Is Failure to Plan, Planning to Fail?

Photo credit: kahanaboy

Today I was linked to as an example of what not to do:

The author of Blogging4Jobs feels it’s a big mistake to schedule content or a daily time to blog and linked to my post about scheduling/planning blog content.  This means I’ve hit the big time right?  Someone noticed me and disagreed!  Woo!  (I keep hearing that’s a good thing, but the “big time” isn’t exactly my goal here.)

Nah, I’d rather be thankful for my awesome readers like you than for someone disagreeing with me.  But I digress…

For what it’s worth she makes thought-provoking points in her post, and I agree with some of them.  But I still think planning blog content is a valuable strategy.

Opposing viewpoints are great because they get us to stop, step back, and take a look at what we’re doing or what we believe and re-examine that belief, challenging our preconceptions or limited personal experience.

Blog planning works for me and without it I’d totally fail as blogger. Been there, tried that, got the FAIL stamp. 

But at the same time, different things work well for different people and maybe more importantly different types of blogs.  I’m curious what works for you.

Personally, if I don’t plan ahead and schedule a time to write, then my blog ends up with many fewer posts and what I do post is disjointed as far as topics and continuity — which means it’s not as helpful for my readers.  Like this week were I didn’t post for several days.  It’s because I hadn’t planned and scheduled posts for the week.

Planning doesn’t mean I write at exactly 6am every morning come h*ll or high water as the saying goes.  It does mean though that I make time to blog certain days and generally write at the same time on those days (because I’ve identified it as the best time for me to get it done–who can blog coherently with three kids climbing on them asking for snacks or to play outside in the snow?).

It does mean I know generally what topics I want to write about and when I’ll write them.  Do I deviate from the plan?  Sure.  I throw in a post on something I care about whenever I want to. Creating a plan doesn’t mean you have to stick to it 100%.  It means you’ve got a general map that guides you and that you can fall back on when you need it.

I used to blog whenever I “felt” like it or was “inspired” — but my blog suffered because those are such relative terms.  Do I feel inspired right now?  If not, does that mean I don’t have something helpful and useful to share with my readers?  

I come down on the side that says blog whenever you can offer value. For me, offering value means I can share a tip or strategy, not necessarily that I need to be fired up and bouncing off my office walls with enthusiasm.

Some of the best posts *absolutely* come from the off the cuff, spur of the moment, or fueled by passion writing.  But some of my most popular posts were definitely pre-planned, pre-written, and worked into the schedule of my blogging calendar.  So both can work.  I still have the freedom to blog if I feel super inspired or want to share something that’s not in the plan.

I blog almost every day whether I feel like it or not — my focus is not how I feel but rather, whether I can deliver something of value that will help my readers in some way (offer tips, resources, support, etc).

Even though my strategy might seem robotic, I think my voice still comes through and I’m achieving my goals for this blog.  I don’t blog daily because I have to (Ultimate Blog Challenge aside LOL) but because I’ve got a mission for my blog and the big picture is what pulls me through the “I don’t wanna blog today…” feeling — or more often the “I don’t have time to blog today!” feeling.

My traffic has never been higher than it is this month (and it’s grown steadily for the past year that I’ve been consistently blogging).  I know from the comments, sharing, emails and private messages that I’m helping people.  That seems like success in my book.

Do you feel it’s a bad idea to plan your blog content?  Or do you believe failure to plan is planning to fail?

If you come from the “fly by the seat of your pants” strategy, I’d love to hear how you make it work for you as far as consistency — and if that’s you I’d love to get a good guest post on how to make it work since I’m betting not all of my readers embrace my planning strategy and some might appreciate tips on how to work successfully from the free-spirited other side of the fence.

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  1. I think a lot of this has to do with the type of blog you have. My personal blog, preplanning wouldn’t make sense. But my business blog, absolutely. And without scheduling, my blog wouldn’t happen at all.

    1. I can imagine pre-planning a personal blog would be tough. :)

  2. Some of mine are scheduled. Depends on the topic. My blog spot lights are scheduled. some of my ad’s/coupons sharing are scheduled too. i also have some daily groove posts scheduled. most of my posts are not scheduled though, i would say 25% and some months about half are. but all are mine even though they are scheduled. the ones i posts randomly i start it one day and sometimes dont get it finished that day. i have 4 children that always come first. so some planned and some not works great for me.

    1. Ah, the Swiss army knife approach! All the tools/strategies — some scheduled, some spontaneous. Perhaps that’s the key. Middle ground.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michelle Shaeffer, Solo-e Feed and Michelle Shaeffer. Michelle Shaeffer said: Blog: Is Failure to Plan, Planning to Fail? #blogboost […]

  4. Michelle,

    I have found that planning works for me too. It keeps me grounded and working in a direction I want to go. In fact it has been a big help for me lately. I have had a few personal things come up that really interrupted my work. I found it easy to get back to task because I know what the plan is.

    I also like the consistency for my readers. I can email my list and tell them what series I am posting on and I know what products I will be promoting.

    Now with that said I am not afraid to add something spontaneous and inspired. The good thing about a list is that I can share the spontaneous and inspired with them and not interrupt something I have going on.

    1. That’s another great point, Sheila. There are more benefits of knowing in advance some of what I’m going to post aside from making it easier to get it done, it also makes it easier to promote and create some anticipation to draw in readers.

  5. Hi Michelle
    I try hard to plan but somehow it just doesnt come off as well as I hope. I do try to plan blog topics but then sometimes, like this morning, a great idea presented itself to me and wham the plan went out the window. So I’m a left/right brain blogger but a procrastinator++…its a wonder I get anything down on paper at all

    1. LOL Yes, sometimes those two sides of the brain get in conflict, don’t they? :)

  6. Michelle – I’ve tried the “squeezing it in whenever inspired” approach. The problem is that I have a lot of ideas. I write professionally so the ideas for my personal blog were taking up space in my mind (and heart), making it harder for me to concentrate on other writing. After some soul searching, I’ve realized how important my personal blog is to me. I don’t like going a week or two without posting.

    So, I’ve set up a writing routine and a posting schedule as an outlet for these ideas. I write on 750 everyday, just to get all the ideas out of my head. From that, there are always a couple of thoughts that stick with me that become potential posts. I pick one or two, fine tune them, then schedule them for a weekly post. I feel so much better now because I know I have posts ready to go every week for awhile now. I can always tweak or re-schedule them if needed.

    Now, my mind is free for other projects. It helps to hear how others manage this but in the end it’s going to be different for everyone. There is definitely no right or wrong process. Thanks for doing all you can to help us thrive.

    1. That’s a great idea for managing ideas, Denese. And I agree–I feel more relaxed when I’ve got posts scheduled, too.

  7. Oh, boy, you HAVE hit the bigtime, Michelle! I think it’s great that your post was mentioned in what “not” to do. Why, you ask?? Because it will send people streaming over here to see what you’re all about and when they arrive …

    They’re going to be pleasantly surprised, totally impressed, and anxious to come back for more. :)

    As for planning my blog posts — I start out with lots of ideas every month, create an editorial calendar of blog post titles, and then remind myself to keep a REALLY tight grip on “flexibility”.

    I don’t care what anyone says or what kinds of organizational tools people throw my way (and there are some good ones), I’m a mom, first and foremost, and I have jobs that I work offline. So many of my best laid plans, including getting a blog post published, fall by the wayside. And I’m okay with that. The last I heard, “blogging police” is a myth.

    1. I guess the blogging police are like the tooth fairy! ;)

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