SEO content is a big part of what we do for clients, and over the years, we’ve learned a lot about scaling the process. Whether you’re at an agency or part of an internal team, we’re sharing our takeaways and best practices for you to use.
Of course, before you do anything else, you’ll want to make sure you have a clear picture of everything you’re already working on– and everyone’s individual responsibilities to make it happen. Your most immediate step in scaling content creation is knowing where you’re at so you can make room for growth.
And that’s about as good of a segue as one can ask for into our first point… and all that follow. So go ahead and dive into the 7 tips we’ve identified for scaling content in the smoothest way possible.
1. Live By Your Content Calendar & PM Tools
When scaling, you need oversight of what’s due, when. Add a due date for every single step of the content process so you’ll always know when a deliverable is falling behind.
Use a system that works for you: A list, a calendar layout, a Kanban board, whatever lets you see each element of the content creation process for each piece of content in production.
Make sure you can view the status of all projects at a glance, then dive into the details as needed.
When you make changes to a project, keep an eye on how those changes affect other timelines in motion. If you’ve already allocated resourcing for the month and try to move one deadline back, you may find you don’t have capacity to get that one project done until the next month.
2. Your Process is an Evolution. Embrace It.
Ideally, your content creation process is already nailed down … but things break when scaling.
As you’re planning for more work, expect to learn a ton about managing deadlines, communicating expectations, and revising your process.
Have your processes detailed out in advance so you can easily offload tasks in a methodical manner. (More on this in a future tip!)
Be prepared to spend a lot of time trying new ways to get things done–and once you nail processes down, expect to spend time communicating them out and training your team on them.
Our best advice: Always include a few extra “buffer” days in the content production timeline before delivering final products.
3. Plan Projects as Far in Advance as Possible
You can’t scale your content until you know how much work you have now, and how many hours of human resources are at your disposal.
After almost a full year of trying everything and asking everyone, our team has found that the most effective content resourcing strategy for us revolves around planning in advance using simple tools like Google Sheets and Asana.
Once we know we have new content coming down the pipeline, we tentatively schedule out all the required human resources: researchers, outline developers, writers, and proofreaders. We know how many hours each task takes, and we block that time off on the content resourcing calendar for the entire lifespan of the project– be it 3 months, 6 months, or longer.
As new content work comes in, it gets added to the calendar in the same manner. When human resources reach 60-70% capacity, we begin recruiting for help. We try not to let anyone work beyond 80% of their scheduled hours, to accommodate meetings, emails, and the like.
Knowing who on your team handles what specific content tasks, and having back-ups who can jump in as needed, will keep your content processes rolling smoothly even as more and more work gets added into the pipeline.
4. Build a Team of Subject Matter Experts
Any good writer can research a topic and throw together an article, but a writer with field-based expertise will have a stronger command over the topic, producing a noticeably more convincing piece.
When building your team, make it a priority to find those who are highly familiar with the subject matter.
As new content gets added into your pipeline, put out casting calls for freelancers with specific knowledge on the subject.
Platforms like WriterAccess are great for searching for a freelance writer that has topical expertise and writing experience that you’re looking for. You can even check testimonials and reviews for each writer before deciding who you’ll offer the content work to.
We prefer to have two to three SME writers on deck for any given topic, so there’s always backup in case of a sudden influx of work or a writer needs unplanned time off.
5. Create Step-by-Step Processes (& Video Demos!)
Having too many cooks in the kitchen is a recipe for disaster… but you certainly can’t serve 14 five-course meals all by yourself, all at once. If you have a recipe for content success, you need to detail it out and share it with your trusted content cooks.
Draft up a process documentation for each step of the content production process: for us, that involves research, outline development, writing, and proofreading. Let each role know exactly what steps they should take to complete their job. We go so far as to even dictate what wording should be used in blueprints to make sure each final deliverable is consistent with the next–regardless of who worked on it.
We’ve found that it’s ultra helpful to include a link for each step of each process, pointing to a Screencastify or Loom video (or similar) that shows that step of the process in action. This way, anyone can both read the instructions and see it in action.
The result: high-quality, consistent results across every step in your content production process.
6. Leverage Tech, but be Careful with AI
In the content research phase, it’s OK to ask ChatGPT a few questions on the subject you’ll be writing about. We also enjoy Frase for getting a high-level view of what topics are typically discussed in relation to our article topic. These are great opportunities for AI to play a small part in your larger outline development process.
However, asking AI to write your article for you doesn’t bode well for long-term success. AI bots don’t provide sources or citations for their too-often misleading claims. For thorough, well-researched, and accurate writing, human writers will be your best bet.
If you’re still looking to shave some time off your content production timelines, we’d recommend leaning on tried-and-true favorites during the proofreading process–tools like Grammarly, Hemingway, and Yoast for grammar, readability, and SEO.
Sure, AI writing is fast, and seems like an appealing option for scaling your content processes quickly. But your readers will most certainly know the difference, and so will Google.
7. Collect Content Feedback ASAP
Scaling content means pushing out more work, faster, right? That’s fine–but not when it means you have to sacrifice high-quality writing.
When taking on a new client or project, you should start slow to make sure you’re on the same page in regards to content goals. Nothing is worse than promising to write 15 articles per month, only to deliver them all and hear that you’d vastly misunderstood the client’s product or service… meaning all of those articles now need to be rewritten.
Instead, deliver the first project ASAP and request feedback. Make sure you and your client are on the same page with verbiage, tone, and overall content production goals, and implement any notes you receive into the next project.
After three or four projects have been done this way, you’ll be fully aware of content nuances and ready for larger batch deliveries.
Bonus Tip: Take Time to Fail
Always remember that spending time to try something new isn’t wasted time. What you’ve done is learned what *doesn’t* work… and that’s quality information!
Scientists spend years–decades, even–disproving theories until they make a discovery. They learn and learn and learn, applying each new lesson to the next attempt. Eventually, they may have a breakthrough that changes the way people think and do things.
The same is true of your content creation process. Hopefully it won’t take you decades, but don’t shy away from trying new things to see if they make your content processes easier. And when you do find a tool or a process that works–that saves a minute here or there, that helps clarify expectations, that produces better feedback–it all adds up to streamline your process … allowing you room to grow.
TL;DR: Scaling Content Processes Takes Organization, Planning, and Patience.
If you want to grow, you need to have the structure in place to do it in an organized way. That’s why you need the tools, the team, and the processes all nailed down.
After that it becomes a series of trial and error. Try a new process, see if it helps, and use your learnings to inform your next step. We’ve already discussed how getting client feedback is so useful when adding new topics in to your workflow, but don’t forget to ask your team–those on the frontlines of content creation–how everything is working from their point of view. Get their thoughts, take steps to smooth your workflows, and watch as everything gets easier and easier to scale.
Ideally, your content creation process will be fully defined with processes documented and SMEs on hand for any arena. You’ll be able to tag freelancers in as needed, enabling you to take on more and more work without having to sacrifice content quality.
The next task becomes gauging the success of your content… but that’s another topic entirely!