Learn how to develop an effective content production process that delivers consistently high-quality content on a regular basis.
Your business needs to produce high-quality content to attract leads and engage with your audience, delivered regularly, and often adapted to multiple channels.
This requires developing and maintaining an effective content production process.
In this lesson, we’ll cover:
- What Is Content Production?
- The Key Components Of A Content Production Process
- Troubleshooting Common Content Production Problems
Before You Begin
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What Is Content Production?
Let’s look at some definitions from the web…
“Content production is the process of creating written and visual products for distribution as part of an overall content marketing strategy.”
“Content production is the process of developing and creating visual or written assets, such as videos, eBooks, blog posts, whitepapers, or infographics.”
Source: Upland Software
As the above suggests, content production is a process.
Content production, however, is more than just a process. It’s also a system. And like every system, it requires inputs and outputs.
Your Content System: Content Strategy And Content Production
Having a content strategy is not the same as having a content production system:
“Content strategy = the plan that informs what you publish, how you publish and why you publish (ie business value)”
“Content production = the series of defined, documented, steps that take each piece of content from idea to publication and analyze its effectiveness in advancing your content strategy.”
Both your content strategy and content production process, however, are essential parts of a “self-looping” feedback system that can create and deliver content of great value to help your organization achieve its objectives.
In fact, a content strategy (and the content plan derived from its strategic objectives) are the inputs the content production process needs to output the various types of content your business needs to meet its strategic goals and objectives.
A good content production system, then, allows your business to:
- Produce quality content for one or more content types that serve a definite purpose for your organization.
- Maintain a steady flow of newly published content of a consistent standard.
- Communicate roles and responsibilities clearly within the content production team and across other teams.
- Identify, prevent, reduce, solve, and/or eliminate problems that arise in the content production process.
- Adjust the types of content it produces if there are any changes made to the content strategy or content plan.
- Scale its efforts.
It can’t be emphasized enough that content needs to be created (and distributed, and managed) as part of a well-thought-out system.
Your business may create an occasional brilliant piece of content ad-hoc, but without a strategy, planning, and systems, it will have no way to understand what makes the content resonate with your audience, what your true cost of production is, and how to duplicate this success across other topics or different content types.
The Key Components Of A Content Production Process
Now that we have established the importance of thinking of content production as being part of a system, let’s look at the main components of the content production process.
Coming up with ideas for your content can be a challenging part of the content creation process.
With the right sources and methods, however, you can generate a steady stream of ideas to keep your content fresh and engaging.
Some sources and methods you can use to generate ideas for your content include:
- Your audience: Your audience is a great source of ideas for content. Consider what questions, problems, or interests your audience has, and create content that addresses those topics.
- Industry experts and thought leaders: Follow industry experts and thought leaders in your field and look for ideas for content that align with their work and insights.
- Trends and news: Stay up-to-date on current trends and news in your industry, and use them as inspiration for your content.
- Social media: Social media is a great source of inspiration for content ideas. Look for conversations, hashtags, and trends on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
- Brainstorming: Get your team together and have a brainstorming session to generate ideas for content. This can be a fun and creative way to come up with new and innovative ideas.
- Competitor analysis: Take a look at what your competitors are doing and see if there are any gaps in their content. This can help you identify opportunities for your own content.
By using these sources and methods, you can generate a wide range of ideas for your content and keep your audience engaged with fresh and relevant material.
We’ve created a comprehensive email course on how to keep coming up with endless new content ideas for website articles, blog posts, and newsletters…100% free!
Learn more here: Free Content Ideas Course
Your Content Workflow
If your business intends to create and publish content repeatedly, then it needs an effective content production process to keep moving concepts from ideas to published content.
For example, writing an article for your company’s blog may involve the following steps:
- Create an outline.
- Write a draft.
- Review the draft.
- Edit the draft.
- Get changes approved.
- Publish the article.
These steps form a simple content workflow.
Creating a content workflow involves defining:
- The steps involved.
- Who is responsible for doing each step.
- What each step involves doing.
- How and when should a process move to the next step.
- What formats, guidelines, and procedures need to be followed to ensure that consistent standards are maintained.
- How and when to deliver each step.
It also involves documenting:
- How each step should be documented (and who will do this).
- How and where the documentation should be stored.
- Who can access and modify the documentation, processes, etc. (and how this should be done.)
While a workflow may define the process for creating one type of content (e.g. blog articles), it may not suit the production of other content types, such as videos, podcasts, slide presentations, ebooks, etc.
Some workflows may be simple, while others can be quite complex. Some projects may also require several different workflows to be assigned to different teams.
It’s important, therefore, to define workflows for all the different content processes that your business will engage in and all the different types of content it will create.
See the lessons below for details on how to create and document a content workflow for your business:
Content Team Roles
Let’s come back to this simple workflow…
The above process may be fine if you are the only person creating and publishing the content. In many businesses and organizations, however, a digital team comprised of multiple roles is often required to oversee and perform various content production tasks.
- Content Strategists
- Content Production Managers
- Content Writers
- Subject Experts
- Designers & Illustrators
- Content Editors
- Business Owners
- Reviewers (e.g. HR, legal, accounting, technical, other department managers, etc.)
- Web Developers
When multiple people are involved, the content workflow can look more like the swimlane diagram shown below.
A key component of the content production process, then, is being able to identify the specific roles required to perform and complete any given workflow, work out all the tasks involved, and assign each task to the respective role in its correct sequence.
Documenting workflows not only helps to define the roles, tasks, processes, and steps involved in the production of content, but it also helps to organize content ideas, prioritize projects, track their execution, determine what happens to the content after its published, and record how and where all the information gets stored.
For more details on all of the above, see this lesson: Workflow Documentation
Content Production Tools
Many excellent tools can assist with content production, from managing the process itself to actually helping you to create the content.
For more details on various tools you can use, see this lesson: Content Production Tools
Content Production Review, Evaluation, And Measurement
To determine if your content production process is efficient and find ways to improve it, you must be able to measure, review, and evaluate it.
There are several ways to do this. For example, you can measure its qualitative and quantitative outputs:
- Qualitative Outputs – Has the content met its brief? Were content guidelines for structure, style, formatting, etc. followed correctly?
- Quantitative Outputs – Are content production targets being met? How much new content is being added and coming through the pipeline?
You can also measure content production efficiency using time/cost-based metrics, such as:
1. Time to publish – how long it takes to move a piece from ideation to publication.
2. Time to distribute – how long it takes to get published content in the hands of the intended audience(s).
3. Withdrawal time – how quickly can published content with errors be withdrawn from public access or outdated content be reviewed.
4. Production cost – how much a piece costs to create.
5. Distribution cost – how much publishing a piece to each targeted channel costs.
You can also use a combination of metrics to measure B2B content production efficiency, such as those used by Upland:
For more details on the above metrics, see this article: How To Measure Content Production Efficiency
Once you have a way to measure your content production efficiency, you can review and evaluate it by surveying key project stakeholders and getting their feedback regarding the processes involved.
Your Content Production Plan
Now that you understand the content production process better, it’s time to create your content production plan.
Your content production plan is a document that outlines the strategy and schedule for creating, publishing, and promoting content for your business.
It typically includes the goals and objectives for your content, your target audience, the types of content you will produce, the distribution channels you will use, and the key performance indicators (KPIs) you will use to measure the success of your content production efforts.
Your business needs a content production plan because it helps you to align your content efforts with your overall marketing and business goals and to ensure that you are creating content that is relevant, valuable, and engaging for your target audience.
It also allows your business to allocate its resources and budget more efficiently toward content creation and track your content’s performance over time.
Additionally, a content production plan can help your business to identify and fill gaps in your content offerings, and stay consistent and on-brand with your messaging.
In short, a content production plan is a detailed plan that outlines the specific actions and resources that your business will use to create and publish its content.
It is a more detailed version of your content plan and will help your business stay organized and on schedule when creating content.
Content Production Plan Goals And Objectives
Common content production plan goals and objectives include:
- Content planning: The goal is to plan and strategize the creation, distribution, and promotion of content. This can be achieved by creating an editorial calendar, identifying a target audience, and defining KPIs.
- Content creation: The goal is to create high-quality, engaging, and relevant content that meets the needs of your target audience. This can be achieved by writing blog posts, creating videos, and designing graphics and infographics
- Content optimization: The goal is to improve the quality and performance of your content by ensuring it is well-written, visually appealing, and optimized for search engines and social media. This can be achieved by optimizing headlines, meta descriptions, and images, using keywords and hashtags, and making sure the content is mobile-friendly.
- Content distribution: The goal is to distribute and promote content through various channels, such as social media, email, and other digital platforms. This can be achieved by publishing content on your website, sharing it on social media, and sending newsletters.
- Content measurement and analytics: The goal is to track and measure your content’s performance in terms of engagement, conversion, and other key performance indicators (KPIs). This can be achieved by using analytics tools to track website traffic, social media engagement, and conversion rates
- Content repurposing: The goal is to repurpose your existing content in new and different formats for different channels and audiences. This can be achieved by republishing a blog post as a video, creating an e-book from a series of blog posts, and turning a podcast episode into a transcript
- Content updating: The goal is to keep your content up-to-date and relevant by updating or removing outdated information. This can be achieved by updating a blog post with new information, removing a broken link, or revising an old video.
How To Create A Content Production Plan
Here are the steps you can follow to create a content production plan for your business:
- Review your content plan: Review your content plan and make sure that you have a clear understanding of your audience, goals, topics, and distribution channels.
- Assign roles and responsibilities: Determine who will be responsible for each aspect of the content creation process. This might include research, writing, editing, design, and distribution.
- Create a content calendar: Use a calendar or scheduling tool to plan out when each piece of content will be created, reviewed, and published. This will help you stay on track and ensure that you have a steady stream of content to share with your audience.
- Define your workflow: Create a detailed workflow outlining the specific steps that will be taken for each piece of content. This should include research, writing, editing, design, and distribution.
- Outline your process for creating each type of content: Identify the tools, resources, and steps required to create different types of content, such as blogs, videos, podcasts, infographics, etc.
- Review and optimize: Regularly review your content production plan and make adjustments as needed. Use metrics to measure the success of your content and make changes that will help improve results over time.
Example Of A Content Production Plan
Here is an example of what a simple content production plan for a fashion e-commerce store might look like:
- Audience: Women between the ages of 20-35
- Goals: Increase brand awareness, generate leads, boost sales
- Competitors: Asos, Zara, H&M
- Latest fashion trends
- Outfit inspiration
- How to style different clothing items
- Blog post: once a week
- Instagram video: 3 times a week
- Instagram Reel: Once a week
- Pinterest Board: Once a month
- Social media: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest
- Email marketing: Weekly newsletter
- Paid Advertising: Instagram Ads, Facebook Ads
- Roles and responsibilities:
- Research: Marketing team
- Writing: Marketing team
- Editing: Marketing team
- Design: Graphic designer
- Distribution: Social media manager
- Research: 2 days
- Writing: 3 days
- Editing: 2 days
- Design: 2 days
- Distribution: 1 day
With a content production plan in place, the e-commerce store will be able to create and distribute a steady stream of high-quality content that resonates with its target audience, aligning with the overall business goals.
Content Creation – Best Practices
Creating high-quality and engaging content is crucial for your content marketing strategy.
Not only will it help you attract and retain an audience, but it will also help build trust and credibility for your brand.
Here are some best practices to follow when creating high-quality and engaging content:
- Plan your content: Creating a content calendar or editorial plan can help you stay organized and ensure that you have a steady stream of ideas for your content.
- Use relevant and reliable sources: Make sure to use credible sources when researching and creating your content. This will help you produce content that is accurate and trustworthy.
- Start with a strong headline: Your headline is the first thing your audience will see, so make sure it’s attention-grabbing and clearly conveys the main message of your content.
- Use formatting and design elements to enhance readability: Use formatting techniques like headings, bullet points, and bold text to make your content easier to read and scan.
- Use visuals: Adding visual elements to your content like images, videos, and infographics can help break up text and make your content more engaging and easier for your audience to understand. Just make sure to use high-quality images and optimize your videos for mobile.
- Know your audience: Understanding who your target audience is and what they are interested in will help you create content that resonates with them.
- Write for your audience: Your content should be tailored to your target audience. Consider their interests, problems, and needs, and create content that addresses those topics.
- Keep it simple: Use clear, concise language and avoid unnecessary jargon or complex concepts. This will help your content be more accessible and easier for your audience to read and understand.
- Optimize for SEO: Use keywords and other SEO best practices to ensure that your content is discoverable by search engines and your target audience.
- Use data and research to support your points: Including data and research in your content adds credibility and can help you make a stronger case for your points.
- Edit and proofread: Make sure to edit and proofread your content to ensure it’s error-free and easy to understand.
By following these best practices, you can create high-quality and engaging content that resonates with your audience and helps you achieve your content goals.
Content Production Challenges
While content production is a crucial and necessary part of your content strategy, it can also present some challenges, especially as you try to create unique and original content for your business and website.
Here are some of the main challenges you may experience with content production:
- Defining your target audience: One of the main hurdles of creating content for a website is defining your target audience and understanding their needs, interests, and pain points. This is crucial for creating relevant and valuable content that will engage them.
- Content strategy: Another hurdle is to develop a content strategy that defines the type of content you will create, the topics you will cover, and the goals you will achieve.
- Research and information gathering: One of the main challenges of creating unique and original content is researching and gathering the necessary information. This can take a significant amount of time and effort, and it can be difficult to find reliable and accurate sources of information.
- Originality: Another challenge is to come up with original ideas and perspectives, as it’s easy to fall into the trap of creating content that is similar to what’s already out there.
- Writing quality and style: Maintaining a consistent writing style and quality throughout the content is crucial for engaging the audience and building trust, but it can be challenging to achieve without the necessary skills and tools. It requires a good understanding of grammar, punctuation, and the target audience.
- Formatting and design: Creating unique and original content requires the use of effective formatting and design, which can be challenging to achieve without the necessary skills and tools.
- SEO and keyword research: Creating unique and original content that is optimized for search engines can be challenging, as it requires a good understanding of SEO and keyword research.
- Time management: Creating unique and original content can be time-consuming, and it’s important to manage time effectively to ensure that the content is delivered on schedule.
- Keeping up with trends: Another challenge is to keep up with trends and changes in the industry, which requires staying up to date with the latest developments and news.
- Meeting the needs of the audience: Creating unique and original content that meets the needs of the target audience can be challenging, as it requires a good understanding of their preferences, interests, and pain points.
- Measuring success: Measuring the success of your content can be a hurdle, as it requires tracking metrics such as engagement, traffic, and conversion rates.
Content Production Checklist
- Define the purpose and target audience for the content: Before starting to create any content, it’s essential to understand why it’s being created and who it’s being created for. This will help guide the overall tone and style of the content.
- Research and gather information: Gather all the information and resources you need to create the content, this includes researching industry trends, competitor content, and audience behavior.
- Create an outline: Organize the information you’ve gathered into a logical structure, this will be your guide when creating the final piece of content.
- Write the content: Using the outline as a guide, begin writing the content. Be sure to keep the tone and style consistent with the purpose and target audience defined in step one.
- Edit and proofread: Once the content is written, read it over several times to catch any errors or inconsistencies. Make sure the content is clear, concise, and easy to understand.
- Add media: Add any relevant images, videos, or other media to enhance the content and make it more engaging for the audience.
- Optimize for SEO: Optimize the content for search engines by including relevant keywords, meta descriptions, and alt tags.
- Publish and distribute: Once the content is final, publish it on your website or other platforms and promote it through social media and other channels to reach your target audience.
- Track and analyze performance: Use analytics tools to track the performance of the content and gather insights on how to improve future content.
Troubleshooting Common Content Production Problems
Sometimes, problems affecting content creation may not surface until you reach the content production phase.
For example, once your team actually starts to create the content, they may discover an issue with their website that may prevent or limit the content from fulfilling its intended purpose. This can happen if an organization needs to implement a particular content model to achieve its goals and objectives that they did not incorporate during the web design process, leaving the business to try and force “round pegs into square holes”.
Knowing how to quickly identify and troubleshoot any problems or issues in content production ensures the best return on investment for businesses using content as a strategy for growth.
Content production problems may be related to inefficiencies that lead to content marketing waste or to the process itself.
Use the chart below to identify and troubleshoot any problems or issues that need fixing in your content production process.
No Content Pipeline
Creating a content pipeline for content production can be challenging, but there are several strategies that can help you overcome this difficulty, including:
- Define clear content goals: Having clear goals for the content that is being produced can help to ensure that your content is aligned with the overall objectives of your business. Develop a content strategy that outlines your business’s goals, target audience, and the type of content that will be created. Use this strategy as a guide for all your content creation efforts.
- Create an editorial calendar: An editorial calendar can help to ensure that content is being produced on a consistent basis and that it aligns with the overall content strategy of your business. Create an editorial calendar that outlines the topics and types of content that will be created, and assign specific individuals or teams to create and publish content on a regular basis.
- Establish a content creation process: Having a clear process in place for creating and approving content can help to streamline your content creation process. Establish a content creation process that includes stages such as researching, creating, editing, and publishing. Assign specific roles and responsibilities to team members at each stage of the process.
- Automate tasks: Automating repetitive tasks can help to free up time and resources for more important tasks, such as creating new content. Use tools such as marketing automation software, scheduling tools, and social media management tools to automate tasks such as scheduling posts, creating content, and publishing content.
- Repurpose and recycle content: Repurposing and recycling existing content can help to reduce the time and resources needed to create new content. Identify existing content that can be repurposed or recycled, such as blog posts or videos, and use them in different formats, such as an infographic or a podcast.
- Outsource content creation: Outsourcing content creation can help to fill any gaps in the content pipeline and ensure that there is a consistent flow of high-quality content. Hire freelance writers, designers, or other content creators to help with content production. Make sure to set clear guidelines and instructions for the content being outsourced.
By implementing these strategies, your business can create a content pipeline that is efficient, effective, and aligned with your overall content strategy. This also helps to ensure that your business is able to produce high-quality content on a consistent basis and meet your content marketing goals.
Content Output Is Low
Suppose your content plan requires publishing 8 new articles on the company blog each month, but your content team is only delivering 3 or 4.
Check if this low output in content production is caused by one of the following reasons:
Low content output can be caused by having insufficient resources.
Does your business:
- Have a content team (in-house, outsourced, or a combination of both) with the skills and capabilities to create and deliver the content?
- Provide team members with access to the right content production tools?
- Have a defined content workflow and workflow documentation?
- Have an effective editorial calendar?
- Hold regular content team meetings?
If your business has sufficient resources but content production output is low, the cause of the problem may be unrealistic workload expectations on individual team members.
For example, let’s say that your business expects a content writer to create well-researched long articles or tutorials (e.g. 1,500 – 2,000+ words) with links to authoritative references, detailed screenshots, charts/tables, and an accompanying video.
While the writer may have the tools and skills to perform all the tasks, the requirements may simply be too complex for one role to take everything on and complete it all within the expected time frame.
Additionally, the writer may be expected to perform other writing tasks for the company or be a shared resource for different departments, so their time and focus are being split into other areas.
In this case, a review of individual workloads may be necessary where an adjustment is either made to the expectations of the role or additional resources are brought in.
If you need new content ideas for your website, blog, or newsletter, subscribe to our FREE Infinite Content Ideas course.
Content Is Late
If your content production metrics show that the content output is on target but the content is frequently being delivered late, then look for issues in areas like delivery rates and workflow bottlenecks.
- Has someone been made accountable for meeting project deadlines? If so, start by asking them what they see as causing the issue.
- If the issue is caused by multiple stakeholders having a say in the content approval phase and not being able to agree on the final version, assign the final call to one person.
- Are there too many dependencies or too many reviewers in the content workflow? If so, these can significantly extend production times and create delays and holdups in your content pipeline. Look for ways to improve process efficiency and eliminate non-essential decision-makers from your workflow.
Content Is Below Standard
If the content output is fine and the content is being delivered on time but the quality of the finished content is substandard, then look for issues in the following areas:
Content Brief & Guidelines
- Review your content brief to make sure that it has clearly and concisely set out your expectations and the areas of importance that should have been covered in the content (if you need help creating a brief, read this article).
- Does your organization have clear and documented guidelines for content creation? If you need help in this area, see the lesson on Workflow Documentation.
Meet With The Content Creator
If the brief and/or content guidelines are not the issue, then schedule a meeting with the content creator to find out why the content was below standard.
- They have read and understood the brief.
- They have read and are familiar with the content creation guidelines.
- There were any personal issues involved that affected their work.
Creating consistently high-quality content requires an effective content production system with defined and documented workflows and periodic reviews of the content strategy and content plan.
Creating unique and original content also requires a good understanding of your target audience, your topics, and your industry. It also requires having the necessary skills and tools to format and design the content effectively, maintaining a consistent effort to stay up-to-date with the latest developments and trends, and measuring and analyzing the performance of your content.
- Content Marketing Strategy Tips and Templates – A great list of downloadable templates for different content projects.
- Content Troubleshooting Guide – Use this guide to troubleshoot and fix any content-related issues in your business.
See the following sections for useful tools and resources for content production:
- Content Research Tools
- Content Production Tools
- Content Editing Tools
- Media Creation Tools
- Media Editing Tools
- The Ultimate Guide To Content Production
- The Definition Of Content Production
- Content Production
- Content Production: How To Plan An Effective Process In 8 Steps
- 6 Steps To A Content Production Process That Will Grow With You
- Content Production Process: How To Do It Right
- Marketing Workflow: How To Keep Content Production On Track
- How To Document Your Content Marketing Workflow
- Content Production vs Content Marketing
- Content Modelling: The Most Overlooked Route To A Successful WordPress Site
- How To Create A Good Brief For Better Content Marketing
- 5 Metrics That Measure Content Production Performance
- How To Measure Content Production Efficiency
- Fix These Inefficiencies In Your Content Pipeline
The list below contains all the lessons included in this module: