Improving Your Content Workflow with Ann Gynn @anngynn #vcbuzz

Content creation involves a lot of tasks, especially if several people are involved (writer, proof reader, marketing strategist, editor, social media promoter, etc.)

Content workflow is the process of streamlining all those tasks and improving collaboration between different people and teams.

Here’s how to improve your content workflow to make your content production more effective.

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About Ann Gynn @anngynn

Ann Gynn @anngynn content marketer, keynote speaker and workshop presenter with senior-level content marketing (and marcomm) experience who talks, advises, and helps organizations elevate their communication to grow their audiences and businesses.

Please connect to Ann on Linkedin!

Questions we discussed

Q1 How did you become a digital marketer? Please share your career story!

OK, so I graduated from @OhioU to be a journalist. I spent about 7 years as a newspaper reporter and editor. Then I transitioned to marketing/PR.

My first client that used digital marketing was the world’s largest air show. That was many moons ago.

Some of my current work includes @CMIContent and @TheTiltNews (a new newsletter for content entrepreneurs from @JoePulizzi).

I really love digital marketing because it opens the doors regardless of budgets. If you’re creative and smart about production, you can do a lot of cool things.

Q2 What does content workflow usually involve and when do we need one?

Think of content workflow as a map. It takes you from idea to creation to distribution and promotion. Without it, you have to start from scratch every time you produce new content. And that wastes a lot of time.

It usually involves Content creator, editor/reviewer, proofer, production person, distribution person, promotion person, etc. Then add in internal stakeholders, external sources, etc. It’s a lot.

That’s why you need to map it out. A documented content workflow lets everyone know what they are responsible for and who’s handling the other things.

I recommend creating a content workflow for each type of content you produce. A lot of the steps probably will repeat themselves. But it’s important to note those unique steps based on format or something else.

Documented content workflows serve as a process tool AND an accountability tool.

Yes, in most cases. Even if they don’t read them … at least they know there is a process 🙂

Yep, just like everybody thinks they can write 🙂

Q3 What are some common content workflow problems that can be fixed (and how)?

Problem? When everybody isn’t on the same page. Priorities may not be the same. And if they aren’t aligned, some steps will take longer than others want or won’t be done with the same goal in mind.

Failure to document the workflow is a problem too. People don’t know how they fit into the process.

And on the opposite end, sometimes the workflow is too detailed and confusing, leaving the team frustrated and frozen to act.

Content workflows can’t be created in a vacuum. I can tell you the process to produce, distribute, and promote a piece of content. But without considering the other responsibilities of the people or departments involved, it’s set up to fail.

Another big challenge is working with “outsiders” – people who aren’t a part of the content team but who have a role to play in content development like subject matter experts.

Very true. It speaks of how your team/department operates. And it should be easy to understand or no one will follow it.

You can even create 2 workflows – the overview for all stakeholders and a micro-version to address only those things that the doers needs to know.

Q4 How to make your content workflow more effective?

Not surprisingly, my advice: Document your content workflow, but don’t think your first version is the final version. Share the draft with all the stakeholders. Update it based on their input. Distribute the final version to all of them.

Create an approval process. Getting sign-off is often a big hurdle to a good content workflow. Limit final sign-off to as few people as possible.

But I also know you may not be able to limit approvers. So see if most of them can sign off on the idea or creative brief, instead of the final product.

Say it again and say it loud. You always have to know the “why” or you’re set up to fail.

It also can be helpful to identify standard turnaround times for each step.

BTW, don’t see your content workflow as set in stone. Revisit it regularly – though not too often — to make sure it’s still working for the people and the product.

Q5 What are your favorite content editorial tools?

I’m a simple gal. I use Google Sheets when it’s just me or a couple of others involved in the content.

For bigger teams, I’ve used @Trello and @Airtable. Both have good features in regards to assigning tasks, knowing where the project is, and commenting. There are a lot of good tools in the market.

I use @Toggl tracker – free version — and time every step. Helpful in so many ways.

For ongoing communication, I use Slack, Teams, and Discord right now. (All my clients’ preferences.)

Pick the tools that works for you and your team. Figure out what you need it to do now and possibly in the near future. Then, pick the one that meets those needs. Don’t go for bells and whistles when you don’t need them.

Our previous content editorial chats:

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