This is the fourth update in my Summer Lovin blog series!
Today’s topic comes to us via a question from Sheila in Richmond, Virginia. Sheila asks:
“I have a question about trying to achieve balance in my content plan (which consists of 5 platforms: Pinterest/Twitter/Facebook/Blog/Newsletter – no, I’m not overworked!). I totally agree with the advice that you gave me that planning ahead gives you breathing room + confidence to create better content, but I also want to incorporate some spontaneity in my plans. How do I balance that?”
Great question Sheila – it’s an interesting one. Let’s dive in.
I really love that you are planning ahead with your content plan, Sheila. A good plan reflects your capacity to create. After all, what good would it do to have an editorial calendar that has five blog posts a week, if your team only has the capacity to create one?
When it comes to a capacity, lean into it and to start, underestimate. It’s better to have a plan that you overdeliver on rather than having your content plans sliding off your priority list. And yes, Sheila, you can schedule openings in your plan for topics that you can’t envision yet.
Let me use a specific example here to illustrate how spontaneity can work. As you know I run the gorgeous online magazine Plum Deluxe. We plan out our editorial calendar a month at a time in blocks – i.e. in May, we are planning July.
We then have our advertiser campaigns. As those contracts are signed, we plan those (usually week-by-week) and layer those on top of our editorial calendar.
That’s a lot of content, but that’s the business we are in. However, I do leave a little bit of wiggle room and budget for what I affectionately call “floaters.” They’re slots for content that can be filled last-minute – and if they go unfilled, that’s ok too, as our plan already has us covered for the month.
Specific example: this month we ran a piece on Pope Francis’ Guide to the Luxe Life. When we planned the editorial calendar for that month, there was no Pope Francis! If we hadn’t built in that white space, that piece would have ended up running a month or two later (because remember, we plan in monthly blocks). Now, it still would have been a good piece of content, but because it was more timely, I felt it ended being much more popular than it could have been otherwise. On top of that, it made our brand feel very in touch with the times.
Sheila, you asked about balance, and you’ll have to find your own balance on planned content versus stuff-you’ll-figure-out-later. Unfortunately this is a process of trial-and-error, so go with your gut on this and see what you come up with.
Taking a wild guess, I’d say an easy place to start out is to have one spontaneous social media “thing” each week, and then maybe 1 bigger piece of content (e.g. blog post) each month that is more news/topical? That is just a guess – because I don’t know your capacity.
Don’t have anything spontaneous to say? Then skip it. Don’t force it – you aren’t a news company. Have your plan to cover your bases, and consider your spontaneous updates as bonus points. After all, if you start to get too spontaneous, you might start to lose focus of your brand and what you’re trying to achieve. Or you might spontaneously combust. And that’s just not good for anybody.
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