Most bloggers and content teams will agree that regularly creating valuable content is not just hard, but it’s time-consuming. Capturing great ideas, keeping creation on deadline, and turning a written piece into something extraordinary for your company requires organization, communication, and a place to track progress.
This five-step process to create a visual, collaborative production plan for your team will help make your content creation flow more intuitively and efficiently.
1. Discovery & Ideas
Use collective weekly team and client meetings to discuss topics and get feedback on what your audience might want to read more about. Cross-team meetings are particularly useful. For instance, meeting with a salesperson can give you insight into your top client requests and questions.
You might find that having a content mission statement or intent-driven guidelines to use as a lens when you curate your ideas will help you from getting sidetracked. Remember: “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it,” advocates Simon Sinek.
Online tools can also help you build a process around content brainstorming. To analyze what content works and stay up-to-date with industry trends, performing keyword searches on platforms such as Buzzsumo or Moz will show you how successful a topic has been through social sharing or organic search.
Grouping your favorite blogs and websites into categories on Feedly gives you an instant overview of what is a hot topic in your industry. Platforms such as Medium, LinkedIn and Reddit are great places to track trending themes and ideas from thought leaders. Quora can give you an excellent idea of what exactly your audience wants to know about on a particular topic.
Track what is being said about your brand and other industry related news to create content or get inspired for new topics. With a brand new media monitoring offering, Mynewsdesk can help you monitor media coverage and what influencers write about. The tool also allows you to analyze the effect your content has on your audience and adapt your communications to gain even further reach.
Regardless of the tools and processes you use to brainstorm content ideas, create a written process of who to talk to and what tools to use to guide your creative research. It will give your planning time structure and keep your ideas aligned with your company goals and industry trends.
2. Writing & Editing
You have your list of great ideas, so it’s time for some serious keyboard pounding. Start with a headline or the outline for the post and don’t worry about getting the first draft out perfectly. Take advantage of free tools like ContentIdeator and CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer to generate a pile of great ideas for your headlines and stop writer’s block before it starts.
When it comes to great writing tool options, Google Docs is a fantastic cloud application if you need to collaborate in real time or request feedback from any contributor asynchronously. However, if you care for another peaceful desktop environment that goes without sacrificing functionality, enter fullscreen mode on Hemingway App and Refly Editors and get carried away in an editorial paradise.
If you get stuck while you are writing, then try this amazing tool called AnswerThePublic. It will not only help you with SEO, but it will show you exactly what your audience is searching for related to your topic.
3. Graphics & Visuals
Did you know that articles with images get more than 90% more views than those without? They are also nearly 40% more likely to be shared on social media.
When it comes to visualizing your ideas, a bunch of really useful and inspiring web tools have emerged in recent years. To mention a few, Canva and Pablo by Buffer are great options for creating custom visual elements for your posts. Even if you’re not a designer, they offer great options to build inspirational quotes using text overlaid on stock images. To source high-resolution, copyright-free images, a database like StockSnap.io will give you plenty of professional options.
Visualizing survey results can also be very impactful. In that case, go for a well-designed infographic. Pinterest will give you endless inspiration to apply to templates in Canva, for example.Including customer insights or feedback in your news article or blog post with the help of tools such as Typeform or SurveyMonkey will simplify the process of gathering data and make it easy for you to publish the results.
GIF is an increasingly popular animated visual to keep in mind. If you have a Mac, install the GiF app to search for copy-paste reactions. Here’s a GIF hack: You can replace the ´www.´ in any YouTube video URL with ´gif´ to create cool animations of your favorite video clips (but be careful with copyrights!). If you want to emphasize a product or service feature, this option can leverage your videos to effectively show off and zoom in on a particular feature or message.
If you’d like to learn more about visual PR, you can take the free module in the Mynewsdesk digital PR academy.
Keep this simple formula in mind for any content production plan: 10% content and 90% distribution.
The digital world offers endless options for promotion and we all know how laborious and time-consuming it can become. Have a standard promotion plan checklist and use it every time you publish for easy success. Checklists for the post-publishing phase can be very helpful to make sure it is promoted multiple times on social media and sent out via email to relevant contacts. Also, reach out to people who you've mentioned in the post. We’ll give you some ideas for checklist tools in the next section.
Once your content is ready, Mynewsdesk is your digital PR platform enabling you to publish news stories, press releases and other types of content to the right people at the right time. Sit back, relax and your content will be distributed through social media, email and to newsroom followers, media and influencer contacts and other online channels.
Repurposing content is also becoming more important to reach audiences who engage on other channels or simply prefer to digest other content formats like presentations (Slideshare) or visuals (infographics on Pinterest). These platforms are also a great opportunity to drive traffic back to your website or blog and use all that effort that went into creating it to gain more traction.
Sometimes the simplest actions give us the best engagement. Include a 'Click to Tweet' in your post, boost your Facebook post with a small Facebook Ad, or ask your employees to share it for an additional boost.
Last but not least, measure! Keep track of the performance of your content. Data will give you clear direction for the next piece you brainstorm, write, design and distribute via your content production plan.
5. Keep It All Organized And Accessible
The biggest time and sanity-saver for keeping your content plan organized and productive is to have a central place where you track progress, plan your calendar and keep files and images handy.
For example, some of the most brilliant content ideas emerge in the least conventional ways. Even if they are captured on a napkin, through a voice recording or using hand written note, sending them to one accessible place means they’ll end up in your content production (and not just in your head). Trello is an excellent choice because you can create a card for each idea, attach images as card covers, add due dates and checklists for your distribution - all related to the same article or post. If you use Evernote, you can combine these two apps within Trello if you enable the Evernote Power-Up. (Learn more here about how to use Trello for content marketing.)
When it comes to writing and producing the content, you’ll want to make sure the subject matter is balanced and that it aligns with your content mission statement. Having a visual system to categorize content by topic or theme will help you balance themes or types of content easily. If you use Trello, you can use labels to tag the ideas for an instant perspective on how your pipeline aligns with the greater plan.
Another essential tool to keep your production on track is a calendar. There are plenty of basic options like Google Calendar or an Editorial Calendar Wordpress plugin. However, you’ll be more aligned with your team’s workloads (and more likely to keep on deadline) if the calendar is visible for everyone. With Trello´s Calendar Power-Up, anyone on the team can see when posts are scheduled to be published and can prepare accordingly, whether that means graphic design or making copy for social media.
And finally, when making those preparations, the best way to stay organized is to follow the same steps every time via a list. Choose your favorite app to create your to-do lists, or you can use checklists in Trello. Include everything you need to cover. For instance, when it comes to writing, this can include: title, header, links, images, backlinks, keywords, external links, spell check, proofread, and call to action. Repeat the same for graphic design and distribution, and you’ll never miss a beat!
In what should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, we use Trello to manage our own extensive editorial calendar. But we are not alone. Mynewsdesk, Mashable and ReadWrite also use it to keep their content pipeline flowing. Read more here.