Whether you run a small content team or an entire digital content agency, establishing a solid content workflow can be the key to avoiding countless migraines.
Does your team regularly run into issues like miscommunication, disorganization, or missed deadlines? If so, then tightening up your content workflow may be the key to nipping all these problems in the metaphorical bud.
Even if issues continue to arise, a thorough workflow strategy will present major clues to help you get to the bottom of things.
Understanding Content Workflow as a Concept
Before we get into how to create a more productive content workflow, it’s important to understand exactly what the term means. Content workflow is an umbrella term for all of the tasks that go into producing a piece of content, from development to publication.
One of the most popular definitions comes from Kristina Halvorson’s book Content Strategy for the Web, in which she defines content workflow as “how content is requested, sourced, created, reviewed, approved, and delivered.”
What some content managers may fail to realize is that every team is already operating on a workflow of its own. The difference between successful teams and those that tend to run into issues is just how well thought-out and structured that workflow happens to be.
Even passing out assignments and hoping for the best is technically a type of content workflow. It’s just not a very good one.
If this sounds familiar, then it’s time to form a better plan of attack rather than continue to live under the constant fear of what minor disaster may strike next.
Collective Content Workflow Elements
From the time it enters the world as a gleam in a brainstormer’s eye to the moment it’s published, all content goes through several key stages.
Generally, these tend to include things like:
- Brainstorming and topic approval
- Editing and Optimization
- Graphic Design
- Editorial or client approval
Some pieces of content may not go through all of these stages, while others may require far more. The key is to know exactly what producing each piece of content will entail, so you can track its progress at each stage of development.
A content workflow consists not only of each of these broad stages of development but of all of the subtasks required for a piece to move from one phase to the next. It also consists of specific details like when each of these tasks and subtasks need to be completed, as well as who is responsible for making it happen.
The Key to Strengthening Content Workflow
What’s the key to ensuring that your team’s workflow stays as efficient as possible? In a word: clarity.
Ensuring your content runs smoothly isn’t just about checking in from time to time to see how each piece is coming along. It’s about making sure that everyone understands exactly what their responsibilities are at each step along the way.
Not only should everyone’s deadlines and duties be clearly mapped out, but the entire process should be overseen either by yourself or a project manager.
Make no mistake—however large or small your team may be, no piece of content should ever be allowed to unfold somewhere in the vague mists of hopeful optimism.
Ensuring that projects are ushered through every stage of development under the watchful eye of a content manager will do the entire team a huge favor. Assigning a project manager is not only a great way to keep everyone accountable but a means of ensuring that your team members know exactly who to turn to with any questions or difficulties.
This can go a long way in assuring that any potential problems or miscommunications are resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible. While a little extra clarity can go a long way, a lack of it is more than enough to clog the flow of the entire process or send it completely off course.
The Best Tools for Content Workflow Tracking
There’s nothing worse than handing out assignments, only to realize a vital step was left undone due to confusion over who was responsible for it.
Few pieces of high-quality content rely on the contributions of a lone individual. Most are the culmination of a group of people working together to combine their unique skills and assets.
The key word here is “together.”
In order to function as one, it’s important to make sure that everyone has an effortless way to stay on the same page at all times. Capitalize on the fact that the field of content creation tends to attract highly visual people by making use of one of the many content workflow platforms that are available.
Work management platforms like Monday, Visually, and Trello offer invaluable tools to make sure that everyone has easy access to everything they need to keep their assignments on track. From a management standpoint, using visual tools to map out your workflow can also be a great way to get to the bottom of lingering problems you’ve never been able to pinpoint.
Say, for instance, that your graphic design department has a tendency to create a bottleneck. By clearly defining and tracking subtasks, you’ll quickly be able to determine whether the problem is with the entire department or a certain individual.
This knowledge will allow you to meet with the exact people you need to speak to in order to see how you can best alleviate any issues.
How to Handle Content Workflow Scaling Issues
No matter how much focus and effort you bring to workflow management, there may come a time when you realize that the problem lies less in your team and more in a lack of resources. This is an issue that plenty of businesses and agencies face, particularly when they ramp up efforts to create more high-quality content.
At this point, you may find yourself in need of a little outside help. That’s where WriterAccess comes in.
There you’ll find thousands of hand-selected freelancer writers, editors, and designers, who’ll be happy to give your team the help they need to avoid burnout.
Find the perfect writer for you with the AI-powered search index or enjoy the free resources and powerful tools available to WriterAccess members.
Ready to give it a test drive? Sign up today for a free 14-day trial to see how WriterAccess can help you create high-quality content, stress-free.