A Guide to Building an Editorial Process to Work Smarter, Not Harder

Anil Gupta
Guide to Building an Editorial Process

Table of Contents

    An editorial process gets a draft ready for publication. It ensures that the content has no grammatical mistakes, is factually accurate, and is relevant to the target audience.

    The editorial process’ definition is — a collaborative process that helps increase the business value of a content piece and gets it approved faster for publication.

    Every content team has its own form of editorial process which consists of multiple stages or steps. Let’s take a quick look at the four editorial process’ steps and what they entail:

    1. Pre-check: The author conducts a self-review before passing it on to the editor.
    2. Peer review: Other authors, editors, and reviewers share their feedback on the content.
    3. Editor’s decision: The editor decides whether to accept or reject the draft.
    4. Revision and author’s appeal: The author goes through the feedback, makes necessary changes, and resubmits it for another editorial cycle.

    The above editorial process’ steps are repeated until the piece is cleared for publication.

    In this article, let’s look at how you can define an editorial process that meets all the requirements of your content team while making the whole workflow simple and efficient.

    The first step is to understand why the editorial process is important.

    Importance of editorial process

    As most content teams have become cross-functional, the editorial process’ definition has changed as well. Now, the editorial process begins as soon as the outline for the content is created. Rather than a concluding phase of the content creation process, it is integrated within each stage.

    The editorial process helps you in the following ways:

    • Avoid blunders: You don’t have to wait until the content is drafted to know that it is irrelevant to your audience. You will know it right after you create the outline. This will save you lots of time, money, and effort.
    • Gain more perspective: With more eyes on the content, you will get feedback that will help you examine the topic from different angles. The editorial process often generates new ideas for the topic at hand.
    • Improve the draft: Removing grammatical mistakes, enhancing the readability, adding more graphics, etc., to make the content better.
    • Discover new marketing opportunities: Sometimes, you can get editorial reviews from experts, especially with long-form content such as eBooks. This can help you uncover new content marketing opportunities as well.

    Fortunately, you can easily build an editorial process that will give you all the advantages explained above by following the process below.

    5 steps to build an editorial process

    The following five steps will help you identify the unique requirements of your brand. The process built will serve as a starting point for your editorial process that you can improve with time, based on your needs of the moment.

    1. Define the brand voice

    Just as your product’s features and values, your brand’s message has a unique tone of its own. Usually, there are four dimensions that will define your brand’s voice:

    The above dimensions depend on the industry you serve and the preferences of your target audience. For instance, if you are in the legal sector, your brand voice would probably be serious, formal, respectful, and matter-of-fact.

    2. Make a sustainable editorial calendar

    An editorial calendar is a tool that tells you when, how, and where certain content will be published. Almost every team has an editorial calendar but not all of them are getting the most out of it because of one or more of the following reasons:

    • Tight deadlines without any buffer period.
    • Trying to keep up with your competitors’ production frequency.
    • Not considering your own strengths and weaknesses.
    • Lack of clarity on the long-term goals of the company.

    The efficiency of your editorial process depends on how well your team understands the company’s vision and whether you have the resources to follow it through. Many brands make the error of following their competitor’s schedules without considering their uniqueness.

    For instance, your competitors might have a bigger team or their expertise lies in long-form content. If you have a small team with a different area of expertise, you can’t match their volume or quality in that kind of content.

    Therefore, you have to consider the above points while creating and following your editorial calendar.

    3. Determine the workflow

    The editorial workflow refers to the direction of the flow of information throughout the editorial process’ steps. This helps you gain visibility of the process as you will know who to talk to to get the latest updates at each stage.

    If you are just starting out, you can use the following graphic to build a simple editorial workflow:

    Editorial Workflow Example

    Depending on your requirements and the resources available, you can add or remove steps to make it work for you.

    A good rule of thumb is to ensure everyone in your team understands what happens in each of the phases, at least vaguely. This will enable everyone to recognize the importance of the overall process which will lead to better execution.

    4. Clarify the responsibilities of each team member

    The next step in creating a robust editorial process is to explain to each team member their role in the process. This will be easy to do if you have a work culture that is based on responsibility and accountability.

    You can take care of this by explaining your expectations to your team members right from the beginning. With the help of the HR team, you can integrate this process right from the recruitment and onboarding phases.

    Another way you can facilitate this is by creating a detailed internal knowledge base that will help each team member learn about their role in the editorial process at their own pace.

    5. Use the right tools

    “You do not rise to the level of your goals; you fall to the level of your systems.” — James Clear in Atomic Habits.

    The performance of your editorial process depends on how versatile, easy-to-use, and scalable your tools are. It also depends on the number of tools in your tech stack and how compatible they are with each other.

    Too many tools will consume a lot of your time in cycling through them while increasing the chances of distractions. Incompatible tools increase your iota of work as you have to update each of them manually.

    Let’s consider the example of Google Docs, a widely used content collaboration tool.

    Google Docs brings editors, authors, reviewers, etc., to one place where everyone can exchange their ideas, suggestions, and feedback during the editorial process. However, being a text editor, it has some limitations.

    For instance, you cannot collaborate on video and dynamic content which are now becoming more and more common on blog posts. You will also have to move the content manually to your WordPress blog editor where you have to do a lot of last-minute editing before you hit publish.

    These challenges make your editorial process much slower and can affect the content quality.

    Fortunately, there is a solution.

    Multicollab, a collaboration plugin, brings all the collaborative features of Google Docs to the Gutenberg Editor. Now, you can collaborate with everyone directly on WordPress where your content will actually be published.

    Multicollab collaboration plugin's comment feature demo 1

    Another benefit of adopting Multicollab is that your editorial process will move entirely to the Gutenberg Editor where you can also collaborate on videos and dynamic content.

    Multicollab collaboration plugin's comment feature demo 2

    This will decrease your dependency on third-party content collaboration tools and make your review cycles shorter. Furthermore, your organizational data will be more secure than ever since you won’t have to give unrestricted access to your files and folders.

    Summing up

    The editorial process determines the quality of your content and the rate at which they get published. Apart from that, it helps you avoid big mistakes, gain new perspectives, and uncover new marketing opportunities.

    You can follow the five steps below that will help you build an adaptive and robust editorial workflow:

    • Define the brand voice based on your domain and customers’ preferences.
    • Build an editorial calendar that considers your needs, strengths, and weaknesses.
    • Finalize the editorial workflow and ensure every team member understands it.
    • Explain the responsibilities to each team member and set expectations.
    • Adopt multipurpose tools that are easy to use, versatile, and scalable.

    Multicollab simplifies your editorial process by enabling Google Docs-style collaboration on the Gutenberg Editor. This reduces your dependency on third-party tools, secures your organizational data, and makes the content creation process faster.

    Interested in learning how your team could benefit from Multicollab?


    1. What is an ‘Editorial Process’?

    The editorial process helps a content team ensure a draft is ready for publication and yields optimal ROI.

    2. How do you organize an editorial process?

    You can start with the four basic steps — pre-check, peer review, editor’s decision, and revision and author’s appeal. After that, you can modify it as per your needs.

    3. What is the first stage of the editorial process?

    The first stage of the editorial process is self-review, where the author(s) check the content for accuracy and language before forwarding it for peer review.

    4. What are the 7 steps of the publishing process?

    The 7 steps are: Establishing requirements, agreeing upon terms and conditions, ideation, drafting, review, revision and approval, and publishing.

    5. Is it possible to organize an editorial process in WordPress?

    Yes, with the help of Multicollab, content teams can shift their entire editorial workflow to WordPress.

    Get all the collaboration features of Google Docs in WordPress
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    • Multicollab can increase 2x speed to your publishing workflow.
    • WordPress is built and designed for publishing while Google Docs is not!
    • Protect your content within the safety of your company’s infrastructure.
    • Async collaboration with remote editorial teams is the future of publishing.
    Anil is the Founder of Multidots, Multicollab, and Dotstore, renowned for helping enterprise brands like PepsiCo, Ask.com, Penguin Random House, and Sirius XM with WordPress publishing.