This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.
Nic Evans of GatherContent once said: “Great content isn’t stumbled upon, it’s carefully designed for a specific goal.” His words couldn’t be more true. Your brand has the ability to craft exceptional content, but you’ll need to adhere to a disciplined strategy in order to do so.
Good content doesn’t create itself. But do you know what separates the content of brand authorities from the rest of the pack?
Obviously, an in-depth knowledge of your industry is a prerequisite. However, even industry leaders often fail to create excellent content for one main reason: they don’t have a good production workflow in place. Neil Patel featured a detailed infographic on the importance of a well-thought-out content generation strategy.
Creating content requires a significant investment. According to Hubspot, it takes the average writer about 1-2 hours to write a single, 500-word article. Of course, you also have editors and other team members involved in the process, which can get overwhelming if you don’t have a good system in place.
You need to invest time, money, and precious human labor to create content. All of these resources are limited, so you need a strategy in place to deliver it efficiently and consistently.
The content generation process has become extremely regimented over the years and brands are scaling content production at a record pace. In October, the Content Marketing Institute conducted a survey that found that 76% of brands intend to produce even more content in 2016.
Meanwhile, as brands are continuing to increase the quantity of content, the quality standards are escalating even further, too. New versions of Google Panda are slowly wiping out businesses that rely on low-quality content and cutthroat competition for attention on social media channels has raised the bar for all content produced.
But although the demand for quality content is on the rise, brands’ resources are not. Most have constrained budgets and a limited workforce, so they need to utilize them as effectively as possible. The only way a business can consistently deliver troves of quality content is by establishing a properly functioning content production system. It’s a huge task to set up a good system, but well worth the effort.
Setting up a strong production workflow can save endless headaches down the road, so make sure you set up a solid foundation right from the start and use it consistently going forward. Here are the core elements of an effective content production process.
There are multiple stages in the content generation process. Here’s an example of a content generation process for a company that has an in-house system:
Each of these steps takes a significant amount of time. You and your team may spend a couple of weeks creating a piece of content from start to finish.
If you don’t have a way to expedite this, you’ll quickly generate a huge backlog. If this is the case, your writers and editors may feel pressured and start cutting corners and sacrificing quality in order to meet deadlines.
How do you avoid this catastrophe? You should streamline the process by handling these tasks in bulk by following these tips:
You will significantly improve the efficiency of your content production process by handling each of these stages in bulk.
Too many brands manage their entire production process via e-mail. But there are a number of problems with this approach:
Make sure that your editors, writers, and clients all have access to the system. Encourage them to use it to track each and every project, and to communicate through the platform as much as possible.
Twenty years ago, Internet content was a novelty that attracted little scrutiny from regulators. Government agencies are far more involved today, and marketers are required to ensure that their content abides by all relevant laws. The FTC and industry regulators will provide guidance, but many brands need direction from lawyers.
Run your entire content strategy by your legal department. You should also check in with them periodically and ask for feedback on specific types of content. Make a habit of reaching out to your lawyers:
The Content Marketing Institute recommends consulting with your lawyers on a regular basis if you’re writing content for a tightly-regulated industry.
No matter how carefully you plan your content delivery system, you’re going to run into problems over time. The success of your process doesn’t depend on the number of problems that you prevent—it depends on how well you address the problems as they arise.
Conduct regular content audits to identify any problems that are occurring. Some things to look out for include the following.
1) Missed Deadlines
Take your deadlines seriously, monitor due dates carefully, and stick to an editorial schedule. Frequently missed deadlines can be a symptom of a couple of problems:
2) Failure to Follow Quality Guidelines
Quality guidelines provide the necessary structure to guarantee that your content lives up to professional standards. Make sure that every member of your team is abiding by them.
Everyone is going to have an off day once in awhile. However, you clearly have a problem if your team members are consistently failing to meet your requirements. In this case, here are some things to consider:
Keep your communication direct without dancing around the issue. The important thing is to identify the source of the problem and take the necessary steps to address it.
As you scale your content production, you may reach a point where your existing team can no longer handle the workload. As a business owner, you should regularly interview and recruit to keep a list of top talent on hand.
Your content production system needs to constantly evolve. Even if you set it up well in the beginning, you’re going to identify areas for improvement over time. Here are some ways that your system can be fine-tuned:
Over time, you will develop a highly-effective content production workflow that you can easily scale.
What type of content production system do you have in place? Please share your comments below: