Content Marketing: How to Produce Better Content Faster
Whether your content marketing team is 10 members strong or it’s just you, having a content production workflow is critical to success. Putting a process in place will make you more efficient and keep your efforts on track even when time is scarce. Even better, a strong process will improve the quality of your output.
There’s no one process setup that will work for everyone, but there are some basic parameters common to all successful content development processes. Here a few that should be part of yours.
Though not technically a part of the content production process, before putting processes in place for your day-to-day tactical efforts, you have to have clear strategic goals in mind. Without them, you will flounder as it will be difficult to clearly define the topics you should be covering and the needs of the audience you’re trying to reach.
If you’ve already been doing content marketing without a formalized strategy, all is not lost. You can put one in place now. In fact, you probably have really useful analytics data on what resonates with your audience and (unfortunately), what doesn’t. Use that data to craft the strategy that helps you engage with your audience.
Schedules and Calendars
The next logical step — and another important factor in avoiding that floundering feeling — is creating an editorial calendar and a schedule for publishing the content you create.
Much has been written about the value of delivering on a regular schedule — only “Game of Thrones” level popularity will allow you to publish erratically without losing your audience’s interest — but there’s great value to a schedule internally, as well. It’s far easier to make content production a part of your work routine if it’s, well, a regular part of your work routine.
Be realistic in assessing your resources as you create the schedule. If you’ve never done social media before and don’t have resources for a new hire, scheduling hourly tweets is probably setting yourself up for failure. Better to succeed by doing a few things well. As you can comfort you can expand your scope.
Even with a realistic set of content goals, there are times that other priorities will intrude. That’s why having a bullpen of content you can tap into is perhaps the most important part of your process.
Think of your development process as a production line, and group content into categories based on how close to “publication ready” they are. The categories we’ve found most useful include:
- Inspirations and ideas that need further fleshing out before they’re useful
- Rough drafts of content that have their direction pretty well set but need to be researched and shored up
- Final drafts that require only fact-checking and polish before publication
- Evergreen content and popular past posts that you can re-use in a pinch. (More on that below.)
If you always have a few items ready to go at each of these stages, you will rarely, if ever, be without content when your editorial calendar demands it. This is especially true if your bullpen is calendar-aware. Meaning, if your calendar calls for quarterly video production in addition to the regular blog posts and social media you do, your bullpen has to include video ideas and production that are appropriate to how close you are to a video publication target date.
Ganging Up Tasks
You multitask. Everyone does. And none of us should. The science proves that it’s just not efficient. Which is why instead of writing your daily blog posts each day (or your weekly blog posts each week, if that’s your schedule), you should write a month or a quarter’s worth of them together.
You should allot a full hour or 90 minutes or whatever is appropriate for you to filling your bullpen. You’ll be much more efficient — and more importantly — much more creative and effective if you get your head into your creative space and do like-minded tasks all together.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
As in, reduce your effort, reuse existing content and recycle work you’ve already created for other purposes.
I mentioned above that it’s good to have some fallback content options for those times when life’s little surprises intrude. (Someone’s out sick, a client springs an unexpected schedule change on you, etc.) Use your analytics data to give your audience an “encore performance” of a popular piece of content. If you can or repackage or reposition the content in relation to a recent newsworthy event or other change in your prospects’ industry, all the better.
Ultimately, the goal is to create a process that removes as much of the friction and time-related stress as possible so that you and your team are at your best when brainstorming, writing, and editing your content marketing materials.
Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured?
A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms encourage audience engagement through solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either.
His work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components, and he has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events. His writing appears in various online and print publications.
Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")