You might have only one person responsible for marketing in your company. This Jill of all trades can probably handle all the nitty-gritty marketing stuff on her own and doesn’t even know what the ‘workflow’ is. I used to be that person. But when your marketing department starts growing, you will have to deal with a workflow. Maybe you already do.
In this article, we'll talk about content workflow. Let's dive in!
Content workflow is important. There is no doubt about it.
With a well-defined workflow, your content writers know precisely what they need to do before a post is submitted for review and what they need to do after it has been published. A documented workflow gives all your processes a firm foundation, resulting in – God bless it – consistency. It also helps new writers get up to speed quickly.
I’ve outlined the main steps in a content writing workflow. Let's get to it.
Responsibility: Content Director or Content Strategist
Before you start creating content, you need to know what purpose we're doing it for. Ask yourself these three questions:
Your content needs to align with your business goals and marketing strategy. What does a content plan include?
Responsibility: SEO specialist
Focus keywords that you intend to target need to go through SEO validation and assessment. During this assessment, your SEO specialist should help you get the answers to the following questions:
You don’t want a situation when nobody reads what you publish. To get the most of your content strategy, you need to make sure your blog posts can attract traffic to your website. SEO assessment helps you validate your content decisions.
After the SEO assessment is done, you might change or tweak some topics in your content plan.
With your content plan is validated and prioritized, you have everything you need to start creating content. Before doing research, a writer should be briefed by the Content Strategist to go over the article’s goals and the target audience it is meant for:
Then, the writer should review existing content on your website, check out external sources and consult with experts to pull together all the data, quotes, and materials needed to write the article.
The main deliverable at the research stage is an article outline. In the outline the writer needs to define the following:
The writer should then show this outline to the Content Director or Content Strategist for approval and feedback. Once it’s approved, they can start writing!
Now the writer has everything they need to write the actual draft. The writer needs to write content in a way that is interesting and useful for their target audience, brings value to the company, and is consistent with the brand style and voice.
Responsibility: Content Editor
When the article is ready for review, it moves to the content editor. They check that the draft is well-written, is consistent with other content, and that it conforms to the style guide and house rules.
The content editor is guided by a checklist to ensure the draft is reviewed properly:
The Content Editor should give their feedback on the draft. It’s best to leave comments right on the page within an article. Google doc is an excellent tool for sharing drafts with everyone involved and for leaving and responding to comments.
Some articles require expert review first. Subject Matter Experts are usually professionals employed with your company who can check if the content is factually accurate, on message, and complete.
The writer looks at their reviewers’ feedback, makes changes to the article, and sends back a new version of the draft. They may need to speak to a reviewer for clarification; it’s better to discuss unclear points in person than to get stuck in a feedback loop.
Blog posts are iterative. There can be a lot of back and forth between writers and reviewers before the final draft is ready for publishing.
Responsibility: Content Editor
The revised content is reviewed and approved (or sent back for further edits).
There is often confusion between the terms copy editing and content editing and the roles of a copy editor and a content editor.
Content editors are concerned with the bigger picture. They look at the flow and structure of your content, check out the accuracy of the subject matter and brand voice, correct SEO mistakes, and also do fact-checking. The copy editor’s goal is to ensure that there are no grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors in the text and that it flows smoothly and is consistent in tone and message.
After the article has been copyedited, it is ready to be uploaded to the CMS.
The writer uploads the text of their article to the CMS and adds links, images, and metadata. Then the content editor reviews the uploaded content to check that all the formatting rules have been followed.
Responsibility: Writer / Link builder / Content distribution specialist
If you don’t have a link builder and communications manager on your team, your writers can take care of sharing the articles themselves.
You need to provide your content creators with a list of approved outlets, however, so they know where to direct their efforts. Your list of channels will vary depending on the type of content you want to share. For example, if you write about startup businesses and growth hacking, you might include GrowthHackers.com to your list. If you write about technical stuff, HackerNews is a great place to share your links.
Medium is another great marketing resource. You can repost content originally found on your company blog or submit your articles to popular Medium publications followed by your desired audience.
Responsibility: Writer / SEO specialist
Just like clothes, content pieces get outdated. When your blog posts don't perform well anymore, you need to optimize them. I recommend making content optimizations at least a year after the date of publication.
That’s it for the content writing workflow. I suggest you create a visual representation of your workflow so your team can easily see the steps and roles involved.
Watch it on YouTube:
A list of skillsets that content writers need when applying for a job and growing their careers.
What's the difference between copywriters and a whole bunch of other creative specialists that have something to do with writing and marketing? Time to figure it out!