Content is an undeniably crucial asset for businesses across the board in this digital age.
Businesses that create good content experience a huge range of benefits, such as spreading brand awareness, increasing leads, decreasing marketing costs, and cultivating a more engaged audience. Content teams are expected to publish high-quality, relevant, and engaging content consistently. Coming up with new ideas and staying on top of (and ahead of!) the latest trends are just part of a commercial content team’s workload.
Content teams today face challenges like we’ve never seen before in the industry, one of the biggest being editorial bottlenecks. In the business world, a bottleneck is a process in a workflow that gets congested, decreasing productivity. With so many stages in the commercial content creation process, it’s not surprising that bottlenecks are so common.
In this article, we’ll look at the most common editorial bottlenecks that content teams face and offer simple, fast solutions.
What Are Editorial Bottlenecks?
Digital content is saturated. It’s said that 4.4 million blog posts are published online every day. That means companies are now having to produce more (and better) content than ever, just to be seen.
Content teams face all kinds of unique challenges, and editorial bottlenecks can impact the entire process, from ideation to execution. Editorial bottlenecks are blockages in the content creation process, whether that’s getting stuck at ideation, approval, publishing, or somewhere else.
Editorial bottlenecks are problematic for many reasons. For example, not only do they indicate that the team members don’t have a full understanding of their roles, but they can also perpetuate a cycle.
Additionally, the longer you leave your editorial bottlenecks, the more likely you are to publish content that doesn’t hit the mark. When your workflow is complicated, certain actions might get missed, but it’s hard to tell where. This is how mistakes creep in without you even knowing.
The added stress and mistakes that come from blockages in the editorial process can be incredibly costly. There are worrying costs associated with inefficient content, such as easily-avoidable errors, damage to your brand’s reputation, difficulty making quality hires, lost time, and so much more.
While bottlenecks are damaging, they’re not always obvious. Take some time to think about the editorial bottlenecks you and your team face. We’ll bet our bottom dollar that by the time you get to the end of this article, they’ll be different from what you thought they were.
Four Things You Can Do to Free Yourself From Editorial Bottlenecks
If you can relate to these challenging but common editorial bottleneck pains, it’s actually a good thing because you’re one step closer to solving a problem that plagues content creators all over the world.
Here are four easy-to-implement solutions that can quickly solve editorial bottlenecks:
1. Identify Your Bottlenecks
Bottlenecks might differ from business to business – or even between teams! There is no one, universal editorial bottleneck, so you need to find the ones that are affecting you and your team.
A great place to start is by writing down your content production process from start to finish. That can include anything from the audience or keyword research and concept ideation to the first draft and review/approval to publishing or outreach. Note down how long each process usually takes to complete.
When you have all of that information in front of you, ask yourself if each step in the process is given enough information to be fully actioned after the step before is completed. If there are gaps, those are most likely going to be your bottlenecks.
For example, a common editorial bottleneck for content teams is approval. You might be brilliant at producing lots of excellent content, but if it’s not getting approved on time, your time and effort is being wasted.
2. Assess Your Workflows Regularly
Teams and tools shift and change over time. What worked for you at the beginning of the year might not still be working for you at the end of the year, and that’s completely normal.
So, every quarter, spend some time analyzing how well your workflows are actually working. Are there bottlenecks that keep coming up? Are you noticing any new ones? Can you see any starting to form that you might be able to prevent?
Don’t neglect to speak to your team about how they’re finding workflows, too. Often, they’ll have a better understanding of the minutia of how a system or platform is working day-to-day.
3. Give Your Team KPIs
This might sound simple, but it really works. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are targets that you and your teammates can set to measure how well they’re doing at a certain task. They’re known to be highly motivating for employees, especially if there’s an incentive for meeting their marks.
If your editorial bottleneck is the approval process, try giving the team members responsible for approving content a daily/weekly/monthly KPI for content approval.
If you need at least 30 pieces of content approved each month and you have two people responsible for approval, their KPIs will be to each approve at least 15 every month. This extra motivation (and maybe even competitiveness!) can work wonders for getting rid of bottlenecks in all areas of business.
Just keep in mind that any KPIs you give need to be both achievable and measurable. Unclear goals can make bottlenecks even worse if your team ends up feeling confused about what they’re supposed to be doing.
If you haven’t already, make proofreading a standalone part of your content process. Proofreading is key for efficiency. Errors can cause delays and confusion, and content might even have to be pulled from the schedule.
To make sure proofreading is taken seriously, it helps to have a team member (or several) dedicated to proofreading content, whether that’s their entire job or just a part of it.
Pro Tip: Create A Style Guide For Your Brand
Have you thought about creating a style guide for your brand? This can help to prevent editorial bottlenecks throughout the entire process.
A style guide is a document that instructs content teams on how to deliver content for a particular brand, including formatting, tone of voice, audience, and more.
Having a defined list of these conventions is endlessly valuable and will make the whole content process run a lot more smoothly, from start to finish.
At some point or another, every business experiences bottlenecks, so try not to panic. Once you’ve spotted what they are, they’re usually easy to rectify.
There are strategies you can implement today to eliminate bottlenecks and streamline your production workflow.
As we uncovered above, introducing KPIs can motivate content teams to meet their targets, and regularly auditing your workflows will allow you to highlight and tackle any current or developing bottlenecks. But if there’s just one key point you take from this article, we’d like it to be this:
Dig a bit deeper and determine how long it takes for each process to be completed. Compare that with how many pieces of content you want to produce each month and start your strategy from there. If you don’t do this, you’ll be tackling the symptoms of the problem instead of the problem itself.
Ready to Scale Your Content?
Thousands of businesses, from award-winning startups to Fortune 500 companies, have benefited from partnering with Proofed. Learn more about how we can help you scale your content production process by scheduling a call with our team today.