When Long-Term Content Planning Goes Wrong - The Content Experiment
When Long-Term Content Planning Goes Wrong

When Long-Term Content Planning Goes Wrong

Planning ahead is important. You know this. But there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing.

That’s right. Not all your content can be planned well in advance. In fact, I recommend that you’re only about 90 days ahead on most of your content.

Why’s that? Listen in! I’m sharing all the things that could go wrong or change over the course of your content plan. It’s a lot!

And what content can you plan well into the future for? Ah, well…you’ll have to listen in for that too!

Mentioned in This Episode

Transcription

Hey there, and welcome to Episode 135 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. 

Are you new to the podcast? If so, I would love to welcome you here. I work really hard to make sure this podcast is full of no-nonsense support to help ensure that your message gets out there, and I want to give you the actionable steps you need to make it happen, so that you can get on with doing business your own way. If you like what you hear, please follow or hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss another episode. 

This podcast is brought to you by Content Mastery Lab, my membership community where we talk about content creation, idea generation, market research, social media strategies, and all the mindset blocks that get in the way of our own visibility, plus a whole lot more. Sometimes it takes some time to be brave enough to share our message, and sometimes it takes some time just to, you know, tweak the message and get it right. In the lab, we focus on the little tweaks and changes in our content that help us get the best ROI for our time and money investments, because big sweeping changes take a lot of time, money and effort and they don’t always pay off like we expect them to. 

So stop floundering with trying to figure it all out yourself and start creating content with the confidence that you’re on the right path. You can join us monthly or quarterly or commit to a whole year for extra one-on-one time with me, and quarterly planning parties where we work through your content together in an intimate group. If you head to thecontentexperiment.com/lab you can get more information and sign up. If you use the coupon code PODCAST, you can try out your first month for just $1. 

Alright, so we have talked here on the podcast before about content plans. And hopefully by now you know that you do need a plan if you’re going to create consistent content that meets your needs and the needs of your audience. Because without a plan, we tend to revert to throwing spaghetti on the wall, which is basically creating content for the sake of creating content with no real rhyme or reason behind it. There’s no real focus or intent, as we talked about in Episode 132. And making it kind of a waste of time and energy. And on today’s episode, I’m going to be mentioning quite a few episodes, which if you’re interested in finding out more, you can head to the show notes for all of the links.

So on the other end of the spectrum of, you know, not having a plan, we have the true planners. These are the business owners who try to plan out every little piece of content for months and months and months in advance. And while this might feel better than just kind of going with the flow and throwing spaghetti on the wall, and I gotta say, who doesn’t love a great plan all laid out in your planning tool; I know I love the way that looks. But planning ahead can actually hold you back a little. 

So in Episode 8, I talked about planning a 90-day content plan. This is actually, I believe, the perfect length of time to plan in-advance. Not six months, not a year (definitely not a year). So yeah, those templates and Trello boards that offer you content ideas for a year or two…I truly, truly don’t think that they are a good idea. Let me explain why. There’s quite a few reasons actually.

So for one, the market changes. We only have to go back to the beginning of 2020 and the summer of 2020 to understand how much the market can change. We have COVID, the racial reckoning of 2020…We spent a lot of time in the content experiment going back and redoing content for clients and myself. And we were only working a month or two in advance, but we still had to go back and change content that simply was no longer relevant or was insensitive giving what was going on in the world today. So imagine having to switch gears after planning out many, many months ahead of time. Because as much as we were all hoping that COVID would be a six-week shift in business and in life, I think that we can all agree that it has become a change in lifestyle and the way we do business for so many of us. 

So paired with the education that we were all doing on being more sensitive, and more inclusive, and we’re all more (hopefully) aware of mental health, personal growth, how our views and words can impact others, and how all of this impacts us and our clients. So while I think that, you know, the events of 2020, we’re no doubt tragic, I also believe that it has allowed us to really make some shifts and changes in our messaging, and just the way that we put ourselves out there, which that’s never a bad thing, in my opinion. 

But imagine planning your content a year in advance, and then it coming, you know, all of the events of 2020 happening, and having to go back and change things. Necessarily, yes, but imagine having to do that. So when you plan things really far in advance, and something happens in the world, and you need to make a shift, then you need to make a shift. 

Another reason to not to plan your content too far in advance is life changes. And this kind of, you know, runs parallel to COVID and, you know, all of that, market changes. What happens if your partner loses their job? What happens if you are running a side hustle and you lose your job? What happens if you decide to grow your family or you move? Life changes happen, and everything that happens in your personal life impacts your small business, no matter how much you try to ensure that that doesn’t happen. 

So as I’m recording this episode, I have just moved in to a brand new office space for myself. I decided to take my home office outside of my home, and I’m renting a small office in a coworking space. And then in about six weeks from now, I am moving my daughter into the dorms and moving my home, actually, in the same week. I don’t know what I was thinking. But yep, it’s happening. And in addition to that, I’m trying to squeeze in a few days off here and there, maybe a trip out of town, and it’s a lot. And yeah, it’s absolutely going to impact how I plan and execute on my content, it’s going to impact my business and my hours that I’m working, so it’s something to consider. 

And you know, maybe I want to talk a little bit about some of these big changes, these big life changes that are happening. So it’s important to have the space to be able to do that. And I know that after the last 15 months or so, you have felt how homeschooling, or not having your partner work outside of the home anymore, or whatever it is that has been happening for you since March of 2020: it has impacted the way you work. So I know that if you’re not moving or anything like that, I’m sure that you can still relate. 

Another reason to not plan your content really far in advance is you change your mind. Yes, you can change your mind about doing something. And you also change your mind because you’re growing and developing as a person and as a business owner, and that makes you decide to do something differently. I mean, really, this happens all the time. And it’s totally okay to change your mind about doing something. Like, the YouTube channel isn’t working out for you? Great. It’s okay to let it go. You don’t love the program that you started? Well run it through the time that, you know, you’ve sold it, so run it through once and then don’t do it again, if it doesn’t serve you or your clients the way you had hoped. That’s the great thing about being a business owner, or just one of the great things I should say. You get to make those decisions and it’s not an act of congress to get it done. 

So another thing, but kind of along these same lines, is your business changes. Today, your business, I guarantee, is not where it was a year ago and that’s not just because of COVID; it’s because your business continues to grow and develop. It’s okay to shift directions if the business that you’ve grown doesn’t feel as good to you anymore. 

So back in Episode 79, I interviewed Louise Brogan, who, we were in a mastermind together and I consider her a business friend. Now, she used to be a social media strategist, helping business owners with all the social platforms. But then, she changed gears and she focuses only on LinkedIn now. She let go of the other platforms to focus. That was her decision. So she’s probably not going to be creating content about other social platforms anymore; she’s gonna focus just on LinkedIn. Now, imagine that she had content planned out for a year in advance. It would be really hard to make that shift because she had so much time invested into the other social platforms. 

Or maybe you are a coach, and your lifestyle has changed to where you can’t have so much face-time with clients anymore. You want to build a template shop for a more flexible schedule? Awesome. It’s really hard to do that when you already have a whole bunch of content and messaging planned months and months and months and months in advance.

So I do have one caution for you when it comes to changing and making changes in your business. It’s totally unrelated to this podcast episode, but it’s a soapbox thing so I have to mention it. When you change your business too much or too often, it’s really difficult for people to know what you do, so make sure that those changes are strategic. 

Another reason, the final reason, why planning out your content really far in advance is not such a great idea, is that you forget. Yeah, you might forget in six months how or why you planned some specific event or piece of content. This has never happened to me; just kidding, it totally has. I’ve had notes for content and when I go back to actually sit down and plan, I’ve forgotten what the notes mean, or the notes aren’t relative anymore or relevant anymore. So just make sure that you are planning, you know, timely content. 

Now, this isn’t all to say that you shouldn’t do any planning at all. You should, you totally should. So in next week’s episode with Anne Hill, Episode 136, and, you’re gonna have to wait a couple weeks for this one, but Episode 142 with Liz Watson, we talk more about strategic planning, specifically how it relates to the content with Liz’s episode. And yeah, sorry, you have to wait for it, but just keep tuning in, make sure you’re subscribed so you see the new episode. But you do strategic planning so that you have an action plan; a plan of action for your business. You need to know what’s coming up. But these are more business plans than content plans, and I know that you’ve built in space for change, or I hope you have. And sometimes, planning ahead can lead to some amazing space for unpredictable content, which I discussed in Episode 129, so be sure to tune in to that one. 

Alright, so what, 13 minutes of “here’s why you shouldn’t plan in advance;” let’s talk about what you can plan in advance. So there are three really clear pieces of content, or messaging things, that you can plan in advance, and I highly recommend that you do. The first one is your overall messaging. So the big ideas you want to share, the way you want to share it; so, your tone. This is work that you should do early in your business, and then revisit regularly as your business shifts and grows and as you shift and grow, as will happen. Go back and listen to Episode 131 with Suzi Gray, where we talk about voice and messaging to get more on that. 

Another thing that you can plan well in advance, and in my opinion should, is your zones of genius. And I talked about these in Episode 7 and Episode 63. Your zones of genius are essentially the big ideas that you can talk about over and over again, without getting sick of the ideas and without running out of things to say. Okay, so maybe you can get sick of talking about these topics, but they’re the really big topics in your business. And keep in mind that these can also change in your business as your business develops and changes. So I’ll be talking more about zones of genius in a future episode; I don’t know that episode number just yet but keep your ear out for it, because it is coming. 

And the final thing that you can plan in advance, and I highly, highly recommend it, is your very evergreen content. So evergreen content is content that can and will be around for a long period of time. Things like produced opt ins, challenges, courses, programs, and the email sequences and promotions that go along with these. Because your goal with this type of content is to create something that you don’t have to touch for a while. Yeah, it’s going to be something that you plan ahead. When you plan and create content like this, do it with a mind that you want to make it as timeless and flexible as possible. 

Of course, you’re not actually going to totally set it and forget it; you’re going to want to watch responses from your audience and analytics on whether people are opening emails and such. But the general idea is that you’re planning it, creating it, and then letting it do its thing. And I recommend having multiple promotional social media posts, and even some swipe copy that you and your team are using on your own, so that you can just push it out there on a regular basis without having to put a whole bunch of thought into it. It will save you so much time, I promise. 

So really long term content planning, well aside from your evergreen content or the general strategic business planning around content, my recommendation is to just not do long term content planning. Of course, some of your content will require some lead time, like podcasting if you’re working with guests and an editor, or YouTube videos if you have production time to consider; but you don’t have to plan incredibly far in advance. Find out what’s needed for your own content, and then work with that. I always recommend having about a 90-day lead time on your content. Know what’s going down about 90 days from now. 

Now, if you are ready to start experimenting with your content and marketing in your own business without having to do all of 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/month after that.

If you found value in what you learned here today, please share it on social media. Take a screenshot of the episode on your phone and share it over on Instagram Stories. You can tag me @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. Until next time, take care.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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