Your One-Stop Content Creation Guide
Your One-Stop Content Creation Guide
Danny Shepherd, CO-CEO • Intero Digital • July 30, 2021
If you’re like most marketers today, you know that reliable, high-quality content creation is essential for success in your marketing efforts. But did you know that creating awesome content doesn’t just benefit your digital content marketing strategy? It can also make a difference across your entire organization.
The average company that blogs has 55% more site visitors. B2B marketers who blog generate 67% more monthly leads than those who don’t. And organizations that align content marketing and sales enjoy 38% higher sales win rates and 36% higher customer retention rates.
Maybe this is why 56% of B2B marketers multiplied their spending on content creation — because regularly creating great content can help companies get their desired results.
But that content doesn’t appear out of thin air; it results from extensive planning, collaboration, writing, editing, and much more. In this article, we’ll walk you through what content creation is and how to craft a process that works for you.
How to Create Content
Content can help your company achieve several different marketing aims. But not all content works the same for all desired results. It needs to be created with your content marketing goals in mind. That way, you can ensure each blog post, guest-contributed article, video, and whitepaper your team produces will complement one another.
So before you start producing anything, narrow down your primary goal. Most companies’ goals fit into four general categories: SEO, lead generation, thought leadership, and sales enablement. If you’re like most digital marketers, utilizing content marketing to boost lead generation will be your top priority — but every company is different.
With a clear idea of the primary goal your company is employing content to achieve, it’s time to start developing the plan that will simplify content creation.
A documented strategy is essential to your content marketing efforts. Your strategy will be valuable for everyone on your team, from your C-suite executives to your sales team to every person on your marketing team. It’s an official document that should answer every question someone on your team might have about why you’re using content and how your processes work.
But when it comes to your content creation efforts, a few elements are crucial for directing each piece of content you produce.
First, even before you produce content, you need to know who you’re making it for. That’s where your buyer image comes in.
A buyer persona is a characterization of your company’s ideal customer. It’s composed of demographic information, motivations, buyer behavior, values, pain points, hobbies, and budget.
The goal of creating these personas is to help you better understand each audience member so you can reach, connect with, and support them with the appropriate content in every part of the buyer’s journey.
Next, knowing what you know about your desired audience, spend some time researching what general topics matter to them, what they’re searching for, and what they’re talking about with your sales representatives.
Leave the specific article topics for a later stage in your process. For now, focus on broad topics of interest to your prospective customers. Look to your website’s analytics for insights into what your audience already engages with. Perform some keyword research to find other relevant topics you can cover through your content.
And, as always, keep communicating with your sales team. Your sales reps speak directly with your audience daily — who better to ask about your audience’s biggest questions, challenges, and priorities?
Again, you don’t need to list specific ideas, but getting a feel for the kinds of content your audience is looking for and what your team is prepared to deliver is essential for creating a versatile content strategy.
With your audience and relevant topic ideas in mind, it’s time to determine how you will create the right content for your audience.
Your editorial workflow is the procedure your team agrees to use to nurture a content project from its conception to its final form and get it in front of your audience. It creates stability in the production process, eliminates disorganization, and allows all the people on your team to spend their time and talent on the segments of the process they’re best at.
Start by outlining your content’s journey from beginning to end. What steps does your team need to take to create your content? Who’s responsible for what? What’s your quality standard, and when is each step considered “done”? Your answers to these questions will help you develop a process for consistently and efficiently creating great content.
Creating an Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar is a standard method of sorting out your brand’s content production. This tool lends a hand to content marketers scheduling upcoming content and holding one another accountable for consistent content creation.
It’s essential to set a calendar before you (figuratively) put pen to paper because knowing what content you need to create and the deadline will help all your team members focus on the right projects and budget their time more effectively.
Most calendars are monthly, but based on your publishing cadence and the size of your company, you could produce comprehensive weekly calendars or even three-month schedules to see the big picture of your content production process for the whole quarter.
Your editorial calendar can be as straightforward or as robust as you’d like, and it can include any fields that make sense for you, such as content type, title, author, publish date, call to action, keywords, and more. The point is that your calendar should be the primary tool everyone on your team can access to easily see what content is currently in production, its status, and its target date of publication.
The Content Creation Process
Finally, we’ve reached the actual content creation process! Below are five strategies to make your content creation process even more effective and efficient:
1. Ideate topics during a brainstorm.
Every piece of content you create starts with an idea. To consistently develop ideas that translate into effective content, you need to know where to look. A few go-to sources of inspiration include:
- Your sales team.
- Website analytics.
- Keyword research.
- Competitor analysis.
- Blog audit.
- Trending content tools (e.g., BuzzSumo).
- Social media conversations.
- Industry events and conferences.
While each article is vital to your comprehensive strategy, content marketing isn’t about making one fantastic piece of content. Try to sort out your topics so you don’t make a string of one-off posts that don’t fit naturally into the big-picture strategy you’re working toward.
2. Complete knowledge sharing.
Companies don’t have ideas — people do. The experts within your company will byline the content you create, not your company. Your job as a content marketer is to work with those experts to create content that matches their unique voice, sticks to the company’s overall tone, and delivers on the topic you’re creating content about. And knowledge sharing is one of the best ways to do that.
Knowledge sharing draws out the stories, personal experiences, and ideas that make the subject matter expert legitimate. It begins with a calculated Q&A system and ends with sufficient information to streamline content creation and fill a knowledge bank.
Whether you’re working with an oral storyteller or someone who’s fond of writing out stream-of-consciousness ideas, the process can work for almost anyone. Regardless of format, the concept is the same: Use a series of deliberate questions to elicit specific information, ideas, stories, and examples from your team’s subject matter experts to inform your content.
3. Create content.
With a topic and insights prepared, it’s time to start producing. As you begin, make sure to refer to your audience personas. What’s going to speak to them? What will compel them to take the action you want them to?
Is a blog post the best way to connect with your audience about this topic? An infographic? Research from Content Marketing Institute found that B2B marketers rate whitepapers, blog posts, and case studies as the most effective content types for the early, middle, and late phases of the buying process, respectively. So consider the buyer’s journey stage and customize your message to meet your audience members where they are.
4. Edit and optimize content.
It doesn’t matter how great you are at writing and editing — you shouldn’t edit your own content. Collaboration is critical to ensure the topic is understandable and actionable, your message is clear, and the copy is free of errors.
Content produced at Intero Digital goes through at least two separate edits before it moves on to the next stage — one round for strategy and voice and another for grammar and style. Your method for editing might look a bit different. As long as you’re setting aside the time to examine your content between its creation and publication carefully, you’re off to a good start.
The “final” step in the content creation operation is publishing your content. Your team will still need to distribute it, break down its performance, and potentially make updates or optimize it over some time — but for now, the final step of creating content is setting it free.
If you’re producing content for your website or blog, this step is as straightforward as uploading, previewing, and publishing. Something to think about, though, is consistency. Do your best to follow your editorial calendar and publish regularly to give your audience something to look forward to.
And if you’ve created content meant to be published off-site, like a guest post, it’s time to pitch the content to the target publication.
Putting a Team in Place to Fuel Your Content Creation Process
Every content marketing strategy needs a content marketing team to execute it properly. While companies with more significant budgets might add a few players to their overall lineups, most content marketing teams typically rely on three critical positions: an editor, a content strategist, and a distribution specialist.
These three roles are the basic building blocks of a content team. Without any one of these people, your efforts will surely suffer. But introduce more of the correct members to your existing content creation team (and give them access to the right technology and tools) and scaling it becomes far more straightforward.
At Intero Digital, our account teams fill the same necessary roles that a productive content creation team requires, as well as a few extras:
- We’ve built a reliable network of freelance writers and designers who our editors work with to produce content.
- Our digital marketing team collaborates with account teams and clients on keyword research, technical audits, SEO strategy, and paid distribution.
- Our publication strategists have forged relationships with 1,500+ online publications and help our clients get their content published in the right publication to reach their desired audience.
- Our public relations strategists foster relationships with journalists, influencers, and other media contacts to aid our clients in earning press mentions, connecting with their audience, and achieving their desired PR goals.
Creating relevant, high-quality content for your audience isn’t a one-person job. The content creation process is best left to a team of folks with specialized skill sets who can focus on what they excel at rather than spread their resources too thin.
However, if you decide to build an in-house content team, that’s up to you. What’s most important is that the team is made up of the right people with the relevant skills to produce content that drives your strategy forward.
Finding the Right Content Creation Tools
This article has broken down almost every aspect of content creation, making the entire process more manageable. Still, ensuring you’ve got the right tools to make it even easier on yourself never hurts. Here are some free tools any content marketing team can make use of:
- Make My Persona: This tool by HubSpot is super helpful for putting together and using buyer personas.
- Blog Ideas Generator: Another free tool from HubSpot, the topic generator is excellent for helping you think creatively about new ways to approach content topics.
- Headline Analyzer: No one will read your content if they don’t click on it first, and this tool created by CoSchedule can help you craft the best, most captivating headlines for every article you produce.
- Knowledge Bank: A knowledge bank allows you to collect and store all kinds of crucial insights for future content you produce.
- Grammarly: This tool is like collaborating with a grammar expert to review everything you write. You can access it both online and in Microsoft Word.
- Canva: Appealing visuals are crucial for crafting good content, and Canva makes it a lot easier for anyone (even non-designers) to create custom designs.
- Extra credit: Use a project or workflow management tool. Do you need to have one to create content? No. But will using a project management tool make the content creation process more straightforward, more transparent, and more efficient? You bet.
Content creation is the process that converts your overall content marketing strategy into tangible, actual assets and results. Establishing a system that works for your team is crucial. By following these steps, you can prepare your content marketing team to develop and use a content creation process that delivers results for your entire organization.