Planning Your Content and Getting it Written
Now that we’ve covered website objectives, how to plan and manage your site design, choosing a content management system, establishing an information architecture, and given some examples of design inspiration, it’s time to create a robust method to create content.
The best sites use content to draw in the exact audience that will champion, share, and purchase the products and services that their company provides. Content that communicates to your ideal customer has a way of establishing trust, building relationships, and giving your audience a voice. The easiest way to publish consistent content is to plan it around a repeatable, project management framework.
The Basic Editorial Process
There are a number of project management software providers that each have their own way of combining flexibility and convenience. Finding a balance that works best for your team is often a game of trial-and-error, but there are a few things to look for in good project management software:
- Easy file-sharing and role management
- Mobile accessibility
- Quick adding/deleting of tasks
- Customizable user interface, showing tasks of varying completion levels
- (Optional) Individual writer productivity features
- (Optional) Time tracking features
The basic editorial process requires a delegation of subtasks, some form of accountability, and stages of review and editing, before pieces of projects are moved along the conveyor belt of completion.
When it comes to actually writing the content, the current trend has moved towards using software that automatically saves the state of your document, allowing for writers, editors, and reviewers to make documented changes along the way.
While Google Drive may seem to be an older solution, it does have the strong benefit of being the most convenient. By setting up a main Projects folder, with sub-folders that are job or client-related, it becomes incredibly easy to drop media and text files into shareable folders, complete with role-filtering baked in. The indirect benefit is that potential viewers and editors probably won’t need to sign up for a new service, already having access to the ubiquitous Google service.
Asana, Trello, and Teamwork have increasing amounts of flexibility and complexity, with varying levels of effectiveness, depending on the needs of your editorial team.
Now that the tools to delegate tasks have been set, the workflow for how the content takes form assumes center stage.
Repurposing content is often referred to as “cascading content”, and the idea is to morph an original article into several smaller snippets that hold the form of their function. For example, 1 long-form article that has one thousand words may be morphed into 2 related blog posts, several social media snippets, and 1 infographic. The idea is to maximize the impact of the investment in content by utilizing several distribution mediums from the same effort.
Let’s imagine a content team that defines their scope of work with an editorial calendar. Content for the project is to center around issues related to physical therapy, back and spinal issues, and general physical readiness:
In the example, various mediums are spawned from just a few core articles. Not only does this minimize the effort required to produce high-quality, relevant content frequently, it allows your company to appeal to the different types of audiences that make up your customer base. A blog with a light-hearted tone may appeal to younger audiences, an educational, authoritarian article might appeal to information-seekers, while social media snippets and images might appeal to yet another slice of your audiences’ circle of influence.
Going through a full example might clear up any dangling questions. Jump into Google Alerts or your favorite buzz tracker, and type in a term that will be relevant to your core article, finding an angle that relates the main topic to something trending. In this example, we’ll plan to write an article about something bland, flavorless, and uninteresting: bottled water.
- (Core Article) BPA-Free Water Bottles and Your Health
- (Blog Post) 7 Dangers of Non-BPA Free Water Bottles
- (Social Post) A-Listers Speak Out About BPA Bottle Scam
- (Infographic) All You Ever Wanted to Know About Bad Bottled Water
Just like you’ve surely been told at every level of schooling – plan ahead. When it comes to sending content ideas downstream, good planning helps your team to prepare for any media requirements that your batch of repurposed articles will need, including any image assets, video assets, and possible design work.
Another benefit of planning is that by future-casting a few weeks ahead, you’re more likely to spot obstacles by knowing the full scope of work from a bird’s-eye view.
One underrated aspect of good content planning comes in the distribution phase. Seeding is a term that is often used to describe a planned, drip-feed content or marketing sequence, where all parts of the campaign are not revealed at the same time. This comes in handy when you want to make a larger audience aware of an upcoming product of service. Reaching out to authorities to help spread your message often takes a bit of time and legwork, as does the process of seeding. Giving yourself ample time to allow the notification and layering process to work goes a long way to having a successful campaign.
In this section, we covered the basic editorial process as the preferred way to turn content ideas into published digital assets. We also looked at must-have and optional attributes of an ideal project management solution. We then explored the method of repurposing content, and why it lends itself to an optimal workflow, whether you are part of a small company, or an enterprise organization. To wrap up, we dove into the specifics of cascading content, as well as praising the benefits of planned content campaigns.