"How to Create Killer Content Workflows" with Rob Mills of GatherContent (Content Lab, Ep. 2)
By Liz Murphy
When I ask marketers, "What is the most common reason content projects fail," typically they say the actual content creation stage is the culprit.
It's true that a lot of projects end up needing to dump their proverbial Starship Enterprise Warp Core due to a failure in the writing of the words department.
But one of the most insidious and more common reasons content projects fail is also the one that's most often overlooked:
The content workflow that's supposed to be governing a project is broken.
What I mean by "content workflow" is literally your “who is responsible for what and when” order of operations.
Why are workflows such a big problem? Well, there is no single answer to that question.
In some cases, marketers think their content project is so simple, they don’t need to define one. Someone just needs to write it and then someone else will approve it. The end.
Other times, you might end up with a too many cooks in the kitchen scenario, due to an overcrowded and overly clunky workflow.
So, how do you tell if your content workflow is broken, and what are the most common mistakes people make when creating one?
How do you create a killer workflow that gets your project done on time, and how do you get people to actually follow it?
These are questions every content manager and marketer should be able to answer, so I’ve invited Rob Mills, content strategist from GatherContent, to join me to today to help me do just that.
Listen to the Episode
Resources & Articles
- Produce high-quality content at scale with GatherContent
- My (now on-demand) webinar with GatherContent on content frameworks for agencies
One Thing: Shortcuts Are Bad
Looking back on my conversation with Rob, it was obviously filled with tons of great advice.
But there’s one thing he said that’s been rattling around my brain since we spoke -- how one of the most common mistakes people make with their workflows is to over-simplify it or to skip necessary steps, so the workflow seems as streamlined as possible to the rest of their team.
Which brings me to this week’s one thing.
Cutting corners is so tempting when it comes to content creation.
Not doing as much research as you should. Not outlining a blog post before you write a draft. Skipping an extra interview because you totally have enough.
Not having a key stakeholder look at content earlier in the process, because they have a tendency to upset the apple cart with their demands and high expectations.
Not reading through your work one last time to make sure you didn’t miss any glaring mistakes.
“What’s the worst that could happen, right?"
Look, I get it.
Content creation feels like homework for a lot of people, and there are already so things you need to do to get a piece of content across the finish line.
That said, here's my one thing for this week:
As tempting as it may be to skip steps in creating content -- whatever those steps may be -- don't.
Whether you’re talking about "tightening up" a content workflow or nixing that last read-through of a draft before it goes live, you're only going to end up hurting yourself.
Whatever time you may think you'll save with that shortcut now you’ll probably need to make up later when you have to go back and redo the work you couldn't be bothered to do correctly the first time around.
(Or worse, you may not realize something’s wrong until someone points out that obvious error you made after you’ve already hit publish. And by then, it's too late.)
Trust me, I’ve learned this lesson the hard way more times than I’d care to admit.
So, when it comes to content, follow the right process the first time, no matter what that process might be. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache in the long run.
Weekly Awesome: Hemingway App
Okay, I may be biased because Ernest Hemingway is one of my favorite authors, but trust me when I say the Hemingway App is deserving of the award of this week’s Weekly Awesome.
Hemingway App is an editor with a free web-based option and a downloadable desktop application.
But it’s not just any editor.
Instead of skimming your work for the usual spelling and grammatical errors, it measures the complexity and readability of your writing.
It tells you the grade level of your writing. It highlights overly complex sentences, you can break them down. It also tags passive voice and when you use too many adverbs -- two of the most common ways to diminish the strength of your writing.
So, go to Hemingway App with your next draft and start making your content better right now.
Check Out GatherContent's Book, Content Delivery!
This book will help teams put content-first and arm them with techniques and know-how to deliver content on time. From upfront planning, to getting a team and process in place and implementing your plan, this book shares advice for every step of the way.
Whether you’re part of an in-house team or an agency working with clients, this book is for those who are responsible for websites with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of content items.
Get the book for free at GatherContent.
Connect with Rob Mills
You can find him on Twitter, but he says he also loves getting email, so shoot him a message!
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