Mapping Out Your Unpredictable Content - The Content Experiment
Mapping Out Your Unpredictable Content

Mapping Out Your Unpredictable Content

I know you think that mapping out content in your business is impossible because it’s so unpredictable. That may be the case for some of your content, but the truth is that having a plan for some of your content will open up so much space for the content that just pops up with no warning. And having a plan in place may just open up the door for more space for creativity.

Today we’re talking about that elusive content plan, that evades you because of the type of messaging you have. You feel like a consistent plan isn’t for you because what you create or the industry you’re in is just too unpredictable. Or maybe it’s YOU that’s unpredictable.

Whatever it is, I want to share how to have a plan of action even when you feel like you just can’t plan anything.

Mentioned in This Episode

Transcription

Welcome to episode 129 of The Content Experiment Podcast, a podcast that supports the idea that content and marketing are ever-moving targets in any business and it’s okay if you don’t feel like you’re doing it ALL right, ALL of the time. You have permission to experiment with little tweaks and changes in your content to find what works for you, what increases value for your audience and what grows your business. And most importantly, what feels good for you.

I’m Abby Herman, content strategist and coach for online business owners who are ready to make a bigger impact online. I firmly believe that success isn’t about what big marketing brands and so-called gurus think is the right thing; it’s about you and your business. Your lifestyle and, frankly, your values and belief systems.

You get to do business in a way that works for you.

If you’re new to the podcast, welcome here! I think you’ll find this podcast as your go-to resource of non-nonsense help inspire you to get your message out there and give you the actionable steps you need to make it happen so you can get on with business your way. If you like what you hear, hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss another episode.

And if you’re a repeat listener and you haven’t already left a rating and review, I’d be so grateful if you’d hop over to your favorite podcast app and do just that.

Today we’re talking about that elusive content plan, that evades you because of the type of messaging you have. You feel like a consistent plan isn’t for you because what you create or the industry you’re in is just too unpredictable. Or maybe it’s YOU that’s unpredictable.

Whatever it is, I want to share how to have a plan of action even when you feel like you just can’t plan anything.

Back when I blogged regularly, I used to plan out my content in themes. One month I’d create content all around batching, the next month it would be about zones of genius. I even had a month about social media, because I used to talk about social media back then.

When I started this podcast, I had the same idea. I’d plan out guests and solo episodes around content themes and focus on a theme for an entire month. It’s what I teach members in Content Mastery Lab to do and it’s what I do for my clients. Having a theme to plan around makes it much easier to promote something specific and to just create content in general. If you’re creating around one big idea, I feel like the ideas just flow more. And you can create in a way that takes your audience on a journey or educational path.

Well, creating a podcast around themes was really easy to do for the first 11 episodes…because the first 11 episodes were solo episodes. But I found that it wasn’t as simple when pitching and scheduling guest episodes. And these days I’m finding that it’s more and more difficult to make the guest episodes work within any kind of a theme.

I know what you’re going to say…there are podcasts out there that create in themes well. Yep, there absolutely are. Tara McMullin’s What Works podcast is one of those. Biz Chix is another. This podcast is not one of those.

Why? To be honest, as the last 12 to 18 months have progressed, The Content Experiment the business had a lot of growth. It became a lot to organize and keep track of, while also staying on top of our clients’ content. And life happened…for everyone. I’d have the perfect guest lined up to interview and we’d have to reschedule because a child was sick or someone double-booked or even they just didn’t have the mental bandwidth, which threw off my editor’s schedule. And I GET IT. COVID or not, life is challenging sometimes and we need to give ourselves some grace to be able to go with the flow.

It became easier to just not worry about the timing of interviews and episode release dates. I was just excited to interview some of my guests (no, all of them). I was honored that they took the time.

Unless we’re planning months and months (and months!) in advance, podcast content just feels unpredictable to me. And that’s okay. Not everything has to be planned to a T or tied up in a neat little bow.

Now, if the podcast was monetized and it was part of my bottom line, I may see things differently. But since it’s not, we’ll roll with what we have.

Do you have content in your business that’s unpredictable? Maybe it’s dependent on other people, or your industry is highly volatile and you can’t predict what’s going to happen from one week or month to the next. Or maybe you plan your content around current events, and you wake up not knowing what’s going to happen.

Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s STILL possible to plan ahead and batch your content, something I talked about on episode 126. Your planning and content creation process might look different from someone else’s, but that’s the case no matter what we’re talking about, right?

So let’s talk about how to map our your content plan while leaving in space for some of that unpredictability that business and life gives us. And if you’re thinking to yourself, but my content is all very predictable and I don’t need to listen, I’m going to ask you to think again. There’s nearly always something that might sneak in there that has nothing to do with your content plan. That’s the last point I’m going to make and I’m going to give some examples that will make you say, “Ooooohhh yeah.” So keep listening!

Know your themes and zones of genius – episode 63
No matter what your industry or how predictable (or not!) your content is, you need to know your zones of genius. This is something I talk about in-depth on episode 63 so you’re invited to go listen in to that for more. But basically your zones of genius are the big ideas that you can talk about again and again without running out of things to say or struggling to come up with ideas. (So if you struggle with your content ideas, go listen to episode 63 because I’m giving you all the secrets there.)

When you know your zones of genius, you’re able to plan out content in advance better AND you’re able to put blinders on for when those shiny objects rear their heads and potentially avoid feeling like you need to create content that probably won’t speak to your audience.

Knowing your zones of genius can help avoid some of that unpredictability because…do you really need to create content around that idea anyway?

Know what cadence works for you
How much time do you have to create content? Creating consistent content is important, but that doesn’t mean you need to create a blog post every single week or multiple YouTube videos. It means you look at what you’re capable of creating–either on your own or what you can afford to hire out–and working around that.

If you’re hiring someone, any good content team can help you figure out what cadence is going to work for your business. I recently had a client move from two regular blog posts per month to one really in-depth one. We wanted to publish some case studies that would take readers on a journey and the client’s budget didn’t allow for that if we were publishing twice per month.

Deciding on a cadence will help you to structure your time and your budget so you know you have content coming out on a regular basis. Then, if you have unpredictable content that you want to publish at other times, great! And if you don’t, that’s okay too because you’re already being consistent with what you’re creating so it’s okay if you don’t publish anything else.

Create your content/batch
On episode 126, I talked about batching your content. Creating a rhythm and system for actually creating your content. I love the idea of sitting down and creating a handful (or a month’s worth) of social media posts all in one sitting. I talked on that episode about batching my recording of podcast intros and outtros. It just puts you in a certain mindset and, I think, allows you to get a lot done in a short amount of time. I won’t go really far into this because you can go listen to episode 126 for more (and grab my batching guide at thecontentexperiment.com/batchit).

But something I do want to mention is that just because you batch something does NOT mean you have to publish it on that schedule. I’ve done a lot of batching for this podcast over the last few months so that I can take some time away from it this summer. But because of my guests’ schedules, I’ve had to rearrange my schedule multiple times. And that’s totally okay! What I thought was going to be my schedule just wasn’t and I could move around those episodes to make it work for everyone–including my podcast editor.

Review your process regularly
Things change and just because you have a great system set up to plan out or create your content doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you forever.

I recently had a retainer client want to change up the look and feel of their regular emails. We changed the cadence and the design, and we also changed up what we’re including in it. Some of the content became unpredictable, to where we couldn’t really create it weeks in advance like we used to. So we developed a process where there’s some back and forth cross-checking to make sure that everyone who needs to have input on the content does and everyone who needs to review it has an opportunity to. As a result, we’re only working a few days in advance and we have really specific deadlines for making sure it all gets done on time.

So just because one business creates and batches their content one way doesn’t mean that this system will work for everyone. With this particular client, we can plan out and create most of the content in advance–and as of this recording, we actually have the next two months planned–but we also know that there will be more time-sensitive elements that we will add in later.

Be okay with imperfection
Do you really need perfection? Do you think that’s what’s going to draw your ideal clients to you? If the answer to both of those questions isn’t “no,” then you’re probably listening to the wrong podcast.

Perfection is an ideal that no one can ever reach. The content creator who looks perfect to you on social media or on their podcast might be a hot mess behind the scenes. (Confession: I spent a few months this spring being a hot mess and though I tried to hide it, I’m not sure I did such a great job. I’m human. And there are some processes, systems and general content that still feels really messy to me.) We’re all a work in progress and that’s okay.

If that guest you planned to have on your podcast in two weeks has to cancel their interview, which throws off your schedule, that’s okay. Hopefully you’ve batched some of your content and you have something to throw into that timeslot.

When your content is unpredictable, striving for perfection is a waste of time and energy. Be okay with good enough!

Go with the flow
Once you have a plan for the content that IS predictable, it’s okay to go with the flow. Maybe you can plan most of your content in advance but you want the freedom to publish some other content whenever. Great!

Here are some examples of when you might want to publish content that you haven’t planned ahead of time:

A tragic event happens in the world and you want to respond to it
Something that’s happening in the world or business really ticks you off and you want to react to it publicly
Someone publishes something you disagree with and you want to talk about an opposing viewpoint
You get an opportunity to partner with someone and want to promote it
You do a really awesome podcast interview and want to share about it to get your audience excited about it
You have a client call that prompts some questions you know the rest of your audience would want to hear about
You’re FINALLY attending an in-person event and want to share what you’re learning

Just because these things aren’t in your content plan doesn’t mean that you can’t create content around it. You can and you should! We’re not robots. We can create content around things that are fun or tragic or meaningful…just because it’s something we’re called to share.

So I hope this episode has helped you to step back for a moment and really see where you might want to create unpredictable content…and where you can put on the blinders and avoid it altogether.

Having a plan in advance is a good thing, no matter what your industry or how volatile you feel like your content might be. It’s having the plan and hopefully the batched content that will help you stay on track while allowing you the extra space to publish some of the more unpredictable content when it comes up.

Do you need help getting to that point and creating that plan? If you’re ready to start experimenting with content and marketing in your own business–without having to do all the guesswork yourself, remember that you can join us inside Content Mastery Lab at thecontentexperiment.com/lab and use the coupon code PODCAST to get your first month for $1. Pricing starts at just $97 a month after that.

If you found value in what you learned here today, be sure to share it on social media. Take a screenshot of the episode on your phone and share it over on Instagram stories. Tag me at thecontentexperiment. The more you share, the more we can get the podcast into the hands of more business owners, just like you, who need to hear the message that they are not alone.

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