I created my Instagram account and blog almost 2 years, and I can honestly tell you that in those 2 years, I did not once plan out my social media content. I can also honestly tell you I was constantly stressed, constantly going off-brand and off-topic, and worried about what I was going to blog or post about next. This year I decided to try a new approach that intimidated me a lot: social media content planning.
That may seem silly, to be afraid of something that is simply just planning! My day job involves planning out projects from start to finish for almost a year ahead, but when it came to my own creative game I had to really coax myself in. If you’re like me and you think that planning seems stressful, are afraid it will put you in a creative box, or maybe you’ve even tried it and it just didn’t work, I’m here to tell you it can!
start small + simple
I don’t plan for farther than a month out a time. At the end of December, about 7 days out from the new month, I planned for all of January. I bought myself a simple planner that is solely for my blog and Instagram. I found that planning out any farther than a month was challenging, especially because new opportunities arise during the month.
I have a notes section in my planner where I just “dump” all my ideas and goals for the month. Some align with what I can post and some don’t – I save them for another time! I also write down my three themes and mission. Writing down the mission of your account/brand and the topics you cover just helps keep you on topic. For me, my three themes of focus are Home Decor, Debt-Free and Budget living, and Social Media mental health/help. They can be that broad or you can narrow in a bit more for your niche. From there, I like to take each theme and create 3 pieces of content for each one. This could be 3 blog posts, 3 posts, 3 story series, etc. This gives me 9 pieces of content, which can stretch out for a month easily!
I’ll tell you again, the physical planner comes in handy beyond belief. With my very hectic day job, wedding planning, and a myriad of appointments, I can’t keep track of what I’ll be posting next, when my blog post goes lives, etc. So I reference my planner every morning! I start with writing down when I’ll be doing each piece of content. Maybe I know Mondays are just crazy, so those are my off days where I simply just engage on Instagram for a few minutes when I can; I add that to my calendar.
If you know your schedule, this can be easier, but still possible without knowing every detail. Write down days you want to post, days you want to engage, and days you want to write your blog posts (or emails, etc)
If I have sponsored posts coming up, that’s easy to put on the calendar because dates are usually set for those, then I plan around it. If I have a big blog post I want to post, I will plan to engage a lot the day before, maybe post to my feed about relevant topics, and then take a day off social media after it all to give myself a break. It’s all up to you, but I like to avoid burnout..which leads me to my next step!
Before I planned out my content, I would stress about when to post, what to post, when to take photos, etc. Now I don’t worry about that at all and in fact, I have so much content planned, I have a bank of images and topics for later months. The key to this though is balance.
I actually write in on my planner, off day. For me, this means no Instagram, no emails, no blog. I take a day off to just be. Sometimes these are for work deadlines where I need complete focus or an event where I just want to be present. Sometimes I just schedule them in to force myself to take a mental health-day break. It’s been a lifesaver.
I also add in days just for behind the scenes work. This could be reaching out to brands for work, updating blog posts, writing, engaging on Instagram, pinning for the month on Tailwind (highly recommend!)
Photos + captions ahead of time
I don’t have time during the week to take photos with my schedule, so I typically will take photos on Sunday (after I clean my house!) and edit them that night. Then I have my photos for the next week, which I save as drafts on Instagram so I can have them readily available. If it’s a project I’m working on, then I will take the photo a few days before, but I never wake up with a plan to post and have to take a photo and edit it. This was my downfall in the past and led to less than quality work from me.
I am naturally a writer and love that part the most. I almost never think on the stop with captions or blog posts though. I like to write, edit, rewrite, etc. I don’t write my whole captions in advance unless they are very specific and I know what I want to say. I do however write down themes, goals, talking points, etc so when I do go to write the caption, I don’t have writer’s block.
I also plan for writing my blog posts a week before they are to be published. This allows ample time to create imagery for Pinterest, perfect the SEO, and edit them. I do not like to rush my blog posts, especially because I only do 2-3 a month, so they are important to me and typically a bit longer than normal blogs.
Give yourself some wiggle room.
Trying to plan out dinner for a week makes me break into a cold sweat, so planning for a month ahead is no easy task, but it gets simpler (and dare I say fun) when you start! Plus, once you realize how easy it makes your life, it absolutely is worth the few hours it takes.
As a creative person, however, when inspiration strikes, I don’t like to suppress it. That’s why I add some wiggle room into my planning calendar. I have “free days” which allow me to post/story about something that popped up unexpectantly. I also do stories when they make sense because I can’t always plan out when I will have free (after I clean myifen ze hown’t le phrd honyourself si you ko tff tour schedule,a day of thwo..his ms gioo for areativety ! /p>
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