How to use any content planner to track your content efficiently.
Any content creation strategy needs a plan.
Whether simple or branched out, all creators follow a program aligned with their goals. And this program helps them publish their works at the right time, plan future connections, and create projects instead of single pieces of content.
Without a plan, there is no successful content. So if you want to become a creator and create an online side hustle, you need to define an efficient strategy.
In years of online writing, I used countless applications to schedule content. In the beginning, a simple journal was enough since I only needed a place to write my ideas. But then, the necessities escalated. So I started using separate software to monitor specific parameters of my content.
Here are 4 quick and easy tips for planning your content more efficiently.
How to plan your content in only 4 quick and easy steps
In the last years of my career, planning content has always been a big deal, so I tried many applications and platforms. Among all, four caught my attention: Notion, Trello, Evernote, and Ora. But there are many similar ones that you could use. So pick your favorite, and use these 4 quick and easy tips for planning your content.
1 — Enhance synchronization.
In the cloud service era, any efficient scheduling application requires synchronized data. So when you choose an environment to develop your plan, check if it provides you with a cloud system. This way, you can examine your strategy from any digital device.
Each of the applications that I tried had a cloud system. And a couple of years ago, they made you pay for it. But now, most services offer it for free. A comfort not to be underestimated since it comes with many advantages.
Many times, driving between work and home, I had nothing to do but listen to music. Until one day, I realized I was wasting my time thinking about nothing for more than an hour instead of using my creativity to develop new ideas.
With a synchronized plan, however, I can always check my theories. So before driving, I can read a few ideas and investigate them on the road. Then, once the thought shapes, I record myself, transcribe each track into text, and put those notes into my archive.
2 — Create an idea pool.
As a content creator, uninspiring moments will occur frequently. And you won’t produce anything. But since consistency is such a critical factor, you need to keep publishing to remain relevant.
In those moments, an extensive idea pool can save your work. It can give you new perspectives on past projects or make you rediscover ideas you forgot about.
Also, to maximize the benefits, don’t organize your ideas whatsoever. Creativity benefits from the clash of singular concepts and perspectives. But if you split your ideas into stagnant containers, they won’t ever interact with each other.
My idea pool is an unfiltered view of Notion where I can see every idea I have ever had in an infinite list of subjects. Also, if I want to, I can enable a small filter that removes from that list every article that I wrote already, so I can only see unexploited ideas. This way, I can either repurpose content or deliver new perspectives on topics I have never dealt with.
3 — Define a long-term schedule.
At some point, your ideas have to turn into content. That’s when planning happens.
Planning content is one of the most important jobs of a creator. And even if sometimes it seems irrelevant, it has a considerable impact on the success or the failure of a piece of content.
For example, if you write next year’s resolution piece of content in July, nobody will care about it, and the article will probably fail. However, the same content published in December will have more traction and virality potential.
But long-term scheduling is not only about timing but also strategy.
A couple of days ago, I wrote an article on how to increase content creation output. But then, I realized I could improve my content strategy overall with this kind of article since both are closely related.
Without a long-term schedule, I couldn’t publish this article before the other one, and my content strategy would weaken. But this way, I can write the articles whenever I feel inspired and then publish them in the best order for my content strategy.
4 — Aggregate data for future needs.
Chaos is good for creativity but ordered content is best for success.
When writing your idea pool, every little note is as essential as any other structured idea. However, once that idea becomes a piece of content, it needs structure to succeed.
Each time I schedule an idea to become an article, I fill its data with essential properties. Some of them tell me the article topic, some others give me information for future content. For example, every time I finish a piece, I always look at my article history to see if there is some link-building I can do. If there is, I have a property of my article card that gives me the link.
For each article, these are the properties I value the most.
The name field is a working title that I use to remember the exact topic of the piece. Sometimes, SEO titles differ from the original idea, so I only consider the working title in my notes.
The name also includes the keyword “Article” that filters my planned articles from the idea pool and a progressive number used to sort the articles in chronological order.
The status of an article is one of the most important parameters that I track because it gives me an overview of the overall situation. It can assume a few predefined values.
Idea if I didn’t plan it yet. Research if I planned it, but it requires further investigation. Writing and editing for the creation process. Infographic when I need to make visual content for it. Waiting list when I submit the article, and I am waiting for a response. Medium/Cosmopolitan if I scheduled the article for publication. Socials when I need to promote it on my social media. And Complete when there’s nothing more to be done, except some promotion from time to time.
I make exclusive infographics to publish on Instagram and Pinterest to promote my article. So until this checkbox is unchecked, I cannot complete my promotion. Therefore, I can’t put the article in the completed status.
If I publish my article on different platforms, I have to set the canonical link, or searching algorithms will punish it. So this is a necessary step I have to take.
In this property, I focus on the target of the article. Here, I have a couple of predefined values that I can input based on my content strategy. For example, I mostly use writing, self-improvement, productivity, motivation, content strategy, and creativity.
If the article gets into a publication, I put it here. So in the future, I will know which type of content is acceptable and where to aim.
Every time an article gets published, I add a direct link here. So when I need to build links into other articles, I can sort the previous ones based on the audience and find the correct links faster.
This is the submission date. So the article has to reach infographic status at least.
This is the date when I plan to work on an article. If I split writing and editing on different days, I only mark the writing phase since I always edit shortly after.
How do I plan my content?
When I plan my content, I always follow the same routine.
First, I note an idea in the idea pool, and I leave it to stagnate for a couple of days. Then, I transfer it from the idea pool to the planning overview.
At this moment, I am aware of the topic, so I am more sensitive to related subjects that inspire me. Also, I set up a due time for the piece, a projection of when I should get published. This is my long-term scheduling. For my short-term scheduling, I set a do time one or two weeks before writing the piece of content instead.
After writing and editing the article, I create more content from it. The minimum requirement is at least one infographic. But I also extract little information to make Twitter posts out of them. I paste those extracts in the comment section of the page of each article so I can easily find them. Then, I search for a publication that better suits the described concepts, and I send it.
After publication, I promote the article on my social media accounts. And occasionally, I go through a few Quora questions to answer people and link them to my piece for further information.
Every creator needs a content strategy and a plan to follow. So if you still don’t have one, you are missing out on many opportunities.
Even if you do have a plan, however, you may want to improve it to reach higher levels of efficiency and possibilities. In my experience, these are 4 quick and easy tips for planning your content you can use immediately.
First, use technology to your advantage. So if you decide to use an application for planning your content, choose one that synchronizes on all your devices.
Second, create an idea pool that enhances ordered chaos. Put ideas in the same container, but do not split them by topic or audience type.
Third, define a long-term schedule. Ideally, you should have a glimpse of the content for an entire year. But more realistically, schedule your content at least one month ahead.
And fourth, aggregate the data for each piece of content in one entity. Once the creation process begins, aggregate any relevant information in the same spot so you can monitor it better and find it easily for future purposes.
These were the 4 quick and easy tips for planning your content right now.
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