As Bredemarket passes its one-year anniversary, I’m intentionally trying to re-evaluate what I do in order to improve my services to you.
When I say “you,” by the way, I’m speaking of clients or potential clients of Bredemarket. If you’re not interested in Bredemarket’s services, but are instead reading this hoping for a discussion of fingerprint third-level detail, this is NOT the post for you.
Back to my re-evaluation of my services. One thing that I’m doing is re-examining Bredemarket’s content creation process.
What can I learn from them, and from you, to improve my own content creation process?
Bredemarket’s current content creation process
I’ve stated my content creation process in several separate areas of my website. One of my, um, goals is to make sure that my content creation process is consistently stated throughout the site.
First, let’s look at my elevator pitch, taken from my page “The benefits of benefits for identity firms.”
I work with you. Bredemarket uses an iterative, collaborative process with multiple reviews to make sure that your needs are expressed in what I write, and that the writing reflects your firm’s tone of voice. The final product needs to make me happy, it needs to make you happy, and it needs to make your potential client(s) happy.
That page was created just a few months ago, but it’s a rewrite of the specific processes that I created almost a year ago. While these vary from offering to offering (and from client to client), here’s how I stated my “iterative, collaborative process” in my description of the Bredemarket 2800 Medium Writing Service.
- Agree upon topic (and, if necessary, outline) with client.
- Client provides relevant technical details.
- Bredemarket conducts any necessary research and provides the first review copy within seven (7) calendar days.
- Client provides changes and any additional requested detail within seven (7) calendar days.
- Bredemarket provides the second review copy within seven (7) calendar days.
- Client provides changes and any requested detail within seven (7) calendar days.
- Bredemarket provides the third review copy within seven (7) calendar days.
- Client prepares the final formatted copy and provides any post-formatting comments within seven (7) calendar days.
- Bredemarket provides the final version within seven (7) calendar days.
In addition to the words “iterative” and “collaborative,” I think that the two other words that are implicitly associated with my content creation process are “benefits” and “goals.”
I haven’t been so explicit on goals (other than my own goals for Bredemarket), but that has become more important to me as Bredemarket has acquired experience.
- While goals have been implicit with some of my clients—we all assume that the content that I have created will win more business in some generic way—my work with other clients has required me to be more explicit about the goals the content must achieve.
- These goals not only affect the final call to action, but also affect the entire content creation and placement process.
- For example, if the goal of a piece of content is to move an end customer to request a proposal from my client, where does that content have to be placed to elicit that request? In my line of work, it’s not Instagram.
So I concluded that I probably need to iterate my descriptions of my process to ensure that all aspects of the Bredemarket website, as well as all external communications, provide a concise and unified description of the benefits of how I work with you.
But before I did that rewrite, I wanted to see how others described a content creation process, to see what I could steal…I mean appropriate from those other descriptions.
The content creation processes of others
Obviously, I’m not the only entity that has communicated a process for content creation. Here are some others.
- ClearVoice has summarized content creation as a four phase process.
- Marijana Kay at Gather Content has described a six step content production process.
- Hubspot’s content creation process also has six steps, but also fits into an entire content strategy.
- Orbit Media Studios has a 17 step content creation process; thankfully, it only requires a single flowchart.
So if I add 4 plus 6 plus 6 plus 17, the resulting 33 step content creation process will be perfect, right?
Actually, I scanned these disparate processes to see what I’m missing in my iterative, collaborative, benefit-oriented, goal-oriented current process. These things came to mind.
Sub-goals. GatherContent makes a point of talking about multiple goals, one for “each piece of your content” or each topic addressed by your content. While this may be overkill for a tweet, it makes sense for longer content, such as a multi-section blog post.
Audience. This is an implicit thing that should be addressed explicitly, as ClearVoice and HubSpot suggest. There are a number of stakeholders who may potentially see your content, and you need to figure out which stakeholder(s) are the intended audiences for your content and plan accordingly. For example, this very post uses the word “you” to refer to an existing or potential client of Bredemarket, and I have had to shape this content to ensure that this is clear, and to warn other potential readers in advance that this post might not interest them.
When I say “you,” by the way, I’m speaking of clients or potential clients of Bredemarket. If you’re not interested in Bredemarket’s services, but are instead reading this hoping for a discussion of fingerprint third-level detail, this is not the post for you
Voice. HubSpot also suggests that the voice used in content creation is important. I happen to use a specific voice when I write these blog posts for Bredemarket, but you better believe I use a different voice when rewriting a chapter for a scientific book.
Frequency. If creating a series of content pieces, it’s wise to settle upon the frequency with which these pieces will appear. ClearVoice cites a HubSpot study in this regard.
A HubSpot study of blogging data accumulated from 13,500+ of their customers found, “companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5X more leads than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.”
Now this is only one study, and it may not apply to content other than blog posts; do your customers really want to get 16+ emails per month from you?
Frequency of course affects multiple aspects of the content creation process, including the review cycle. If you are only able to review my draft content once every two weeks, then perhaps a daily content release cycle isn’t good for you.
(One more thing. Bear in mind that I as a consultant have a financial interest in creating content as frequently as possible, since this increases the consulting rate. So if I propose something outrageous that exceeds your budget without providing tangible benefits, feel free to push back.)
Search Needs. Steps 5 and 6 in Orbit Media’s 17 step process, as well as HubSpot’s process, ask if people will search for the content in question. If so, it’s important to make sure that people will find it. The…um, goal is to “plan to make it the best page on the web for the topic.” (If people won’t search for it, then content distribution via the regular social media outlets is satisfactory.)
Tasks. GatherContent puts great emphasis on the tasks needed to produce the final content. This is NOT relevant for some of the content that I create with you, but it was EXTREMELY relevant when I managed the RFI response for a client a couple of months ago. Even though the response had a 20-page limit, a lot of information was packed into those 20 pages, and I had to work with a lot of subject matter experts to pull everything together and get it approved.
Examples. Orbit Media Studios discusses a number of items that are outside of the scope of textual content creation, and thus outside of my (current) scope (although I have suggested visual content that can be created by more talented people). One thing that does fall within my scope is to support the content with examples. Of course, a case study is just one big example, but in other cases some examples may be beneficial.
Promotional Considerations. No, I’m not talking about the game show language in which Montgomery Ward provides money and/or goods to a game show in exchange for a mention at the end of the show. Here, Orbit Media Studios is talking about how the content will be promoted once it is created. I address these questions all the time in my own self-promotion. If I’m re-sharing a link to content on social media, what excerpt should I include, and what hashtags should I use?
Due Dates. GatherContent also talks about due dates and how they affect the content creation process. Some of my clients don’t have due dates at all. Some have very vague due dates (“we’d like to go live with the content next month”). Other dates are very explicit; when you’re dealing with RFP and RFI responses, the end customer has a specific due date and time.
Content Inventory. GatherContent also talks about this. My content is often not stand-alone. It needs to integrate with other client content. The client’s content inventory needs not only affect the delivery of the final content, but may affect the format of the content itself. For example, if something is only going to be available in hardcopy, I can do away with the hyperlinks.
In addition to the information that I appropriated from these sources, perhaps it’s worthwhile to fit the whole thing into a needs / solution / results framework. Although in this case, the “results” would be “expected results.”
Oh, and there’s one more word that I’d like to work in there somewhere. Did you see that the title of this post started with the word “accelerating”? I, um, appropriate that from a source that I cannot discuss publicly, but it may make sense here also. If not for accelerating the content creation, at least for accelerating the expected results.
Bredemarket’s new and improved content creation process is…
Wow, that’s a lot of stuff.
Some of it is too detailed to include in a succinct statement of Bredemarket’s content creation process, and some of it should be included, even if I only include a single word.
So after that review, I can announce that Bredemarket’s new content creation process is…
TO BE DETERMINED.
I still need to think through this, write up a new succinct version, iterate it, and share the new version in a future post.
After all, a higher frequency of blog posts DOES lead to a greater number of leads. See “Frequency,” above.