Why you need to refine your content review process (+ How to do it)

Why you need to refine your content review process (+ How to do it)

7 minute read

Why you need to refine your content review process (+ How to do it)

7 minute read

Why you need to refine your content review process (+ How to do it)

Afoma Umesi

GatherContent Contributor, Writer
Moving content through every stage of production—from draft to published—can be a bumpy road if you don’t have an efficient content review process. Both overly long and rushed content reviews can result in frustration, avoidable errors, missed deadlines, and ultimately a derailed content production schedule.

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If your team struggles with any of these issues, this guide will help. We’ll examine why it’s important to have a content review and approval process, who should be involved, and how to get it right for the smoothest possible content creation process.

What does a content review and approval process look like?

The content review process looks different for different content teams, but it tends to follow the general structure below:

First submission → First review → Revisions → Final review → Publish

Let’s take a closer look at the process.

First submission

Depending on your preferences, you can either request an initial outline (before the first draft) or a first draft for the first submission. Most strong content creators prepare a good first draft based on a detailed content brief. Still, for longer pieces, many content teams prefer to have a review team member sign off on the outline before the creator produces a complete draft.

First review

Regardless of what you choose, the first submission kickstarts the review process. Typically the team member in charge reviews the submission for:

  • Adherence to the brief
  • Narrative arc
  • Brand consistency
  • Adherence to editorial guidelines
  • Alignment with content goals

Usually, first drafts aren’t perfect and need to be sent back to the creator for some recommended edits.

Good to Know: GatherContent makes it easy for team members to know when it’s their turn to work on a content piece. You can re-assign the task to them and they’ll receive notifications on the due dates or whenever it’s time to step in.
Screenshot of the GatherContent platform. From a dropdown menu at the top of a content draft page, we can see the different stages of production as labels. The stages are First draft, In review, Final edits, Ready to be published, Published, and Refresh/Hygiene.
GatherContent allows you to visualize the content review process.

Revisions

The creator handles the revision stage. They implement the editor’s initial feedback and prepare the content for the next stage of reviews. Most content pieces only require one round of revisions, but larger, complex content submissions may require an extra review.

Final review and publication

When the piece has been optimized, the creator submits it to the editor for a final review and content approval. Unless there are significant issues, the editor focuses on the following:

  • Copyediting for grammatical errors
  • Optimizing the content for search engines
  • Captioning images
  • Double-checking that all links are active
  • Uploading to the content management system (CMS)
  • Scheduling or publishing as needed
  • Executing the distribution strategy

Again, this process will differ depending on the content type, the content piece's purpose, and the marketing team's size.

For large brand projects, higher stakeholders may need to join the final review or even the first review to keep the project aligned with their goals. The content team may also outsource parts of the publication process (like setting up the CMS) to a virtual assistant.

Why is a content review process necessary?

A content review is the process of evaluating and refining a piece of content so that it complies with editorial guidelines and is optimized to yield the best possible results.

This process is a crucial part of the content management workflow. It ensures that content produced aligns with stakeholders’ goals and helps content teams succeed in their content strategy.

Having an efficient content review process is beneficial in two main ways:

Saves time

Anyone who’s ever gone back and forth with a marketing team on one piece of content knows how stressful and time-wasting it can be. An organized content review process can prevent this and save the entire team valuable time.

Logan Mallory, VP of Marketing at Motivosity, agrees:

"We have a checklist that we use to review content, and after it passes that it gets one final review and then it’s approved. This makes it easy for any member of our team to review content quickly, and then send it over to our department head for final approval. Not only does this save time, but it also acts as a bit of quality control. If the content doesn’t meet standards, it can be quickly sent back with notes on what to change, which saves time on both ends."
Logan Mallory
VP of Marketing, Motivosity

When there’s a defined workflow for the content review, less time is wasted on waiting and wondering who should do what next. This means content teams can publish high-quality content promptly.

Maintains high content quality

Like a factory achieves quality control by using designated checkpoints, your content review process allows you to fine-tune each piece of content using stipulated guidelines.

Milo Cruz, CMO of Freelance Writing Jobs, explains:

"Having a review and approval process improves the quality of our work. It helps establish clear standards and identifies areas for improvement that writers can work on. By ensuring strict adherence to our editorial style guide, our editors ensure that we maintain a consistent content quality."

Content review processes are more important than ever for brand consistency because more marketing teams outsource work to freelance writers. Reports from MarketerHire show that 80% of in-house marketers frequently work with freelancers, outsourcing nearly half (46%) of their tasks.

A content review team ensures that no matter who creates the content, it goes through the same team every single time—resulting in harmonious content with the same high quality.

What team members are involved in a content review?

Whether you have a larger content team or a small team of one, you’ll need to have at least one person in charge of reviewing content. Larger teams may benefit from more than one reviewer. In general, a content review team is made up of the following parties:

  • Content creator: The content creator executes the creation arm of the process. They might be a content writer, copywriter, or videographer. The content review process begins when they submit their draft—or in some cases, their content outline.

  • Content editor: The editor’s role is to do the first content review. This review may involve looking at an outline and requesting a full draft which they then edit before the next step. In some content teams, the editor publishes the content as the final step of the content review process.

  • Marketing manager/Head of content/Review team leader: Some teams have a final review stage with a higher team member. This could be a marketing manager, head of content, content strategist, managing editor, or some other content team leader.

Regardless of how you structure your content review team, be wary of creating bottlenecks. Lauren Funaro, Content Editor at Scribe, recommends:

"Make sure you identify who absolutely has to review and how many iterations one piece of content goes through. For example, you don't need your directors to approve every social post. And no article should go through more than 2-3 review cycles. Someone much wiser than I once said, ‘Perfect is the enemy of good enough.’ You can always edit and optimize later."
Lauren Funaro
Content Editor, Scribe

How to create a content review and approval process that works

Every team’s content review process is unique. Here’s how to build one that complements your needs and helps you accomplish your business goals.

Understand your content goals

Your goals for content will impact how you run your content review.

For example, if your team is focused on building traffic in a competitive industry, you may be more inclined to publish a high amount of content. This means your content review is unlikely to be lengthy. It should allow you to get high quality content out as quickly as possible.

However, suppose your brand is more well-established, and you’re rebranding or getting into brand journalism or thought leadership content. In that case, you might have the luxury of adopting a longer content review timeline.

Whatever your goals are, communicate them to your content creators. Funaro explains why:

"Don't assume your writer knows what you want—even if you work with them consistently. This will lead to a lot of edits and rewrites. No one knows your brand voice or content goals more than you. Distill that info and articulate it clearly for your writers. I combat this issue with strong content briefs for each article. I've also developed a resource center that's specific to my freelancers. It offers product details, writing formatting standards and brand best practices to follow."
Lauren Funaro
Content Editor, Scribe
Good to Know: What else helps teams keep up with content production? A solid editorial calendar. Create one using our free editorial calendar template.

Know your content team

Do you have a sprawling team for whom the workload can be broken into small chunks for a more “all-hands-on-deck” process? Or are you a one-person content team planning and reviewing all the content?

Larger teams may have different team members at different points of the workflow, while smaller teams are restricted to having one person handle all the responsibility. Knowing your team’s strengths and weaknesses will help you build a sustainable process.

Create editorial guidelines and workflows

Editorial guidelines are the basis of your content review. Documenting your processes is essential because it allows other team members to step in for absent content reviewers. Set up a Kanban-style board to map the processes and build a content style guide to standardize your content.

Corey Haines, Cofounder of SwipeWell and Founder of Swipe Files, explains:

"Our content production and review process used to be very lengthy and tedious until we started doing a few things. The first was establishing strict editorial guidelines that we held our writers accountable to. Eventually, this cut out a lot of the repetitive feedback we were making and cut out a lot of editing."
Corey Haines
Cofounder of SwipeWell& Founder of Swipe Files

Share the guide and workflow with all involved team members and help the team adhere to the guidelines by following them yourself. The content review process isn’t set in stone. It should be reviewed regularly to identify any gaps or bottlenecks. This opens the door for refinements that keep things effective.

The content review process isn’t set in stone. It should be reviewed regularly to identify any gaps or bottlenecks, and allow for refinements that keep things effective.

Streamline your workflow with GatherContent

Content reviews are crucial for creating impactful content. But a haphazard review process can make reviewing tedious for content teams.

Building comprehensive editorial guidelines, designing a sustainable workflow, and communicating with all team members tremendously improves the content production process.

With GatherContent, it’s easy to do all three things. Create and share your brand’s editorial guidelines within each assignment, see who’s next in the production line, and keep all teammates up to date on the content review process—all in one platform!

Ready to improve your content marketing workflow? Sign up with GatherContent.

If your team struggles with any of these issues, this guide will help. We’ll examine why it’s important to have a content review and approval process, who should be involved, and how to get it right for the smoothest possible content creation process.

What does a content review and approval process look like?

The content review process looks different for different content teams, but it tends to follow the general structure below:

First submission → First review → Revisions → Final review → Publish

Let’s take a closer look at the process.

First submission

Depending on your preferences, you can either request an initial outline (before the first draft) or a first draft for the first submission. Most strong content creators prepare a good first draft based on a detailed content brief. Still, for longer pieces, many content teams prefer to have a review team member sign off on the outline before the creator produces a complete draft.

First review

Regardless of what you choose, the first submission kickstarts the review process. Typically the team member in charge reviews the submission for:

  • Adherence to the brief
  • Narrative arc
  • Brand consistency
  • Adherence to editorial guidelines
  • Alignment with content goals

Usually, first drafts aren’t perfect and need to be sent back to the creator for some recommended edits.

Good to Know: GatherContent makes it easy for team members to know when it’s their turn to work on a content piece. You can re-assign the task to them and they’ll receive notifications on the due dates or whenever it’s time to step in.
Screenshot of the GatherContent platform. From a dropdown menu at the top of a content draft page, we can see the different stages of production as labels. The stages are First draft, In review, Final edits, Ready to be published, Published, and Refresh/Hygiene.
GatherContent allows you to visualize the content review process.

Revisions

The creator handles the revision stage. They implement the editor’s initial feedback and prepare the content for the next stage of reviews. Most content pieces only require one round of revisions, but larger, complex content submissions may require an extra review.

Final review and publication

When the piece has been optimized, the creator submits it to the editor for a final review and content approval. Unless there are significant issues, the editor focuses on the following:

  • Copyediting for grammatical errors
  • Optimizing the content for search engines
  • Captioning images
  • Double-checking that all links are active
  • Uploading to the content management system (CMS)
  • Scheduling or publishing as needed
  • Executing the distribution strategy

Again, this process will differ depending on the content type, the content piece's purpose, and the marketing team's size.

For large brand projects, higher stakeholders may need to join the final review or even the first review to keep the project aligned with their goals. The content team may also outsource parts of the publication process (like setting up the CMS) to a virtual assistant.

Why is a content review process necessary?

A content review is the process of evaluating and refining a piece of content so that it complies with editorial guidelines and is optimized to yield the best possible results.

This process is a crucial part of the content management workflow. It ensures that content produced aligns with stakeholders’ goals and helps content teams succeed in their content strategy.

Having an efficient content review process is beneficial in two main ways:

Saves time

Anyone who’s ever gone back and forth with a marketing team on one piece of content knows how stressful and time-wasting it can be. An organized content review process can prevent this and save the entire team valuable time.

Logan Mallory, VP of Marketing at Motivosity, agrees:

"We have a checklist that we use to review content, and after it passes that it gets one final review and then it’s approved. This makes it easy for any member of our team to review content quickly, and then send it over to our department head for final approval. Not only does this save time, but it also acts as a bit of quality control. If the content doesn’t meet standards, it can be quickly sent back with notes on what to change, which saves time on both ends."
Logan Mallory
VP of Marketing, Motivosity

When there’s a defined workflow for the content review, less time is wasted on waiting and wondering who should do what next. This means content teams can publish high-quality content promptly.

Maintains high content quality

Like a factory achieves quality control by using designated checkpoints, your content review process allows you to fine-tune each piece of content using stipulated guidelines.

Milo Cruz, CMO of Freelance Writing Jobs, explains:

"Having a review and approval process improves the quality of our work. It helps establish clear standards and identifies areas for improvement that writers can work on. By ensuring strict adherence to our editorial style guide, our editors ensure that we maintain a consistent content quality."

Content review processes are more important than ever for brand consistency because more marketing teams outsource work to freelance writers. Reports from MarketerHire show that 80% of in-house marketers frequently work with freelancers, outsourcing nearly half (46%) of their tasks.

A content review team ensures that no matter who creates the content, it goes through the same team every single time—resulting in harmonious content with the same high quality.

What team members are involved in a content review?

Whether you have a larger content team or a small team of one, you’ll need to have at least one person in charge of reviewing content. Larger teams may benefit from more than one reviewer. In general, a content review team is made up of the following parties:

  • Content creator: The content creator executes the creation arm of the process. They might be a content writer, copywriter, or videographer. The content review process begins when they submit their draft—or in some cases, their content outline.

  • Content editor: The editor’s role is to do the first content review. This review may involve looking at an outline and requesting a full draft which they then edit before the next step. In some content teams, the editor publishes the content as the final step of the content review process.

  • Marketing manager/Head of content/Review team leader: Some teams have a final review stage with a higher team member. This could be a marketing manager, head of content, content strategist, managing editor, or some other content team leader.

Regardless of how you structure your content review team, be wary of creating bottlenecks. Lauren Funaro, Content Editor at Scribe, recommends:

"Make sure you identify who absolutely has to review and how many iterations one piece of content goes through. For example, you don't need your directors to approve every social post. And no article should go through more than 2-3 review cycles. Someone much wiser than I once said, ‘Perfect is the enemy of good enough.’ You can always edit and optimize later."
Lauren Funaro
Content Editor, Scribe

How to create a content review and approval process that works

Every team’s content review process is unique. Here’s how to build one that complements your needs and helps you accomplish your business goals.

Understand your content goals

Your goals for content will impact how you run your content review.

For example, if your team is focused on building traffic in a competitive industry, you may be more inclined to publish a high amount of content. This means your content review is unlikely to be lengthy. It should allow you to get high quality content out as quickly as possible.

However, suppose your brand is more well-established, and you’re rebranding or getting into brand journalism or thought leadership content. In that case, you might have the luxury of adopting a longer content review timeline.

Whatever your goals are, communicate them to your content creators. Funaro explains why:

"Don't assume your writer knows what you want—even if you work with them consistently. This will lead to a lot of edits and rewrites. No one knows your brand voice or content goals more than you. Distill that info and articulate it clearly for your writers. I combat this issue with strong content briefs for each article. I've also developed a resource center that's specific to my freelancers. It offers product details, writing formatting standards and brand best practices to follow."
Lauren Funaro
Content Editor, Scribe
Good to Know: What else helps teams keep up with content production? A solid editorial calendar. Create one using our free editorial calendar template.

Know your content team

Do you have a sprawling team for whom the workload can be broken into small chunks for a more “all-hands-on-deck” process? Or are you a one-person content team planning and reviewing all the content?

Larger teams may have different team members at different points of the workflow, while smaller teams are restricted to having one person handle all the responsibility. Knowing your team’s strengths and weaknesses will help you build a sustainable process.

Create editorial guidelines and workflows

Editorial guidelines are the basis of your content review. Documenting your processes is essential because it allows other team members to step in for absent content reviewers. Set up a Kanban-style board to map the processes and build a content style guide to standardize your content.

Corey Haines, Cofounder of SwipeWell and Founder of Swipe Files, explains:

"Our content production and review process used to be very lengthy and tedious until we started doing a few things. The first was establishing strict editorial guidelines that we held our writers accountable to. Eventually, this cut out a lot of the repetitive feedback we were making and cut out a lot of editing."
Corey Haines
Cofounder of SwipeWell& Founder of Swipe Files

Share the guide and workflow with all involved team members and help the team adhere to the guidelines by following them yourself. The content review process isn’t set in stone. It should be reviewed regularly to identify any gaps or bottlenecks. This opens the door for refinements that keep things effective.

The content review process isn’t set in stone. It should be reviewed regularly to identify any gaps or bottlenecks, and allow for refinements that keep things effective.

Streamline your workflow with GatherContent

Content reviews are crucial for creating impactful content. But a haphazard review process can make reviewing tedious for content teams.

Building comprehensive editorial guidelines, designing a sustainable workflow, and communicating with all team members tremendously improves the content production process.

With GatherContent, it’s easy to do all three things. Create and share your brand’s editorial guidelines within each assignment, see who’s next in the production line, and keep all teammates up to date on the content review process—all in one platform!

Ready to improve your content marketing workflow? Sign up with GatherContent.

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