If you’re like many, the first place you go to find advice or answers to your burning questions is Google (or your preferred search engine). You ask the question in the search bar, returning relevant results to find your answer.
Whether you realize it or not, this is all content. You consume content on a daily basis, whether you’re performing a Google search, watching videos on TikTok or Instagram, or reading digital news.
Content is part of your daily life – there’s no avoiding it. Content can entertain, answer questions, make you happy, keep you informed, answer your questions, and guide your decisions.
For a business, content helps you engage and attract prospects, drive more organic traffic to your site, and generate revenue. If you’re not creating content, you’re behind the times.
If you are, you know how time consuming it can be. Streamlining content creation and having an effective content development plan is vital to using your time effectively and building a content creation process that’s organized, timely, and drives results.
Here’s how you can create a streamlined content creation process that can get real results for your business.
Develop a Workflow Strategy
Like any other project, mapping out the steps to your content creation and defining your expectations and goals helps you avoid delays and tedium in the process. A well-developed workflow strategy allows you to see the big picture of the project, recognize the steps you need to achieve your goals, and assign your work accordingly.
The best way to approach a workflow strategy is with a calendar. This gives you an overview of your process, what needs to be done, and areas of improvement. It also keeps everyone on the same page.
Creating a workflow calendar will take upfront time, but once it’s complete, you have a clear plan for your content and you can make the process as efficient as possible.
Your process may look something like this:
- Create a file in the designated folder
- Decide on the type of content
- Research keywords
- Create SEO details
- Source images or add graphics
- Check links
- Upload to content management system
- Schedule for publishing on designated channel
Create Your Calendar
As mentioned, a calendar is ideal for workflow strategy. Your calendar can keep everything organized and allows you to track your work as it’s upcoming, in progress, and completed. Your calendar also provides a full view of the process from beginning to end, ensuring that everyone involved knows what’s expected of them.
Marking off content and milestones as they are completed can be helpful for keeping your eyes on the prize. Everyone knows where they are in the creation process, what’s left to be done, and the looming deadlines, avoiding any delays, misunderstandings, or other hassles.
Build a Workable Framework
A workable framework is the backbone of your content creation process. Your framework should state the subject and types of content you have planned, along with topics, outlines, headings, subheadings, and more.
The type of content you are creating should guide this framework. Once you decide what types of content you’ll be creating, and for which outlets, you can determine your topics and work out your outlines and specifics.
Establish Your Content Pillars
Your content pillars are the type of topics you will consistently cover in your content. Consider just a few pillars that speak to the overarching idea of your business and what you’re known for.
For example, if you have a pet-based business, your pillars may be:
- Your products
- Pet health and nutrition
- Pet breed information
- Pet grooming
When you have your pillars mapped out in this way, it’s easier to come up with topics that align with them. You should include your pillars in a document or spreadsheet where you can add ideas for future content into each pillar.
This also ensures that your pillars are rotated effectively, so you’re not pushing out multiple articles about one general topic at once. Similarly, look for opportunities to vary the content types along with the topics.
For example, if you write an article about a common pet health condition, consider creating a video tutorial for how to bathe a dog. This keeps things more interesting for your audience.
Define Your Audience and Goals
All marketing strategies begin with a firm understanding of your audience – especially content creation. Depending on the nature of your business, you may have a diverse audience that needs to be segmented by specifics, such as shared interests, age, location, or occupation. Knowing the specifics of your audience – or segments – will help you refine the tone and voice of your content.
Here are some questions to ask:
- What is your audience’s gender?
- What is your audience’s age range?
- What is your audience interested in?
- What is your audience’s pain points?
- How does your audience feel about its challenges?
- What is your audience’s goals?
- What types of solutions is your audience looking for?
- Where does your audience spend its time?
- What type of content does your audience typically consume?
You should also define your goals, or what you’re trying to inspire from the audience with your content. Are you looking for sales? Brand awareness? To answer questions for the audience? Promoting an event or sale? Knowing your goals in advance will ensure your content is targeted to its purpose.
Here are some common goals for content:
- To achieve a better searching engine ranking
- Build links from authoritative sites
- Increase social media engagement
- Educate the audience
- Selling a product or service
Include Due Dates and Deadlines
Due dates and deadlines are essential to your content creation process. No matter how streamlined the process is, missing the deadlines can cause a domino effect of delays that throw off the rest of your content, quickly derailing your entire process.
Your due dates and deadlines should always align with the final deadline for the project. Include due dates with reasonable time frames for outlines, first drafts, revisions, edits, copyediting, business copywriting, fact check, SEO, and graphic design. During planning, consider if your project relies on multiple teams or departments, and ensure there’s enough lead time built in to give everyone the time they need to complete their parts and approval.
Brainstorming is an excellent exercise to come up with fresh ideas and new content to keep things interesting for your audience. You should always brainstorm before you begin to write or create. Get together with colleagues (or by yourself) and start throwing out ideas to get started.
When you brainstorm, you will find that many of the keywords or phrases will give you topic ideas. This should be in a collaborative file, so other members of the team can contribute ideas or expand on the ideas that are already there. Having everything in one place will also keep you from repeating topics or creating similar topics.
Conduct Keyword Research
Defining your audience or segments and brainstorming probably gave you some ideas for the content you want to create and what questions your audience may have, but you may need more than that. Can those ideas appeal to a larger audience?
This is where keyword research comes in. With keyword research, you can see the specific search volume of a keyword or phrase and whether it gets enough searches to creating content around it.
Start your keyword research with a set of questions that your audience may have, based on interests and obstacles. Then, perform some keyword research around those questions to see if enough people are looking for answers.
Be sure to target keywords that are attainable, meaning they have a monthly search volume and keyword difficulty appropriate for your business. If the keywords are too high in volume, they’re highly competitive and you likely won’t get a high ranking or a lot of traffic. If this applies to you, target longtail, low-volume keywords with minimal difficulty, so roughly a 200-1,000 monthly search volume. This gives you a better chance of ranking for them and becoming more visible to your audience. Using a marketing plan template can help in analyzing the results of your keyword research by having all the keywords and essential metrics in one platform.
Create a Word Bank
Your word bank is a compilation of words, phrases, articles, quotes, and templates that are used for reference for new content. If you have multiple clients in the same industry, you may find that they request similar articles, and having everything in one bank gives you references for future pieces.
Your bank should also include any feedback or revisions from the original piece. This helps you plan your next effort more effectively. Like the brainstorming file, this bank should be in a centralized location where everyone on the project can access it.
If you struggle to come up with ideas for content, consider enlisting the help of a content writing agency!
One of the biggest challenges of content creation is taking your idea and working within word count limits or other restrictions. Sometimes, these restrictions can really challenge your creativity and push your writing.
For many, staying concise is difficult. Keeping things clear and concise is important for making your content readable and enjoyable for the audience. It also keeps things cleaner for the copywriting editing process. Most people skim when reading anyway, so keeping things short and concise will likely mean more people will read your content.
If you need help, you can find numerous resources to help with your writing and keep things succinct. Tools like Grammarly and other writing resources not only help with concision and clarity, but other aspects of writing effectively. Give them a try!
Different content has different formatting, from articles to press releases to scripts. In addition, some clients or publications will have specific preferences for the formatting. Once you determine what type of content you’re writing, you can plan the right format.
If this is all new to use, you can find formats and templates online or in popular office software, such as Microsoft Word and Google Docs. You can use these templates as a guideline or inspiration by simply tailoring your content.
Content repurposing is when you take your existing content and rework it with updated information, a fresh approach, or new language. This can be helpful for getting more mileage out of the content that was already created and performed well.
When you’re streamlining content, using content repurposing can help you save time by turning old content into something new. For example, you can take an old blog post and turn it into a video or infographic, or take long-form content like whitepapers and write summaries of the information for a quick blog post.
Analyze Content Performance
Now that you have the process down, it’s important to analyze your content and see how it performs. This will help you determine what’s working, what isn’t, and what you need to do to improve it.
You have virtually limitless options to analyze your content, so choose your parameters based on your goals. Here are some common metrics for content:
- Page views: This is the number of users who visit your content
- Organic traffic: This is the traffic that comes from search engines (unpaid)
- Bounce rate: This is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after visiting only one page, which is important to track because it can indicate if content is unsatisfying to your audience
- Conversion rates: This is the percentage of visitors who engage with your CTA, whether it’s a lead form, a content offer, or a purchase
- Engagement rates: This is the number of people who interact with your content on social media or blogs, which is done through shares, comments, likes, or reactions
- Audience growth: This is the number of new subscribers or leads you get from a piece of content
- Time on page: This is the amount of time a visitor spends on your page, whether it’s a video or blog post, and where they drop off
- Paid campaigns (sponsored): This is the amount of traffic generated from paid campaigns
Streamline Content to Drive Results
With a plan in place, streamlining content doesn’t seem like such a big undertaking. When you have your strategy and framework laid out, you’ll get stronger, more effective, and higher quality content that drives results for your business.
Over the past decade, Liz has worked as a copywriter and digital marketing executive for a multitude of companies from startups to and mid-sized businesses to working as the VP of marketing for award-winning, platinum-selling artists. Leveraging an understanding of the nuance of language in marketing, Liz founded Amplihigher, a content marketing and copywriting agency, designed to connect consumers to companies in a way that results in next-level brand expansion.
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