There are so many content-related words buzzing around the world wide web.
I don’t blame you.
However, any marketer or content creator worth their salt will know that content development is not a process to skimp out on.
That’s why, in this article, I’ll be discussing – and all in plain terms – what content development is and why it’s important. Plus, I’ll provide you with a content development process that’ll ensure you’ll research, create, edit, and promote stellar content audiences will want to engage with. Every. Single. Time.
Simply read through the following sections to get the complete low-down on content development:
- What is the content development definition?
- The difference between content strategy, marketing, and development
- Why is content development so important?
- An 8-step content development process for success
- Become an excellent content developer with our superpowered checklists!
Ready to become content with your content?
What is the content development definition?
In layman’s terms, content development is the process of making content for the web that attracts visitors to your organization’s site.
Ideally, the content you release will be informative, engaging, and enjoyable, so that visitors subscribe, share, stick around, and even try out your organization’s product or service themselves.
To expand on that definition, the content development process is generally made up of the following steps:
- Research 🔍
- Plan 📝
- Create 👨💻
- Edit 💻
- Review 👀
- Publish 🌐
- Promote ☝️
- Reflect 📈
Each organization’s own take on the content development process will differ by taking out, adding in, or substituting certain steps to suit their specific needs. But the 8 steps you see above are the fundamental building blocks needed for effective content development.
That’s the definition of content development covered.
But what’s the difference between content strategy, content marketing, and content development?
Time to find out.
The difference between content strategy, marketing, and development
As you learned from the above section, content development is the many-stepped process for creating engaging content that’s sure to strike a chord with visitors.
But you may have seen two other concepts – content marketing and content strategy – floating around on the interwebs.
You may even know one of these concepts inside-out, but don’t know where the others overlap or differentiate.
Let’s clear up any confusion. Once for all.
The definition of content marketing
Content marketing is used interchangeably with content development.
That’s because they’re more or less the same thing, as the Content Marketing Institute explains:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” – Content Marketing Institute, What is Content Marketing?
So, they both concern the making of valuable content and getting it out there.
But it’s the “getting it out there” part which is usually more emphasized in content marketing.
Ergo: Content development and content marketing are processes that have a tremendous amount of overlap, but the content marketing process usually places a little more emphasis on the act of promotion and distribution.
The definition of content strategy
Content strategy is, again, very similar to content development – that’s because content development is part of an overall content strategy. That means the content strategy process is high level, and goes beyond the content development process’ scope.
Additionally, content strategy doesn’t only concern itself with marketing content, either.
As Moz helpfully say in their one of their Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing posts:
“Content strategy concerns itself with the vision—the ins and outs of how and why your content will be created, managed, and eventually archived or updated. It looks at all of the content your customers ever encounter.” – Moz, Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing: Content Strategy
Ergo: Content development is part of an overarching content strategy. This is why a marketing director or content lead is tasked with content strategy.
Final takeaway: As you’ve seen, there are similarities and differences with all three concepts. But it’s content development that is truly the core process for any business’ content endeavors.
Now, let’s explore content development further, shall we?
Why is content development so important?
Take a look at our consumer landscape.
People are rapidly falling out of love with traditional advertising and marketing, and becoming more wary of brands than ever before.
As the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report shows, only 21% think brands have the best interests of their consumers – and society-at-large – at heart. To boot, only 1/3rd of consumers said they trust the brands they buy from.
That’s why content is usurping traditional forms of marketing; it’s subtler, suaver, more personal, and far more likely to clinch visitors. And better yet; customers.
Take me as an example. I’m terrible at dressing myself (as you may already know).
That’s why I signed up for Thread‘s newsletter a few months ago.
The newsletter informs me of fashion do’s and don’t’s, what’s in and what’s out, and I even get clothing recommendations from my personal stylist named Toby (hi Toby! 👋) which I can purchase straight from the Thread store.
Ashamedly, I’ve spent $[redacted] on clothing from Thread. This is because their newsletters and blog posts have improved my dressing efforts, and saved me a whole load of sartorial embarrassment that would’ve kept me awake at night for years to come.
They tailored their content to hopeless dressers like me.
And it worked.
Because without reading that content, I wouldn’t have given Thread a cent.
This is just one of the many reasons why content is king, as Bill Gates predicted back in 1997.
“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.
[…] [But] if people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will. They need to have audio, and possibly video. They need an opportunity for personal involvement.” – Bill Gates, Content is King
But, like any business, Thread didn’t produce masterful content from thin air.
They would’ve researched their audience, understood their audience’s pain points, wrote fitting content, and then reviewed and improved on their content again and again.
Simply put, if a business wants to achieve their marketing (and overall business goals), they’re going to have to undergo content development.
An 8-step content development process for success
Content development undoubtedly played a huge part in Thread’s ability to turn me from a site visitor to a newsletter subscriber, then to a fully-fledged customer.
At Process Street (where we’ve created state-of-the-art BPM software), we also take content development rather seriously, ensuring that every one of our blog posts resonates with our audience, providing them with business know-how so their organization thrives.
Considering the surplus of advantages that content development brings (improved brand visibility and credibility; increased consumer loyalty and trust; the generation of site traffic) I think it’s high time for you get in on the action, too.
That’s why I’ve created an easy, effective 8-step content development process for you to use!
The following process is loosely based on Process Street’s own content development process.
Without further ado, let’s get stuck in.
Content development process step #1: Research 🔍
The first step of the process requires you (and your team) to undergo research.
Because content development is data-driven.
Without understanding who you’re targeting, the keywords you’re using, the competitors who are targeting the same keywords, and considering how the content can align with your business’ current site goals, you simply cannot create tailored content.
As the team at Engage Content rightfully say:
“If you want to just produce an article, all you need to start with is a story. If you want to develop content, you need to start with a content strategy, target personas, and keywords.” – Engage Content, What is Content Development?
So, first thing’s first: Understand the audience and/or personas you’re targeting. Audience research ensures that whatever you’re about to make will actually interest them.
A four-thousand-word post on how a video game company’s organizational management caused them to create one of the best games ever, for example, will be interesting for gamers and managers alike. But it might not go down so well with the majority of Thread’s audience, as they’d want content on hair and clothes styling, not management theory.
For more on conducting audience research, check out our post Boost Site Traffic with a 4-Step Content Marketing Framework.
Once audience research has been done, you’ll generally want to find high volume, low keyword difficulty keywords to put into your text, content headers, content title, and URL slug.
The reason why I said “generally” is because you’ll target different keywords at different times, dependant on how important it is for your business to rank for that keyword.
For example, critical keywords may have a high volume and a middling (or difficult) keyword difficulty. This means more resources and effort will have to go into the post for you to rank for that keyword.
But, considering that low difficulty keywords are inherently easier to rank for on Google, those are (again, generally) better bets.
Then, once you’ve understood what audience and keywords you’re targeting, you’ll want to think back to your business’ current marketing and/or business goals, and start thinking about how the content will align with those goals.
Which takes us nicely onto step #2: Plan.
Content development process step #2: Plan 📝
I studied for an MA in Creative Writing.
Translation: I spent a huge amount of $ to learn how to write good.
Now, you’re in an extremely lucky position because I’m about to tell you an insider secret I learned from some of the best living writers; writers whose books you can see in the windows of book stores around the English-speaking world.
It’s this: Plan what you’re going to write.
It doesn’t have to be a super detailed dossier. Neither does it have to be a jam-packed todo list. It can just be a simple plan where you create a loose structure for what you’re about to write.
No matter if you’re trying to pen a national bestselling novel or a marketing blog post for your medium-sized SaaS company, writing can be tricky. And by giving yourself structure, you’re less likely to find yourself staring at your screen, not having the foggiest of what to type.
For instance, whenever I plan a piece of content, I look at the keywords found in the research stage. Then, I block out the H2 and H3 headers, which provides me with a structure. I start writing the intro, then, as I get into my writing workflow, I make my way through the headered sections accordingly until the conclusion’s CTA – the final part of written content – has been added.
In a matter of hours, the post’s first draft is finished without me having stared at the screen blankly or giving up the ghost halfway through.
Suffice to say, planning your content is a simple-yet-effective quality of life trick.
(And you didn’t even have to get in a mountain of financial debt to learn about it!)
Content development process step #3: Create 👨💻
You know your audience. You know the keywords you’re going to hit. You’ve planned what you’re going to write.
But before you can reap the rewards of higher conversions, boosted traffic, and increased rates of visitor/customer trust and loyalty (and more!), the content itself needs to be written.
Now, not everybody’s a natural writer. In fact, few are. Writing is a learned activity; with more and more practice, the better you’ll get.
I also recommend installing Grammarly, which will pick up any errors as you go, making the editing stage less daunting.
Speaking of which…
Content development process step #4: Edit 💻
Once the first draft has been completed, it’s time to edit the post.
Don’t go into panic mode if you look back on the content and think it’s the worst thing that’s ever been written.
The editing stage is the phase you turn a piece of coal into a diamond.
- Put yourself in the audience’s shoes. 🥾
- Read your writing out loud. 🗣
- Kill your darlings. ✂️
- Quell your writer’s ego. 👊
- Make paragraphs smaller and sentences shorter. ✍️
- Vary sentence length and structure. 📝
- Avoid adverbs. 🚫
- Develop an allergy to jargon. 😷
- Take your time. 🕰
- Use a copyediting app. 🛠
- Embrace your writerly tics. 💪
Sure, you enjoy, understand, and value the content you’ve written, but will your audience? Reread the content from your audience’s perspective. After all, you’ve written it for them.
This is another hugely beneficial tip I learned during my MA. By reading your work out loud, you can pick up on sentences and paragraphs that don’t sound right, are too long, too short, have typos in them… the list is endless. If you’re in a setting where you can’t read aloud – like a coffee shop or quiet coworking space – muttering it under your breath works, too.
William Faulker – a writer so good he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949 – once wrote: “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” Essentially, what he means by this is that, at some point, you’re going to have to cut what you believe are great sentences (the “darlings”) to benefit the piece, making it stronger and leaner overall.
Having an ego can stop you from making improvements to your content. Rarely is content great straight-off-the-bat; that’s why we all need copyediting apps, our colleagues, and friends to check over the content we’ve written. Because they spot issues that the ego glosses over.
Brevity is important and conciseness is key. The average person spends 37 seconds looking at a blog post, so to hook readers in line-and-sinker, you’re going to have to get to the point. Quickly. This is made possible with short paragraphs and even shorter sentences.
While you do want condensed, easy-to-read sentences and paragraphs, that doesn’t mean they should all be the same length. This, ironically, makes the content hard to scan through and hard to read.
If you can’t cast your mind back to English lessons at school, an adverb is a word that modifies or qualifies another word. For example, I really hate adverbs. The word “really” is the adverb, because it’s heightening my disdain for adverbs. Now, adverbs aren’t inherently bad; they can be useful at times. But they shouldn’t congest and clog up a piece of content.
Buzzwords cause confusion. Cut that blue-sky thinking in favor of plain text that everybody and their grandma can understand.
This is exactly what Neil Patel professed in the above video. Rushing the writing or editing process will only generate, well, rushed (read: bad) content.
Earlier I mentioned Grammarly, which is like having a super-quick copyeditor looking at your work in real-time. There’s also the Hemingway Editor (named after Ernest Hemingway, who’s famed for his brevity), which also helps writing to be pithy and punchy.
Voice, voice, voice. Content that stands out is usually written with a unique voice. For instance, humor goes a long way when you’re discussing a topic that’s been written about a thousand times. Find your writing style and voice, then let it fly. You’ll be rewarded for it.
Once you’ve gone through the above suggestions and edited your content, you can then move onto step #5: Review.
Content development process step #5: Review 👀
Reviewing is different than editing.
When editing, you’re grappling with the content and making changes yourself.
When content is being reviewed, it’s being read through and thought about by another person. Afterward, they provide feedback, such as what’s working, what isn’t, and how certain parts can be improved, on top of any other helpful tips.
This means you’ll probably have to edit the content in question again.
But that’s not a bad thing.
With multiple rounds of edits and reviews, reviews and edits, you’re constantly strengthening your content, helping it to engage (and even convert) more people, and rank higher on Google for that keyword.
That’s why, at Process Street, our process requires 3 (yes, 3) different types of review: A peer review, a BAMM (Blog Asset Maturity Model) review, and a final editor’s review.
By the time you’ll read this post, it will have been reviewed by at least 3 others on our content team! After all, teamwork makes the dream work.
Content development process step #6: Publish 🌐
The sixth step in this content development process is where you’ll push the content live.
But before you hand the content over to your editor – or hit publish yourself – give it a final once-over to ensure that your well-written, well-edited content will make waves once it’s published.
Seeing as you’ve ensured it’s A-OK for readers, this means confirming the finished content is suited to Google.
From an optimization perspective, ensure target keywords are featured in all the right places, there are enough longtails in the content, and, if possible, you’re optimizing for Google’s Knowledge Graph (i.e. the chunk of information, taken from somebody’s site, that’s displayed when you search a term in Google).
If you’re looking for a more advanced optimization procedure, try TF-IDF analysis to go about on-page optimization like a pro.
Once you’re confident the content in question is as optimized as it can be, hit that publish button!
Content development process step #7: Promote ☝️
Huzzah, the post has been published and is now live. It’s time to promote the content.
Seeing as every organization’s content promotion process is different, let me divulge regarding how we do it at Process Street.
Basically, our content marketing department has a team of VAs who post our latest work to relevant social bookmarking sites and across our social media channels.
Additionally, the VAs will also submit and/or publish our content on content syndication sites. Our CEO Vinay Patankar goes into detail about our content promotion channels – and our content promotion process in general – in this informative blog post!
Now, if you’re a solopreneur, small team, or don’t have VAs to do the promotion and content distribution for you, you’ll be doing it yourself.
It needn’t be.
To cut out the work for you, I even have some ready-made templates which you can dive straight into – including an Advanced Content Promotion Checklist!
(You’ll be getting your hands on more templates to ease the content development process soon, I promise!)
After the content has been promoted to the best of your ability, it’s time for the final step of the content development process, which is reflection.
Content development process step #8: Reflect 📈
The content was researched, written, edited, reviewed, optimized, published, and promoted.
So what next?
You do it all again.
But as you push more and more content out, you need to be constantly reflecting on the progress (or lack thereof) of your content, specifically checking:
- Where did your content rank on Google? 🥇
- How much traffic is each piece of content receiving? 📈
- How well-shared is the content? ☝️
- Did readers subscribe to your newsletter or try out your organization’s product or service (conversion)? 💵
- Is current content aligning with your ever-changing marketing (and overall business) goals? 📊
Without taking time to reflect on your efforts, you won’t know whether your overall content strategy is effective.
You could be pushing out post after post until your writers’ fingers bleed, but if there are holes – be it in the keyword research phase, the writing phase, or anywhere else – then your business’ money, time, and effort are wasted.
To avoid those aforementioned holes, checklists are your most valuable ally.
It’s what the Process Street content team uses to ensure mistakes aren’t made and that our content is developed for success.
But it’s not only us.
Content and marketing teams across the globe are using Process Street to facilitate, enhance, and win at the content development process.
Now it’s your turn.
Become an excellent content developer with our superpowered checklists!
Specifically, our BPM software allows you to document workflows, business processes, and procedures as templates. Once templates have been created, users can launch checklists each and every time they need to complete a recurring task to a high standard.
Check out the quick, informative video below to discover the joys of using Process Street.
It’s easy to get started with Process Street, too. Just sign up for a (forever) free account and start creating!
Earlier, I promised you a goodie bag of free templates you can use to help streamline your content development process.
I keep the promises I make.
That’s why, below, you’ll find several content-related templates and marketing checklists that will help streamline the content development process to unprecedented levels! 💪
Blog idea processing checklist
SEO checklist: The keyword research process
Peer-editing checklist for bloggers
Blog pre-publish checklist
Submitting content to social bookmarking sites
Advanced content promotion checklist
Want to make your own template for the content development process?
I’ve got your back.
Watch this super informative webinar by Blake Bailey, who tells you how to bolster your templates and checklists with some of our workflow features. Here’s a comprehensive list of our incredible time-saving, labor-saving features:
- Stop tasks
- Conditional logic
- Role assignments
- Task assignments
- Task permissions
- Dynamic due dates
- And now Approvals!
With that, I conclude my low-down on content development and the content development process!
I can’t wait to read the awesome content you’re going to put out there.
Are you a content creator, maker, or marketer? Do you have any tips or tricks about creating and developing great content? If so, share them with the Process Street community by typing them in the comment box below! 💡