Wondering how to set up a highly productive content creation process?
Content marketing has consistently proven itself as one of the top-performing marketing practices. Your audience is consuming incredible amounts of content every day – that’s what makes it the perfect tool for attracting your audience to your website and, consequently, your business.
It’s how you generate leads, how you nurture them, and how you ultimately turn them into your customers.
But in order to be a successful content marketer, you need a great content creation process in place.
In this ultimate guide, you’ll discover everything you need to know about putting together a winning content creation process:
Why do you need content marketing?
I’ve made a pretty bold claim in the introduction: that content marketing is one of the top-performing marketing practices around. But there are also plenty of statistics to back me up:
- Content marketing can generate up to 3 times as many leads as outbound marketing and yet costs 62% less (in other words, you’re getting more result and paying less money)
- It’s such a great lead generation tool, that as many as 72% of marketers say that content marketing has helped improve their lead generation, according to CMI
- Consumers simply don’t trust– or like– ads: 62% of 30-44 year-olds use ad blockers. That means you need alternative ways to reach these audiences (and content, under whatever format, is the perfect replacement)
- Buyers will read an average of 4 pieces of content before they make the decision to buy (if you’re not producing content, then your competitors most likely are – which means you might lose potential customers to the competition when you’re not producing relevant content)
Content marketing has taken over the internet, so if you’re not leveraging it, you’re going to be left behind.
So, how do you develop an amazing content creation process?
Content creation process: why do you need it?
Creating content is a time-consuming process, which is likely one of the biggest drawbacks – although it’s also one of the very few drawbacks.
Or better said, creating quality content is a time-consuming process. And if you want to stand out and generate amazing results, then you need to deliver quality content on a consistent basis.
And that is the big issue – the fact that you need to be consistent.
You need to send an eye-catching email marketing campaign next week, a 3000-word guide on your blog the next week, and an engaging social media campaign in a few months when you release your new product or service.
Oh, and you also need to produce quality blog content several times a week, every week.
That is a lot of work, and if you don’t have a solid, documented content creation process in place to help you make sure you’re on track, you’re going to have some trouble delivering quality on a consistent basis.
Being organized always helps – helps you save time and be more effective, generate better results, and generally be more productive. Content marketing is no different – especially considering all of the time you need to create the content.
A content creation process will also help you make sure you’re making the best of your time: you’ll know what content you need to create and when, you’ll base your content marketing decisions on proper research, and you’ll be able to learn how to improve and optimize your content process by identifying issues and opportunities.
What does the content creation process look like?
There are several ways to put together a content creation process. If we were to look at the content marketing process, though, we can easily divide it into 4 main steps:
- Planning your content: research, ideas, placement,
- Creating and publishing your content: writing or creating your content, editing and optimizing, publishing
- Promoting your content: social media, SEO, social ads, etc.
- Measuring your content: content analytics, traffic, leads, conversions, downloads, etc.
As for the content creation process:
- Researching your content: keyword research, content research, audience research
- Content ideas: brainstorming and coming up with content ideas based on target keywords
- Planning your content: content types, what platforms, additional content
- Content creation: writing and creating your content, editing it
- Publishing and promoting your content
Let’s now take a look at each step in the content creation process and what it implies:
Before planning: put together your content marketing strategy
What are your content marketing goals?
Before planning any content for your marketing calendar, make a list of your content marketing goals. What do you want to achieve?
- More leads?
- More subscribers?
- More conversions?
- More traffic?
- More engagement?
After all, you’re creating all of this content with a purpose. Think of that purpose – and be very clear (i.e. specific) about it – so that you can come up with the ideal types of content and content topics that will actually help you reach goals.
When you get to the stage where you’re coming up with content ideas, for each idea, ask yourself this question:
“What will this do to help me achieve my goals?”
If it doesn’t help you achieve any goal, then it’s most likely worth scraping off your list and coming up with a different idea.
Create audience personas
Who forms your audience? How much do you truly know about your target audience? Who are they, specifically?
Personalization is extremely important in the current climate. If you want your audience to actually read/see/hear your content, then you need to give them a reason to: you have to give them the content they want to read.
And in order to understand what they want to read, you need to understand who they are.
Of course, this information needs to be grounded in reality. Your audience is probably formed by quite a few different groups of people, but within these separate groups, they share some similarities.
For example, if you were a business consultant, you might target both young entrepreneurs who built a business online and older small business owners with a physical store. Create personas for each of these groups to help you understand who you’re targeting, and so you can then create content for each of them.
This will also help you decide what platforms you should use to reach each audience group and when to publish it.
Step 1: Research your content
Research should be an essential part of your content creation process – it definitely should not be overlooked.
Content research – as well as niche and audience research – helps you understand what you should write about to get the best possible results, based on:
- Your audience’s interests, questions, and needs
- Niche trends
- The best-performing content being shared in your niche
Basically, you get to understand what content works by seeing which types of blog posts get the most shares, which content formats generate the most engagement, which topics get the most engagement, and so on.
Meaning, if you do research your content, you’re making sure you’re only creating content that truly interests your audience; on the other hand, if you go forego research completely, you could be losing time creating content that ultimately won’t perform as well as you need it to.
Here are some of the best methods for researching content:
Get a reader and subscribe to blogs and other publications
If you already use one, then you can hit two birds with one stone and also use the opportunity to research relevant content. For example, on Feedly, you can create a separate folder for all of your content research-related blogs and publications.
Subscribe to several publications:
- Your competitors’ blogs
- Top niche publications
And check them regularly (preferably, daily) for a few minutes to see what types of topics they’re writing about, what types of content they’re creating, and so on. Plus, it’s also a great way to stay on top of news and developments in your industry – two birds and all.
Use content research tools
These tools will help you:
- Discover the top-performing content in your niche based on social media shares and overall engagement
- Understand what types of posts perform best, as well as what topics
- What headlines grab the most clicks and shares
And plus, they’re also very useful for curating content on your blog or social media and for finding the best social influencers to collaborate with.
With Buzzsumo, for example, you can look up relevant keywords to find content:
As you can see, there are numerous filters to choose from to help you narrow down your search, including the publishing date, location or language, content type, and even word count, among others.
Next to each piece of content, you can see how many shares/engagements it’s got across different channels and plus, you can order them by a specific social channel as well.
With Social Animal too, you can create advanced content searches:
As you can see, you can narrow down your search several ways, including by date, content type (a very wide array of options here), and word count, among others.
When you research content, start writing down all of the top-performing pieces of content – what can you learn from them?
What content types do audiences prefer? Podcasts or videos? Listicles or infographic? How to guides or case studies?
Plus, don’t forget about the headlines and word counts – does your audience prefer a shorter blog post or a longer resource? What types of headlines get the most social shares?
You can learn more about kickass content research here.
Audit your own content
If you’re already creating content, then there’s a lot to learn from your results.
Open up your Google Analytics and go to Behaviour -> Overview; here, you’ll be able to see a list of your top-performing pages: the pages that got the most views during a certain period of time.
And, in the top right-hand corner, you can select a custom date range; leverage this feature so you can see which posts or resources have consistently gotten the most page views.
If you want to learn even more, you can further research your best performing content by heading over to Site Content -> All Pages and Landing Pages.
Make a list of your top performing content which has consistently driven the most page views:
- Create more content in the same vein: similar topics (or different angles) and the same type of content (how-to guide, case study, listicle, and so on)
- Re-use and repurpose this content in the future: it’s already performed well so think of ways that you can repurpose it; for example, you could turn it into a presentation or an infographic and share it on Slideshare, on your blog/website, to your email list, or on your social media. Other ways to repurpose content: turn it into a video, use the best quotes from your resource and turn them into social media images, update and improve the resource if enough time has passed since publishing
Auditing your own content and analytics will help you gain a better understanding of what works (and doesn’t work) for you, specifically.
Make sure to analyze your content marketing results regularly to keep learning and improving your strategy for better results.
This is one of the most important steps of content creation and should not be overlooked.
For one, it’s a great way to come up with numerous content ideas in one go.
Two, it’s one of the fastest ways to learn what topics interest your audience.
And three, it will allow you to better optimize your content for search engines so as to drive more organic traffic to your resources.
So yes – it’s an essential step of the content creation process.
Before you start brainstorming any content ideas for your editorial calendar, spend time first putting together an extensive list of long tail keywords (groups of 2 or more keywords – for example, “content marketing strategy” or “social media for beginners”).
Since you’ve researched your niche already, you should have a pretty good idea of what topics to research keywords for; use tools like the Moz Keyword Explorer to look up different keywords/topics:
Make a list of at least 20-30 keywords in one go – you’ll get keyword suggestions for every keyword you search for, so it won’t take you long to put this list together.
Then, you can generate ideas based on these keywords – and make sure to use the keywords in the headline, meta description, throughout the content, and so on.
Step 2: Coming up with ideas
You’ve done your research and you’ve got the keywords. What that means is, you’re ready to come up with some awesome ideas for content!
There actually isn’t much to say about this subject since all the steps listed in the first step (the research phase) are also great for generating content ideas; particularly, the keyword research phase.
If you have a list of keywords you want to target, it’s already very easy to come up with content ideas.
For example, when I looked up content creation, I discovered suggestions like “content creation tools” which can be turned into “20 Content creation tools for content marketers” or “Free content creation tools that you need to know about”.
Or, I could use “What is content creation” and turn it into a how to guide: “What is content creation? Here’s everything you need to know”.
As you can see, there are so many ideas that you can pull from your keyword research; for every long tail keyword you find, there are at least a couple of content ideas waiting to be discovered.
Step 3: Planning your content
You’ve done your research and you’ve come up with multiple content ideas.
Now, it’s time to plan all of this content:
- What types of content will you create (blog posts, how to guides, e-books, webinars, videos, etc.)
- Where will you publish your content?
- What other additional content do you need? (for example, if you created a blog post, you might also need to create a featured image and other images to use throughout your post)
What types of content?
There are a lot of types of content and ideally, you should try to diversify your content types not only so you can be more diverse and interesting, but also so you can learn what types of content your audience prefers.
There are a lot of options here; for example:
- Blog posts
- Interactive content
- Social media content
- Guides and whitepapers
- Email marketing campaigns
- Print content
Use the list from earlier with all of your content ideas/headlines; what types of content can you create? For example, some of them might be blog posts, one idea might be better off as a webinar, another one might be too long for a blog post so you could turn it into an e-book, and so on.
Now you know exactly what you’re going to create – headlines, content types, focus keywords.
Where will you publish them?
Once again, open your Google Analytics; this time, head over to Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Channels to see a list of all your main traffic sources (organic search, social, etc.). Then, you can click on each source, to see the breakdown of all the different channels that drove traffic to your website/blog.
This will help you understand which channels drive the most traffic to your website so that you can publish more content there.
What else do you need?
In most cases when you create a piece of content, you’ll most likely need to create some additional materials; make a note of these for each of your content pieces, so you know to create them ahead of time.
- Featured images for your blog posts
- Social media images for promoting your content
- Additional resources for webinars (worksheets, checklists, etc.)
- Different versions of a video for different channels (most notably, optimizing video dimensions)
Step 4: Creating and editing your content
So we’ve finally gotten to the actual act of content creation: writing, filming, recording, and anything it might entail.
Here’s what you need to remember when creating your content:
- Remember your research: remember what you’ve learned about your audience and your niche
- Keep your keywords in mind: remember that you’re creating content based on certain keywords so make sure to use them throughout your content (one long tail keyword per piece of content)
- Plan your content structure: if you’re writing something educational, especially if it’s quite long, take the time to plan out the structure of the content so you can make sure you don’t miss anything important and also so you can make sure the content flows
As for editing your content, this can be quite tricky; it’s difficult to edit your own content as you don’t always notice the mistakes you’ve made.
One of the ways you can do this though is to leave your content alone for at least a couple of days (the more the better); then, when you come back to it and re-read it/see it, you’ll have a fresher perspective so it will be easier to spot your mistakes. Otherwise, if you read a piece of content straight after writing it, chances are you won’t notice a lot of your mistakes simply because you know what you wanted to write so that’s what your eyes will mostly see.
Another – faster and more effective – way is to use tools to help; I recommend you check out this list of tools that will help you write better content, as you’ll find some great (and some free) editors and other useful content writing/editing tools.
Plus, you can also find an extensive list of 50 free content creation tools here.
Conclusion: publishing and promoting your content
Use this content creation process and it will help you be more organized save time and create better, more highly-targeted content:
- Research your industry and audience to understand what types of content get shares and clicks
- Use keyword research to come up with targeted content ideas
- Plan your content
- Create and edit your content to make sure it’s at its best
All that’s left is to publish your content on the platforms of your choosing and promote it. Use my guide to promoting a blog post to find out how to properly promote your content, as well as to grab the blog promotion checklist which you can use every time you publish something new so you don’t miss out on any channels.
If you want to get results from your content marketing, get in touch here.