What is Content Creation? (& How to Build Your Creative Workflow)
Does creating content excite or overwhelm you? Does your workflow fit in with the life and business you have right now or the ones you dream about?
As an advertising creative, I come up with ideas for ads with a copywriting partner. Then, I create and design the visual look that goes with that ad (or ad campaign).
Sometimes I’m working from scratch but more often than not, I’m working within a set of brand or campaign guidelines set by other Art Directors and Designers.
Once our client approves our work, it goes to a variety of production team members to be polished, prepped, and sent to whomever it needs to be sent to so it can be seen by the intended audience.
(The internal team members we work with and the external teams they work with vary depending on the media buy.)
As a small business owner, it’s just me!
So while posting on every platform, every single day — multiple times a day — might be the “best” or fastest way to grow a business, it’s not realistic or sustainable for one person.
So what does a small team or team of one do to keep up with the bigger brands in the same field?
First, stop trying to keep up with companies and influencers who have huge teams behind them.
Second, commit to sharing your story because it’s one major advantage you have that they don’t.
Third, build a workflow for creating content that works for your current life and business!
What is content creation?
Content creation is the process of generating topic ideas that appeal to your target audience, creating written or visual content around those ideas, and making that information accessible to your audience. (Via HubSpot)
When it comes to creating content to connect with and grow your audience, every story and piece of content you share should
- be relatable to your audience,
- relevant to your business,
- And back up your brand story.
Put another way, every story or piece of content you consider sharing needs to educate, encourage, entertain, or emotionally connect with your audience in some way.
So let’s talk about how you can build your content creation workflow so you can get back to running your business!
How to Build Your Content Creation Workflow
Plan your content ahead of time.
When it comes to creating, I’ve seen so many people come up with an idea and try to jump right into bringing it to life without making a detailed plan first.
More often than not, this leads to overwhelm followed by inconsistency.
They end up overwhelmed because they feel pressured to drop everything to create and share their idea immediately. They end up posting inconsistently because they have to wait for inspiration to strike again.
Does this sound like you?
Instead of adding unnecessary stress to your life, do this…
1) Get clear on what your audience needs to know about you, your business, or your niche.
2) Get clear on your purpose for sharing each story before sharing it.
3) Make sure each story is right for your audience.
4) Set goals for each story you plan to share.
5) Use a content calendar to stay organized.
Read more about how you can strategically plan your content with storytelling in mind here!
Decide which comes first: the words or the visuals.
When I started creating content for Love U Too (my self-acceptance and color therapy blog), I would always shoot or design the visual content and then write the copy to go with it.
Since I’m an extremely visual person, I thought creating my visual content would inspire my written content.
Turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong because I always ended up going in a different direction once I started writing.
This meant I often had to reshoot or redesign all my visual content!
Eventually, I learned most creators and content marketing professionals write blog posts, captions, or post statuses first, letting the copy inspire their visual content. My mind was blown…
When I swapped the order, everything changed.
Although I am a good writer, it takes me longer than the visual parts. And because I am a highly visual person, the words on the page tend to spark way more inspiration than the reverse.
In hindsight, it made sense given how easy it is for me to create entire worlds in my head while reading books!
Here’s what my workflow looks like after I’ve planned my content.
- Outline and write blog posts.
- Pull ideas for Instagram captions from the blog posts.
- Tweak the copy for the platform (or let it inspire a whole new caption), as needed.
- Decide if the visual content should be a video, a single image, or a carousel (or slideshow).
I understand everyone’s brain doesn’t work like mine so I encourage you to figure out which is best for you and stick with it. It will save you a lot of time and stress in the end!
Read more about why you don’t need to be a good writer to share your story here.
Plan your shoot days.
On a commercial shoot, dozens of people work together to plan for the photo or video shoot before it happens. Whether your team includes you or you have people helping you, it’s always best to plan the day ahead of time!
This means considering things like…
- The individual photos or videos you plan to capture that day.
- The time of day (and year) if you plan to use natural lighting.
- The location you’ll be shooting your content in.
- The best setup and equipment for the space you’re shooting in.
- Any props you think will make your visual content more attention-grabbing or engaging.
- Your wardrobe and whether it highlights you, your brand, or the content itself.
- Your energy levels, your schedule, and where the two overlap so you have all the energy you need to show up as your most confident self!
Read more about how to plan your content shooting days here.
Make sure your content is accessible.
If you truly want everyone in your audience to be able to engage with your content, your work doesn’t end just because the copy, videos, and photos are ready to post! It’s time to think about how people will find your content and how they’ll interact with it.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps Google categorize your website’s content so people can find you when they search your topic.
When someone searches your topic, Google uses its own algorithm to figure out how relevant your content is to their searches. Over time, this affects how likely people are to see it on the first page of the results.
You don’t need to become an SEO expert but getting to know your audience better will help you understand exactly what they’re looking for!
On Instagram, hashtags help categorize your content for their algorithm so people can find you when they search your topic, similar to how SEO works for Google.
Instagram uses these hashtags to figure out who might want to see your posts. There’s a good chance most social media algorithms work like this.
And as platforms like Instagram finally get into the SEO game, using terms people are likely to search in your captions can’t hurt either.
Alternative (Alt) Text is added to an image to explain why the image is being used in relation to the content of a webpage or document.
It is read aloud by screen reader software and is categorized by search engines making it good for SEO too. Also, if an image doesn’t load, the alt text will show up instead. (Via Harvard University’s Digital Accessibility Services)
Most social media platforms and website builders have a place to add alt text to your photos (though at the time of the writing of this blog post, most schedulers do not).
Unfortunately, some platforms do not have the option to add alt text or video descriptions to videos yet. So you may want to add it to the bottom of your caption (before any hashtags) instead.
Admittedly, I’m still working on including video descriptions consistently so don’t beat yourself up if you’re still getting used to doing it. Keep trying so it starts to become a habit!
Captions provide a text version of spoken words and any sounds that are important to understanding the content, so people who are deaf or hard of hearing can understand the information.
People who have low or no vision get the information from the video through the audio track. Audio descriptions can also be used to provide additional visual information. (Via Harvard University’s Digital Accessibility Services)
It’s become significantly easier to add captions to videos. Platforms like Instagram have added features in the editing process and some have begun automatically including captions for you.
And some free video editing software options like Capcut and Davinci Resolve have added automatic captioning features you can use to include them during the editing process.
Plan your Instagram stories as you write your content.
If you’re good at posting Instagram Stories (or content like them on other platforms), you’re already ahead of the game as long as you do it strategically.
If you’re not good at posting Instagram Stories (like me), planning them alongside your Instagram content can help!
You can brainstorm
- A question or poll that leads into whatever you’re posting about.
- A prequel story or a bit of information related to your post.
- A question you often receive that adds a little more explanation for what you’re about to share.
I found this to be the easiest way to brainstorm IG stories content when nothing else worked for me before!
Whether you decide to follow my workflow or build your own from scratch, remember to be flexible enough to adjust your workflow as you or your life changes.
Also, the more you do something, the more of a habit it’ll become. So be sure to give yourself time to find your rhythm!
Ready to learn how to use the power of your story to grow your audience no matter where you share it?
Download my free guide so you can learn:
- 7 practical approaches to sharing your story,
- Why each technique is so powerful (& why it works),
- How to use them effectively for your needs,
- And my 4-step method for sharing your story.