How-to: Practical Content Development in two (easy) pieces - Part II

The second component in our content development tool set is a content template for each content item - a post, a thread, a message, an image, a video - everything you identified as a content item in your plan.

Start with where it will be published (site, platform or channel), the title and the meaningful synopsis of the content. Add the publication date you just set in your editorial schedule.

For a complex blog post there could be a lot of information and multiple pieces making up that single content item; some copy, accompanying images, attachments. You really need a check list of all that stuff making up your content items;  this is the first part of your template.

For each piece, you need to know what is being produced, by whom and by when in order to meet that publication date. This gives you a set of work-back dates which can go on the main editorial schedule.

Adding some tick boxes down the side, you can use this template as a check list to tick off when each piece is complete; a full set of check marks means the whole content item is complete and ready to publish.

This template includes tasks for copy editing, photography, graphics and final approval and assumes you have a full team in a fully staffed organisation. It's a long list for a complex content item; not all will apply to simpler content. A simple content item for a small website may not have every task and could be assigned to just one person.

The headings for the template are set out below; in the past it's been formatted as a multi-page Word document, a spreadsheet, someone even made a database of it for a large rolling content programme. RC

Content template (and check list)

Site / channel
Short intro
Full text [location, file name]
Main image / thumbnail [location / size /format]
Gallery images [location / size /format]
Featured image [location / size /format]
Attachments [location / file name / size /format]

Content source [raw]
Assigned author [person]
Copy production date
Photography [person]
Photo production date
Illustrator [person]
Graphics production date
Citations checked / date / person
Copy editing date / person
Approval date / person
Publication date / person
Social media share channel / date

Image credit: Lego Color Bricks by Alan Chia (CC BY-SA 2.0), via Wikimedia Commons