How I Plan Blog & Instagram Content

One of my goals for 2017 was to be more consistent with my blog and Instagram posts. And I’m happy to say it was a success! A big part of that success was due to how I plan my content and divvy up my workload.

I need structure… but not too much structure. In the post I’ll go into specifics but basically, I like making to-do lists and general deadlines. Rather than saying “from 12-2 I will take photos and from 2-5 PM I will write this blog post from start to finish and schedule it for Monday morning” I’ll say “I have XYZ tasks that need to be done by this date” and give myself the freedom to get it done, when I get it done.

I’ve learned to be flexible with my content. Instead of fixating on something that doesn’t get done by a deadline, I’ll roll with it and switch up my content calendar.

First things first, I have to say the biggest key to staying on top of your shit IS SETTING REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS. There was a time when I thought I could publish three blog posts and seven Instagram posts a week. It was unrealistic, I almost never got it done, and I wasted a ton of time fixating on the fact that I failed. Some people can publish 5 blog posts a week, some others can publish 2 a month. There’s nothing wrong with either. The most important part is keeping your schedule realistic for your lifestyle.





Part I: Blog Content

Even though I arguably spend the same amount of time actually making blog content and Instagram content, the planning that goes into blog content is a lot less laborious.

Make A List of Blog Post Ideas


You never know when inspiration will hit you. Sometimes it’s after seeing a new product while grocery shopping, sometimes it’s from a comment someone makes on an Instagram post, sometime’s it’s while you’re washing your hair in the shower. Naturally, I have half a dozen lists in various places—on post-it notes, in notebooks, on my phone. Because I’m prone to losing a list or two I’ve made it a habit to consolidate them all in one place.

Consolidating with TickTick


Personally, I like using ticktick. It’s a free task-master mobile app that also comes with a google chrome extension. You can make various lists, set deadlines, create a calendar, add notes to your tasks, and use hashtags. There are many features offered but I honestly just stick to the bare bones. They also offer a premium version that’s around $30/ a year. If I’m ever really on top of my shit perhaps I’ll gift myself a subscription.

For blog content, I have two lists—one list of blog post ideas and another list of scheduled blog posts. As you might have guessed, after I schedule a post I’ll move it from the blog post ideas list to the scheduled blog posts list, and when I actually publish the post I’ll check it off the scheduled blog post list. Another thing I like about the ticktick app is that it doesn’t automatically delete your completed tasks, instead, it moves it to the bottom of the list where it’s still easily accessible.

I also really like the hashtag option as it allows me to keep track of various series I’m working on. For instance, I have a bunch of beauty in the city posts I would like to publish this year, so if I click on the #beautyintheseries hashtag I can see all that ones I’ve listed out across all my lists as well as my completed tasks.




Scheduling on Google Calendar 


While ticktick does have a calendar tool, it has limited functionality with a free account. So instead I use Google calendar to schedule my posts. Usually, I try to plan my posts at least a month in advance and make changes later on according to my schedule. Like I said earlier up in the post, my calendar isn’t concrete. Flexibility is your friend! Here's a sample calendar:


Get Shit Done


After my google calendar is set, that’s really where my planning ends! I then write up my posts, format them, take photos, edit said photos, add links, yada yada yada, and finally hit publish. I don’t plan when I do these things… I just get them done by the date I’ve set. Sometimes I can sit down for a few hours and bang out a post, other times it takes an hour every night for a few days to get it done. The only thing I really plan is when I take photos but I’ll talk about that more in down below in part II!

Part II: Instagram Content!

As I said above, it takes me a bit more planning to push out consistent Instagram content. The process is pretty similar to my blog planning but with a few extra steps.


Make A List of Instagram Posts


Pretty self-explanatory. I usually do this on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

Sometimes the posts are really vague such as a routine post, other times the posts are very specific like a review of a product or a specific texture shot (you can read the other week’s post if you’re curious to see how I take those.) I also like to list out any specific sponsored posts or PR products I want to talk about in the week. It’s important for me to have a balance of products I’ve received as PR and products I’ve purchased with my own money. Planning ahead of time helps me make sure I don’t have 4 posts in a row focusing on PR gifts.

Oddly enough, I don’t use ticktick for this, although I easily could. Instead, I have a simple word document that I update regularly. I also don’t use google calendar to schedule things, instead, I have a table in the same word doc.

A Note on Cohesiveness 


Having a cohesive Instagram feed is always a work of progress in my opinion. Sometimes my feed looks really put together and other times it looks like it's suffering from a mid-life identity crisis. I edit every photo differently and I don’t have a strict theme for I stick to. I think the general “togetherness” of my feed comes from knowing what my style is—saturated colors, bright lighting, and clean shots. I also have a general color theme in mind when I’m planning. Let’s say a certain product I want to shoot is blue, I’ll try to have a pink background and maybe some yellow accessories to help it come together with the rest of my feed. I’ll also try incorporating some blue into the other shots I’m posting that week.

Shoot!


Spoiler: I take all my photographs for the week at once.

And because I only use natural lighting, I can’t take photographs willy-nilly. So after I have my list of photos I want to share for the week, it’s time to take said photos. I batch shoot for multiple reasons. One, it’s a huge time saver. Two, it helps keep my photos looking consistent since they have similar lighting.

First things first are to check the weather. There’s no point in planning to shoot for on Saturday if it’s going to be rainy and cloudy all day.

Second, find the best time to shoot! For example, I don’t always like taking beauty shots during golden hour because it puts a heavy yellow tint to my photos. Instead I like shooting when the sun isn’t directly up above, but rather at an angle—basically from noon to the afternoon. This is just my personal preference and I’ve figured it out from taking many, many shots. What time you’ll like to shoot will depend on your personal preference, where you live, what kind of lighting your place gets, etc.

Third is to find your shoot location. There have been days where I literally walk around my house with a basket of beauty products shooting in different spaces. Through a lot of experimenting, I’ve found the optimal spaces for various times. If I’m shooting in the early morning, the kitchen is my go-to spot. If I’m shooting in the afternoon, my bedroom turns into a low budget photo studio and if I’m shooting in the late afternoon right before golden hour, I like the lighting in the foyer. Again, this is a personal thing. I don’t know what the lighting looks like at 1:30 PM at your house—you gotta figure that out yourself! To some people, this might sound really extra, but figuring out the optimal times and spaces to shoot has been a big-time saver for me. Instead of wasting time a half hour taking the same shot 50 times in 3 different spaces and being unhappy with them all, I already know the best time and space to take a photo and get it done in 10 minutes.

Putting It All Together


After I edit my photos, I’ll plug them into planoly! It’s an Instagram planning app that lets you schedule your posts ahead of time. You can also use it on your desktop.

Even though I do have a rough calendar of when I want to post things, it doesn’t become set until I can visually see everything put together on planoly. I used to have a personal private account that I would upload all my photos to, but it became too labor intensive to upload 5 different versions of each photo and delete them and re-upload to get them in the configuration I wanted. With planoly I can easily drag and drop photos into whatever spot I want.



The free version of the app comes with 30 uploads a month, but I went ahead and splurged on a $9 subscription/ month (it's cheaper / month if you commit to a yearly membership) which allows for unlimited uploads! And boy do I get my money’s worth.

So after I visually map out the order I want to publish my photos in, I also use planoly to write out captions and schedule times for those posts to go live. And I do this all on my laptop because typing out lengthy captions on my phone is a pain in the buttocks. I also write out my hashtags for each post on my laptop on planoly. Like Instagram, planoly suggests hashtags as you start typing them out. It also lets you know how many posts are available under that hashtag (personally I like avoiding ones that have more than 500k posts.)

You can also save hashtag groups to easily add to your photos. For instance, I have a hashtag group saved for my routine posts that includes the hashtags #skincareregimen #skincareregime #skincareoftheday #skinobsessed #skincareblogger. I try not to make the groups too big because apparently using the same hasthags continuously can shadowban you. (Although at this point it seems like even breathing can shadowban you.)

Planoly doesn’t upload the photos on your behalf, but rather sends you a push notification reminder. The app copies your caption to your clipboard, saves the photo to your camera roll, and opens up Instagram for you.

So with planoly this is how things go:

Upload photo on laptop to planoly --> write caption on laptop on planoly --> insert hashtags on planoly on laptop --> schedule time and for post to go live with planoly --> get reminder to post photo on phone via planoly --> post photo on Instagram on phone

I know there’s been some issues with 3rd party apps and Instagram shadowbanning but Planoly is an official Instagram partner so there’s no worries that using it will create problems for your Instagram account.

Another reason it was worth it for me to purchase the planoly subscription is because it allows me to easily respond to comments on my laptop. I sometimes struggle with keeping up with comments (and DMs) but being able to type them up with a proper keyboard as opposed to my phone helps me keep up better. While you can technically write comments on Instagram desktop site, there’s no easy way to reply. You have to manually type out @XYZ and it gets to really annoying after your 6 or 7 comments in.

Planoly also has basic metrics like follower growth, avg. number of likes and comments, and such. Since I have no interest in upgrading to a business account I like having easy access to those numbers.

They do have a referral program so if you sign up for an account and later on get a paid plan through my link, I’ll get a $10 credit. (This post isn’t sponsored by them, I've paid for my own subscription ๐Ÿ˜œ.)


Post!


Because I have everything queued up ahead of time, there’s not much for me to do besides tag a brand when it comes to share a post. And then we’re done!

I hope this was helpful for somebody. I wasn't sure how obvious the "tips" of this post would be but I went ahead and shared it anyways ¯\_(ใƒ„)_/¯ There may be some people who think this is a whole lotta work for "just a blog" and that's okay. I blog and Instagram as a hobby and it brings me joy. Sometimes it's annoying that people see blogging as something that must be a business and if you're not doing that, you're wasting time. Nobody says that of most other hobbies, especially ones that are mostly enjoyed by males. But that's a whole other can of worms.

To end this on a positive note, even if you don't plan on implementing anything from this post I hope you enjoyed seeing a look at my behind the scenes! I'm nosy and always love seeing how other bloggers work so if you have any tricks of the trade you'd like to share, please do!



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