Digital Marketing begins and ends with content creation. The right type of content creation is vital for brand awareness, lead generation and sales. All of which are necessary for any business to survive, thrive and grow.
Creating content is a time consuming endeavor and you need a systematic approach.
In this article, we’re going to give you a system to follow. We’ll break it down to the bare bones so that you understand what each stage of the process encompasses.
At the end of this article, you’ll have a full understanding of what a content creation process looks like.
Do you want to have tools, checklists, templates and ALL the ideas you could possibly need to create whatever content you desire?
Consider joining my Facebook Group. It’s a place where I share tips, tricks and strategies, while I also offer 101 assistance
NB: Some of the items will be free, some may require a subscription. (Which will be liked to through affiliate links).
Please see our disclaimer regarding affiliate links.
Table of Contents
Content. It comes in a variety of formats and everyone has their favorite.
Some like to read, others hate it. Some like to listen, while others like to watch.
Each person has their unique preference.
As marketers and business owners, it’s our job to give potential customers what they want, in the places they frequent.
What’s the best way to create the content they want? Look at the places they frequent and what they consume, then use tools to make it.
What is a Content Creation Process?
A content creation process is a system that includes all the steps necessary to come up with an idea and publish a piece of content.
This is how we see the content creation process:
Assess need>Plan>Check inventory to use/repurpose what we already have>Research>Curate>Edit>Publish>Analytics>Optimize>
To simplify the process further:
Plan – Curate – Edit – Publish
This breaks the process down into its simplest forms. As this article continues, we’ll expand and explain each stage of the process.
What is a Content Creation Workflow?
A content creation workflow is basically a means to follow a single piece of content from idea to publication.
Obviously, at each stage of the creation process, different people may be involved.
So, it therefore makes sense to keep track of each piece of content while it moves from one person or department to the next.
This is typically how you would track one piece of content through a workflow:
- Site audit
- Need found – job request created
- Campaign planning revised
- Guidelines published
- Job request delegated
- Resources allocated for job
- Research conducted
- Content curated
- Content created/edited
- Content sent for quality check
- Content sent for proofreading
- Content sent for editing correcting
- Content sent for approval
- Content sent for publishing
- Published content recorded
- All content tagged and archived
- Content updated
- Content optimized
- Content records updated
- Work reports archived
At the very beginning, right after the site audit, a job number was created. It was this job number that would be referenced in any Campaign.
Not only do you keep track of the content, but you also keep track of every:
- Text Document
- Audio Clip
- Multimedia Content (Video/Slide/Document)
The 4 points above encompass all types of content. These are called assets.
Every piece of content you create is an asset, because it is a creation that can bring in leads (leads can bring in money to the business) so therefore it has monetary value.
Everything that has value to you or your business is an asset and should be tracked.
How will we record and store each Asset?
For digital assets, it’s simple. You need to find a place in/on your network or with a service provider where you can store all of these digital assets into what you can call a Repository/Archive or Library.
Personally, I prefer calling my storage location a Library or Archive.
Let’s look at Recording your Assets quick –
You need a process to store hundreds, or thousands of assets.
If you’re not using a solid recording process, it will get overwhelming and confusing to find an asset if you need it in a hurry. That’s why we recommend Hubspot for storing and tracking your assets.
But, if you insist on doing things the hard way, let’s see if we can show you how you could do it.
How can you build a recording process?
You “can” use an excel spreadsheet and create tabs for each main category type:
Every text document, audio file, Image and multimedia item gets a dedicated number, no matter who it is allocated to, or for whatever reason.
Let’s look at what a typical Excel sheet could look like by column, starting from the left, going right:
- Number – TXT001, IMG001, AUD001, MTM001, …..
- Date – current date
- Item Type – PDF, MP3, Photo, Slide, etc
- Tags – Blog, Song, Animation, Presentation
- Customer/Business – add the number
- Campaign/Project – add the reference number
- Jobs/Ads – add the reference number
- Description – describe what the asset is about
- Comments – anything to note
That’s quite a comprehensive and detailed listing, but it will help you in the future. Rather do the time consuming and difficult work of properly recording it.
Databases are typically built on the same logic as excel. They tend to be more robust and easier to insert data into.
The typical structure of your database can be the same as your excel document.
Where databases are better is their search functionality. Choose and option that’s right for you.
Now that we’ve covered the recording of your assets, let’s have a look at storage.
Choose a safe place to store your files. Remember to make backups!
You could store files to:
- Your hard drive
- External drives
- Multimedia (CD/DVD/USB)
- Network Server
- Cloud Storage
Simply create folders for each main category. Within the main category folders, create your sub-categories.
Each asset falls into one of 4 categories:
- Text – documents, posts, pages, etc
- Audio – music, commentary, etc
- Image – photos, digital, paintings, etc
- Multimedia – slides, documents, video, etc
Now that we have the main categories, we can create sub-categories, here are some examples:
- Word Document
- Blog Post
- Website Page
- Brochures, flyers, etc
Once we’ve established into which category and into which file type our content falls, we can record and store it.
Let’s have a look at your typical business structure when it comes to content creation.
Starting at the top:
- Client/Business number
- Jobs/Ad Set Numbers
- Assets/Ad Numbers
Hopefully this makes sense. This is how it works:
You may have a client/business with multiple websites/locations. They create multiple campaigns. Each campaign contains multiple jobs/ad sets. Each ad/job contains multiple assets/ads.
Overall Brand Message
Before you can create content, you need to make sure that the content you will create aligns with your business message.
- Word or phrase
Must be in alignment with your overall brand. What type of brand are you?
- Upbeat and sporty?
- Cutting Edge?
- Fun and Playful?
There are other categories that I haven’t included.
For inspiration and other examples, go online and screenshot what other businesses in a similar category as you are doing.
Keep a resource file so that you can reference it whenever you need direction.
Keep abreast of trends in your industry. Jump on new trends as they happen, because trends come and go.
You should also have brand guidelines to follow.
Ensure this document is always up to date and truly reflects the essence of your brand.
- Inform what is and is not allowed
- Color palette
- Use of logo
- Tone of voice
- Places where you may interact
- Relay the brand motto
- Relay brand message
- Relay mission statement
- Relay brand ambitions
Tailor your brand guidelines to suit your business needs.
Once we understand our brand message and what types of content we can or cannot use, we’ll start the process.
Assess Current Content
Why are we going to assess our current/existing content?
It’s quicker and easier to repurpose what we already have, that’s why.
Creating content from scratch takes longer.
Remember earlier I said we should track everything, well, this is where it comes in handy.
During your tracking process, you should have recorded:
- Jobs/Ad Sets
- Assets – images, text, audio, multimedia
Each type of asset should have been, numbered, categorized and tagged/labelled.
There should also be details of who and what a particular piece of content is/was created for
Looking for existing content
Let’s say for instance, you received an instruction to create a blog post about a new brand of puppy food.
You can’t remember if you ever created a blog post about dog food, or puppy food for that matter.
Simply open your Excel record and hold CTRL + F at the same time. A pop-up box will appear
Type in “Blog Post” (minus the””). Click on – Find all.
Results should display in a box, otherwise another pop-up box will appear, telling you that no such content exists.
If you don’t find anything by using the term “blog post”, try using puppy food, dog food, or anything related.
Searching in databases
Typically databases are created on the same principal as excel and you can also do the CTRL + F search. If not, find a search box, or click in the file menu, and a dropdown may have a search option.
If you have no luck, ask a couple of your fellow colleagues to point you in the right direction.
You find existing content – what now?
Great, you found some existing content, now you can save time and quickly re-purpose it.
Depending on the type of content you need to create, you can re-write new content in a different style, or you can write it from a different perspective.
You can take the existing content, if it’s in text format and use different main points, to:
- Create lists
- Create numbered posts
- Short form blog posts
- Short videos
- Graphics for social media
So you can take one piece of content and turn it into multiple formats quickly. You can go check out our other post – What is Digital Marketing.
In that post I run through each social media site, what the audience is and I also talk about the various content types.
Tools to help you quickly repurpose Content
There are a number of content creation platforms that make the process quicker and easier.
A few that spring to mind are:
These are only a very small selection of possible platforms you can use to create or repurpose content. My suggestion to you, is to choose 1! Choose 1 and get to know it, inside-out.
Content is flexible in the hands of the right creator. A single piece of content can easily be transformed into multiple formats.
We create content in multiple formats so that it can be consumed by our followers in their preferred medium.
For instance, text can be created in a Word Document. That one document can then be transformed from:
- Word to PDF
- From Word to Slide
- From Slide to Multimedia slide (Add Audio narration)
- From Multimedia slide to video
- From video to podcast (Strip out audio)
- From Text To Image (screenshot Text/Graphics)
When we have the following types of content above, we can go to a content creation platform like Canva. Here we will create content to distribute to the 5 Major Social Media Platforms.
Transforming Content for Social Media
I’m going to show you how to take 1 x Image and change it to fit 5 different Social Media platforms. (No need to re-create images, etc)
We’re going to create content for the following major Social Media platforms:
For the above example, I want to write a post about stress in the workplace. I am going to log into Canva and look for an image that is related to “Work Stress”.
Working in Canva
Log into Canva.com. In the search box presented, type in “Facebook post”. (Minus the “”)
Now you’ll be presented with different Facebook Post templates. I’m pretty certain I won’t find a design I want, so I just click on the blank box, to start with a blank template.
The designer opens up. In the left column, I click on Photos. I type “work stress” (minus the “”) into the search box at the top and a number of images are returned as a result.
I choose one that I like.
When I double click on the image it automatically appears in the blank design template.
I can click on the edge of the image, drag the edges to make it fill the template.
I can then repeat the process. Look in the left hand column. If I want to add text, I click on text, select the type of fonts or a style template I like.
Double click on the style I like and it appears on the template.
Keep going until you’re happy with your design. Look next to the download button at the top right, there’s a place for you to give your image a name.
This will be the file name when you download your image, so keep your branding and main keyword in mind and add it to the title/name of your image.
When you’re finished naming your design, hit the download button and you’ll be presented with a range of different image formats.
PNG is the best format for images, so download your creation to your desktop. When you click on save, it will take a second or two, then a pop up box will appear.
You’ll see that the file name is the same as the name/title of your image in Canva.
Choose a storage location and click save.
Go back to Canva. Click the Home button at the top left.
This will take you back to the home page. Repeat the same process for the remaining Social Media sites.
Just type the name of the site for which you want to create content into the search box, and you’ll be presented with templates to choose from.
Play around – Get to Know Canva
Canva has so many different designs and templates, it can be overwhelming.
Not only do they provide a wide array of content templates and designs, they also teach you how to do graphic design and a whole lot more.
You’ll also find tutorials for creating any type of content imaginable.
Here are some of the things you can create within Canva:
- Social Media Posts
- eBook covers
- Comic strips
- Magazine covers
- Presentation plans
- Photo collages
I’m not going to list everything. There’s just so much, this is only about ¼ of what you’ll find possible in Canva. I can’t recommend it enough.
It happens to be one of my favorite tools for content creation and use it daily.
So, we’ve repurposed some content and have it in front of us.
We’re not going to tag, record, or store it just yet. We need to see how it is going to fit within our campaign.
We might have to throw it out and do a complete redesign.
We’re in the ideation stage right now and the more ideas we have in front of us the better.
We first need to sit down and think about the direction we want to go.
This is what brainstorming is all about.
We’re taking various ideas and putting them together, to see how they fit within the narrative of the story/message we want to convey to our audience.
Does the content we’ve created:
- Give a visual representation of our story?
- Clarify the idea?
- Complement existing ideas?
- Create excitement or anticipation?
- Evoke emotions? (Good or bad)
What are we trying to achieve? What is the purpose of the content?
Let’s look at how we can effectively do content creation brainstorming.
The Brainstorming Process
Everyone has a different way of thinking, so, in order to streamline thoughts and ideas, create a brief.
What is a brief?
A brief is a list of requirements. It sets the stage to explain what goals/objectives/aspirations are desired.
Simply put, a brief details specific expectations and therefore gives the creative process direction.
Preparation for Brainstorming
In order to get everyone on the same line of thinking, distribute a brief to all concerned parties who will be involved in the content creation process, the day before the actual brainstorming session.
Let everyone think about the session and prepare any questions they may have before the time.
As I’ve already mentioned, people have different ways of thinking.
“How so?” You might ask. Let’s briefly try explain. You see, we all have:
- Different cultures
- Environmental conditions
- Imposed behaviors
- Different identities
When we take all of these into consideration, you can understand that everyone sees each “thing/event” in his/her own way of understanding and has his/her own perspective.
The quickest way to get everyone’s line of thinking in one direction is to let them ask clarifying questions.
When distributing your brief, give clear instructions about the direction in which the brainstorming session must go.
Let them come up with questions around the main concepts of the project at hand. (Your brief should have given them enough details and direction)
During your Brainstorming session
Let each participant wear a different color hat. You can also have everyone wear a single color to focus on one topic.
Here’s how to do it:
- Black– brainstorm ideas with criticism/caution
- White – think of content based on facts
- Yellow – positive/logical thinking
- Red – ideas from feelings/emotions
- Green – creative thinking
- Blue – moderator
I would suggest two avenues for success. In one case – create a sense of competition. In the second case – let creatives work in isolation.
Some people love to compete, while other are much more creative when left to contemplate and tap into their true creative intelligence. (In silence and solitude)
Give your team deadlines and let them get to it.
Before sending your creatives off to compete or work alone, make sure that you’ve given them all the tools they need – Use the KISS Principle:
- K – Clear
- I – Inline/logical
- S – Simple
- S – Specific
Make sure everything is explained in detail, answer all their questions and leave a clear line of communication open.
Let them talk among each other and also to the campaign manager to ensure they haven’t gone in the wrong direction.
Create a single space where you’ll have all your participants add their ideas.
This could be:
- A physical whiteboard
- Digital whiteboard
- Trello board
- Slack Group
- Teams Group
Tag each idea to the person who created it and then highlight participants with winning ideas for the competitive spirit.
You can also collect all ideas, create a showcase, without mentioning the creators and vote for the best idea.
This helps create a motivating environment in which no-one is left isolated and it created a sense of responsibility in the workplace.
It will also make it easier for better content creation at each stage of future marketing campaigns. It also paves the way for better ideas to flow into future campaigns.
Results from Brainstorming
We’ve now repurposed content and did a brainstorming session to determine:
- What the campaign objectives are (Lead Generation)
- Which types of content will generate leads
- Which audience to target (demo/psychographics)
- Which platform will be best suited
- Which message to use
- What angle to approach from
- What ad budget is available
- The timeframe
We’ve collected all the content we’ve created. After looking through everything from all angles, we’ve voted for our winning components.
Map Out – Plan Creation Stages
It’s at this stage, we have to decide who is going to do what.
What each person will be responsible for doing and track everything along the way.
This section might get a little long, and confusing. I’m trying to give you an example of how a simple campaign may be managed in the real world.
After doing our brainstorming, we now have clarity on the direction we’re going and what content we’re going to use. We also know where we’re going to distribute the content to.
Let’s have a look at a typical example of the workflow:
Creative Agency – Nexus has 4 branches. They Name each Branch According to a number.
Nexus, Nexus 1, Nexus 2 and Nexus 3.
Each branch is located in a different Country. Nexus is the Head Office where all planning and budgeting has to be approved.
Each branch is responsible for running marketing campaigns and finding clients, while the head office also runs marketing campaigns and forwards leads to branches.
Eric H, the FD at Nexus notices a new entry into the global CRM, with a request for budgeting approval.
Sue M is the Branch Manager at Nexus 2. As leads are generated, they are automatically captured into the Global CRM.
All leads entered into the CRM are automatically assigned a Client Number and each branch has its own code. In our case the prefixes will look something like this:
N0:001 – For Nexus
N1:001 – For Nexus 1
N2:001 – For Nexus 2
N3:001 – for Nexus 3
Branch Manager (Sue M) at Nexus 2 opens the Global CRM to check on the status of her Expo budget request to Head Office and finds that it’s approved.
Sue M now creates a campaign in the CRM. Each lead/client registered has a unique registration number.
Each Campaign created has a unique number, but references the client name and number.
Sue M delegates Campaign No: 332 to Creative Supervisor (Trish B. It’s now Trish B’s responsibility to get the whole campaign up and running.
Trish knows that the Campaign will consist of the following:
- Banners For an Expo Stand (material)
- Flyers for Distribution at the Expo
Trish understands that the following needs to be done:
- Printers need graphic designs for the banners
- Printers need design layout for the Flyers
Trish has been working at Nexus 2 for that past 2 years and remembers that they attended the same Expo last year and used a similar format.
She checks her content library. Sure enough, they had saved templates for the Flyers and the Banners.
Trish sits down to write a brief and heads back to Sue to clarify the location and deadline for the Expo.
Sue approves of the brief Trish has written. Sue also allocates Job Numbers for Trish.
Trish now needs to go back to her office and enter the relevant details in the CRM.
She lays out the details of the process using mind mapping software and then enters everything into the CRM.
Trish Calls for a meeting:
- Job number 2345 – Graphic Design 3452,3453
- Job Number 2346 – Text Copy 3452, 3453
- Job number 2347 – Print Format 5245, 5246
She opens the CRM in the meeting and speaks to:
- The Research Team
- The Designers
- The Copywriters
- The Printers
- The Quality Approval Editor
Here’s the process the jobs will go through, with records into the CRM at each step:
- Client To Sue
- Sue to Trish – Delegation
- Researchers – Research
- Designers – Editing
- QC/Editor – Quality Control
- Adjustments (if any)
- Return to Trish
- Trish to Sue
- Sue to Client
There are approval flows built into the CRM. Each employee has their level of login access. Most can only login to enter data on completion of their work.
All tracking takes place in the CRM too. Every branch, client, campaign, job, ad, or asset, it’s all tracked from one central location.
First stop, is the research team. Alisha S and Tamara H.
Their job is to do research and find everything that the designers and writers might need and make entries into the job cards/files to speed up the process.
Once they’ve done the research, they make their entries in the CRM.
Graphic designer Tim T, receives a notification to work on job number 2345. Trish has politely put a reference to last year’s design templates in the job details and Tim finds it in the library.
After a few design alterations and adding new updated assets, Tim records the new assets.
Job number 2345 Update:
For design number 3452, altered assets:
Image – 56765 – refer IMG Catalog
Image – 56766 – refer IMG Catalog
The process continues through each department until the job is complete.
Each person commenting on everything they do, everything they add and then the final step of the process is getting it all approved.
There needs to be someone to check that:
Everything at all used or that leaves the business is in alignment with the brand voice. Is correct in the grammatical sense and that it’s consistent with the image you’re trying to convey.
When the Supervisor receives notification that the process is complete, she can re-check the editor, clear any questions he/she may have and then forward on to the branch manager in order for them to notify the client that their work/order is ready.
Publishing content is straightforward. You upload your content to the platform you’ve chosen. Add the relevant text or whatever else accompanies it and then keep eye on performance.
We’ve found that publishing consistently is one of the best things you can do for your brand.
For Google, regular updates and consistent publishing, tells it that you’re keeping your content fresh and scores you a little more relevance in search queries.
To publish regularly, create a content publishing calendar. Fill it with content you want to publish and set deadlines.
Content creation doesn’t need to be a pain. Just follow the process:
Research/Plan – Curate – Edit – Publish
Hopefully the process we’ve broken down here helps clarify how you could build your own process for your business.
If you have any questions, reach out to us and we’ll be happy to help you.
Remember – consider joining my Facebook Group. It’s a place where I share tips, tricks and strategies, while I also offer 101 assistance