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Creative Ops

Content management for creatives: A guide

June 02, 2021 · 7 min read

Content: it’s inescapable. Your Instagram posts, the junk in your mailbox, this very article you’re reading, the book sitting on your nightstand, even the painting on your wall — it’s all content.

Content is any piece of information — visual, written, auditory, or experiential — meant to be consumed by an audience. The widespread usage of the word is fairly new, but humans have been making content since time immemorial: the concept was invented with the creation of the first cave paintings, if not before. Nowadays, everyone is a content creator, and we’re all marketers for our personal brands. 

What is content management?

Content management as a concept is fairly new. That’s not to say that people haven’t been managing content as long as they’ve been making it. When early humans made cave paintings, they wouldn’t just go to a different cave every time, they’d pick one cave as a centralized hub for their work. Books were an early form of content management, then libraries. Now, we have digital content management systems, which you’ve probably seen referred to as CMS.

“Content management” is just the way you store, organize, and share your content. It’s as simple as that. It’s what happens after content creation, sometimes alongside it. Of course, depending on whether you’re a solo photographer or a social media manager working for a large organization, your specific management method might look very different from the next person’s — it all comes down to what works best for your workflow.

What is a content management system?

The Dewey Decimal System for library organization was a revolutionary CMS in its time, a leap forward in manual automation. Content management systems basically just keep track of where content is located, its condition, and who has access to it, all while protecting it. A CMS is a structured home for content.

Today, when people talk about content management systems, they’re talking specifically about SaaS products — software meant to streamline digital workflow. Some content management applications are strictly for storage and management, while some allow authoring. Contentful, for example, allows you to compose posts directly in the platform. It’s what’s known as a headless CMS, which means you can create and store content without automatically deploying it.

There are five main styles of content management system software, with many different CMS platforms and products in each category. Quality of customer experience varies and each one handles different types of content. Though the following five types are separate categories, they can often overlap.

DAM content help
DAM content help

The 5 Types of CMS:

  • Component Content Management System (CCMS): 

This type is used to manage content at a very zoomed-in level. You can track everything, down to individual links, paragraphs, and even single words. The key word here is component: though Notion isn’t actually a CCMS, if you’ve used the platform before, you’re familiar with the way every little thing is broken down into components. Paligo is a popular CCMS.

  • Document Management System (DMS): 

As the name suggests, this type of CMS is specifically for documents. You’re digitally creating, processing, and sharing stuff that, pre-internet, would’ve all lived on paper that had to be printed, copied, scanned, and faxed. HubSpot is a popular DMS, used largely for sales documentation. Microsoft SharePoint has long ruled this category.

  • Enterprise Content Management System (ECM): 

This type of CMS is specifically for large enterprise-level organizations. Users at big companies utilize ECMs to store, retrieve, and protect all kinds of informational documents necessary for conducting business. This software makes it easy for people at that organization to capture and share the information they need, when and where they need it. Box is a major player in ECM.

  • Web Content Management System (WCMS): 

Specifically for managing web pages and the content that lives on them, WCM platforms are no-code tools to build and manage web pages with little to no knowledge of HTML or any other programming language. You don’t even have to know what the phrase “back-end” means. All the previous CMS types are concerned with content that would’ve been physical pre-internet; WCMSs deal with content that wouldn’t have existed pre-internet. Think Squarespace, WordPress, or the famously open source Drupal — software that provides easy templates for website building. These allow regular people to build functioning websites, for everything from ecommerce to editorial, with a beautiful front-end design.

  • Digital Asset Management System (DAM): 

An easy way to store, organize, and share any kind of digital content. Basically a pure online library of digital content, encompassing all file types. Think Air, which provides a clean and easy to navigate home for all of your digital assets.

Of all the different types of CMS, DAMs are the most fun. What’s that you say? How could content management be fun? Well, a thriving DAM with a healthy population of well-made visual assets is simply going to be a lot more enjoyable to navigate and use than an ECM full of spreadsheets and expense reports, especially when the interface itself is well-designed. No offense if you’re someone who geeks out on spreadsheets!

How to manage creative content

So, what does “content” mean in your working life? Are you a professional photographer specializing in fashion editorials? Maybe you’re a graphic designer who works exclusively with music labels and independent musicians. Or perhaps you’re a social media manager struggling to meet the demands of hundreds of thousands of cross-platform followers.

With everyone from small-time restaurateurs to digital marketing professionals using SaaS tools to grow and manage their business, intuitive and useful digital asset management systems are crucial to every modern business’ success.

Even if you’re an independent contractor working with multiple different clients, it might be time to consider a DAM system. Portfolio websites are great, but dynamic workspaces where you and your clients, potential or existing, can exchange comments and feedback are even better. If you’re a content creator, you’re also a content manager to a certain extent, so why not make your job easier? If you’re a professional working within a massive enterprise, you most definitely need a DAM system. If your company already has one, you probably deserve a better one. What if you never had to delete a single photo? What if you could store every single one on the cloud, with built-in organization and a super-smart search function? Welcome to Air.

Using Air to manage creative content

Visual content is made to be shared. This can look like sending family photos to a group chat, or launching an Instagram campaign for Nike with a ten-slide carousel, or anything in between. Tools like iPhoto and even Facebook albums have hosted personal content for years. Tools like Dropbox and Google Drive have hosted business content for just as long. Companies like Adobe have integrated content management tools into their content creation software.

board view versions
board view versions

Air replaces every other DAM tool on the market, with world-class functionality dressed in a friendly UI. Air was designed specifically for the needs of distributed, digital, collaborative creative teams, but it serves everyone from regular people to professional content creators to high-ranking sales executives. Do you work in content strategy? Use Air as a tool to plan and organize upcoming campaigns. If those ancient cave painters were still alive, they’d probably use it to archive digital documentation of their work, too.

One of the major downsides of traditional content management systems is that it’s hard to share permissions. Organizations working with visual assets tend to use a mix of both in-house and freelance talent. When you bring in external collaborators to Google Drive or Dropbox, you’re forced to constantly change permissions and direct people to specific folders and files. Don’t even get started on versioning — as files get edited and re-uploaded, you often have to manage permissions all over again. Cue headache. With Air, it’s incredibly easy to blanket-change permissions or share files with a single click, permissions aside. 

Collaboration is at the heart of everything Air aims to do. Not only can you store, protect, organize, and manage files with ease, in a more intuitive interface than seen in any previous DAM software, but you can comment on files, handle version control, tag collaborators, track metadata, and more. It also makes content delivery extremely easy; it’s as simple as sharing a link to a single file or giving freelance collaborators access to entire folders — boards, as they’re called in Air. Access the entire lifecycle of your files. Use and reuse visual assets. Clean up your workflow.

Air is the answer to any and all problems you’ve had managing visual assets, multimedia file storage, and collaboration, both in your personal and professional lives. Clean, easy, and clear: that’s Air.

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