Content Creation Process
If you’re here, you already know why content marketing is important. But, do you ever feel like content creation for social media is a full-time job? The overwhelm, frustration and exhaustion small business owners feel trying to keep up with content creation are real. That’s because content creation IS a full-time job unless you have a strategic content creation process.
According to top content marketing and social media experts, the ideal posting schedule on Instagram right now is hefty. Each social media platform wants consistent content, but they also want you to use all of the features available in the app. Let’s say we’re just talking about one platform – Instagram. The ideal posting schedule for organic social media growth would look something like this:
Reels: 4-7 per week
Stories: 5-15 daily
In-Feed: 2-3 per week (carousels, videos, static posts)
IGTV: 1-2 per week (long-form video)
Live: 1-2 per week
That’s 40+ posts per week for “optimal results” and that’s only one platform.
The recommended posting frequency for TikTok growth right now? 3 videos per day and that doesn’t account for stories.
If Pinterest marketing is on your radar, the pinning frequency you’re looking at is 10-25 pins per day. Oh, and they can’t all be pinned at once. Pins should be spread throughout the day. And the list goes on.
It’s easy to understand why content marketing and social media are so overwhelming for small business owners.
Spoiler alert. There’s an alternative when it comes to growing your audience and connecting with your ideal customers – a strategic content creation process and visibility system!
You need a strategic content creation system. One that allows you to create more content in less time and does more than just fill your content marketing calendar. Even if you already have a full-time social media manager on your team, you need an efficient, effective content system that directly impacts your content marketing goals.
What is a Content Creation Process?
A content creation process is a system that allows you to create strategic content for your business that drives sales. It’s that simple. An effective content system does 4 things.
- Produces content that’s aligned with your ideal customer, purpose-driven and connected to the overall marketing strategy of your business.
- Allows you or your team to create content consistently without spending exorbitant amounts of time in the process.
- Is simple and streamlined (and uses a repeatable workflow that can be followed by someone else)
- Helps achieve real results in your business
A great content creation process is one that feels GOOD to implement and doesn’t create stress or overwhelm for you or your team. It’s not driven by content marketing trends or scarcity and it’s aligned with not only your content marketing goals but your business objectives as a whole. This is where holistic marketing strategies (link to the 5 laws) come into practice and feel much more natural to you and your audience.
We’ll break this content creation process down into three phases, each with its own set of tasks.
Without a research phase, you’re blindly creating content and continuously playing catch-up.
Be honest, have you ever said “Oh shoot. Mother’s Day is in two days and we don’t have our marketing planned!”
Instead, a well-structured content marketing plan actually creates more time and space for spontaneity and other moving parts in your business. A content marketing plan takes into account 4 things:
- What is the content?
- When does it need to be scheduled?
- Where will it live?
- Why are you creating and sharing? What’s the strategic reason behind your content?
The research phase of the content creation process is about finding the questions and topics your ideal customers are interested in.
- What do they care about?
- What do they want to see?
- What questions are they asking?
- What can you offer them that’s of value to them?
Using sites like Answer the Public and Quora are great starting points. One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make with their marketing is creating content that they find interesting. Instead, the content creation process should be based on your ideal customer.
Once you’ve established the right type of content to create for your ideal customers, it’s time to move on to the content planning phase. There are two content marketing resources you’ll need (yes, you need both).
An editorial calendar provides a big-picture overview of your content strategy. It typically provides an at-a-glance look at the yearly, monthly, or quarterly marketing plan. For example, it could specify content themes, new product launches or holiday-based promotions.
A content calendar details the day-to-day content creation process and workflow. The content calendar zooms in on specifics, defining what content is being created and published. An effective content calendar does 4 things:
- Allows you to run your content like a media company, with a content creation system
- Allows for team collaboration
- Streamlines the content creation process to save time
- Allows you to create a content bank for recycling and repurposing strategic content
Finally, the operational side of the content creation process is the workflow. Marketing minimalism is all about efficiency and systematization so this next part won’t surprise you. Workflows or SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) are essential if you want to maximize time and output in your content system.
- How long does it take to produce one piece of content?
- What steps need to happen for a piece of content to be ready to publish?
- Is there a checklist that you follow? (Hint, there should be)
- Do you use templates?
- Is the workflow repeatable? Can your team replicate the process?
Batch, Schedule & Automate
If you have loads of extra time in your schedule, you can skip this next part. If not, keep reading.
“More structure in your business means more freedom in your life” – James Wedmore
The same is true for your content marketing. Batching, scheduling and automating your workflow can save you dozens of hours every month. Batching any tasks in your business is a time-saver and content is no different.
Let me show you. How many times a day do you check your email? Conservatively, the average professional checks email 15 times a day (2016). More recent reports (Adobe, 2019) show US adults spend 5 hours per day checking email. That particular report also states that three of those hours were spent on work emails but the other two were personal. Let’s be really generous and say those people are required to live in their inbox at work (not the case for most business owners), which still leaves two or more hours per day spent on email.
If you adopted an email batching system and only checked emails twice a day, how much more efficient would you be in your inbox? How much time could you save? On average, our clients save one hour per day when they adopt our email system. How would getting 7 hours back in your week impact your business?
That’s just one batching system. Humans are just inherently more efficient when we’re focused on one thing. Adopting batching your content production as part of your workflow is a time-saver. Scheduling your content works the same way.
If batching and scheduling are the 50K gold status on your preferred airline, then automation is super elite. Automation is an advanced strategy but once you come down the marketing minimalist rabbit hole and start structuring your processes to optimize time, you’ll soon realize that automation can take your schedule to the next level.
Recycle & Repurpose
Everyone’s talking about recycling and repurposing content but few are actually doing it. Why? Because they don’t have the workflow in place to make it happen. Starting with source content (the method we teach inside our signature program) allows you to create 30+ unique pieces of content from that single source and disseminate it across multiple platforms over time.
This system allows 80-90% of your content to be recycled. That means only 10-20% of the content is being created from scratch at any given time. This allows more freedom, creativity and time while still building your audience, generating leads for your business and executing your marketing plan.
If you’re starting from scratch, with no existing content bank, there is a production period required to get started. Investing a few hours a week in the first month of this process will result in a content process that only requires 1-hour a week (or less) of content creation. Once the content bank is in place, you’ll be able to create 90 days of content in just 3 hours.
Using these processes and tools in your content creation process will save you an astronomical amount of time. A content system also allows you to create strategic and aligned content that actually contributes to the bottom line of your business. Here’s what my personal recycling workflow looks like:
Step-By-Step Content Creation Process
Here is the exact process I go through to actually create a piece of capsule content. We also use this process for short-form content creation, video production, and any other pillar content we’re producing.
Create an Outline. Sitting down to write a 2000+ word blog post goes a lot faster if you have a framework to work from. Take the time to organize your thoughts in a logical manner. A simple outline method I use, goes like this:
- Introduce the concept and its importance
- Establish the goal of the content (what does the reader get out of it?)
- Answer the top 3-5 questions your ideal customer has about this topic
- Provide actionable steps (if relevant)
- Summarize everything with a call to action
Write or record the first draft. I use freewriting to execute my first drafts and find it helpful to set aside quiet time when I won’t be interrupted. For me, that’s usually early in the morning before the rest of the house gets up. Do your best to “just write” and don’t overthink it. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar or sentence structure, we’ll get to that later.
As I’m writing this, it’s 6:19am and I’m snuggled up on my sofa, in my robe, with my favorite candle lit beside me a cup of coffee. That’s my process! Find one that works for you.
Edit. Editing is where the magic happens in content creation. We have a 5 phase editing process we use every time we publish capsule content. I know it sounds excessive, but this process actually saves us a lot of time in the long run, maintains quality, and keeps the workflow moving along nicely.
- FIRST EDIT. Check for spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and organization. I use (and love) Grammarly for this process.
- CONTEXT EDIT. This is where I’ll add personal stories, anecdotes, and resources that will add value and context for my readers. Anything I think will make this easier for you to understand or take action on, gets added here. This is also where we’ll add visuals like images, graphics, GIFs, pull quotes or other visuals that support the message and make the content more engaging.
- FORMATTING EDIT. This is where we’ll add lists, bullet points, sub-headings, and other formatting tools to make the content easy to digest.
- SECOND EYES. Content is never released without a second set of eyes on it. As the writer, your brain processes the content differently. It’s important to have someone who didn’t produce the content take a look at it. They will always catch something you didn’t. This is also an opportunity to get feedback about clarity and make adjustments as needed.
- SEO EDIT. During the final edit, we optimize the post for search engines by ensuring things like keywords are present in the right ratios, images have alt text, insert internal and external links, etc. We use a tool called Yoast SEO and I highly recommend it. If the post doesn’t have a green light, it doesn’t get published.
Create a Freebie to grow your email list! When you’ve taken the time to produce capsule content, creating some gated content that helps your reader get a quick win is low-hanging fruit. Gated content is simply an upgrade to your content that someone has to opt-in for by providing their email address and name.
For example, if you own a restaurant and you’ve produced a blog about how to select the best wine or cocktail with your dinner, a great freebie could be a food pairing guide that outlines perfect drink pairings for the categories of food on your menu. If you’re a product or service-based business, a simple opt-in could be a discount code when someone signs up for your list.
Too Long, Didn’t Read?
This one was a mammoth and I know your time is precious. Here’s a quick and dirty recap of what we covered.
A strategic content creation system does 4 things:
- Produces strategically aligned content quickly & easily
- Saves time
- Is repeatable
- Produces real results
The content creation process breaks down into three phases:
Each of the phases can be broken down into:
- Why: The strategic reason for your content
- Editorial calendar
- Content calendar
- Batch & schedule
- Recycle & repurpose
If you’re struggling with your content marketing and having a hard time staying consistent or know what the best next step is – it could mean you’re lacking:
Planning, creating and organizing content isn’t everyone’s zone of genius. However, it can still be fun, efficient and effective. When you have a clear strategy and structure in place, creating the content becomes a simple part of your workflow.
*Want to work with us on your content marketing strategy? Schedule a call to talk about how we can streamline your processes together!