How to set up a publishing workflow that puts content in a game

Content can never achieve greatness if it does not see the light of day.

But most of the work involved in publishing content takes place in a behind-the-scenes process.

Someone with operational responsibilities, including overseeing production, is essential for the content marketing team. They take the finished content down to the field and onto the target line – publishing it (online or in print) for the audience to see.

To do that well, they create systems and processes that make it easy for them to track and repeat their work without forgetting key steps. They often lead the way with software tools that help organize things, whether it's project management systems like Trello and Asana or a simple shared spreadsheet.

The publishing process helps you move #content down the field and beyond the target, said @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click to Tweet

If you're just starting to organize your production process (or are looking to improve it), this task can seem daunting.

To help, I asked Lisa Dougherty, CMI's director of community and blogging, to explain how she organizes editorial activities to help CMI publish and promote new content each day on the site. our main website ( ).

Lisa's honing process over the past seven years has allowed us to track content from different authors through several stages. Editor and production. It also serves as a connecting point for CMI team members who promote content through email and social media.

Here's how she does it:

Organized to track content progress

The team member responsible for this operation must know the status of each content asset being created. At the same time, they must also create and maintain a post-production publishing schedule. These two things can be tied to editorial planning yours.

In the case of CMI, the team uses separate sheets (tabs) in a shared master workbook that we call a tracker. One page in the tracker details the status of the content and one page serves as the publishing schedule for the week . Both sheets in the tracker are managed by Lisa.

A master spreadsheet that lets @BrandLoveLLC know the status of each #content being prepared for publication on the @CMIContent site. She shares her publishing secrets via @AnnGynn. Click to post

Status of tracker content development

The content development tracker shows the status of every editorial article we're working on. We list each content subject, who is responsible for creating the content, due date, status (in progress, edited, ready for production), along with any related notes, such as as a reminder about links to include, in particular call to action etc

Once the content creation is complete, the team member responsible for completing the task will update the status column.

Some tools trigger notifications to relevant team members when the status of content changes. At CMI, trackers are an ingrained part of the workflow which we rarely add comments to notify the publishing manager. We're all reviewing trackers at least once a day.

Other content marketing teams can handle this with project management software where changing the status automatically triggers a notification and moves the content to the next step on the dashboard.

Publication production tracker and calendar

The second sheet acts as the publication production schedule. It displays the content per day (CMI publishes five days a week) along with key information needed to publish the content.

Your production tracker may look different depending on publication frequency, format, channel, etc. The version of CMI includes the following columns:

  • Publication date

  • Author

  • Production status (two options: loaded in WordPress or verified in WordPress)

  • Notes (Lisa lists the date she requested the cover art, any incomplete elements such as video or embedded graphics, and the date she submitted the preview to the author or featured sources)

  • Title

  • Category

  • Preview copy (what appears in daily emails)

  • Excerpts (what appears in daily emails)

  • Call to action

  • URL

TIP: Don't rely on the default URL your content management platform generates. Change the default to include the appropriate keywords (use hyphens to separate words) and stay between 50 and 80 characters.

On this tracker, the article editor adds a title, preview copy, and excerpt copy. The Operations Director completes the rest of the actions, adds the CTA and URL, and checks out what the editor includes. The editor updates the production status in the last step.

Manage content from multiple sources

Content operations managers typically coordinate content as it comes from internal and external sources.

Posts, drafts, revisions and updates from guest submit content internal subject matter experts and members of the content marketing team add a lot of files to manage. You can make this process more efficient with these tips:

First, save content in a centralized location accessible to everyone involved in the creative process, consider and publishing process. CMI is currently in use Box even though we used Dropbox in the past. Other groups can use Microsoft One Drive, Google Drive or other cloud-based platforms.

Second, set a procedure for file organization and naming convention setting. This helps with version control (even if you use software that supports this.) You never want to publish an outdated version of your content. And you don't want to have to ask three people to figure out the correct version to use.

Submissions, drafts, and revisions from guest authors and team members add to the entire lotta #content. @AnnGynn and @BrandLoveLLC provide tips for organizing and managing them via @CMIContent. Click to Tweet

Here's how CMI organizes content on its servers:

  • A main folder called “CMI Submissions” includes content inside and outside of drafts

  • Within the main directory, a separate folder contains each article, following standard naming conventions:

    • “First and Last Name – Subject”

      • Example: Jodi Harris – Customer Retention

    • Each article directory includes:

      • Drafts folder, containing all n finished versions, including the original version, the edited version, and the tracked version of changes

      • Image folder

      • The final article file is labeled “FINAL NAME – Subject – the editor's initials clean edit content manager's initials Date"

        • Example: HARRIS – Customer retention – ag clean ld edit 10 – 12 – 21 FINAL

After an article is published, Lisa moves its directory to the Published Articles folder. (Note: She intentionally named the folder with an “a” to make it easier to find the folders in alphabetical order.)

Some content groups set up their bibliographies with publication dates. Lisa doesn't want to – publication date can change but author and subject can't.

Finalize content for publication

With systems already set up to track content progress, publishing schedules, and content production status, operations staff are set up to do more detailed work – preparing content for display online.

Standardize and document this process so another team member can step in and do it if the person handling the publishing operation is sick or on vacation. CMI uses checklists to ensure that each step goes through (even if Lisa isn't available to do it herself).

Before an article appears, the content operations manager:

  • Conduct post-editing reviews to make sure it's basic readability and understand

  • Test all names of people, companies and tools mentioned in the content

  • Identify internal linking opportunities. add them words and related phrases, or create handpicked stand-alone related content boxes

  • or create and insert all images into the document

  • Add embed codes for videos, GIFs, etc

  • Create tweets for the click-to-tweet feature

  • Review and update draft headlines and calls to action as needed

  • Run the document through Grammarly Pro

  • Import Word documents and add visual elements to WordPress

  • Publication schedule

TIP: Internal Links and carefully selected related content features come from Top active content on the Web. Traditionally, CMI uses older popular posts for internal links, and newer popular posts, including the full title of the article, in carefully selected related content boxes. kidney.

Once the content is loaded into WordPress, a proofreader gives it a final review, while ensuring all links point to the correct source and open in the correct window (CMI links open in same window, while external links open in a new window).

Final Steps

With everything in place and scheduled to publish, it's time to communicate with all relevant stakeholders, from creators and sources to social media and email production teams. This can be done automatically through your software or via email or another system your team agrees to.

Click to enlarge

TIP: Lisa sends a standard email to all authors and sources with whom she has contact information. She attached a Word document for them to review (no approval needed to publish), including a URL where they could view the article once it was published, and notes how they could help. promote and share their work on social networks.


It takes a lot of work to get your content up in the publication sun. Take the time now to get your content up and running with project management software or a shared spreadsheet. It will save time in the long run. Even better, it will minimize frustrations, mistakes, and omissions.

Only then will you know if your content really shines.

RELATED CONTENT TO BE HAND-VIEWED: Get your content workflow on track

Please Note: No single post can provide all the relevant tools in the space. Please include additional tools in the comments (from your company or those you've used).

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Cover photo by Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute