2018 may have brought you advertisement stress, fewer interactions than you hoped for or overall dissatisfaction as a content creator, so now’s a great time to reevaluate your current marketing strategy.

This year, why not optimize your content creation process?

Content creation is exactly what it sounds like: It’s the process of creating and executing on trending and relevant topics through the right digital outlet or product.

In other words, you need an educated content marketing team that’s full of hardworking writers who understand the value that keywords, editorial calendars and social media bring to great content.

The importance of a working process

The key to your success is finding a process that works for you. A working content creation process is essential if you want to achieve your core marketing goals, which are likely:

  • Driving traffic to your website.
  • Improving online visibility.
  • Capturing leads.
  • Building brand awareness.
  • Educating readers.
  • Gaining credibility.
  • Engaging with your social following.

Consumers have no interest in digesting advertisements they’re forced to read: 66 percent of people skip television commercial advertisements and 44 percent ignore direct emails. However, 70 percent of people admitted that they would rather learn about a product or service offered by a company through an article instead of a traditional advertisement.

70 percent of people would rather learn about a new product from an article. content creation process

That’s good news for you as a content creator.

Follow these steps for a successful and effective content creation process

Here’s a step-by-step guide to developing your own effective content creation process, plus some helpful tools and resources to use along the way:

content creation process infographic

Determine your goals

Before you can churn out effective content, you have to think about why you’re doing it in the first place. Consider the following questions when developing your content goals:

  • Are you determined to bring clear awareness to your brand?
  • Do you want to drive traffic to a certain section of your website?
  • Do you want to educate your readers and become a thought leader?
  • Have you considered content as a means for pushing readers through the sales funnel?
  • What kind of content is currently trending/how do you want to use this information during your own creative process?

Helpful content creation tool: MarketMuse can be used to analyze your existing content and point out where keywords should be used. With this tool, you can optimize articles to improve your ranking.

Regroup with (or establish) your team of content creators

Did you decide to outsource your content marketing efforts, or are you hiring an in-house team to optimize your site for the new year? All team members – SEO experts, strategists, videographers, project managers, writers, editors, designers, etc. – should understand your core goals before creating content, so include them during the initial discussion of what you want to get out of the content.

It’s not a bad idea to reassign team members to different projects at the beginning of the year if you want to give your content a fresh perspective.

Helpful content creation tool: Evernote is an app that can be used for collaboration, allowing your team to plan and organize the creation process when it’s in motion.

Understand your audience

By knowing exactly who your target audience is, you can craft personalized content that’s easily enjoyed and digested, develop long-term relationships with readers and even increase brand awareness over time. During your research process, determine what your audience wants and needs based on the products and services you offer. From there, you can start the planning and ideation process.

Helpful content creation tool: BuzzSumo can be used to track trends and study your target audience to determine what type of content you need to generate.

Get planning

At this point in time, a precise – and feasible – timeline should be discussed and an editorial calendar should be created. This is an optimal chance to assign products based on each team member’s specialty.

Don’t let this initial grouping be the only time the team gets together. A weekly or bi-weekly meeting, or even a simple email thread that’s revisited on a weekly basis, can keep everyone connected and prevent any disruptions in the creative process.

Helpful content creation tool: Airtable helps you organize all of your projects in one place – perfect for keeping track of everything your content team is creating.

Do your research

The research process will properly prepare you for brainstorming and ideation. During this phase, think about your audience and your goals as content creators and how you can properly connect with your readers. Research trending topics that are relevant to your industry so you don’t go into your brainstorming session clueless.

While the individual who’s creating each piece of content will do most of the research based on his or her own project, it’s not a bad idea to involve other team members who can contribute. For example, a social media strategist can help a writer understand what’s trending in real time, and can share such information during the brainstorming process.

Helpful content creation tool: Google Trends is a helpful resource that can be used to search trending topics, which can ultimately help you during the brainstorming and research portion of content creation.

Start the ideation process

Once you get a sense of trending topics, as well as which keywords you need to target, it’s time to start brainstorming and developing solid ideas that will work best for your brand in terms of content strategy. This is a great time to get a sense of how your content creation team works – each member may have a different strategy for ideation.

For example, writers might take the old-fashioned route and grab a pad of paper and let the pen glide until they’re stumped, using their own knowledge to come up with ideas and adding keywords when they’re finished. Other creators might refer to the keywords and create a digital flowchart based on the research.

If your creators have a difficult time coming up with ideas on their own, think about having a meeting for brainstorming and collaboration. You can develop a wide variety of large-scale topics, then have each individual team member develop his or her own shorter, more detailed topics based on the type of content he or she is creating, whether it’s a blog post, infographic or video.

Helpful content creation tool: HubSpot Blog Ideas Generator works wonders if you’re stumped for ideas and don’t know where to get started. All you have to do is enter a couple of keywords and let the generator spit out a few topics and potential titles to get your creative juices flowing.

Create your content

So you’ve made it to the core step in content creation: production. Congrats! You’re ready to put your masterpiece(s) in motion. Whether you’re the writer, videographer, graphic designer or other creator on the team, here are a few tips to consider:

  • Use your personal writing/creation style, but keep your brand’s voice in mind.
  • Corroborate valuable information that’s already out there, but be unique.
  • Back up your thoughts with facts from trustworthy sources.
  • Stay away from fluff. The last thing you want is your reader to think “Yeah, duh, I know this, why are you even saying this …” while reading or listening to your work.
sloppy copy can make or break a brand. content creation process

If you’re an editor, keep the previous tips in mind as you proofread work as well. This step is just as important as the initial content creation – sloppy copy can make or break a brand. Period.

Helpful content creation tool: Google Docs is a serious upgrade from Microsoft Word for writers and other creators who like to get put their words down on “paper” before inputting elsewhere. This live application will save work as you go, track document history and let you easily share content with the rest of your team.

Pursue publication

One major tip: Create a section on your site that’s clearly labeled “Blogs/Content” to store all of your articles, videos, infographics, etc. Otherwise, your readers might have a difficult time finding your content when they get to your site.

Helpful content creation tool: Google Analytics is great for tracking incoming web traffic, as well as measuring conversion rates.

Execute!

Now that your content has made it to the site, it’s time for distribution.. How will your audience know the content exists? How can you encourage your readers to share your content? For starters, use your social media accounts to promote your brand.

There are more than 3 billion social media users today, so the opportunities for visibility, shareability and engagement are enormous.

Helpful content creation tool: MashShare is a tool you can use to add social share buttons on your posts so more people are inclined to share your content after reading it. Another helpful resource for content promotion is Tweriod, which is perfect for those who want to to use Twitter for marketing content.

Optimize existing content

Don’t let all of this new content you created for the new year sit on a shelf. As time goes on, your content will age, but that doesn’t mean it’s turned into something useless. Optimize your content to make it more attractive, useful and actionable to your target audience. Going through another round of keyword research and implementing new terms where they fit in the copy is a simple and effective way to make your content relevant again.

Helpful content creation tool: SEMrush is a keyword research tool that can track keyword rankings and help you decide which ones to add to existing content on your site.

Improving content workflow will get you in great shape for 2019. So what are you waiting for?

Chelsey Church is a senior writer and editor at Brafton. When she's not turning her thoughts into copy, she's enjoying a craft beer, playing with her dogs or listening to her favorite metal tunes. A Cleveland native, she'll never let you forget that the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead.