February 21, 2020

6 Powerful Ways to Streamline Your Content Marketing Workflows

As a content marketer, writer, editor—any creative role, really—you want to be spending your time and energy being creative.

You probably don’t want to spend time (at least not more than you absolutely must) in admin work, endless reports, WordPress, and general task switching. Think about this: our attempts to multitask can cost us 40% of our productive time!

The more I struggled with this issue, the more obvious it was to me I needed repeatable systems in place. These were things like:

  • Checklists
  • Templates
  • Automations
  • Predefined guidelines

Only with these assets in place can I truly focus on the creative, explorative side of my job as a content marketer: telling stories and building true connections with the audience I want to serve.

In this guide, you’ll find six frameworks that will guide you to build your own systems that will help you streamline everything you do in your content marketing. Let’s dive in!

1. Your content style guide

When you’re planning, writing, editing, and promoting your own content, spending time on editorial guidelines can seem unnecessary.

If this is your case, I’m here to remind you that:

  1. Your content style guide will help you stay consistent in everything you do around your content
  2. The moment you want to bring some content help on board, whether in-house or outsourced, guidelines will make it easy to hand the task off

This is a working document that will cover elements such as:

  • Tone: Do you write in a conversational way or lean more towards formal writing? Do you use humor? Do you prefer clarity over puns and entertainment?
  • Style: Do you use sentence case or title case for headers and subheaders? Do you bold or italicize key phrases?
  • Numbers: Do you use numbers from 10 upwards or for all numbers?
  • Punctuation: Do you use en (-) and em (—) dashes? Do you use the Oxford comma?
  • Length: What is the minimum word count you aim for your content to have? Is there a maximum?
  • Links: How do you include links? How many internal and external links are ideal?
  • Content delivery: Do you work in Google Docs or elsewhere? Should editing happen in regular or suggesting mode? How should the comments feature be used?

By answering these (and more) questions, you’ll gain clarity around what your content should be like every single time you press publish.

The goal: Make the creation process for the writer, and the editing process for an editor (often, that’s you!), painless.

Side note: If you want inspiration from an excellent content style guide, check out the one by Mailchimp.

2. Templates for anything you’re writing

The way you show up is what your audience will get used to. So to keep showing up in a way that you know has worked for you in the past, make sure you’re never starting from scratch and always have a template to rely on.

There are two main types of content you can templatize: blog posts and emails.

For blog posts, you can create templates such as:

  • List-based posts
  • How-to/tutorial posts
  • Expert interview posts

For emails, you can build templates for:

  • Regular newsletters
  • New product releases
  • Giveaways
  • Onboarding sequences
  • Subscriber surveys

A template for either a blog post or an email can be as simple as examples of main subheaders and a few bullet points to note the building blocks you usually include. Some examples: a relevant image, a block quote, a click-to-tweet link, and so on.

To build these templates, you don’t need anything fancy: Google Docs lets you create templates. To access this feature, go to your Google Drive and simply click New > Google Docs > From a template. From there, you can select any document you have and turn it into a template.

The goal: Save time every single time you’re writing something new.

3. Checklists for blog post writing and editing

Once you’re in the process of writing, how can you make sure you’ve done everything right before handing it off to the editing process?

Same question goes for editing—you want to be confident everything’s in place before you move your draft to your CMS.

The solution? Checklists that help you stay on track every time.

For the writing process, your checklist may include elements like:

  • WIIFM (what’s in it for me) definition
  • Primary and secondary keywords
  • A clear headline
  • Solution-focused introduction
  • A clear call to action

For editing, you may add these to your checklist:

  • Easy-to-scan formatting
  • Images that add value
  • No wordiness
  • Relevant internal links
  • Relevant external links

I’ve built my own checklist based on these notes:

The goal: Eliminate the need to go back to your post multiple times after publishing to add a link you’ve forgotten, a CTA, or to fix the formatting.

4. Templates for all your visuals

If you have a person or a team whose only job is to look after your visuals, you can skip this section.

But if you’re creating all the images, videos, and PDFs yourself and maybe hire a virtual assistant on occasion, the best way to streamline your efforts is by creating templates.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • For images, use a tool like Canva; if you don’t have your own style already, use some of their ready-to-use templates
  • For videos, use a tool like Wave.video; it also comes with pre-made templates to start with
  • For PDFs and similar documents, build your templates in Apple’s Pages or InDesign, and even in Canva

Finally, find a place to store your brand colors so they’re easy to add to any website pages, visuals, and anything else that needs a touch of your branding. Canva’s Brand Kit section lets you do just that.

The goal: Create visuals in a few clicks—by changing up the text and alternating your brand colors—instead of designing from scratch every time.

5. Checklists for blog post optimization and publishing

When it’s time to publish your content, there are a few things you should be doing every time to make sure it reaches as many relevant people as possible.

These actions can be sorted into the optimization and promotion/shareability categories.

For optimization, make sure you’re always:

  • Using H1, H2, and so on correctly
  • Making your URL short and keyword-based
  • Optimizing the file name and alt text of your images
  • Writing an enticing, clear meta description

For promotion and shareability, you can add elements like:

  • Shareable graphics and quotes
  • A feature image for native sharing on social media
  • Social sharing buttons
  • Tagging brands and people on social media if you’ve mentioned them

Here’s how I’ve added these to my checklist:

The goal: Give every piece of content the mileage it deserves after it’s been published—make sure your efforts to create it will pay off.

6. Schedule automated reports

You need to know what worked and what didn’t over the last month or quarter, but you don’t want to spend hours on finding that information? You need automated reports.

The first step, of course, is to understand which metrics you want to track at all. You don’t need all the data—you need the data that gives you the most important insight.

You might be looking for reports on the blog posts that:

  • Bring you the most traffic
  • Have the longest time on page
  • Have the highest conversion rate
  • Generate the most social shares and conversations

You can use a tool like Databox that will deliver an email to your inbox every morning with the metrics you care about the most.

You can also head to your favorite reports in Google Analytics and click Share at the top. You’ll then get an option to set up a recurring, automated report that will be emailed to you (and anyone else you want to have that report).

The goal: Gauge the performance of your content quickly so you can focus on improving that content, as well as building new one based on those insights.

Streamline what you can so you can get creative

These tips should be a great starting point for you to simplify and solidify everything you do in content marketing.

They’ll make it easier when the time comes to expand your team, hire part-time or full-time writers, editors, designers, and much more.

Which one is your favorite? Is there anything else you doing that I haven’t included? Let me know!

Post from Marijana Kostelac