Content production is crucial whether you’re creating content for your website, marketing campaigns, or blog.
Without a good system in place, the content you create is likely to be inconsistent. If your content types, team roles, and content voice vary wildly over time, you won’t be able to build an audience effectively.
Your content production process must be efficient and repeatable, and it must stay true to your goals — for example, increased brand awareness, authority, or more leads and sales.
In this article, we’ve explained what content production is and how it helps your team. We’ve also detailed a nine-step guide to create your content production process and the tools you need.
What is content production?
Content production is a system that defines how every content piece, be it a blog post, landing page, social media post, or video, is planned, created, edited, and published. It’s built to bring your content strategy to life and achieve business goals.
Content marketing campaigns rely on delivering different content types to your target audience at the right time. But when multiple people are in charge of content creation, editing, publishing, etc., maintaining a uniform standard is difficult.
Good content systems help implement a repeatable process that enables employees to create quality content and meet deadlines consistently. It should keep your marketers, writers, editors, SEO specialists, and managers all on the same page.
This helps avoid late deliveries, delayed approvals, and multiple bottlenecks. All of which impacts your return on investment (ROI).
You can align your content production system to your marketing goals. For example, you can create one to generate more leads or retain existing customers.
Why is it important to have a good content production process?
Here’s what an efficient content production process can do for you:
- Distinctly states content goals: A good process highlights why the content is necessary and how it helps achieve business goals.
- Clearly defines tasks and deadlines: Every project is broken down into manageable tasks with deadlines.
- Provides concrete team roles: It states concrete team roles that tell workers precisely what they are responsible for in each step of the process.
- Allows you to implement a definite workflow: A production process outlines the progression of tasks and thus, helps build an effective workflow.
- Scales content production: Well-defined processes make it easier to create larger quantities of content at a faster pace.
- Creates better asset management: In a good content production process, team members can easily access all the resources they need.
All of these factors boost your content marketing efforts, which leads to increased brand awareness, authority, and engagement. As a result, your audience will view you as a trusted source of information and be more open to trying out your products and services.
The 9-step guide to creating an effective content production process
Let’s break down the steps you can take to create a content production process.
1. Decide how to manage content assets
Digital marketing campaigns rely on hundreds of content assets, including:
- Images, logos, and icons
- Content drafts and final versions
- Other web components
Storing these assets in a scattered system where everyone has different files on their computer is inefficient and unreliable. One employee’s laptop crashes, and everyone is stuck, waiting for them to send across files.
What you need is a cloud database, where you can store all project-related assets in one accessible place. Every team member with credentials can log in and access all necessary assets without waiting for anyone.
Content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, advanced project management platforms, and most social media planning tools offer cloud storage options. But, even if your platform doesn’t, you could use a cloud storage system like Google Drive or Dropbox. Storing assets in the cloud ensures that they are backed up, updated, and easily shared.
It’s ideal to use one platform for all your assets rather than spreading them out onto two or more platforms. Juggling between multiple platforms can lead to frustrations and errors.
2. Define the goal of your content production system
Before you build your content production process, understand why. Ask yourself:
- What purpose does it serve?
- What are the short-term goals?
- What are the long-term goals?
Your content needs to be mapped to meet business needs and serve your target audience. Goals help you measure progress, identify issues, and scale production.
The goals for your campaign could be to build brand awareness, increase search engine result page (SERP) rankings, boost lead generation by X%, or anything else that moves the organization closer to its business goals.
Typically, goals are defined during the project planning or content mapping stages of content marketing.
Content mapping involves discovering key topics that you break down over multiple posts spread out over months. This map enables you to assign a goal for each piece based on factors like the buyer’s lifecycle stage.
A good ideation process that fosters creativity and productivity is also essential. Teams can use project management software to list and organize ideas.
You can separate ideas by content types, projects, clients, etc. Then, prioritize ideas based on their potential value and assign loose deadlines to viable ideas for later assessment.
3. List tasks and roles
List every single task that goes into creating a piece of content. Go into detail and do not skip anything.
If you’re creating a task list for content writing, it shouldn’t just be writing – editing – publishing. You need to include fact-checking, proofreading, SEO (if required), revisions, and any other relevant action.
Forgotten tasks, even if they’re relatively small, could lead to bottlenecks that impact every other process after it. For example, if you fail to add “fact-checking” in the writing phase, editors have to spend a longer time combing through each draft.
Once you’ve listed the tasks, it’s time to think about team roles. Every action in the process needs to be completed by someone. Writers will create drafts, designers create images and graphics, project managers ensure on-time delivery, etc.
For every action you’ve listed, assign a person to complete it. The scope of each person’s responsibilities must be clearly stated and accepted.
To avoid confusion for larger, complex tasks or tasks that require more than one assignee, consider breaking them down into smaller subtasks and assigning team members to each of those.
4. Use a content calendar
Create a content calendar that lists all your tasks, assignees, and deadlines. The calendar also acts as a strategic guideline.
Here’s an example of a content calendar:
To build your calendar:
- Decide the content types necessary to achieve each marketing goal. For example, if you want more visitors to a specific product page, then you can post more articles and video content on social media related to that product.
- Do competitor research to understand their content marketing strategy, where you can provide better value, and where you need to improve.
- Perform SEO and market research to ensure all new content topics are relevant.
- Identify occasional opportunities. This includes seasonal opportunities like Christmas or New Year, where you can create topics like “X best [relevant keyword] for [year].”
Now you have all your topics, the tasks related to them, and assignees for each task. Put them all together in a content calendar to outline your strategy. Use color-coding and other available features to provide clarity.
When you know the deadlines for each content piece and the average time it takes to complete the task, you have a base point for your content production process.
You can improve the process to reduce the amount of time needed for a task, or you can spread out tasks on your calendar to give content creators more time to polish their work.
5. Create repeatable workflows
Use all the information from the above points to create repeatable content production workflows for each content type.
For example, the production process for a blog post can look like this:
Similarly, the content workflow for a social media post would be:
- Write post
- Add image/infographic/video/GIF
- Decide which hashtags to use
- Get the post approved
- Add a tracked URL
- Add complete post into a scheduling tool
Every marketer will have their own processes, but the above can be used as a base for most. You can add, remove, or combine steps to match your team’s needs.
6. Determine phase management
Decide how a project will go from phase to phase before completion. You don’t want a project that starts as one thing and ends up completely different. To ensure consistency, incorporate these elements into your production process:
- Style guide for each content type, client, and project
- Milestones to track progress
- Clear project timeline with important dates
- Steps to take in case of delays or errors
- Established feedback processes
- How handoffs are done (whom to notify, how files are transferred etc.)
When the above elements are well implemented, all the teams working on a project can collaborate to take the project from inception to completion smoothly.
7. Include a content review process
Implement a content review or quality assurance (QA) process to ensure all the content is high-quality and relevant. Build a small team of stakeholders (managers, team leads, and decision-makers) to finalize the content.
This team should have less than ten people and only include core decision-makers. They need to agree on brand guidelines to give accurate feedback, understand the platforms the content team uses, and have a definite limit on how long they can take to approve or reject content.
8. Monitor and optimize
Like most processes in marketing, content production also needs to be monitored and measured. You can track how well your strategy works by checking deadlines, the number of pieces delivered every month, potential bottlenecks, and client/ reader feedback.
A successful content production process will:
- Boost SEO campaigns
- Improve project capacity
- Better link-building
- Increase engagement on social media
- Alleviate employee confusion and stress
The key is to keep improving your process as your team grows or more projects are involved. Also, use employee feedback to understand what is working and areas that need improvement.
As you build momentum, there will be changes to your content production process. This change could be using a different tool for content optimization or a significant overhaul of the entire process to match company growth.
In scenarios like this, it’s best to inform teams in advance, clear any doubts, and then roll out the changes incrementally. Always be open to feedback and suggestions.
9. Plan to scale content production
When you implement a good content production process, it’s likely to boost growth, and your team will be able to take on more projects and hire more people. This is why your system needs to be planned to scale.
As you grow, your process should include more automation, upgrade to faster research, creation, and delivery tools, and implement different communication methods. All of this can be quite challenging to handle in-house.
Most growing companies outsource their content production while keeping the core team in-house. This way, they can scale faster while maintaining control over the content.
If outsourcing your content production sounds optimal to you, we can help. Check out HOTH Blogger.
Essential tools for content production
These are the tools you need to build and implement a good content production process:
- Content calendar
Use tools like Google Calendar or a spreadsheet to create a content calendar for free. Many paid marketing and social media platforms offer visual editorial calendars and templates.
- Visual tools
You need software that will help you create images and infographics quickly. Canva is a popular option for marketers, but there are plenty of other platforms out there. You can also use tools specifically meant for social media visuals like Pablo.
- Content management systems
A content management system (CMS) lets users create, modify, and store content online. WordPress is the most popular CMS on the market, powering 43.3% of all websites today.
- Asset management software
Choose software to store all your digital assets, including files, images, videos, supporting documents, style guides, and all your deliverables. You can use a free option like Google Drive or use storage options with a project management platform.
- Task management software
Task management platforms let you visualize all the tasks within a project and see which stage of the content production process they’re in. They let you create tasks, add comments, attach files, and easily assign tasks to team members.
Your content team will have writers, designers, editors, and more. Help them work together with good collaboration strategies. Use tools like Slack for communication and collaborative work tools like Google Drive, where relevant team members can see the latest files in real-time and then edit and share them effortlessly.
Content production is key to delivering all content on time, handling more projects, and growing your team. It provides guidelines that act as a source of truth for all team members and helps them stay on track.