deadline and assigned the content, a writer has everything they need to turn a content idea into a draft in progress.

A screenshot of the GatherContent Calendar view. Under each day of the week, content pieces are listed. Headshot bubbles appear next to some of them, showing that each piece of content has been assigned to a specific team member.
In GatherContent, you can set up a content calendar and assign articles to team members.
Good to Know: With the calendar view in GatherContent, team members are automatically notified of their assignments—no need to send documents back and forth! You can also embed content guidelines (or a checklist) and a content brief within the project. Once their first draft is ready, they can re-assign the piece to another team member.

Review

When the first draft is done, it’s time for the first major revision. Typically, marketing teams assign revisions to their in-house or freelance copy editors. This person reviews the piece for accuracy, structure, narrative arc, value, and overall adherence to the company’s style guide.

To make the review process helpful for the writers, the editorial board or copyeditor should leave review comments that explain heavy edits. These comments will also be invaluable for helping the writer revise the piece thoroughly.

For example, in the world of academia, first drafts go through an initial scientific screening phase with a member of the editorial office. Then there’s a peer review process during which academic experts in a similar field will recommend whether the draft can be published as is or will require minor to major revisions.

Revisions and final proofing

Revising is the writer’s process of reviewing a draft or manuscript to implement suggested edits. Once a draft is revised and sent back to the editorial team, they’ll do a final proofread to ensure that the piece is in proper shape for publication.

A screenshot of a piece of content in the GatherContent platform. At the top, we can see it's in the Editorial review stage. In the text, we can see cursors from multiple different team members. One team member has highlighted some text and left a comment with a suggestion for using title case.
GatherContent makes it easy for team members to communicate their edits through comments.

For a successful revision process, having a workflow in place is essential. The writer, authors, and co-authors are often required to track changes as they implement edits to allow the editorial staff to follow these changes.

All editorial policies for the revision process should be clearly communicated before the writers begin revising to prevent unnecessary mistakes.

When a revision process works well, team members contribute their expertise to make content the best it can be. Once feedback has been implemented, the content is the best it can be.

Publication

Finally, it’s time to hit publish! The process of publishing content will differ depending on your content management system and your content publication schedule.

Some teams find it helpful to set up a content distribution plan linked to publication. This might mean preparing social media content to publicize the post at publication and for periods after. You can also use newsletters or repurpose content as infographics or videos.

Publish in one go: GatherContent makes it easy to publish your articles to the CMS of your choice using integrations. We have integrations for WordPress, Squarespace, and Drupal. No need to copy and paste—publish straight from your content hub.

Editorial process flowchart

Want to grab this process and go? Here’s a handy flowchart:

Topic ideation → First draft → Submission review → Revisions and final proofing → Publication and distribution

It’s worth noting that the content lifecycle does not end at publication and redistribution. Make time to repurpose, optimize, and refresh already published content to give it new life and keep it performing at its best. (Hubspot reportedly increased organic traffic by 106% using content refreshes.)

Build an efficient editorial process with GatherContent

Whether you’re a content marketer, an editor-in-chief of a magazine, or the senior editor of an academic publication, an efficient editorial process is critical for success. Knowing the path of your content pieces from idea to publication helps set the process on auto-pilot.

Although useful, it can be challenging to streamline an editorial process. GatherContent makes it easier to keep all your content creation tasks on track without needing a million tools. Plan, write, edit, and publish all on one platform.

Ready to see how GatherContent fits into your editorial process? Start your free trial now.

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