How to build a content creation workflow in 6 steps

July 08, 2024 - 9 min read

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How to build a content creation workflow in 6 steps

Author: Mary Mattingly

Ever noticed how creating content always seems so simple when you’re talking about it? 

But fast forward to actually doing it and that’s when it hits you:

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GIF Source: Giphy

Content creation is often easier said than done. 

You need to plan, get the team on board, and have a system to keep everything on track. 

How do you do all that? By having a content creation workflow.

Not sure what that is?

Well, you’re about to find out. 

What is a content creation workflow?

Think of content creation workflow as a recipe book with step-by-step instructions on achieving your culinary goals. 

But in the content version, you’ll find everything your team needs to do to take a piece of content from an idea to final delivery.

It will include all the tasks, tools, and resources needed to create content.

In essence, a content creation workflow is about structuring how you work and defining the:

  • Tools and documents to create magic at every turn
  • Timeframes and deadlines for every step of the way
  • Roles and responsibilities of your team so everyone knows who’s in charge of what

By implementing this workflow, you can avoid those long, drawn-out, back-and-forth conversations during content production. That's the real power of a content creation workflow.

And here’s why:

Why you need a content creation workflow

Imagine starting with a clear structure in your work process — that's what a content creation workflow brings to the table. 

No more guessing games about who's supposed to do what; each team member knows their role, tasks, and when things are due. It's like conducting an orchestra, where each part plays in harmony with the rest. 🎻

Like an orchestra conductor with a wave of the baton, it ensures everyone knows their part, their cue, and their finale.

And you? You're the director, sipping your coffee in the corner, basking in the harmony of this well-oiled, digital symphony. 

And that's not all – a well-designed workflow offers plenty more benefits:

Monitored content creation process

With a workflow in place, tracking and managing the entire creation process becomes far simpler.

How?

Because now, there’s structure. Once there’s new content in the pipeline, everyone knows what to do. You can identify what stage the content is in and who’s responsible for it. 

In turn, your team is more involved in the process and will have a sense of responsibility towards the project.

Clear responsibilities across the board 

Producing content can be tricky. 

You could have someone claiming he’s been waiting for a teammate to share their feedback, only for the team member to say they sent it a few days back.

Leaving your team members looking like this:

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GIF Source: Giphy

All of that can be avoided with a content creation workflow where everyone’s roles, responsibilities, and even the deliverables have been defined. 

If issues do pop up, it’s easier to identify and resolve them on the spot. 

Effective time management

You know one of the reasons why orchestras are such a joy to behold?

Their timing is impeccable.  Every musician knows when to come in or stop. 

As a marketer, having an effective content plan gives you something similar. 

You have clearly defined roles, tasks are assigned, and everyone knows what their deliverables are and when they should be ready. 

Pure bliss!

With this, you can set realistic deadlines and confidently tell clients when their content will be ready. 

And you can properly manage your resources, too.

Consistent publishing schedule

If you want to have a successful marketing campaign, consistency has to become your best pal. 

You need to have days when you publish content like clockwork. 

Having a content creation workflow can help you achieve this.

Here’s what you get by creating one:

  • Defined days for creating content
  • Stakeholders to review content
  • Teammates responsible for publishing the content when it’s ready

In a nutshell, a workflow helps you track the progress of each piece of content so you can publish them on time. 

Fine, you got me. I’ll create a workflow. But I don’t even know where to start.

First, you need to decide which type of workflow you’d like to use. 

What are the types of content creation workflows?

Okay, so they’re not “types,” per se. 

They’re more like general approaches experts follow when creating workflows. 

There are two different strategies you can use:

  1. Task-based workflows
  2. Status-based workflows

Let's take a look at each of them in more detail.

What is a task-based workflow?

In a task-based workflow, the creation process is broken down into steps or tasks.

This approach is a great option if you need tasks completed in a certain order. 

For instance, if you’re producing video content, your task-based workflow could look like this:

  • Brainstorming ideas
  • Writing a script, split into a first draft and a second draft
  • Deciding on filming locations
  • Choosing talent for the shoot
  • Researching props
  • Filming
  • Revisions and editing
  • Distribution and promotion

For each step, a detailed description should be given to ensure everyone involved in the content creation process knows what to do at each stage.

There’s clarity about what needs to be done. Including what’s about to happen. 

The bad part?

Content managers might not have enough time to dedicate to this detailed process. Or, the process may become too rigid, with little room for flexibility or creativity.

Overall, the workflow might not be suitable for all types of content.

What is a status-based workflow?

For this approach, the focus is on the status of the project, not on the individual tasks to be done. 

The pros love this approach because they only have to ask, “Where are we on this?” 

So, instead of the project being broken down into tasks, they’re split into stages that are defined by status. 

There’s no need to include detailed descriptions of each stage – a general overview is okay so the workflow is easier to track. 

Going back to our video content example, here’s what the workflow in the status-based approach would look like:

  • New video content idea
  • Planning
  • Production
  • Review and approval
  • Publishing

It’s direct and can be adapted to any content creation workflow. 

But there are a couple downsides:

  • Lack of clarity: Since the process is not task-oriented, team members may not have clear guidance on what to do at each stage. This could lead to confusion and inefficiency.
  • Dependency issues: If one status is delayed, it can delay the entire project because subsequent statuses cannot proceed until the previous one is completed. This could lead to bottlenecks in the content creation process. 
  • Less accountability: As roles and responsibilities are not clearly defined, it might be harder to hold individuals accountable for delays or mistakes.
  • Not suitable for complex projects: For more complex projects with multiple teams and stakeholders, a status-based workflow may not provide the level of detail required to manage the project effectively.

So, which one should you choose?

You’ll find out how in the next section. 

How to decide which content creation workflow is better

It all comes down to your content marketing team and how skilled they are before creating a workflow. 

You want to consider: 

  • Their experience. If your team has loads of experience under their belt, the status-based workflow might be better. You can say bye-bye to detailed descriptions for each step. But for a new, less experienced team, they’ll need all the details they can get, like in a task-based workflow.
  • The kind of content you produce. Content like SEO articles, simple blog posts, or social media posts have a soft spot for task-based workflows because each step in the process needs a detailed description. Video content, on the other hand, works better with status-based workflows because it’s usually handled by teams with more experience, so they won’t need as many descriptions.
  • Team workflow. How your team works is another thing to consider before deciding on an approach to use. You probably wanna ask how they’d prefer to work before choosing an approach.

***

Alright, the table is now set. 

Why I need a creation workflow … ✅

What approach to use … ✅

Let’s get onto the main course for the day — showing you how to create a workflow. 

Shall we?

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GIF Source: Giphy

How to build a content creation workflow in 6 steps

So, here’s the thing:

There’s no rule book for creating a defined content workflow.

If you were to start from scratch, you’d have to take the tools in your stack into consideration. Including your team’s production processes, content requirements, etc. 

It’s a whole lot, so we streamlined the workflow creation process into just six steps to make it clearer.

Once you’ve tackled them, you’ll have a content workflow template to work with in a jiffy.   

Step #1: Define your goals and objectives

We can all agree that the main objective is to create content seamlessly. That’s why you’ve stuck around till now. 

But what are your actual goals? 

That’s what you need to figure out before going any further. 

Do you want to boost brand awareness? Take customer engagement rates to a whole new level? Improve conversions?

You need to define your goals so everyone on the team knows what to work towards.

The kind of content you produce needs to reflect your goals. 

Say your goal is to increase brand awareness. Launching an email marketing campaign to achieve that won’t cut it as you likely don’t have the leads to begin with. 

Creating engaging social media content is more aligned with this goal. 

That’s why defining goals is important before you start creating content.  

While at it, you also need to understand your target audience — figure out what their interests are, including their pain points and behaviors.

Step #2: Break down tasks and designate roles

Your next step is to take your content idea apart. 

Think about all that needs to be done to take it from the ideation stage to completion, and break them down into actionable steps.

Then, you want to assign those steps to each team member. 

This way, you have a step-by-step plan on how to produce and publish your content, including who’s responsible for it. 

So, your plan could could look like this:

  • Ideation and planning, assigned to James, the content strategist
  • Keyword research, assigned to Antonis, your SEO specialist
  • Copy/content, assigned to Jessica, the copywriter
  • Visuals, assigned to Flo, the graphic designer
  • Uploading and publishing, assigned to Paul, the marketing assistant

Step #3: Choose your content types and distribution channels

Remember the goals and objectives we asked you to define a bit further up?

It’s time to put them to work.

Based on what your goals are, you need to select an appropriate content type that suits them. 

This could be: 

Just keep in mind what distribution channels you’d use when creating the workflow.

For example, podcasts can be shared on platforms like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and even YouTube, while videos work better on social media platforms or your website.

This step is also a good time to create a content calendar to plan and track the progress of each piece of content.

Step #4: Outline and document the content creation process

If you’ve gotten to this point, you’re all set to develop your creation process. 

Your best bet here is to brainstorm with your team and outline all the steps needed to publish your brand’s content.

Depending on the content type, the steps will vary.

But in general, your content process can follow this structure:

  • Idea generation and planning
  • In-depth research
  • Content production
  • Editing and revisions
  • Publishing, promotion, and distribution 
  • Analytics and feedback
  • Optimization and repurposing

You then want to further break down these steps so they’re more detailed. 

Idea generation, for instance, can be expanded into studying trends, audience interests, or creating buyer personas.

And content production can be split into: 

  1. Writing a brief
  2. First draft
  3. Internal review
  4. Second draft
  5. Stakeholder review
  6. Final draft
  7. Publishing

To cap it all off, ensure each step is assigned to someone.  

Step #5: Streamline and automate your workflow

We’re in the 21st century; of course, there’s a tool for everything. 

Including a content creation workflow! 

With the right tools at your disposal, you can automate the entire process, ensuring everyone on your team is in sync and that they can focus on their tasks without worrying too much about other processes. 

A project management tool like Trello, for instance, can help your team manage the creation process. 

You can set everything up on a Kanban board and create no-code automations that automatically notify you of what’s been done and what’s left, plus many other cool time-saving hacks.

If you throw a collaboration tool like MarkUp into the mix, your approval workflow will be even smoother.

How?

It helps you request feedback and get approval in minutes. 

Here’s how:

  • Upload your content to MarkUp
  • Drop a comment
  • Share with stakeholders for approval via email or a shareable link

Looking to have control over comments from reviewers?

Make sure to use the MarkUp "Pausing Comments" that provides administrators and owners the ability to temporarily disable new comments on a document. 

This one is designed to establish a controlled environment for feedback, ensuring that all necessary reviews are completed before moving forward with content revisions.

Step #6: Track and measure performance

In content marketing, producing content is just one end of the spectrum.

At the other end is tracking the content’s performance. 

Is it hitting the mark you want it to?

If it is, you may want to consider repurposing and scaling it to other platforms. 

But if it’s not, you’ll need to analyze the current content strategy and tweak it until it works better for your goals. 

Essentially, tracking your content’s performance is how to know if you’re achieving the goals you set.

It’s also how you know if there’s work to be done. 

***

Good, good.

But what happens if I don’t use a workflow for content creation? 

No one’s gonna know. 

True, but it will reflect on the content you produce. 

We’ll cover this in our next section.

What are the drawbacks of operating without a content creation workflow?

Creating content without a workflow sounds like an easy route to take.

You won’t have to sit in meetings brainstorming and whatnot.

Surely the job is straightforward: Produce content and move on.

But trust us, you’ll soon run into hiccups. Here are a few you could encounter:  

  • Inconsistent quality and brand voice: Having a workflow introduces orderliness to your content creation process. Without one, there’s a very high chance that you’ll produce content that’s not aligned with your brand style guide. 

No proofreading? No revision step to check if what was created reflects the high-quality content and identity people know you for? That can cost you in the long run. 

  • High burnout rate: Creating content without a system is a lot. It means everyone will be involved in everything. There’s no defined tasks and things can quickly descend into chaos.

The result? High stress on your marketing team. They’ll be burnt out and will experience very low levels of job satisfaction. 

  • Missed deadlines: In the chaotic land of no workflow, the content team always has a lot on their plate. No one is keeping track of the progress timeline. 

Even the final approval process? Total shambles. The result is missed due dates that likely go unnoticed, and knock-on delays.

  • Difficulty hitting your goals: You decided to create content because you wanted to see results. More engagement, increased sales, the whole works. You even promised that you were going to be consistent.

But you didn’t create a workflow to begin with. 

So now, your content quality isn’t consistently great. There are typos because you don't have a review and approval system.  The designer has said he’ll submit for the umpteenth time and hasn’t. 

And those goals you set seem like a million miles away now. Why? 

No structured content marketing workflow. 

***

Here’s the point we want to drive home: 

If you want to make the most of your content marketing strategy, you need a workflow. And with the right workflow software in your corner, the process is even more seamless.

Tools, you say?

Let’s take a look at them before we wrap up.

Turbocharge your content creation workflow with AI

You want to create a content workflow.  But, you’re still finding it difficult to come up with ideas. 

Here are a few Ceros tools you can use to get you started: 

Editor: Editor is a tool within Ceros designed to facilitate the creation of digital experiences. 

It offers pre-built templates that users can customize to suit their needs, making it a powerful design tool that allows for a high level of customization and creativity, enabling users to create unique, interactive content without needing to code.

Plus, it offers access to the Asset Library where users can save and reuse assets. 

This function ensures all team members have access to the same resources, maintaining consistency and efficiency in content creation.

Studio: Want to create interactive content? Studio is the tool to use.

It comes with a drag-and-drop functionality so you can easily add to your existing assets to make it interactive. Here’s how it works:

  1. Create the content, such as text or graphics
  2. Set a trigger (user's cue to take an action), like hovering, clicking, scrolling, or viewing
  3. Pick an action to be set in motion by the trigger, such as parallax scrolling

And you’re good to go! 

But it doesn’t end here. Studio comes with robust analytics capabilities and gives valuable insights into how your interactive content is performing. It includes key features like:

  • A built-in insights dashboard that provides real-time analytics (views, visitors, engagements, average time spent, and more) on how your content is performing. 
  • Heatmaps that visually represent where users are interacting with your content the most and with what elements. 
  • Tracking specific user interactions or events within your content like clicks, hovers, or form submissions. 
  • Integration with Google Analytics, giving you a holistic view of your digital performance and allowing you to track and analyze your Ceros content alongside your other digital properties.
  • Exportable analytics data from Studio as a CSV file. Why does this one matter? Because it allows for the ability to integrate this data with other reporting tools.
  • Custom UTM parameters, allowing you to track the performance of your content across different campaigns or traffic sources.

Overall, these analytics capabilities can provide valuable insights that can help you understand your audience better, measure the effectiveness of your content, and inform your content strategy.

  • MarkUp: With MarkUp by your side, the revision processes in your workflow are sorted. You can request feedback from anyone on any file type (PDF, SVG, PSD, PNG, websites, MP4, etc.), and also give feedback yourself. 

This way everyone on the team can chip in, collaborate, and make your content an internet sensation. 

***

Alright, it’s time people. 

Who’s ready to start creating workflows?

Now it’s your turn

We’re pretty sure you can’t wait to take your content game to the next level. 

With the steps and tools we’ve shared in this guide, you have all you need.  So, what are you waiting for?

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, schedule a demo with Ceros and experience how smooth getting started can be.

Frequently asked questions

How do you measure the success of a content creation workflow?

What are the challenges of creating a content workflow?

What are some best practices for implementing a content creation workflow?

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