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Avoid Web Content Chaos: Map Your Editorial Workflow

By Momoko Price

One of the biggest misconceptions about web writing is the belief that great copy is the product of a single person: the writer.

Not true. From print ads to magazines to full-blown novels, high-quality, high-volume copy has always been the product of a multi-person production line — an editorial workflow.

To put things in perspective, let's take a look at the editorial workflow of a local newspaper in the golden age of print media:

In sharp contrast to the sloppy, fire-drill treatment most web content gets before it's pushed live, 20 years ago even the smallest human-interest story would be given the following care before going to print:

  • Writer files story
  • Copy editor #1 does a 1st edit
  • Copy editor #2 does a 2nd edit
  • Page editor lays out story on page(s)
  • Copy editor does a 1st page proof
  • Copy editor does a 2nd page proof
  • Senior editor reviews and approves all the pages
  • Pages go to print
That’s 6 extra pairs of eyes scrutinizing the copy after it’s written. And yet when it comes to web content marketing, some businesses still think they can publish high-quality content — content so good they expect it to bring in sales — by parachuting in some hapless copywriter a week before launch.

If you’re leading an enterprise-scale redesign, hiring a talented copywriter will only get you so far. The other crucial step you need to take — before anyone puts pen to paper (fingers to keyboard?) — is to map out your editorial workflow.

Creating an editorial workflow is all about identifying what needs to get done, who’s going to do it, and how long each person will take.

In my next blog post, I’ll be posting some simple worksheets you can use to map out your own in-house editorial workflow quickly and easily.

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