Why Your Content Creation Process Matters

Creating a piece of content can feel overwhelming. You want to do it right but it seems like there is always something that gets left out. Or there is never enough time. Or something gets in your way.
You realize that you needed to get your content out yesterday but you couldn’t get it done. Why?
Is it impossible to create good content with limited time and constant distractions?
I used to think I would never find a way to create great articles and still get all my other work done. But by developing a process that worked for me, creating content is efficient. And it’s fun again!
Below is the process that I use every time I create a piece of content. This process has made things incredibly efficient.
Finding my content creation process has been a game changer for me. It will be for you too! I’d love to learn more about what you think. Please comment with your thoughts on this content creation process.

The Content Creation Process

I have been creating content for years. I started a twice weekly e-newsletter with the Idaho Stampede back in 2005. I have been blogging on the Select website since 2010 (click here for the very first article). The Select newsletter, The Press Break, has been around for over 10 years.
But in the beginning, it sucked. And I sucked as a writer. Today, you may debate whether I’m any good at writing but I’m definitely better than I was 10 years ago. That improvement is a direct result of building a process and tweaking it as I went.
Here is a break down of my content creation process. It is the same process I used to write this article. Can you find the different pieces?

Selecting a topic

I choose my topics in several ways. Some come from the questions we get. Others are topics that come up as I’m writing another article. When I have a topic idea, I ask two questions: is this topic relevant to our readers and is this a topic I care enough about to do a great job? If the answer is no to either than I drop it and move on.

Capturing the topic

When I have a great topic idea I don’t want to forget it. I’ve tried a lot of different things but the one that works best for me is a free piece of webware called Trello. I like it because it allows me to create a “card” with the topic and some notes. From there I can drag the card through the creation process so I always know where I’m at.

Outline the article

When I decide to start writing, I prefer to begin with a basic outline of the article. Using Word, I type in all the possible sections that I want to cover along with sub-sections. The outline helps me look at the flow, see what is missing and what I should cut. The section names will also end up being part of the sub headings.

Write the introduction

With the outline done and a good feel for how the article will look, I like to jump in to my introduction. The goal is to quickly capture the reader’s attention and give them an overview of what is going to follow.
I use the PASTOR method for my introductions. It is pretty straight forward and is a step by step process to writing a compelling intro. Here’s what it looks like.
P – identify the PROBLEM the article will help solve
A – AMPLIFY what will happen if the problem isn’t solved
S – tell a STORY of someone that has used this SOLUTION to solve the problem
T – use a TESTIMONIAL to emphasize the results of the solution
O – describe what the article is OFFERING
R – give step-by-step instructions on how I want the reader to RESPOND

Write the body

This is when I go back and fill out the outline with details and flowing sentences. Often I will make adjustments to the structure. This could be rearranging and adding sections. The copy does not need to be perfect. I’m getting more of my thoughts down. The proof reading comes later.
Be sure to leave in the section names as sub headings. It will help “skimmers” read over your content and decide if they want to read all the details.

Write the conclusion

Some readers will read the headline and then skip to the last piece of the article hoping for summary. Give it to them! I try to summarize in simple language but still get a hook in there so they will want to read the entire article.

Initial proof reading

This is a first pass where I look for typos and basic grammar errors. I am also making sure that the content flows from one section to the next and that I have stayed on topic.

The Hemingway Editor

Here is another fantastic free tool I use. The Hemingway Editor evaluates articles for simplicity. It notes when you use too many adverbs, difficult sentences and the grade level it reads at. The app also estimates the time that it would take to read it.
When I plugged this article in to the app, it was about 1,550 words and read at Grade 5. Pretty good but lots of room for improvement. 
When I finished, I had it down to a 4th Grade level and 1,460 words.
Using a content creation process with the Hemingway Editor

Using the Hemingway Editor in my content creation process, this article was easier to read

Create the creative

Another free tool I use for creating images is Canva. It allows me to build simple imagery without knowing anything about design. My goal is to create feature images for the top of the article and supplemental imagery for the body.
I build my images to be shareable and to look good on many platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Linked In.

Is it search engine friendly?

This is an extra step that I take because I want to get the most bang for my buck. The goal is to find a keyword phrase for the article that will make it more searchable. With a little re-writing, I will add that phrase added in to different places in the article. These include the title, the body, a sub heading, the “alt” for an image I use and a caption for an image.
I use tools like soovle.com, Google related searches and Google Keyword Planner to find keyword phrases with low competition.

Add the copy and creative to website

Now I will add the article to my website, usually as a new blog post. When cutting and pasting, the format usually gets a little messed up so I skim it over to make sure things look right. I also add in my feature image and body images.

SEO plugins or apps

Most of the websites I write on are WordPress or Shopify. Both of them have plugins and apps available to help you with your SEO. For WordPress sites I like to use Yoast SEO. The plug in allows me to enter in the keyword I want to optimize for and will then do a quick analysis. It also has a readability feature that compliments the Hemingway App.

Final proof reading

After the final tweaks, I do one last go at the proof reading to make sure I haven’t missed anything. I always preview the article first to make sure the format looks correct.

Time to publish

This used to be the hardest part for me. What if people hate it?
Who cares! I spent about 2-3 hours working on it. If people don’t like it that’s their problem! Hit the publish button and move on. Believe me, there is nothing to worry about.
I schedule the content to be published on various social networks, newsletters, etc. Wherever it seems appropriate.

Can it be re-purposed in some way?

With content published, what’s next? I like to see what else I can do with it. For example, I could repackage this article as a step by step guide or check list and then downloaded as a .pdf.
Or I could combine this article with one on content curation and content scheduling to create an ebook. I have done the main work so the extra time invested is minimal.

Why the process matters

A well thought out and executed content creation process is critical. Especially if you want to publish high quality articles in an efficient way. The process I go through has served me well and applies to all articles you want to create. In a few hours you will be cranking out great stuff that people will love to read.
What do you think? Do you have a process that is working? Please share in the comments.