By Sujan Patel published January 22, 2017

How to Produce 300 High-Quality Articles a Year: An 8-Step Process

high-quality-content

I don’t keep a running score, but between posts for my personal and company site plus my columns on business media sites like Inc., Entrepreneur, and Forbes, I create around 300 articles a year.

Managing this effectively isn’t easy. If I simply wrote what I wanted, when I wanted, I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in right now. Strategy plays a huge part in what I do. And research shows it’s the same for enterprises – if you don’t have a strategy, your content marketing efforts won’t be as effective as they could be.

If you don’t have a strategy, your #contentmarketing efforts won’t be as effective, says @sujanpatel. Click To Tweet

With my strategy, I need to ensure that I:

  • Create the right content for the audience or publication in question
  • Distribute my time fairly between publications and projects
  • Promote content properly
  • Listen to and take board feedback
  • Meet goals and adjust them accordingly

I couldn’t do any of this – at least, not nearly as well – without an editorial calendar. This is how I manage it.

Create an editorial-only calendar

If you use Google Calendar to manage meetings, don’t try to cram your content schedule into it. Instead, create a calendar that you use solely for managing content production. This could be a purpose-built calendar, like CoSchedule. Tools like Trello work well for this too.

trello

If you use @Google Calendar to manage meetings, don’t try to cram your #content schedule into it. @sujanpatel Click To Tweet

Don’t use Excel or for that matter the aforementioned Google Calendar. They’re fine at low volumes, but difficult to scale, and if you’re trying to use them to collaborate with your team, things can quickly get messy.

Manage all types of editorial in one calendar

To help keep things as organized as possible, I use my editorial calendar exclusively for that purpose – content planning and management.

To keep things organized, use an editorial calendar for #content planning & management, says @sujanpatel. Click To Tweet

I’m super-strict about this. I’m also super-strict about ensuring that all types of editorial work are managed with the same calendar. This content includes:

If a task relates to the planning, creation, or promotion of content, it goes into the editorial calendar. No exceptions.

Manage the editorial process from the calendar

There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work both before and after the content’s created and published. To ensure that each step gets the proper attention, I don’t skip steps. Managing everything in my editorial calendar is key.

The stages I go through with each and every piece of content I produce are:

1. Ideation

To streamline the process to come up with an idea, I dedicate a section of my editorial calendar to collating and recording ideas.

My team and I come up with ideas in a lot of ways. We’ll brainstorm, sure, but often our best ideas materialize when we least expect it. This is why it’s important to record all ideas in one location.

This process also makes it really easy for us to collaborate and build on ideas. We can:

  • Highlight ideas we do or don’t like
  • Take note of upcoming or current events that tie into ideas (and will give them more legs for promotion)
  • Add more detail, information, or useful resources to an idea

Do this process correctly, and ideation is really easy – just pick from the pool of ideas that have a positive response internally.

2. Outline

I research my chosen idea and create an outline that details what I expect to include.

Not all writers create outlines, but I believe they make writing the content easier, and in most cases, better quality, and they help me figure out whether the idea has legs.

Not all writers create outlines, but I believe they make writing easier & better quality, says @sujanpatel. Click To Tweet

Sometimes when writing an outline I get an overwhelming feeling that something just isn’t right. If that happens, I generally go with my instincts, scrap the brief, and start again.

That might feel counterproductive, but there’s little point in working on a piece of content that deep down you know won’t work.

3. Pre-promotion

Just because I believe in an idea does not necessarily mean anyone else will. That’s why pre-promotion – a means of validating an idea – is important.

Pre-promotion has a lot in common with post-promotion. Though instead of asking a prospect to take a look at, share, or feature your content, you’re asking if they would be interested in looking at it when it’s finished. You may say:

“Hey, I’m working on a piece of content about XYZ that I thought might be of interest to your audience. Does it sound like something you’d be interested in taking a look at once it’s finished?”

If you get a bunch of negative replies or no replies at all, it might be wise to resign the idea to the garbage. If you can’t pre-promote it, it’s unlikely you’ll have more luck post-publication.

Just bear in mind how many people you’ve contacted – not receiving replies doesn’t necessarily mean they thought your content idea wasn’t a good one. It’s possible they didn’t read your email or couldn’t be bothered to reply. One or more positive replies, however, is a sign the idea is worth an article.

At this stage, I often approach industry influencers and ask them to provide a comment or quote for the article. Anyone who is quoted is likely to promote the finished piece.

4. Content creation

It’s time to create the content. This is how I do it.

I sit down, remove all distractions, and write. I don’t really stop to fix mistakes. I keep going until the article’s “completed.”

Of course, it’s not really complete at this stage – what I have is a rough draft. That means I go back and edit, chopping out bits, rewriting sections, and adjusting order as necessary.

I then step away – usually for a day or two. This time away gives me a fresh perspective, and helps me spot mistakes and ways to improve the article that I wouldn’t have noticed without a break.

5. Review

Taking a break from my own work is one way to spot errors and to make improvements, but it is no substitute for a fresh pair of eyes.

In fact, it’s scientifically proven that we struggle to spot our own typos. As Nick Stockton writes in Wired:

When we’re proofreading our own work, we know the meaning we want to convey. Because we expect that meaning to be there, it’s easier for us to miss when parts (or all) of it are absent. The reason we don’t see our own typos is because what we see on the screen is competing with the version that exists in our heads.

Before publishing a piece of content, I always pass it to someone else to read through it first.

6. Design

This stage isn’t needed for every piece of content. Ongoing blogs like this one, for example, already have been designed. However, when I write e-books or playbooks, the completed written text always gets sent to the design team to turn into something more visually appealing and, I hope, shareable.

7. Publication

This step entails putting the content on the site. I don’t necessarily publish my content right away. Depending on what topics have been published recently or are coming up, the content might be scheduled to go live at a later date. Your editorial calendar is an essential tool for identifying the best time to publish.

8. Promotion

The last step in my content creation process is arguably the most important. That’s because the quality of the content is essentially irrelevant if I don’t bother to tell people about it.

The quality of #content is essentially irrelevant if I don’t bother to tell people about it, says @sujanpatel. Click To Tweet

The lengths to which I go to promote a piece of content vary according to the type of content and what I hope it will achieve. For example, I put a lot more time into promoting a playbook than a standard blog post, and more time again to promote an e-book.

This step generally entails:

  • Emailing my list
  • Posting about it on LinkedIn and scheduling a handful of tweets
  • Notifying anyone mentioned in the article (whether they contributed personally or their work was quoted)
  • Sharing with anybody who said in the pre-promotion stage that they would like to see the finished article

Sometimes, I also do one or more of the following:

  • Send some cold emails to people I believe the article might resonate with
  • Repost the article to LinkedIn Pulse and/or Medium
  • Launch a paid social media ad campaign
  • Write a guest post that ties in with the piece of content I’m promoting
HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:
8 Nonobvious Tips to Promote Your Content

One more thing

What you will probably notice in the eight stages is that there’s a lot of collaboration happening throughout the production of my content. That is why I give anyone involved in the production or promotion of my content access to the editorial calendar.

Anyone involved in production or promotion of my #content gets access to the editorial calendar. @sujanpatel Click To Tweet

I’m a big believer in open communication and collaboration. It doesn’t matter to me if someone isn’t directly involved in a project – I see no reason to hide what we’re doing.

What if someone who has a great idea for a project only found out after seeing the calendar? Or what if someone falls ill and somebody else must temporarily take over?

That’s why anyone who works with me in the production or promotion of my content is given full access to the calendar, as well as the ability to contribute by leaving comments.

In fact, the only power I don’t extend to those who are part of my editorial calendar is the ability to delete items.

How do you manage your editorial calendar? Are you doing anything I’m not doing? Let me know in the comments.

Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

Content Marketing Institute publishes 365-plus posts on its blog, dozens of articles six times a year in CCO magazine, and many more research, e-book, and other content projects in a year. Subscribe to the free daily or weekly newsletter so you don’t miss a thing.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Sujan Patel

Sujan is the leading expert in digital marketing. He is a hard working & high energy individual fueled by his passion to help people and solve problems. He is the co-founder of Web Profits, a growth marketing agency, and a partner in a handful of software companies including ContentMarketer.io, Narrow, Quuu, and Linktexting.com Between his consulting practice and his software companies, Sujan’s goal is to help entrepreneurs and marketers scale their businesses. Follow him on Twitter @SujanPatel.

Other posts by Sujan Patel

Join Over 200,000 of your Peers!

Get daily articles and news delivered to your email inbox and get CMI’s exclusive e-book Get Inspired: 75 (More) Content Marketing Examples FREE!

  • Nick Chase

    I have been using Trello for my team’s editorial calendar for a couple of years now — I swear by it! And actually, there’s a calendar “power-up” that lets you switch between an actual calendar and the usual list view. It enables you to drag pieces around to new dates, create new cards, etc. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

    • http://howtowriteeverything.com/ Marcia Riefer Johnston

      Nick, that calendar view in Trello is one of my favorite things about it.

  • http://andra.solutions Jacob Andra

    Hey, I asked this question in a different article, but do you get SEO-penalized for reposting in Pulse and Medium?

    • https://massivekontent.com/ Jason Thibault

      I spent a couple of weeks researching content syndication for an long-form post that I wrote on my site.

      From Chad Pollitt

      “Out of the thousands of articles we’ve had syndicated over the years, only ONE outranked its original. They were doing their canonicals wrong. I asked them to fix and they wouldn’t so I reported the article as spam to the GOOG and voila! Our original owned the SERP.

      We’ve never run into any SEO problems from syndicating content. We’re likely one of the most prolific companies at syndication in this space, too.”

      • http://andra.solutions Jacob Andra

        Thanks, Jason. When you syndicate content (and can’t control the rel=canonical link, which is obviously the most ideal), how do you handle it now?

        • https://massivekontent.com/ Jason Thibault

          Hi Jacob,
          Right after posting the article on my site – I go into Google Webmaster Tools and then…
          1. Under the ‘Search Console’ I go to ‘Crawl’.
          2. Then to ‘Fetch as Google’ and enter the new post url to submit it to Google’s index rapidly.
          3. I then post it to Twitter, FB, G+, LinkedIn and Pinterest (if images are applicable.
          4. Basically I give Google (and Bing) every indication that the post originated at my site.

          It’s not perfect – but it’s worked so far. I also try not to syndicate a post for at least a week or two. I let it breathe for a while on my own site.

          Thankfully when you import a post onto Medium – the canonical is handled automatically by their platform.

          • http://www.marketinginfo.org/ Muhammad Hassib Gul

            I read all the conversation and I understand that you write an article on your blog. Get indexed bt goolge, promote well on social networks then after few days/weeks rewrite same article on Medium. Did i understand well?

          • http://andra.solutions Jacob Andra

            Yes, thank you!

          • http://andra.solutions Jacob Andra

            That clears it up. Thanks again, Jason!

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com Lisa Dougherty

      Hey Jacob, Check out the comments in this article. Someone posted a similar question: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2016/10/google-syndicated-content/

      • http://andra.solutions Jacob Andra

        It’s a great article Lisa, and makes things a little more clear. Thanks for sharing!
        Just curious: do you syndicate content? In a scenario in which the rel=canonical tag is outside your control, do you worry about getting penalized? What has been your experience?

  • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/author/roger-c-parker/ Roger C. Parker

    Thanks, Sujan, for sharing your 8-step process.

    I especially liked a couple of points you raised in the One More Thing section, where you wrote: “What if someone who has a great idea for a project only found out after seeing the calendar? Or what if someone falls ill and somebody else must temporarily take over?”

    The potential benefits of making it easy for team members not involved in a specific project to share unsolicited advice could be quite valuable. Serendipity rocks!
    Roger

    • http://wheniwork.com/ Sujan Patel

      Roger,

      Glad you enjoyed the article.

      Sometimes I create content outside this process for those “great ideas” but I generally try to avoid this.

      Also we’re working 2-4 weeks ahead on content so there’s a buffer for sick days, delays, etc.

  • http://www.marketinginfo.org/ Muhammad Hassib Gul

    Thanks Sujan. Very well post. I really learned a lot from this poece of writing. I need to discuss my issue here. I do job as a marketing executive and i blog too. Due to outdoor marketing activities, i am not able to give proper time to my blog that’s why it is diificult for me to maintain editorial calendar. Can you suggest me how to manage that?

    • http://wheniwork.com/ Sujan Patel

      You need to blog at night or weekends and need to make time for it. I too face a similar situation.

  • http://www.hunchinsights.com Sinisa Rakovic

    Great process Sujan. What does the time frame for one piece of content, say blog, look like. 1day, 3 days, 7 days, 14 days. I remember Buffer early on did 1day production. Your content process seem more thought out.

    • http://wheniwork.com/ Sujan Patel

      Usually 1 to 2 weeks per article.

  • http://secure49.com Henry Hawkins

    Chad. if you consider Gail `s comment is nice… on tuesday I purchased themselves a Jaguar XJ from making $4331 this-past/month or even much more than ten-k this past-month. with-out a doubt this is actually the easiest-job I have ever actually had. I started doing this 8-months earlier and almost instantly started to take home at the least $81.. per hr. Find the facts…>> FACEBOOK.COM/Tina-E-King-610592265811198/app/208195102528120/

  • Joseph Campo

    Excellent. Very-well organized article. Obviously you must be able to juggle multiple items simultaneously to produce this amount of articles. Another more detailed article about organization would be great.

    • http://wheniwork.com/ Sujan Patel

      Thanks Joseph! My life consist of juggling multiple projects & companies 🙂

  • https://garystclare.blogspot.com/ Gary St Clare

    Nice schedule for content marketing using article posting.

  • ryan.meyer.92@mail.ru

    This is one way you possibly can make a very effective wealth each month… You can Try it yourself! After been without work for half a year, I started off freelancing over this web site and these days i couldn’t be more joyful. After 6 months on my latest project my regular monthly income is around 12k per month…>>FACEBOOK.COM/For-US-UK-Canada-Australia-and-New-Zealand-1081278581977571/app/208195102528120/

  • Gustavo Woltmann

    Great piece of work. I’m definitely taking the schedule on board. Planning and scheduling is the way to go.

  • http://www.vistamediainc.com/ Freddy

    You take 1 to 2 weeks to create a single post? That doesn’t translate to 300 posts a year. How about a content style guide? Does that have a place in modern day web publishing?

  • Celine Bernadette Francisco

    I love the Trello editorial calendar, Sujan! Will also try to implement this in our website’s content production process. Thank you!