Workflows can be amazing tools that help speed up your content creation process and unblock any logjams that are slowing down your team. But how do you create the ideal content workflow?
Okay, we have to level with you: there is no one-size-fits-all content workflow. We can’t provide you with the Holy Grail of content marketing and give you a template that will unstick your current content creation process.
You’ll have to do some heavy lifting yourself, and that means identifying and defining what the ideal content workflow is for your team. We aren’t completely abandoning you, though.
While there is no perfect solution, there are some general guidelines that will help you personalize a content workflow system. With a few handy tips, you can create a workflow that keeps quality content moving through your content production pipeline smoothly.
Here’s what you need to do.
What Does It Take to Make a Great Content Workflow?
The best content workflow is going to be whatever process takes your content from idea to delivery as quickly as possible.
But slow down, Usain Bolt, because speed isn’t everything.
Your workflow should also incorporate a quality control process that checks, rechecks, and optimizes your content to align with your goals.
To create the ideal content workflow for your team, ask yourself these questions:
- What needs to happen?
- Who needs to do it?
- When should they do it?
Easier said than done, we know.
But here’s the thing: you probably already have a content workflow, even if you don’t know it.
Content teams without a formally documented workflow process usually have an informal workflow in place.
This is a good starting place to identify the three key elements above. Look at who is doing what when it comes to creating your content and how long it takes them to get it done.
You can then start to refine those stages, identify bottlenecks, and smooth out the process, so it’s working for everyone (and most importantly, getting results for your client). It’s the marketer’s dream.
How to Start Creating the Ideal Content Workflow for Your Team
Because every business and team is different, every content workflow will be different, too. You’ll want to use your team’s current roles, lingo, and process to personalize the workflow instead of shoehorning them into a template you grab off the internet.
Start with the “what/who/when” of your process.
What Needs to Happen?
Break down the “what” into actionable tasks that take your content from idea to published piece.
By making these actionable items, you’ll avoid the confusion that comes with a status. When you assign status instead of action, it may be unclear what’s required next to move the item forward or who needs to take that next step.
Some actionable steps in your workflow might include:
When thinking about the steps you go through with your content, make sure you build in feedback loops. For example, allow feedback loops in the editing phase to send the content back to the writing phase.
Building in these feedback loops will help you ensure your content is actually reviewed and that you have enough time to polish it without missing your deadline.
Who Needs to Do It?
Now that you know what needs to be done, who is in charge of that action? It’s time to assign roles to each of the actionable tasks you’ve listed.
Make sure the tasks and roles are clearly defined to avoid confusion. You should also make sure it’s clear who approves the piece before it moves onto the next task.
At this point, your content marketing workflow might look something like this:
- Strategize, Content strategy team
- Write, Copywriter
- Edit, Editor
- Design, Graphic designer
- Optimize, Social media manager
- Review, Marketing manager
- Publish, Content manager
- Analyze, Project manager
When Should it Be Done?
Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty: how long does each task take?
Be realistic about your timelines. If someone says writing content takes them about four hours in total, that’s not four hours all at once.
They’ll have meetings in there, no doubt, and it’s nice to give them time for a bathroom break occasionally, too.
So build in some additional time to cushion your deadlines. After all, it’s better to be running ahead than running behind.
When you do this, your workflow might now look like this:
- Strategize, Content marketing strategy team (1 day)
- Write, Copywriter (1 day)
- Edit, Editor (1 day)
- Design, Graphic designer (1 day)
- Optimize, Social media manager (1 day)
- Review, Marketing manager (1/2 day)
- Publish, Production manager (1/2 day)
- Analyze, Content project manager (ongoing)
In this example, it would take about six days to take a piece of content from idea to published piece.
When looking at this with your team, see if there are bottlenecks in the process that slow down your production. The more nimble you can be in your creation process, the better you can capitalize on new trends and ideas.
When you know how long it’s going to take, you can set more suitable due dates and create more productive editorial calendars.
Turning Good Content Workflow into Great Content Workflow
Now you have a basic outline of a workflow. Good work, you.
Next, you’ll want to take some steps to really refine it and make sure it works for your marketing team. Here’s how to do that:
Put someone in charge of the overall content creation process.
Someone needs to be in charge of each piece of content you put through this process. That might be the same person each time, or different team members who manage certain types of content. That’s up to you.
But by giving someone ownership of a piece of content, they can make sure it’s moving along through the workflow. For example, if it’s been sitting in edits for a long time, they can find out why and get it going again.
This can help speed up the process and ensure no piece of content falls by the wayside.
Use a tool to track the progress of content through the workflow.
Do what works for you. If your team members respond best to a whiteboard and some dry-erase markers, go for it.
There is a good chance, though, you aren’t all working within the eye line of a whiteboard. Luckily, there are digital tools to help you track the progress of your content as it moves through the workflow.
This way everyone has visibility of and accountability over the process.
(Psst…we have a tool that can help, and it’s totally free. Sign up for a free Welcome account today and try it for yourself.)
Every process needs to be repeatable.
The workflow you create should be repeatable for each piece of content that goes through it. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel every time.
You do, however, want to refine the workflow as you go along. Likewise, you might find that your team can do some work concurrently, or maybe it’s better to take items one at a time, for example.
Refining is good. Starting the content management process from scratch each time isn’t.
Create a different workflow for a different type of content.
Okay, yeah, we just said the process should be repeatable. And it should be, we stand by that.
But it doesn’t have to be the same workflow for every piece of content. Writing a blog article is going to look a lot different from content creators working on a TikTok video.
It’s good to have different workflows for different types of content. That will make the process crystal clear for whoever is working on it.
Don’t get too bogged down in the details.
Your workflow should be a high-level view of what’s happening, when, and what’s next.
If it’s helpful, break down some of your actionable items into sub workflows. That might clear up confusion or help team members see when and where items need to go next.
But don’t create a complicated map that ends up confusing or slowing down the process. Leave most details out of it and go for big-picture items.
How Is This Helping Your Content Marketing, Really?
Is this really worth your time and energy?
Yep. Creating workflows can help you overcome some of the biggest challenges in content marketing.
A good workflow can help keep pieces moving through the pipeline. They help you avoid missing deadlines or taking too long to go live with time-sensitive content.
It also protects your team from missing targets or overlooking important actions within the creation process. Ever forgotten to optimize for SEO? Yeah, it’s a bummer, and a lot less likely to happen when you are working within a set workflow.
Workflows can streamline collaboration, too, and you’ll be producing stronger new content on a more reliable schedule. It’s content delivery automation at its best.
Remember, the ideal workflow is one that:
- Is personalized to your team
- Helps you achieve your marketing goals
If you need help building a better workflow, Welcome has you covered. Sign up for a free Welcome account today and see how easy creating a process for your team can be.