Have you ever heard the phrase, “too many cooks in the kitchen”? When working with a team of content creators it can feel like trying to cram too many people into one room. Not only that, but you must compete against fast-approaching deadlines, shifting priorities, and disappearing writers. Optimize your writing workflow to keep things manageable, even as your business grows. A reliable workflow saves you time, money, and precious creative energy.
With more than 50% of people telecommuting part-time, aka, working remotely, most teams manage their content through a combination of cloud-based documents, email, and web chat. Unfortunately, for many teams, this still leaves plenty of room for error and frustration. It’s time to step outside the box and analyze what you’re doing so you can do it better.
What is Writing Workflow?
Most people think writing goes something like this:
Think of a Brilliant Idea → Outline Brilliant Idea → Write the Brilliant Idea → Publish Brilliant Idea → Brilliant Idea is Loved by Thousands
When in actuality, writing workflow looks more like this:
Think of Brilliant Idea → Research → Outline Brilliant Idea → Write → Edit → Edit…Again → Edit… One Last Time → Final Touches → Publish → Market the Piece
These “extra” steps are essential for producing a great piece, whether on your own or with a team. And when you put it like this, it’s easy to see why the writing process can be, at times, so frustrating.
So, how can you make the writing process easier, faster, and more efficient?
Make Time to Develop Ideas
While sometimes an idea just falls into your lap, a majority of the writing time is spent thinking of an idea. Some great ways to get that “fall into your lap” feel are to read and listen more. Listen to audiobooks, Podcasts, read one chapter out of a book of your choosing a day, check your media feeds. While not every book, feed, or Podcast may be on topic, it gets your brain into “Idea Mode” rather than trying to force great ideas to come to you.
Organize Your Ideas
What good is an idea if you forget it? Some people use sticky notes, and some people swear by their own memory, but we suggest using Evernote or something similar. Simply create a new note and label it “Brilliant Ideas.” That way, all of your notes are all in one place. You can group your notes and organize according to project and progress status.
Once you have your ideas and you’re ready to put some on the calendar you can use Trello. Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. It’s like a digital whiteboard with color-coded digital sticky notes. You can add notes, attachments, images, and data sources all on one “card.” This digital whiteboard is accessible on any internet device. This makes it perfect for your team who may or may not be in the same location at the same time.
Edit as You Go
You know how people say cleaning up after cooking is a lot easier if you clean as you go. Well, the same is true for content creation. Apps like Grammarly catch typos and grammatical errors as you write, which means you don’t have to spend as much time going back and catching those time typos and errors. And the best part? It’s free! You can pay for an additional add-on package with Grammarly that edits more in-depth, as well. You can install Grammarly directly to your computer or browser so you’re always in edit mode. Another helpful app is MarketMuse, which gauges the depth and breadth of your topic coverage. You’ll still want human eyes to do some of this depth and breadth gauging, but it’s nice to be able to get a few steps ahead.
Once your piece is ready to go live you should already know:
- What type of images you want to use
- How many images you want to use (don’t forget to use tags and alt text because search engines don’t pick up images)
- Tags and categories related to the topic
- Additional links and backlinks
- Proper headings and other formatting
This quick rundown of reminders will ensure that you don’t miss a single thing that could ultimately impact the promotion of your piece.
Some Final Thoughts
Ultimately, there’s no one way to optimize your writing workflow. Everyone creates, develops, and writes in their own way. However, there are ideas and apps to make this process a little bit smoother. Apps like Trello, Grammarly, and MarketMuse help to keep your ideas organized, on track, and on time. Find the flow that works best for you and your team.