If you’ve been looking at ways to make your content delivery processes more efficient, you’re not alone.
There are tons of articles on content creation, even more on creative processes, but hardly any articles focused on improving content processes.
This article is all about addressing that imbalance, and getting your content systems coordinated to improve your team’s content efficiency, quality, and delivery.
By the end, we want to share the exact process we used to:
- Drop our delivery time for content upload by 50%
- Increase our team productivity by 35%
- Improve client satisfaction by 20%
- Enlarge work capacity by 15%
It’s one thing to tinker around the edges, making small improvements here and there. It’s another to re-think and radically change the way you deliver your content. Developing your small business mindset and continuously evaluating your processes are the key to improving your overall content marketing efforts this year.
This article will walk you through every step we took to do that using Process Street’s automated workflows.
- Rethink your delivery process: Give your content marketing a workout
- Content marketing delivery: How we broke the system
- The right tool for the job: How do I get my processes in line?
- How did this one process impact our productivity?
- The future is processes: Cut out distractions and do what you love
⚙️ If you just came for the template, go ahead and nab it here.
Click here to add this workflow to your free Process Street account!
Let’s get to it!
Rethink your delivery process: Give your content marketing a workout
It is hard for small businesses to compete online. You have to prioritize because you don’t have infinite budgets or resources.
I know I don’t. That lack of resources is what led me to this solution.
By the end of this guide, you’ll understand how to rethink your content processes. Most importantly, you will also realize that processes are vital for any small business that wants to win at content marketing.
Keeping a consistent content production rhythm is hard. So is going to the gym.
The first time is the easiest. Energy is pumping through you. You might think – wow, this is great! I’m great!
Then you realize you have to do it again.
And again. And again. And again. And… you get the idea.
You feel tired. Even if you manage a couple more sessions, it’s so easy to crash out, and vow never to do it again.
Content creation follows the same pattern. That first time, you’re in awe at your incredible creativity and your mastery of marketing.
Then you have to do it again, and again, and again. And you think – I don’t want to have to do this forever.
But this is the wrong way to think about it.
It shouldn’t be something that you have to force yourself to do. It should be as stress-free as possible. And it should run like clockwork.
Give your content marketing the right push with the right process
If you run a small business, you’ve got a never-ending list of other priorities which require your attention with not enough time or resources to fully address them.
This means your content marketing gets pushed down the list. When it does come out, it’s ad hoc – maybe even a bit slapdash.
Don’t worry. I admit it. You can admit it, too.
Most companies I work with have the same problem.
Our own research also supports this: about half of B2B businesses said their marketing strategies were ad hoc.
That’s a lot of businesses starting marketing campaigns, and then stopping when things overwhelm them.
In other words, there are a lot of people who have great intentions, start, and then fail before really getting their stride.
As a result, the real issue isn’t a lack of desire or will. It’s a lack of good processes.
So, what’s the answer?
Stop trying to deliver your content marketing with brute force. Build a seamless content process. Align your team and actions around it. Change your approach to the problem, not your resource level.
The true North Star: Turning chores into habits
Everyone I know who goes to the gym regularly has built a process into their day to turn it into an automated habit.
And when they integrate it into their day, they stop thinking about it. They’ve built a sequence that will take them back to the gym automatically. It’s just another part of their day.
An integrated system means they have removed motivation from the equation. Their system keeps them going when their motivation is low.
For small businesses, content marketing has the same problem. Everyone starts, but most people stop – even though you can only get results with long-term consistency.
That’s why a long-term content marketing engine needs to be seen as a behavioral problem rather than a prioritization problem.
There are some things you can do to make going to the gym easier on yourself, like packing your bag the night before or leaving your shoes at the door. It doesn’t make the actual workout any less difficult, but it removes any mental blocks you might have.
You’re reducing friction, removing barriers, and making it as easy as possible to get yourself to the gym. That’s how you form a habit.
How can you apply this logic to your content marketing?
There are parts of content creation that are unavoidable – generating ideas, writing, and editing. This is the heavy lifting of content creation – the reps you need to do to build the muscle.
But there’s a part of content creation that generates unnecessary hassle, takes up mental bandwidth, and distracts you from the core task of creation.
The drag on content creation?
Uploading your content to live.
Content marketing delivery: How we broke the system
Many firms use their copywriters to write content (blogs or landing pages) and then get them to upload that content.
There are just two problems:
- Uploading is slow
- Copywriters hate it
It’s like forcing a weightlifter to do endless cardio. Or making a champion runner spend half their time lifting weights.
And don’t just take it from me. Here’s what Nick, one of our copywriters, had to say.
“Uploading the content I’ve written is such a drag on my productivity, especially if there’s a lot to upload at once. If I could focus entirely on writing, I’d get so much more done!”
And Emma-Jane, who manages our content while also writing plenty of it, said the same.
“It feels like half of my time is spent either chasing down content or uploading it! Finding some way of automating that process would be amazing! I could keep my priorities where they need to be.”
And it doesn’t work for any of the businesses I speak to, either. Every business leader I know has similar problems. They all hate it.
But most just get on with it as a necessary evil of content marketing. “Everyone does it, so do we,” is a common response.
The existing system wasn’t great. But no one knew of any way around it.
That’s why we made the decision to break the cycle and try something different.
And by doing that, we cracked the code to halving our delivery time.
Then what’s the solution?
I’ve said it already, and I’m going to say it again – louder – because it’s the cornerstone of this article:
Small businesses don’t have limitless resources to throw at content writing and upload.
Think about it this way: You’re paying copywriters to write copy. Uploading the content they’ve written can take up, what, 25% of their time? Especially if they’re not familiar with your particular CMS.
(Time it and see for yourself. Trust me, the results will surprise you.)
In other words: You’re wasting time and money.
Copywriters should be doing what they do best: Writing.
So you outsource it. Problem solved. Money saved.
That sounds easy enough. What’s the catch?
Of course, any business owner knows that outsourcing brings its own problems. Quality, coordination, payment, processes, and time differences are the main ones.
But this is where process comes in: Building an iron-clad process to make outsourcing feel more like automation.
Utilizing Process Street, we were able to cut our delivery time in half shortly after implementing it.
All processes are outsourced but tracked. Each article signed off, each upload signed off.
It takes planning and time to build, but once you’re there, your upload schedule will never look the same again.
More importantly, I’ve never even had to look at it again.
Multiple clients and not a single complaint since.
Work smarter, not harder
In my experience, lack of process is one of the biggest dividers between a good business and a great business.
And Leks Drakos, one of Process Street’s content writers, agreed. He said:
“Most small businesses don’t even realize that processes are holding them back; when they realize what they could be if they reconfigured their content processes, it’s like a penny drops. They think that they don’t have the time or money to address their problems, but that’s fundamentally the wrong way of looking at it.”
Traditionally, the lack of time and money is a barrier to growth for small businesses – and a barrier to your staff’s happiness.
Picture it like a locked door: You might think you need to hire more staff and spend more money to break it down. That with just one more heave, you’ll smash right through it and step through to find the glory and riches that await you.
At best, you might well get there, but there’ll be a lot of mess and your hand will be full of splinters. At worst, you might never break the door down.
Getting your processes aligned lets you sidestep all that. In fact, building an automated process to deal with content upload is like forging the key that unlocks that door.
Your key doesn’t need to be ornate. You want to make sure that it fits the door, and that it unlocks it. But it needs to be crafted in such a way that you can intervene when you need to; keys break, locks get jammed, and hinges rust over time.
Ultimately, things can go wrong. Between miscommunication and simple mistakes, it’s all too easy.
So you need a robust approval and sign-off process, too.
Get that right, and you’ll have the keys to the whole kingdom, so to speak.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – President Abraham Lincoln
This isn’t something you can jump into head-first. You need to reflect on what your business is, what it needs to grow, and how best to achieve that growth.
So a bit of forward-thinking is essential.
When I was thinking about this, I had to assess how my business runs and what I want to get out of it.
My team works with a range of clients, and we tend to handle their websites for them. That covers uploading both blogs and landing pages.
So I needed a catch-all process. A process that could apply to multiple businesses, but keep things confidential.
It had to be highly structured to ensure that nothing could go wrong – and if it did, there were enough safeguards in place to catch it. It was an additional layer of complexity, but definitely achievable – and if we got it right, it would pay dividends.
What fixing your processes can’t do for you
It’s important to note that this isn’t a silver bullet. If your content isn’t good already, getting your processes aligned won’t magically fix things!
This is just one of the easier aspects of content marketing. It’s important, but it won’t solve poor writing.
But the good news is that it will let you shift your focus to where it’s most important. This can have a positive impact on your content, allowing you to give it more attention and care than you did before.
Again, let’s return to our gym analogy from earlier. You’ve removed distractions, but you still need to put the effort in to build up muscle. Fixing your processes is a way of giving you more time to hit those weights!
The right tool for the job: How do I get my processes in line?
Naturally, I knew I didn’t need a sledgehammer to crack a nut, so to speak. So I began researching various process tools to choose the right one.
And after some research, I decided that Process Street matched my needs exactly.
In fact, Process Street had a number of advantages that made it perfectly suited for this task:
- It was able to add multiple users to an individual workflow to ensure flexibility and oversight.
- Its conditional logic meant that I could build workflows that would allow me to restrict the information shown; especially useful when it came to juggling multiple clients.
- It let me run multiple workflows with ease, so several blogs could be uploaded in bulk.
- Later, it would allow me to integrate reporting and invoicing too.
It was the right tool for the job of getting my processes in line.
So, after some initial time getting familiar with Process Street, it was time to dive in.
The beginning: Streamlining the experience and changing behaviors
(Please note: I am assuming you have a Process Street account, or are about to trial one. If you are, this might be a good example process to begin with. In fact, you can download this exact version and amend it using the download link below.)
Click here to add this workflow to your free Process Street account
To start with, I needed to work out a way to sort each user. They each had different clients and permissions. I needed the workflow to show different options depending on who was using it and what they needed.
And all the time, I wanted to focus in on ease of use. This was as much of a behavioral challenge as it was a logistical one. It had to be as clear and engaging a process as possible.
It wasn’t enough for it to just make things easier; it had to be something that my team would actively use. A process that would become second nature to them.
If they weren’t on board, and if they didn’t deliberately seek it out, then there wouldn’t be a point in automating the process in the first place. From my perspective, the feeling of making things easier was just as important as actually making things easier.
So the smartest way of doing this was to include an opening page asking the user to input their email address. An identity gate, as it were. This gate mimics a website login without the hassle of entering a password.
With a bit of conditional logic, this would allow the workflow to show the right options for each user.
(Please note: Only certain emails are linked to our process, so no one can access things they shouldn’t.)
The conditional logic would be based on the name within the email address. For example, someone with ‘murraydare’ in their address would be working with me, so should be able to see every client.
One of our freelance copywriters works with just one of our clients; they only need to see what is relevant.
So I based the conditional logic on their name or domain address to show them exactly what they needed to see.
After the identity gate, next up was the blog upload itself.
Uploading the blog itself: Make the workflow ebb and flow
To kick things off, the user has to select the client they’re uploading for. This box will change depending on the email address that has been entered in the first step.
Murray Dare users will see the whole range of clients; our freelancer will see the client she works with; our outsourced team will see the client they’re writing content for.
The choice of which client will have a knock-on effect throughout the entire workflow, showing some options and hiding others. This is one of the biggest benefits of Process Street, and one I love playing with – making workflows ebb and flow depending on the information you input.
After that, there are some simple form fields to enter information. This includes the blog title, a link to the Google Doc containing the copy (you can also use the file widget to upload most file types if you prefer), and meta info here.
Including all of the above prevents copywriters from being able to upload articles without the key info. No info, no pass.
For the user who has begun the workflow, that’s it! They’ve done everything they need to do. As soon as they’ve completed the task, the next stage will trigger automatically.
Maintaining oversight: Stops and approvals
Another thing that’s great about Process Street is how closely you can control a workflow. In this case, it made sense for the next stage to be an approval stage.
I wanted to assign one of my team to this hard stop, which meant they’d get an email notification as soon as the original user completed the previous task.
This was an opportunity for my team member to make edits and review the copy and see whether they were happy with it. They would then check that the title and meta descriptions were correct before approving and sending the workflow to the next stage.
If something had gone wrong, or if they weren’t happy with the copy or the metadata, they also had the option to reject the first stage. By adding a note to explain why they rejected it, everyone knows what’s happening at all times.
There was part of me that was concerned that this might be too much work or that there was no point automating things if it required significant input from the team.
But they took to it like ducks to water. As Emma-Jane explained:
“While it was a bit of additional work to set up the workflow – we couldn’t just throw the copy at the uploading team and expect them to get on with it – it’s work that we’d be doing either way. And keeping it within the workflow gave us a huge advantage because it helped us to narrow our focus, and nothing more. Having it laid out for us made things much quicker.”
Filling in some additional information
With that potential pitfall addressed, there was a bit more for the team member to do.
The next stage was to add in additional information: In short, all the extra bits the uploader needed to know to effectively upload the blog.
Firstly, the uploader needs to come up with the URL slug for the blog. This is the handful of words that get attached to the website address.
Next, it’s the blog category. This is a bit more of Process Street’s conditional logic magic – depending on which client has been chosen, the workflow will show the right categories.
Next, the team member sets the date and time for the blog to be scheduled. The uploader will be able to schedule the blog before saving it to drafts for one of my team to check over.
Time to include the images
Every blog has a featured image. So at this stage, the team member can upload an image for the uploader to use.
After that, they enter the alt text.
No more last-minute image alt text.
Depending on how long some blogs are, they might need extra images. So I put in a couple more slots to include more images. Talking with my team, we decided that having slots for two more images would be enough.
As Nick said:
“With blogs varying in length, it made sense to have a flexible system for images. Because all blogs have a featured image, we made that slot a requirement, while keeping the other two optional – it all depended on what fit the length of the blog. And using some conditional logic, we were able to show or hide those sections when it was time to upload, which keeps things nice and streamlined. The uploaders only ever see what they need to see, so there’s no room for confusion.”
There was one last stage here.
If the team member did decide to add in additional images, they would go into the Google Doc and leave a message to the upload team, directing them to the correct placement of the image within the text.
With this task completed, the team member can check it off to complete this stage of the workflow.
Your work here is done. Time to upload.
With that, the internal team’s work is done. It’s time for the upload team to pick up the baton and get uploading!
With the completion of the previous stage, the uploading team receives an email notification to let them know that a task is waiting.
When they log in to Process Street, they’ll find a page that looks like this:
Now, they’ll have access to all the information they need to upload a blog. From the name of the client to the blog title, copy, and URL – and the meta title and description and title, too.
Along with the upload date and images, the uploader can now begin uploading the blog.
For this stage, I implemented the subtasks feature to ensure that each individual task was completed. This gives the uploader a clear sense of structure and, if things go wrong, there’s accountability – I know who checked off – or was meant to – the task.
That was one of my key intentions going into this: Can I balance the different responsibilities that different people have within one single workflow?
The answer is yes. By assigning individual tasks to certain people, I can keep close track of what exactly is going on. This also means that people can just follow the steps without having to remember anything.
I now outsource this task elsewhere, reducing costs but keeping quality as if it were one of my team doing it.
When it comes to uploading images, Process Street’s conditional logic means that the uploader will only see as many images as I put in myself. So if I only put in a featured image, they’ll see something like this:
And if I’ve put in another image to include in the body, they’ll see this:
The last task for the uploader is to input the final complete URL for the blog. This can be achieved by attaching the URL provided by the internal team to the web address.
While this URL doesn’t exist yet, it will be helpful for reporting down the line.
We even automated this into our client reporting further down the line.
One last sign-off
Once everything is uploaded, and the uploader checks “Complete,” an email notification triggers to signal to the internal team member that there is one final task left to do: Check the upload and approve it.
Alternatively, you can set up Process Street’s Slack App in your Slack workspace. All of your workflow notifications – including approvals – will appear in Slack so you have everything you need in one place.
As before, they can reject the upload if they wish. Thus sending it back to the upload team with a note attached. Otherwise, they can approve and the workflow will complete.
That’s all there is to it.
Congratulations! If you’ve followed this guide, you’ve just uploaded a blog post with the minimum possible effort!
Once implemented, your team will have everything they need in one handy workflow. And they’ll be getting email alerts the second they’re needed. In my case, I built this process, handed it over to Emma-Jane and Nick, and let them get on with it.
It saves time at every level. And this is something I never have to think about again. My content team can continue iterating the workflow if they need to.
I haven’t looked at uploading an article since implementation. All our articles are up in hours rather than days.
In short, this means your team will be kicking off a workflow by dropping off the content they’ve written; then they can go and work on something else before returning to it when it’s ready.
Sounds logical when explained. But it changed the way my business runs – and it rewrote our approach to everything.
How did this one process impact our productivity?
I love data and analytics – no, seriously, I do – which meant I couldn’t help myself. While we were trialing this process, I had to find out just how much more efficient it was.
It definitely felt more efficient. My whole team reported that they were getting more done in a day.
But what would the data say?
The results were pretty staggering: We calculated that our weekly productivity went up by 35%.
Clients were impressed at our efficiency and we could take on an additional work capacity.
Freed from boring and time-consuming tasks, we were all able to focus our minds where they were needed and work more harmoniously as a result. Writers could write, editors could edit, and managers could manage.
Best of all, we were getting tasks cleared like nobody’s business.
In one case, we had a backlog of around 15 blogs to upload. It was a task on the back-burner as other things took priority. Normally, it would take at least two days of effort to upload this amount of content.
But with just an hour or two of work on our end, these were cleared within a day. In other words, we’d just halved our delivery time!
It was that kind of result that made me think: Wow. Why didn’t we do this sooner?
As Emma-Jane said:
“Keeping content flowing and organized takes up a big chunk of my day. But Process Street lets me keep everything in one place. The dashboard allows me to see at a glance how things are progressing. This has done wonders for my productivity, allowing me to focus my efforts elsewhere during the time I would have spent chasing down or managing content.”
And that wasn’t all.
As I mentioned, the process of getting this up and running rewrote our approach to our work, too. We now see our day-to-day workload and our processes in a totally different light.
We’re all now constantly asking ourselves: Is there a way to make this more efficient? How can I automate this? Can I save us time and money by turning this into a workflow?
We’re all now extremely process-minded. And everyone benefits as a result.
The future is processes: Cut out distractions and do what you love
In all, it took us a couple of days to get this process up and running. But even after a week of utilizing it, it had already repaid the time we’d invested into it.
My experiment with Process Street was a success. Which naturally led me to ask, “What else can we do with it?”
The first thing we did was make a parallel workflow for landing page uploads; a similar process, if slightly more complex, owing to the difference in structure between client websites.
But having successfully created that workflow, all of our website uploading is automated – representing a huge boost in productivity.
Next, we plan to integrate our employee onboarding and offboarding into Process Street. After one of our employees left over Christmas, there was some confusion over how much holiday they had left, when their final day would be, and what their final pay packet would look like.
That was on me – as a small business, getting offboarding in line had never been my first priority. But when that went wrong, I realized how important it was – and that I needed an automated system to ensure that offboarding was clear and fair for everyone involved.
Combining that with an onboarding process seems like a no-brainer. We’re in the middle of designing it now, and with the help of Process Street hope to end up with a smooth system that works for all employees.
As for my team, I actively encourage them to think of parts of their workload that we can automate. Not that they need much encouragement – they’ve already come to me with plenty of processes to sort out. With the boost in productivity we’ve seen, it’s been the equivalent of bringing in another member of staff.
I know – it’s gold dust.
Process Street is such a versatile tool. I currently automate more of our daily routines than I ever expected to. And I’ve introduced it to clients, too, helping them and us get aligned.
It’s a win all around. We’re more efficient, giving us more time to help them. Our clients are more efficient, too, meaning the boring stuff is worked out for them already. This affords us more time and space to work on content projects that require additional creativity and spark. In other words, all the things that I’m in this business for.
That’s what Process Street represents to me. The chance to streamline everything that needs to be streamlined, so my team and I can get on with doing what we love.
Or put another way (and to squeeze the last drops out of that analogy a final time): Cutting out distractions so we can hit the gym!
Want to integrate this process for yourself? You can download it here.
Murray helps businesses to utilize content and marketing processes to overcome larger undeserving competitors. He loves to read, paddleboard, and make pizza. Find him at his website MurrayDare.co.uk.
Leks Drakos, Ph.D. is a rogue academic with a PhD from the University of Kent (Paris and Canterbury). Research interests include HR, DEIA, contemporary culture, post-apocalyptica, and monster studies. Twitter: @leksikality [he/him]