What does manufacturing have to do with publishing and creating content?

It’s all about the workflow.

The machinery in a factory are all custom-designed to churn out high quality products seamlessly and automatically. And just like them, your writing teams needs to be able to seamlessly churn out high quality content that moves your business forward.

They key to doing that is creating a custom-fit editorial workflow for your own team.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • What makes up a good editorial workflow

  • Why a strategic workflow is key to meeting your content goals

  • How to plan an editorial workflow that makes meeting deadlines easy

Let’s get started, and before you know it, your workflow will be a well-oiled machine!

What is an editorial workflow?

Editorial workflows are established and documented processes that define how a publication will create, edit, publish and manage content. This document is important as it affects all the team members involved in the editorial process, from content strategists and writers to SEOs, photographers, illustrators, video editors and social media teams.

An editorial workflow also affects your capacity to implement your content strategy successfully, populate your editorial calendar and meet deadlines. So there’s no single way to develop an editorial workflow. It must be tailored to your publishing needs and your team’s capacity.

Having a solid editorial workflow in place is a key element to help you meet your goals for your content. It’s the blueprint that allows for the implementation of a plan.

Why do you need an editorial workflow

Having a solid editorial workflow in place has several advantages for an online publishing operation of any size.

  1. Content quality and/or quantity will be significantly improved. Editorial workflows will allow you to increase the quality and/or quantity of your content. Depending on your objectives and goals you could optimise your workflow to prioritise publishing fewer but more impactful content or focus on covering lots of topics at the expense of not reaching the highest possible quality.

  2. Reduce operational inefficiencies. Working without an established workflow means that for every single piece of content you’re either developing a process as you go or reusing a process that may not be the best fit. This produces operational inefficiencies and wasted time, which has a clear revenue impact in the form of missed sponsorship and advertising opportunities for not being able to meet deadlines.

The thing that you need to remember is that, whether you know it or not, you already have an editorial workflow. It may not be a documented and established process, but it’s the way you’re conducting operations.

It could be something as simple as reporting > writing > publishing, or it could be something more complex, involving edits, SEO and promotion. But the fact remains that your team already uses a workflow.

Tools to Get Started

To start building your writing team, you'll need 3 primary tools:

  • Trello: to have a birds eye view of your content production status

  • Google Docs: so that editors and writers can easily throw changes back and forth until the article is ready for publication

  • Google Sheets: to create a custom Gantt (high level planning) chart to dictate your content strategy.

You're probably familiar with all the above tools already, but if you're not, they're a breeze to pick up and start using.

Let's get started!

Trello

One great tool for setting up workflow is Trello.

mplExa

In this above example, you can see how easy it to set up an editorial workflow to categorise articles as ideas, drafts, for editor review, approved and published!

In Trello, set up these columns:

  1. Ideas

  2. Drafts (in progress)

  3. For Editor review (in progress)

  4. Editor approved, and

  5. Published

Tell your team to create column headings with all these categories. Only editors should drag drafts to the approved column, and once a piece of content is approved, you'll know that you can put that piece of content in your publishing platform to set live.

Using this system, you can have a complete overview of all articles in your pipeline, who's doing what, and when articles are ready for prime time.

Google Docs

This is where Google Docs comes in. Today, Google Docs is the de-facto standard for collaborative authoring of articles, and for good reason! Google Doc's real time collaboration and commenting features means that Editors and Authors have a single source of truth. However, Google Docs and Trello don't natively talk to each other. You'll have to input Google Docs links to your Trello card so that Editors and Writers always have access to the latest draft — so make sure your writers always attach their sharelinks to the Trello board!

This will keep your content team organised.

Google Sheets

And here's where Google sheets comes into play. Google sheets is important to keep track of the 'macro' and for overarching content strategy. Why is this important?

A strong content strategy means you need to be focused in the topics you write about: they not only need to be on brand, but they also need to be precise to ensure that your publication becomes a de facto source for a certain content theme.

The above is an example publisher gantt chart built on Sheets. here, you can see what every editor is responsible for, and the themes this publication will be publishing for a certain time period.

Publishing

And once you're done, copy paste the Google Sheet in your Trello card into your publishing platform, do some final edits, and ensure that all those edits are also passed back to the draft Google Doc for record keeping purposes.

Now the only step is to press publish!

Ensuring that All Content is Synced

One issue with having so many systems in place ensuring all content is 'synced' across all three platforms. This will require training your team to use these tools appropriately, and making sure only authorised staffers can make certain changes. Also, you will need to ensure that everyone never forgets to update these systems, otherwise it'll cause major issues in your workflow!

One way to solve this issue is to use a API connector service like Zapier to connect all your apps and automate these workflows to ensure you editorial process never misses a beat. Learning Zapier might take a bit of time if you're not technical, but the effort will be worth it in the end!

However, if you think that's too complicated, fortunately, there's an easier alternative. Storipress is a publishing platform that brings all the above tools into a single platform, meaning you never have to deal with data syncing issues ever again (this article was published using Storipress!). With everything being under one hood and granular access controls, Storipress makes your editorial process seamless.