You’ve brainstormed marketing content ideas — that's the fun part. Now, you've got to turn those concepts into quality, engaging content, which can be more challenging.
Consistently creating quality content involves more than just churning out posts and videos. Marketing teams need clear direction and timelines to ensure a reliable pipeline of great work — no easy feat, but it’s possible thanks to content workflows.
A content workflow takes the guesswork out of content creation by breaking down the process into smaller, systematic stages that you can assign to various team members, so each step is easier to execute and track.
What’s a content workflow?
A content workflow is a step-by-step plan outlining the content creation process, from ideation to publication.
These workflow documents define team roles and responsibilities throughout the content planning, generation, and publishing stages. They also detail the tools and resources team members will use, and timeframes for each stage of the content creation process.
This division of the content creation process helps keep your content marketing strategy on track by providing the team with workflow transparency and direction.
Why do you need a content workflow?
A content workflow is a great resource for prioritizing people and processes throughout content creation. Here are a few more ways it could benefit you:
It makes content creation manageable — from brainstorming to publication, content creation can be lengthy and usually involves multiple people, which can be chaotic if you don’t approach it systematically. A content workflow can help you break down the process into smaller tasks which are more manageable and easier to implement and track.
It defines team roles and establishes accountability — your team can easily see who's responsible for what, so the content creation process moves smoothly from one person to the next. Team members also know who to collaborate with and contact if plans go off track.
It enables consistency — consistently publishing content is one of the keys to building an engaged audience, and this form of workflow management helps clearly define timelines and posting schedules. Plus, since your team can quickly identify every deadline, they’re more likely to stay on track and anticipate problems.
Risks of working without a content workflow
The structure and clarity of workflows make content creation more efficient and streamlined, and without this systematic approach, you could face numerous risks, such as:
Unclear objectives — without a clearly planned content workflow, people on your team may not be aware of project objectives, leading them to create content that doesn't resonate with your target audience or align with your business goals.
Risk of bottlenecks — a content management workflow outlines the order and interdependence of tasks. Without it, work transition from one team member to another becomes messy and confusing. This can cause bottlenecks if people aren't fully aware of their role and impact on the content production process.
Misallocation of tasks — if you assign work randomly rather than carefully planning it using a content workflow based on specific skills and competencies, quality standards can drop and delay publication.
Loss of time and capital — the inconsistency of a disorganized marketing management process can result in lost time and money. Organized task mapping using a content workflow in line with available resources optimizes resource use and increases productivity.
2 types of content workflows
There are two common content workflow types: task-based and status-based.
1. Task-based workflows
For this workflow type, you organize every task in sequence so each workflow stage has a clearly defined task.
Your workflow stages might look like this:
Perform keyword research
Compile an SEO brief
Create the first draft
Proofread and edit the draft
Approve the final draft
The advantage of this workflow structure is that it offers systematic direction so every team member knows what tasks they're responsible for. This is especially beneficial for newer marketing teams who still need to become familiar with your company’s content creation process and how they fit into it.
The downside is that it’s rigid and doesn’t leave room to adapt one stage based on the performance of a previous one. If one task is delayed, it throws the entire workflow off schedule.
2. Status-based workflows
This popular workflow type outlines the content process using statuses rather than individual tasks.
The stages of this workflow might include:
A status-based approach offers flexibility so people can modify their tasks at each stage. It's also versatile, enabling you to reuse the same workflow for various posts instead of creating separate templates for blogs, videos, and landing pages.
The disadvantage of this type of workflow is that it isn't as clear and transparent as the task-based workflow, so you may need to dig a little to determine who's responsible for various tasks.
What a successful content workflow looks like
The best content workflow for you depends on your team’s experience, the type of content you require, and your goals. But there are a few universal things that a successful workflow should have, like:
Clearly outlined stages
Role and responsibilities
The tasks required at each stage
Tools and assets needed
A due date for each task or status
How to develop an efficient content workflow: 7 steps
A content workflow is like an action plan you use to create accurate, consistent, high-quality content. To begin crafting your content workflow, follow these seven steps.
1. Define your content creation goals
First, determine your objectives so your team knows what they’re working toward.
Ask yourself what you want your content to achieve. You could be raising awareness about a new product or service, trying to boost brand awareness, or increasing social media conversations. It's essential to determine this first, as your purpose impacts the content type you produce and the workflow you opt for.
2. Choose content type and channels
Determine the content type that would best achieve your objectives and the appropriate channels to use depending on your target audience — the group of people your content caters to.
Different groups have their own interests and preferences, so the type of content and mediums that resonate with one may not be as impactful on another. If you're launching a makeup product, you may opt for Instagram since it's popular for visual content. To promote video editing software, YouTube is a good place to reach your target audience.
3. Organize your content into smaller actionable tasks
Next, break down your content into specific and manageable tasks. If you’re posting a blog article, your workflow template may look something like this:
Conduct keyword research
Write content briefs
Draft the article
4. Define roles and responsibilities
Each stage in your content workflow should have a team member assigned to it. This is critical for transparency and to ensure seamless handoffs from one stage to the next.
When creating that blog post, the content strategist and team brainstorm ideas, you assign the keyword research to the SEO specialist, a content writer creates the draft, and an editor edits the post.
5. Detail the content creation stages and timelines
If you've opted for a task-based workflow, define and outline your tasks and determine who’s responsible for each. For the status-based workflow, you’ll break the process down based on status and progress.
Include clear timeframes to ensure your content creation campaign stays on schedule — a content management template may be useful. If you’re working on multiple posts, track them all using a free content calendar or social media calendar template from Notion.
6. Implement and automate your workflow
Once planning is complete, implement your workflow. To save time and streamline collaboration among team members, automate the process with a project management tool, like Notion’s content design workflow template, which provides a standardized, consistent framework for planning and executing your content creation workflow.
7. Measure performance and audit content regularly
Measuring your content’s performance and adjusting your process to ensure its success is critical so that you don’t waste time and resources on content that isn’t benefiting your business.
Over time, you may need to tweak your workflow as things change. If your content engagement is low, adjust the brainstorming stages of your workflow. And a high bounce rate indicates that visitors are quickly navigating away from your content, so assessing the keyword research stage of your workflow may help.
Efficient workflows and content creation with Notion
An efficient content workflow is critical to optimizing your digital marketing strategy. And if you have the right tools, implementing and managing your workflow is a breeze.