Want great content marketing?
Then you need a proven content development process.
Today, we’ll break down the six steps in our process—the same process we’ve used to help clients publish as many as ten pieces of quality content every week.
- The different levels of content development strategy
- How to guarantee consistency, even with lots of content creators
- Two secrets to scaling content for even bigger results
Let’s get started!
Editor’s note: We created this article using the content development process you’re about to learn. If you’d like to publish high-quality content like this consistently, send us a message.
Step 1: Define goals and develop campaigns
An effective content development process always starts with strategy.
The first strategy layer is about defining who you’re writing for and what you’ll be writing.
(I refer to written content in this piece, but this process works with any content type. Video, podcasts, graphics, and interactive content follow similar steps.)
But this high-level content marketing strategy doesn’t involve much content at all. It’s focused on the potential customer and asks questions like:
- What’s the most important business goal we have right now?
- Can we connect with a potential customer via content?
- Which buyer persona is our target audience?
- What do they want to achieve?
- What are their pain points?
Understanding these questions is key to everything that follows. Using this information, you’ll build a broad content strategy that defines overarching goals for the content, your ideal reader, and the themes you’d like to cover.
Step 2: Preparing specific content ideas
The next layer of strategy uses those broad themes and goals to create a content calendar.
The level of detail in this step depends on your team, knowledge, and what you’ve learned from previous pieces of content.
But you’ll typically include these steps:
- Do a content audit to find gaps
- Select a specific topic using keyword research
- Prepare a development brief of what each piece of content will cover
- Define the assets you’ll need (such as infographics, illustrations, and more)
- Schedule the entire campaign on a detailed content calendar
There’s a careful balance to strike when creating content briefs. You need to guarantee consistency without killing the creativity that makes content come alive.
To state the obvious, content creators tend to be creative types who do their best work with the freedom to explore. But for web content to succeed, you also must follow best practices for search engine optimization.
In my experience, the best balance for a blog post brief is defining a topic with general areas to cover—while stopping short of a detailed outline.
Step 3: Creating world-class content
With two levels of strategy guiding your content, it’s time to create that content.
Here’s the tough truth:
Your content will only be as good as the creators you hire.
If you want quality content (and you should), you should invest in quality content creation. Expect to spend a few hundred dollars on every article.
If you have a more technical audience—or want to create industry-secret-style content—pair a content creator with a subject matter expert.
Consider setting up interviews or letting the expert make a voice recording of their thoughts.
Step 4: Revising and editing content
The secret to high-quality content? Revision.
No matter how great your content developer is, they’ll shine even brighter with an editor.
I’ve seen three important steps in the revision process:
- Writer review. Every time I review yesterday’s writing, I improve it. Without exception. When writers review their draft the next day, you’ll get better content.
- Checklist review. For consistent content writing, keep a list of the 5–10 essentials every piece must include. Examples include images, keywords, or a call to action. I recommend requiring both writer and editor to confirm this list separately. For more guidance, read The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande.
- Copyedit and proofread. Have a professional editor check everything before publishing. You’ll reduce errors and improve clarity.
Can automated tools replace editors? No, but they can flag errors you’d otherwise miss.
I use these tools in every piece I write, including this one:
- Grammarly Premium—to find careless errors and improve phrasing
- Hemingway—to spot hard-to-read sentences
- MarketMuse—to ensure a piece covers important topics for SEO
- Flesch-Kinkaid readability formula—to get an estimate of a piece’s reading ease
- Voice-to-text—to catch unnatural phrases and typos
I also recommend CopyLeaks to check for plagiarism on any writing you don’t do yourself.
With editing done, it’s time to publish.
Step 5: Publishing
You’ve planned, written, and edited the piece. Now it’s time to go live!
Publishing is usually the easiest step in a web content development process, but you still need to get it right.
Ideally, the “publish” step is the “schedule” step, where you upload content in advance. (To create a buffer, I recommend doubling content creation or halving your publishing schedule at the beginning.)
For most blog or website content, uploading is a simple process you can hand off to a junior team member. Don’t have an experienced content marketer spend hours copying and pasting blog posts into WordPress.
Step 6: Promotion and followup
Great content doesn’t succeed on its own. Part of any great content marketing strategy includes promotion.
The biggest promotion mistakes sites make is not doing any. But the second biggest is avoiding content because promotion sounds intimidating.
I recommend starting small and scaling as you go—more tips on scaling in the next section.
Sharing a content piece on social media is a good first step. Next, personally message anyone you’ve quoted or referenced.
After that, promotion can stay simple or grow as complex as you’d like.
If your goal is search engine optimization, promotion still matters. Building backlinks is one of the best ways to get more traffic and boost your domain authority.
How to scale your content development process
Think of each piece of content as a cycle.
You plan, create, revise, publish, and promote. Then you get to see how it did, get feedback, and create a better system for future pieces.
The best way to improve your content, then, is to move through that cycle more often. As long as ROI and quality don’t suffer, more content is almost always better than less.
First, I recommend speeding up your editorial calendar. If you’re publishing twice a week, try three times. Scale with your current resources and see what problems arise.
Chances are, those problems are from the system, not the people. Keep improving the system until it works flawlessly.
Only then should you start to expand your content team. See where the bottleneck is (it’s nearly always content creation) and bring on one person at a time in a trial capacity. If they’re a good fit, make them regular members of your team.
That’s it. Build a system that works perfectly, add people to fix bottlenecks, and repeat.
A shortcut for better content development
I’ll wrap up with the easiest way to start developing better content: hire a content development pro. Or even better, a content development team.
Outside content development services are the fastest way to scale.
Several skills go into great SEO content, and a team can bring them all together in a single package.
Interested in quality content like this article for your brand? Then let’s talk.