When your marketing team is small, it’s easy to move articles through your content marketing pipeline. An idea becomes a draft, which gets revised and then published. One or two people can easily oversee all of the preparation, production, and publication that helps you build a blog.
But as a team grows, it runs into constraints that didn’t exist before when it was small. Simply knowing who’s working on what and when is hard when more people are working on more things.
Sharing information and communicating about the different steps of production are key for creating great content. The right tools can ensure that you have a system that scales even when your team is still small. Setting up the right system early means you’ll be equipped to deal with the complexity that comes with a bigger team.
How to painlessly scale your content process
The foundations of your content pipeline are the three P’s: preparation, production, and publication. But to produce a greater volume of content, you’ll need more people — and a system to manage the work that more people will do.
Expanding your content marketing pipeline involves three big challenges: incorporating different roles on your team, staying accountable for multiple deadlines, and working with external collaborators. You’ll be able to create better content if you can overcome each of these challenges, but each requires you to ramp up the way you share information.
Incorporating different roles on your team: When you’re a small team, one person can wear many hats. But as you expand, people will have different dedicated roles like researching, writing, and copyediting. Each person needs to know what they’re doing for many pieces, and each piece needs many people to do different things.
Staying accountable for multiple deadlines: Multiple collaborators require multiple deadlines to check in on each step in the process. Each step needs to be completed on time to move an article through the pipeline and keep productivity high.
Working with external collaborators: Working with people outside of your team to create content can help you build a content strategy that is larger in scope. But you’ll still want to manage all of the work, both internal and external, in a single content pipeline. This way, you can execute a comprehensive strategy rather than wasting time building and re-building processes for one-off pieces.
With the right system in place, you can bring all of the moving pieces together to create a content process that scales.
Create specific roles
On a team of one or two people, each team member is involved in every step of the content creation process—from researching, to writing, to editing. When another person joins the team, the more experienced team members can teach them how to do all steps really well.
As more and more people join, however, it takes much more time and effort to teach everyone how to do a great job on every single aspect of creating a piece. Encouraging team members to focus on doing everything might mean they’ll do an okay job across the board. But if each team member focuses on one aspect of content creation, they can quickly get really good at that one thing. This means you’ll create better content faster and more reliably as the team grows.
Creating specialized roles for researchers, writers, and copyeditors can help you build a team with the structure to maintain quality and efficiency as you add more team members and create more content.
Create personal views and fields for roles
In Airtable, it’s easy for one person to manage their roles on several different projects: each person can create a personal view showing just the pieces specifically assigned to them. This helps each person understand what they’re responsible for, and how they should interact with the people taking on other roles.
For example, a writer can filter her production pipeline to see just the pieces assigned to her, and then view those pieces stacked by their stages of completion on a kanban board.
It’s easy for people in different roles to work together when everyone knows who’s working on what. Team members can see how their independent contributions to a single article come together to move that piece through the production pipeline.
If you create linked record fields for the different content production roles, you can link each role for each article to the appropriate team member. This means that when you open up the record for an article, you can see everyone who’s collaborating on a piece and what specific roles they’re performing.
Set this up by creating a “People” table with a record for each team member. Then link the appropriate team member to the correct role field.
When you are growing your content team, you might start out with just a role field for the writer. Then you might add a copyeditor role and a researcher role. You can continue expanding your team and adding roles, and create a new role field for each one.
Keep multiple deadlines
To publish frequently and regularly, you need deadlines. When one person is working to complete an article, they can manage their own time to meet these important deadlines. But with more team members working on completing articles, time management becomes more complicated. If one person falls behind on their work, everyone else has to work to make up the time in order to keep up with a regular publishing schedule.
That’s why you need to have an editorial calendar. This establishes a system where different collaborators have transparent deadlines, and everyone knows all of the deadlines the team has to meet for a piece to publish on time.
When deadlines aren’t met, your publishing can become infrequent and erratic, making it hard for readers to find value in your blog as a reliable source of new and helpful material. To stay on schedule and keep posting frequency high, everyone needs their own deadlines and a convenient place to find them.
Create calendars and due dates
A calendar view can help you keep track of multiple deadlines to aid in weekly or monthly planning. Individuals can create calendar views to show the deadlines that are relevant to their stages of the pipeline.
These views can be filtered so that they only show a single individual’s deadlines, or they can include the entire team’s deadlines so that the team can figure out how to allocate assignments. A writer might find it useful to keep two deadline calendars: one with their own deadlines and another with research deadlines. Looking at these calendars, the writer could estimate that they’ll be drafting about one piece a week and plan accordingly.
Additionally, it’s useful to see all of the deadlines (research, drafting, copyediting, distributing) for a single piece together so collaborators understand the timeline of the piece. For this, you can create multiple date fields in a single article record.
Having a content calendar and clear deadlines in place means you don’t have to worry about whether you’re getting enough content out or publishing regularly enough. Your content team can worry less about whether they’re on time and more about doing a great job on their assignments.
Work with people outside of your team
As you grow your blog, you can incorporate curated guest posts in order to keep bringing new and valuable insights to your readers. This kind of collaboration can help grow your blog in two ways:
You can write guest posts for related blogs. Not only is this a great opportunity to meet new people with similar interests and learn from their ideas, it’s an excellent way to connect with their readership and hopefully provide value to a wider audience.
You can invite guests to write on your company’s blog. This allows you to curate a strong collection of ideas from experts. If the guest post is directly related to your blog’s usual content, you’ll provide more value to your own readers. If it’s tangentially related, you can pull in readers who might not normally read your content.
Guest posts are one of the best ways to increase distribution organically. You build human connections and attract new readership by providing genuine value. But to ensure that they have the most impact, guest posts should be part of your larger content strategy, not disconnected one-off pieces.
Create private external-facing views
Your guest poster will need to know only the relevant information about what they’re working on to create a great piece for your blog — you don’t need to inundate them with your entire pipeline. But they need enough information to know how it will flow through the pipeline with the help of your other team members.
There’s an easy way to incorporate a guest into your pipeline and get them all of the information they need. Start by creating a “People” record for your guest poster, and assigning them a status as “guest” so the rest of the team understands the new addition to the pipeline.
Then, you can assign the guest as the writer on a piece and create a kanban view of the production pipeline. This shows the article record in context of the entire pipeline. All of the other collaborators will be assigned on the record, all of the deadlines will be visible on the record, and it can be moved throughout each stage of the pipeline to completion.
This keeps track of the guest poster in your pipeline, for the benefit of your team. You can also create a private view share link of this same kanban view that will allow you guest poster to see all of the relevant information about the article. However, they won’t be able to edit the information in the view or navigate away to any other sections of your records.
This helps your guest poster see collaborators, deadlines, and movement through the pipeline as clearly as your team can.
Guest posts create so much additional value for your blog and have the potential to bring in new readership and generate more sharing. But they can be overlooked in the day-to-day grind because it can be time-consuming to determine what information you actually need to share with someone outside of your team. It can also slow down your internal production pipeline if your team members are unable to communicate the right information to the guest.
Creating private view share links lets you easily add guest writers to your pipeline. When you can collaborate with anyone, the value you can provide readers is practically limitless.
Expand your pipeline for long-term wins
Your management system shouldn’t limit the content and growth of your blog — it should help you to expand it. Even if your content team is small right now, you need to create a system that scales to plan for long-term blog growth.
Really great content involves lots of collaboration and many moving parts coming together. When you are confident that you’ve built a system that encourages successful collaboration, you can focus on what you really want to be doing — creating great content and growing your company.