As a business owner, you understand the importance of high-quality content.
You know it’s not enough to push out a regular blog post or publish a witty tweet now and then. You need content that consistently delivers what your customers want.
But producing great content doesn’t just happen overnight. Whether an in-house writing team, a high-performing content agency, or a freelancer you’ve signed on for a couple of blog posts is in charge of your content production, you’ll need to make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to what quality content looks like.
It takes a lot of back-and-forth to communicate ideas, approve blog and social media posts, and monitor KPIs. And that’s not even taking into account the focus it takes to plan a long-term content strategy.
How do you make that process as efficient as possible? And how do you get through the entire content production process without missing an essential step?
Lucky for you, I’ve worked as a content writer for the past several years. I’ve worked as an in-house content marketer for large companies and lean start-ups. I’ve also worked as a freelance writer, editor, and content strategist for nonprofits, SaaS companies, and marketing agencies. While all of my jobs and projects required different things from me, the basics of content production largely remained the same.
Keep reading to learn more about the tools your team needs to produce high-quality content.
1. A solid team
If you’re still holding on to the stereotype of “the lonely writer,” let me encourage you to let it go right now. Producing content your buyers will actually see—and want to read—requires teamwork.
Good content marketing relies on steady and regular content production. That means you’ll need:
- Writers (of course) who will write blog posts, copy, social media posts, e-books, etc.
- Editors who will make sure writers adhere to your company’s voice and style guidelines
- Strategists who can create long-term content plans for your team to follow
- Marketing specialists who will promote your content to make sure the right people see it
- Managers who can oversee content production, hold people responsible for deadlines, and make sure your content marketing efforts align with overall business goals
Especially in smaller companies or start-ups, one person can often be responsible for most (if not all) of these roles. And that’s okay for content production on a smaller scale. What’s important is that you have someone on your writing team covering all of the different parts of content production.
Knowing who’s responsible for what is important when it comes to the next big must-have in content production.
2. Concrete goals
It’s important that everyone on your content production team—even if it’s a team of one—to know what they’re doing. Goals give everyone a target to aim for. One of the most important goals you should clarify before starting on any content project is the goal you have for your buyers. What you actually want your buyers to do with your content will shape all of your other content production goals.
If, for example, you’re a B2B SaaS company, your overarching goal for all of your content is likely something along the lines of: “Get people to buy our SaaS product.” If your overall goal is to create more buyers, all of your content—no matter how abstracted the topic is from your product—should point back to your product as a solution. Every topic proposed by your content production team should sell your product in some way.
And when it comes to measuring content ROI, you should establish specific goals for your team at the start. Think SMART goals:
Here are some questions you can answer to start thinking about some SMART goals for your content team:
- How often will we publish and in which channels?
- How many followers do we want to have on various social media outlets (and how many is realistic for our industry)?
- How many readers do we expect to have for each blog post or for each blog vertical?
- How many newsletter subscribers do we have, and how many do we want to add to our list?
Thinking about these types of goals before you start writing will keep content creators from feeling like they’re writing into the void and will help you know when your content marketing efforts are working.
3. Customer personas
If your overarching content goal is to find more buyers for your product, you’ll need to know who your buyers are. Creating personas for your customers helps focus your content efforts even more by giving your writers someone they can write to.
If you sell a CRM, for example, your overall content goal might be, “Get more people to buy our CRM.” However, many different types of people and companies use CRMs to organize their sales and marketing efforts.
Say your CRM specializes in mortgages and real estate. If that’s the case, you want your writers to write for real estate agents, brokers, and property managers, instead of general “sales and marketing professionals.”
At their most basic, customer personas include:
- A general description of your ideal customer
- Job title
- Pain points your customer experiences (the reasons they’re probably looking for your product in the first place)
- Goals your customer wants to achieve (personally or professionally)
- What your product can do to solve your customer’s problems or help them achieve their goals
By spending a little time thinking about who is actually buying your product or service, you can give writers many useful guidelines that will ultimately help them bring more customers in.
4. A marketing calendar
Your content strategy should always align with overall marketing efforts. This is where even a very basic marketing calendar comes in handy. To create a basic marketing calendar, start by outlining what I like to call “Big Deals” for your company.
Are you releasing new features for your SaaS product that you want your customers to know about? That’s a Big Deal. Your writers should write blog posts focused on topics that relate to or directly advertise your new features. You should create social media copy that advertises those features. You should have press releases ready to go for relevant publications. And you should mention these new features in your newsletter before, during, and after their release.
Creating a calendar that holds all of your Big Deals helps frame a longer-term strategy for your content efforts. It also encourages your teams to work together to highlight all the cool things your company is doing for its customers.
5. A way to stay organized
Once your content team has goals, knows who they’re writing for, and knows what your business at large is up to, they’ll need a way to keep track of it all.
Much like a marketing calendar gets everyone on the same page about the goings-on in your company, a good organizational tool will help your content team get on the same page about:
- Content strategy
- The status of individual pieces
- Metrics and goal progress
You can keep track of all these content production elements internally by using lots of tools, spreadsheets, and deadlines. However, unless you have a dedicated content manager taking charge of content production, you’ll likely find yourself bogged down by edit requests, topic pitch follow-ups, and metric report generation.
If you’re not currently looking to create an internal content team or hire an outside consultant to handle your content production, you can always turn to a content agency. Audience Ops, for example, provides you with a dedicated content manager, writer, and editor to handle all content production.
By outsourcing your content tasks, you can rest assured that qualified writers, editors, and project managers are writing what your audience wants and getting it in front of them. And you can focus on continuing to grow your business instead of managing freelancers, brainstorming topics, and formatting posts in WordPress.
As you can see, content production—especially quality content production—takes a lot of work, often from a lot of people on a lot of different teams.
If you work for a huge enterprise that can afford to hire a huge content team, keeping track of all your content production—and publishing content on a consistent schedule—is easy. However, for start-ups and smaller companies, covering all aspects of content production can be a chore.
To create content efficiently and effectively, invest some time and energy in creating these basic, essential tools for your writers before they even write a word.
Your writers will thank you. And so will your customers.