Crafting Content That Counts: Inside the Content Production Process

content production process

Let’s face it: Creating and publishing outstanding content on your own is next to impossible. Thankfully, most businesses use a team — but with teams comes scale, and with scale comes bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and ineffectiveness. 

Gone are the days of just winging it. Today’s cluttered blog landscape and the developing metaverse of tech and talk mean spontaneous posting just isn’t enough to get your brand noticed. That’s why it’s so important to understand what makes a strong content production process.

See how infusing every step of your content strategy with a triple-optimization approach (SEO, reader engagement, and business goals) can get you where you need to go.

What Is Content Production and How Does It Connect to Your Digital Marketing Strategy?

Content production is a comprehensive process and includes planning, creating, refining, and publishing content to meet your business objectives. This is so much more than dashing off a blog post and pushing it through your WordPress dashboard.

Properly producing effective and on-brand content requires equal parts art and science. The artsy end of things comes when your writer crafts a pithy turn of phrase or your graphics team creates a memorable infographic. The science portion of the process involves things like keyword research, evaluation of potential distribution channels, and analytics review.

All these components feed into and become one with your digital marketing strategy. Think about how you choose to spend time on and funnel resources into:

  • Audience engagement
  • Brand awareness
  • Search engine optimization
  • Lead generation
  • Social media presence
  • Email marketing
  • Analytics and iteration
  • Consumer education

Lay the proper foundation; tick all the boxes, and visibility and audience reach will soar. Skip steps or engage in random marketing — think paying freelancers for content without a brief or review process — and you might as well convert your marketing budget into dollar bills, throw the pile into gale-force winds, and try to get your stack back in place. 

The Process of Content Production: Strategies for Guaranteed Results

We should preface: There are no guarantees in content or marketing overall. But there are ways you can construct your content production process to increase your chances of success. For your content to be a hit, you should pay attention to every stage of the process and understand the true goal for each phase. 

Hint: Too much of what should happen early in the process is often left to writers. 

1. Initial strategy/keyword research/analysis

This is where you establish the initial whos, whats, and whys of content creation.

  • Why are you producing content in the first place?
  • What business goals are you trying to achieve with content? 
  • Who is the content for?
  • What does that audience need or want?
  • What are your competitors doing better than you? 
  • What are your competitors not doing well?

Keyword research, market research, and market trend analysis can aid your search for those answers. The goal is to understand what your competitors are up to and how your target audience behaves to better fuel your strategy.

2. Ideation

Brainstorm unique and competitive ideas that address the keywords and their respective search intent. Every concept should build on the research in step one and answer those whos, whats, and whys.

3. Pre-production

Pre-production is like planning for the plan. What kind of timeline are you thinking, and what outside influences (an upcoming product launch date, for instance) impact your decisions?

During this phase, create content briefs and infographic templates, conduct interviews, or send out surveys that will become part of the content created down the line. Don’t leave the opinions and insights captured in your content to chance here; determine what they’ll be before moving onto the next phase.

4. Writing

Now, the content briefs, resources, and instructions land in the hands of talented freelancers or your in-house writing team, and the actual writing begins.

5. Editing

Fully drafted content is sent to editors, who review everything for clarity, coherence, grammar, and style. This stage is not just a case of dotting an “i” here and crossing a “t” over there. Editors contextually review the content, double-checking that it aligns with brand guidelines and the messaging fits the campaign.

6. Review

Send the edited draft to anyone who needs or wants to give their input. This may include subject matter experts, peer reviews, or other decision-makers on your team. Content that’s on point moves to the next step. Everything else gets marked up and sent back for further work.

7. Design

Support written content with bespoke images, graphics, and videos. Everything should slot in well with existing branded material and be formatted for the intended distribution channels — no long-form videos for TikTok or long-winded rants for X.

8. Publishing

Send your finished, multifaceted content out into the world. Channels might include your company website, a branded blog, social media pages, email newsletters, industry publications, podcasts, or e-books.

9. Tracking/analytics

Use key performance indicators to track how your content is doing and whether you’re meeting your brand’s goals. Metrics such as page views, conversion rates, social shares, and post likes and comments can give you insight into what’s working well and where you could improve. Be sure the primary metric you track for each asset aligns with the reason you created the content in the first place. 

10. Content refresh

Update content that has grown stale or isn’t performing as you’d hoped by adding insights, recent developments in the topic, and updated statistics. At this stage, you should also ensure that the content still aligns with the search intent of your primary keywords. 

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Best Practices for SEO and Content Production

There are lots of bits and pieces that go into planning stellar content, but SEO is a big one — it’s integral in producing compelling content that ranks high in the SERPs. Best practices demand you incorporate SEO at least three times during the content production process:

  • Keyword research: During the ideation phase, spend time researching what keywords can help you achieve business goals and which best answer your target audience’s queries.
  • Search intent optimization: As your team creates content, they incorporate the keywords chosen during the ideation phase. These should address users’ questions and individual stages of the buyer’s journey. By determining the intent behind KWs, you can ensure you attract the right online traffic.

Image Source: semrush.com

  • SEO analysis: After publishing your content, track and analyze key metrics that show how that content is performing. This requires looking at organic search traffic and click and conversion rates to see which KWs are effective and which may not best serve your purpose.

Working SEO into your content production process offers a range of benefits, such as improved visibility and rankings, increased organic traffic (saving money on paid ads), and advantages over the competition. But SEO is also closely tied to user experience. When you serve your research KWs properly versus simply shoving them into existing content, you give searchers valuable content that satisfies their needs and wants.

AI and Other Advanced Strategies in Content Production

Storytelling is the foundation of content production. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about product descriptions, white papers, or press releases. The bottom line is that you’re telling a story. This is more important than ever with Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines, which favor personalization and experience. While weaving a tale is a tradition as old as time, the methods you can use to convey your message have evolved.

Artificial intelligence

Not too long ago, AI seemed like something to be feared rather than embraced, but machine learning is transforming digital marketing at a rapid pace. For content production, AI has several purposes:

  • Content personalization: Use AI to get to know your core audience’s behavioral patterns and preferences. Algorithms can review massive data sets and find patterns in record time, efficiently informing your strategy.
  • Content optimization: Tools that oversee A/B testing and analyze content can help evaluate context, sentiment, and technical SEO needs.
  • Predictive analytics: Knowing what lies ahead can help you stay ahead of the curve. AI-powered predictive analytics look at future trends and expected content performance to see what audiences might love tomorrow as well as today.
  • Content creation: You can use AI to create outlines, brainstorm topic clusters, and even write actual content — as long as there’s always human oversight and final review processes in place.
  • Content distribution: Figure out where to distribute your content and use AI scheduling tools to push out social posts and other assets when they’ll have the most impact.

User-generated content

User-generated content is all the content created by fans or followers of your brand. Testimonials, hashtag campaigns, social media posts, case studies, and even comments on blogs or social profiles are all types of UGC that can help create a more authentic content experience.

UGC is a win-win proposal. You save money on paid content creation and take advantage of social proof. Consider that, out of 500-plus surveyed marketers, 92% reported increased brand awareness due to UGC. 

In recent years, Formula 1’s racing team, Mclaren, has encouraged fans to use the hashtag “FansLikeNoOther” to increase brand awareness.

Top Tools and Resources for Effective Content Production

You can use top-rated tools and platforms to help guide and streamline the content production process. Here are some of our favorites.

  • Content management systems facilitate content creation, modification, and overall management. They’re primarily used to manage website content, as seen with sites like WordPress and Squarespace. Some, like Shopify, have additional utilities to facilitate running an online store or creating a digital portfolio.content production tools
  • SEO tools: Google Keyword Planner and Ahrefs are two of the biggest SEO tools in the marketplace. They help brands identify relevant keywords and provide in-depth analysis of goodies like backlink potential and competitor strategies.
  • Analytics platforms: Master business intelligence’s nuances with platforms designed to discover and analyze data and provide actionable insights. With tools like Google Analytics, Semrush, and HubSpot, you can make data-driven decisions that fuel your overall digital marketing strategy.
  • AI-driven technology: AI content creation tools focusing on the written word are everywhere these days, with sites like OwlyWriter AI and ChatGPT making major waves. But there are also tools for creating AI graphics (Midjourney), recording and editing podcasts (Podcastle), and building competitive content strategies (Crayon).
  • Project management: Make no mistake, scattered communication and a lack of centralization can bring a robust content production team to its knees. Look for tools that support the collaborative process that content production has to be. Tools like Trello, Asana, monday.com, and Basecamp should fit the bill here. 

Key Challenges and Solutions in Content Production

Even experienced content production specialists run into hurdles from time to time, and for newbies, content creation can be a minefield. Understanding common challenges and approaching them armed with solutions can mean the difference between achieving success or stumbling.

  • Maintaining content quality: When you start to generate more content or branch out from your initial content type or topics, it’s easy to watch quality sink as you just focus on getting it out there. It’s important to post consistently and stay visible, but if that means you start churning out content that lacks value and authority, the tradeoff isn’t worth it.
  • Scaling production: Companies often experience temporary surges in production needs, such as wanting to populate a new blog in under a month or needing tons of local SEO service pages lumped into a one-off order. Other brands want to rapidly scale from a couple of pieces of content a week to a couple dozen. That’s hard to accomplish when relying solely on in-house staff.

These concerns can be mitigated — if not eliminated — by outsourcing content creation. At Crowd Content, we funnel our resources into building vetted, experienced networks of writers, editors, and subject matter experts who know how to generate high-quality content. With a pool of talent already in place and a three-step quality assurance process on tap, you can get a single piece of content or 1,000 product descriptions at a time, all while preserving quality.

The Role of Visuals and Multimedia Content in Content Production

The word “content” is often tied to text-based assets, but content production encompasses visual elements and multimedia creations. A whopping 91% of consumers prefer viewing visual content over something written. 

Incorporating so-called visual aids such as videos, infographics, images, and interactive elements into your content — or as the content itself — can make content more appealing. It may also make the things you publish more memorable and more desirable for consumers to share.

And while infographics, videos, and tables do take some effort to create, images that illustrate, entertain, and break up lengthy articles are now merely a few keystrokes away. 

Future Trends in Content Production

As we tiptoe further into the year, expect the landscape of content production to change. Some shifts may feel small, like shifting consumer behavior that hints at more significant changes in years to come. Other trends are poised to smack into industry norms hard enough to make the industry quake.

Take Google’s Search Generative Experience, for example. This feature, unveiled by Google in 2023, uses the power of AI to give searchers insight into their topic of interest without the need to repeatedly click on links in the SERPs. The risks and opportunities presented by this extension of Google’s search ecosystem aren’t yet known. Still, companies will have to adapt to more zero-click search and fight to be featured and preserve organic traffic.

Content Production Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond 2024

Crowd Content’s content creation services lead the industry with a pool of content managers, writers, SMEs, and editors who are as talented as they are committed to all things content. 

While there’s no such thing as a turnkey content production process, getting to know the top tools, strategies, and trends can undoubtedly make it easier to produce content that resonates. Given the importance of crazy-good content in digital marketing, it’s more important than ever that you get expert guidance and ultimately produce content that makes you — and your audience — proud.

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Rick Leach, the Vice President of Content Operations at Crowd Content, is a seasoned professional in orchestrating large-scale content initiatives. At the helm of a dynamic team of content managers, QA specialists, and production assistants, he oversees the team’s production of high-quality content for businesses around the globe. Rick's expertise extends beyond operations management to providing strategic insights on scaling and producing outstanding content, making him a respected voice in the content creation industry.

Rick's journey in the content industry is preceded by more than five years as an Advertising Sales Manager at The Tampa Tribune, where he refined his skills in media sales and advertising. And his entrepreneurial spirit is evident in his successful 17-year venture as the proprietor of an e-commerce business.

On a personal front, Rick's life is as fulfilling as his professional endeavors. A proud U.S. Navy veteran, he enjoys a blissful family life, married with four children and a grandchild. Originally from New England but now residing on the Gulf Coast of Florida, Rick is an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots.

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