No matter the size or scope of your organization, there's a good chance that content creation is a key aspect of your marketing efforts. From blog posts and social media content to newsletters and everything in between, the right content can really define and elevate your brand image.
Of course, great content doesn't just appear out of thin air; it takes a great deal of brainstorming, collaboration, time, and effort from your marketing team to put quality content into the world. An effective content creation workflow can help the content creation process go much more smoothly — optimizing the results of your marketing campaigns.
What is a content creation workflow?
A content creation workflow defines how content is produced within your organization. It often outlines each team member's exact roles and responsibilities throughout the process, along with the steps that each piece of content passes through from ideation to publication. If other documents, tools, or resources are needed to produce content at any stage, these should also be included as part of a content creation workflow.
Why do you need a content creation workflow?
Even if your organization doesn't have a formally documented content creation workflow, there's a good chance your content marketing team already relies on an unspoken series of steps or best practices for generating new content. However, defining your workflow can benefit your marketing efforts in several ways, which we'll dive into below.
To manage a trackable process
With a carefully defined workflow, your organization's content creation process is much easier to track and manage. Each team member knows their responsibilities for each new piece of content — and it's easy for them to determine exactly where content is within the workflow itself. This context can also help team members better understand where they fit into the content creation process, which can give everyone a greater sense of ownership and boost overall engagement.
To identify your stages of content development
Without a content creation workflow, it's difficult to pinpoint the various stages that your content passes through before publication. By identifying these stages, you can more readily assign team members to each role, ensuring that they carry out your process efficiently. You might even discover stages of the process that require more time and effort, such as the content distribution stage (which is commonly overlooked).
To avoid inconsistencies in content creation
Many things can go wrong in the content creation process, and having a defined workflow makes it easier to spot and address these problems. For example, your workflow may make common bottlenecks, delays, and other obstacles to your content creation process easier to pinpoint. From there, you can address and resolve these inefficiencies to optimize your content marketing plan, save time, and use your organization's time and resources effectively.
To improve quality control
With a content creation workflow, every piece of new content goes through the same basic process (although you may have different workflows for different types of content). This process may include anything from ideation, brainstorming, and research to initial drafts, editing, approval, and content publishing. Having a clear and consistent process through which every piece of content passes before publication can improve overall quality control and get the most out of your content.
To increase visibility in projects
When you have a great content creation workflow in place, it's easy to see where a piece of content is at any given time. This improves overall creative workflow management, giving you greater insight into the various content campaigns that may be underway within your organization.
Meanwhile, members of your content team can get a better feel for the "big picture," pinpointing exactly where each piece of content is within the workflow and what still needs to be done. This greater sense of visibility can streamline entire campaigns.
What's the difference between a workflow and a process?
At first glance, it might sound like a content creation workflow is nothing more than a step-by-step guide to creating content within your organization. However, it's important to understand that your team's content creation process is just one workflow component. Your workflow should walk your team through the process of creating content from start to finish. This may include audience research, SEO keyword research, drafting, editing, publication, and distribution.
However, your process alone doesn’t consider other important factors in your workflow. For example, it doesn't detail the people responsible for each process step or their precise roles. This differentiates a process from a carefully defined content workflow; the latter covers not just the steps and processes, but the roles, responsibilities, and resources that go into creating new content.
Components of strong content creation workflows
Now that you have a better understanding of what a content creation workflow is (and what it's not) and how your organization can benefit from using one, it's time to consider the components that actually make up successful workflows.
Clear stages of content creation
This part of the content creation workflow should define each piece of content's process as part of the creation cycle. This can include content planning and producing to managing, publishing, and analyzing metrics about the content itself.
When each stage of content creation is carefully defined, you can streamline your process and eliminate potential bottlenecks along the way. Having clear stages of content creation also makes it easier for you and your team to see where a piece of content is within the process at any given time.
Defined roles and responsibilities
In addition to defining the stages of content creation, a successful workflow should also clarify each team member's roles and responsibilities within the process.
For example, content creators may be responsible for brainstorming and generating content. Meanwhile, content editors may take on the important roles of proofreading and revising content before it's published. Content managers may make the final call as to whether a piece of content gets published or is kicked back to the editor or creator for revisions. Your organization may also have another team that measures each piece of content's success through analytics and metrics.
No matter who makes up your content creation team, it's important that your workflow clearly defines their exact roles throughout the content process. Having clear roles and responsibilities also creates a better sense of accountability. Just make sure that, as part of your content marketing workflow, you have collaboration tools in place that allow team members to communicate and keep each other informed as needed.
Tools and assets needed for content production
A successful content creation workflow will also consider the tools, resources, and assets needed to produce new content. For example, if your organization has a style guide that your editors and content creators refer to while producing content, you should document it as a standard part of your workflow. If you rely on specific tools for keyword research or audience research, define these for your content team.
Documenting the resources and assets needed for content production improves workflow consistency, resulting in better content and alignment with your organization's goals and values.
Schedules and timelines for tasks
Last but not least, an effective content creation workflow includes detailed schedules and timelines for each task within the process. These timelines should be realistic based on past content campaigns, giving team members insight into how much time they have to complete each task and keep the content project on schedule.
Detailing timelines for tasks within your content creation workflow also helps your team members better plan their own schedules to keep content moving through the workflow and avoid missed deadlines.
Understanding task-based workflows vs. status-based workflows
There are two main types of content creation workflows: task-based and status-based. Knowing which type is best for your team can help you get more out of your content marketing strategy.
So, what's the difference?
With a task-based workflow, each "stage" of the process is defined by the exact task that needs to be completed in order to move content to the next stage. Common steps within a task-based workflow may include keyword research, writing a first draft, editing and proofreading, approval, and publication and distribution. With this type of workflow, it's easy for team members to see what's done and what's expected of them when content comes their way.
With a status-based workflow, each stage of the workflow is more loosely defined. This type of workflow defines where a piece of content is based on its overall status. For instance, rather than a piece of content being in the "editing" or "revision" stage, it may simply be "in review."
With more loosely defined stages, it's easier to apply a status-based workflow to different types of content without creating multiple workflows for each type. However, because there is less detail, there can be some confusion as to the exact roles and responsibilities in a status-based workflow if your team isn't already familiar with your typical content process.
Ultimately, you know your team best — so you'll need to decide whether a task-based or status-based content creation workflow is right for your organization.
7 steps for building a powerful content creation workflow
Ready to get started defining your organization's content creation workflow? Round up your marketing team and tackle these seven steps to get the ball rolling.
1) Determine your content creation objectives
Start by making sure everybody is on the same page regarding your content creation goals, objectives, and outcomes. Maybe you want to produce more content to boost brand awareness; maybe you're specifically focusing on conversions. The type of content you need to produce will ultimately depend on these outcomes and your target audience, so this is a good starting point.
2) Designate roles and responsibilities for each task
Next, decide who will be involved in the content creation workflow and their specific roles and responsibilities. Most content creation workflows will include content creators (writers, graphic designers, video creators, etc.), editors, content strategists, and social media teams. Make sure that each task within your content creation workflow has a team member assigned to it — this way, there's no confusion about who's handling a piece of content at any given time or their expectations.
3) Choose content types and distribution channels
These days, there are seemingly endless possibilities for the types of content you can put out there. Aside from traditional blog posts and social media posts, you may also want to consider video content, infographics, newsletters, and even podcasts as potential content types. Many of these have their own distribution channels, so you should account for this within your workflow, too.
Depending on which types of content you decide to pursue, it may be necessary to create separate workflows for each. Having a content calendar can also make it easier to track the status of each piece and type of content so everybody stays on the same page.
4) Outline your content creation process
Once you understand your goals for your content marketing campaign, the team members involved, and the types of content you'll be using, it's time to outline your content creation process. If you're using a task-based workflow, you'll want to carefully define and outline each task as part of your workflow. Be sure to also define who will be responsible for each task, along with timelines, so your content creation campaign stays on schedule.
5) Set up and automate your workflow
This is where having the right project management tools in place can make all the difference. Specifically, these tools are designed to help you implement your content creation workflow seamlessly — ensuring that all team members are aligned. Some project management tools even have automation features that remove the manual aspect from many parts of your workflow, saving your team valuable time while keeping your content moving along.
Keep marketing projects running smoothly with the right tools — see how Teamwork simplifies task management for creative project teams like yours.
6) Measure performance and adapt accordingly
Don't expect your content creation workflow to stay the same indefinitely. As you measure your content’s performance over time, you'll likely need to make changes to your workflow to improve its efficiency and control quality.
For example, if your content is falling flat with your audience, it may be time to redefine the initial brainstorming stages of your workflow. Perhaps you need more unique content ideas to draw your audience's attention and improve engagement.
Over time, careful analysis and reflection will allow you to improve your content creation workflow until you've figured out a process that works best for your organization.
7) Audit your content regularly
Remember that your content workflow shouldn't end when a piece of content is published and distributed. In order to measure the true success of your campaigns, it's important to include auditing and analytics as part of your content creation workflow. Otherwise, you'll never know whether the content your team is putting out is truly helping you reach your goals and objectives. Regularly auditing your content is also a great way to ensure that your workflow is optimized to produce high-quality work.
Risks of operating without a content creation workflow
Still not convinced that you need to turn your everyday processes into a formal content creation workflow? Consider some of the potential risks that stem from not having a clear plan of action:
Lack of accountability due to undefined team member roles and responsibilities
Missing deadlines due to a lack of timelines assigned to tasks
Low-quality and underperforming content due to a lack of quality control standards
Inability for project managers to easily keep track of progress
Poor results and low ROI from your content marketing plan
Organize your content creation workflows with Teamwork
If you want to get the most out of your content strategy, your organization can't afford to forego a content creation workflow. Thankfully, with help from the right project management software, setting up and implementing a content creation flow is easier than you might think.
Teamwork's convenient Board View tool is designed to help your team create killer content while giving everybody a visual workflow of tasks. The result? Incredible content to engage your audience at every stage of the customer journey. Learn more about all that Teamwork offers — sign up for your free trial today!