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Best practices for content development

By Marissa Berenson Yaar
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As a marketer, content creation can seem like a Sisyphean task. Even with your entire team behind a campaign...It. Just. Never. Ends. From blog posts and landing pages to email drips and ad copy, as soon as you publish one piece, there’s another on the horizon. And the deadline was yesterday.

Of course, creating great content involves more than throwing some words on a page and smashing the “publish” button. Somehow, all of it needs to be cohesive and on-message, even with an army of different writers working on a single campaign.

So how do you do it? And, more importantly, how do you do it without a bazillion rounds of edits and all-nighters? The idea is to create repeatable processes that get everyone in a flow from the start so that your team can work efficiently. Here’s how.

Set guidelines for writers

We’re not talking about a few tips in an email here. Instead, create a document that’s easily available so that any writer can refer to it at any moment. Your guidelines should include the following:

  • Company voice and tone — Are you casual and quirky, or do you like to keep things professional? A single, strong voice is the most important element for keeping your content on-brand.
  • Style rules — AP style or Chicago? American English or British? Headlines in sentence or title case? Writers feel strongly about these things (Don’t even get us started on the serial comma!), so make the rules clear from the start to prevent copyedit chaos down the road.
  • Pet peeves — Admit it. You’ve got them. If you hate the cliche of the moment, say so! Some teams develop a list of terms they find problematic, including the ones they consider insensitive or just don’t like for any reason. Why not avoid the pitfalls by explaining your preferences in advance?

Your writing guidelines will inform content creation across projects and teams, so spend some time on a clear document now to make for a smoother process in the long run. Take a little time and draft them, and make sure they’re in a live document you can link to, so every writer has the latest, greatest version. 

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Try the Confluence writing guidelines template. You now can share Confluence Cloud pages externally, if your writers aren’t on staff. 

Codify your process

Whether you pay attention or “wing it” — your team has a content process. It might vary a little for an ad versus a blog post, or a web page versus a Tweet, but there’s always a workflow that starts with ideas and ends with approvals and publishing.
 
The basic steps in a content development workflow are:

To do →  Draft →  Review →  Approved →  Published

Every step might have revisions and approvals. Sometimes there will be regulatory, compliance, or legal reviews. And along the way, there will be dependencies. Designers would have a very hard time selecting relevant images before they know what the content is about, for example.

For each type of content in your campaign, set a workflow and estimate how long each step takes. Now you know how much content you can produce and when you need to start on each piece.

Jira templates screenshot

Set up your content development workflow with the asset creation template in Jira Work Management. Add deadlines, assign tasks by tagging a teammate, and move content from step to step without ever missing a beat or losing info in emails or texts. The best part: Total visibility into progress and roadblocks, so there are no surprises or gaps in your publishing schedule.

Send out a brief

For each asset, set clear expectations for on-time. on-target deliverables. A formal brief for content will provide your writers with all of the information they need to deliver the copy you want. Your brief could look something like this:

  • Project name
  • Names of writers and approvers
  • Deliverables
  • Timeline and milestones
  • Project goals
  • Target audience personas
  • Desired audience actions (e.g., click throughs or signups)
  • Resources (Include links to background information as well as to your writer guidelines!)
  • SEO keywords
  • Success metrics

Don’t skimp on the details. With all of the information right there in front of them, a project brief gets writers started on the right foot and helps eliminate the back-and-forth time suck of a million questions over email.

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Try the creative brief template in Confluence. Add any sections you need for your deliverables and remove any that don’t apply. It’s easy to create custom templates that meet your needs exactly. 

Create templates

Now that you have everything clear for your writers, there’s one more step that can set them up for success: create a writing template. A template delivers a built-in structure so that nothing is forgotten. Depending on the type of content, a template can include some or all of the following:

  • SEO Keywords
  • Headline
  • Subhead
  • Byline
  • Email subject line or website page title
  • Search preview text
  • Body
  • CTA
  • Metadata
  • Corresponding social media content
     

Don’t forget to include character counts for anything with limitations. And add a space for reviewers to sign off. 

Given that marketing content is varied, templates will also vary. You’ll need to create different templates for blog posts, social media copy, ad copy, emails, and web pages. But, once you’ve got the format down, templates turn content creation into a repeatable process that lets your team move quickly.
 

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Discover more marketing templates from Confluence. There’s a template for many typical tasks — or create one of your own.


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