This is part four in a series on building a daily writing habit.
This article is about how to keep a regular posting schedule and keep it spicy by writing about things happening right now. In other words, how to sprinkle ad hoc topics into your scheduled posts.
What’s the difference between planned and ad hoc posts?
My planned posts come from a content backlog I created and covered in this post about planning for a daily writing habit. Planned posts are written in advance, edited and made ready before they go live on my blog.
Ad hoc posts can be about anything happening now. My content backlog is full of stuff that I can post about any time and it will still be relevant (well, I hope).
Planned posts are like regularly scheduled programming on TV. Ad hoc posts are like news coverage on social media. Sometimes you feel like things are happening and you want to have a say about them. That’s a great time for an ad hoc post.
Why I plan my posts
Brands grow by having mental and physical availability. You gain mental availability by showing up and being remembered. That’s what advertising is often used for: showing people that you’re here and you’re worth paying attention to.
Planned posts are about building brand awareness and mental availability. Keep showing up and the right people will keep noticing you - even if only in the back of their minds.
Writing daily and publishing regularly is a great way to build that memory in peoples’ brain bits. Just remember that quality counts.
What goes into your planned posts?
Your content catalog. Read How to build a 32-week content plan in under 30 minutes to see how you can quickly plan 32 weeks of content.
When to publish your planned posts
I like to publish weekly because it takes the pressure off. Some people can get away with publishing every day, but not me.
Publishing daily feels stressful and adds too much pressure. By writing every day and publishing once per week, you’ll build an awesome catalog and with a lot less stress.
Which day should you publish? You can find study after study on the best day of the week and time of day to publish a blog post to get the most attention. Don’t stress this. Pick a day and time that feels good and commit to publishing something new each week. For example, my posts go out Wednesdays at 8am AEST.
Where to publish planned posts
Publish on real estate you own and control, like a personal or company blog. I’m writing this for my personal blog and if you’re reading it, you’re probably on that blog.
Why stick to your own website? Because we’re all writing to get attention and the best place to get that attention is on a property you own and control. If you’re on my blog, reading my stuff, it’s branding for me. Same goes for you and your business. Bring people to you.
Who should publish these?
This isn’t about who should write your content. That has to be you. The person who does the work to publish it can be anyone and I believe it shouldn’t be you.
In Who Not How by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Ben Hardy, the authors talk about finding the right team to get more done. Publishing a blog post may be simple, but it’s still a lot of work and it can take hours to do it right.
If you can afford it, hire someone who can help you edit and publish your posts. Consider getting help with SEO, creating graphics and images, and drafting social media posts. If hiring help to do this work saves you two hours each week, that’s over 100 hours or 2.5 full work weeks per year.
Ad hoc posts
Publishing at random times
Life doesn't always go according to plan, right? That’s why ad hoc posts are great. You never know what’s going to happen in the world and if you give yourself permission to write and post about things as they happen, I feel like you’ll enjoy this writing thing more. I know I do.
In my marketing work things change all the time and it’s important to learn about these changes. For example, Google and Apple are making it harder for advertisers to track and monitor what people do online. This means highly targeted advertising is going to change and I need to understand what that means.
I can read about the changes, but the ideas don’t gel until I sit down and write about what I’ve learned.
Writing forces me to think and learn. It's also a form of teaching and teaching is the best way I know of to deepen my understanding of something. If you notice a change in your industry, why not write about it?
Finding random ideas to write about
Trending topics make for good content ideas. A great example of comes from the What I learned newsletter from Brendan Short. Brendan writes smartly about trends he sees and is learning about. From cryptocurrency to micro-communities, Brendan’s newsletter is about what he learned lately.
He’s candid about how much he knows and it’s clearly his way of synthesizing what he’s learned. Brendan also uses his newsletter to build community and to solicit feedback from people who know more about a topic than he does. It's brilliant.
Three things I like to put in ad hoc posts
What's happening right now? What changes or trends catch your eye? Write about those things and do it quickly.
Write down the questions you have. Don't pretend to know everything about a topic. Be like Brendan and seek to learn from the people around you.
10 ideas. I'm stealing this from James Altucher. Write down 10 ideas each day and share those with your readers. I haven't published any of my 10 Ideas lists yet, but it's I reckon it's a great way to record new thoughts and to expose them to other people. Who knows what could happen?!
When to post this random stuff
Whenever you want. The beauty of having a backlog of planned and scheduled content is you never have to worry about whether or not you’re going to post this week.
If you’re inspired to write about something happening now, write it and post it asap. Why wait until you have a break in your regular posting schedule? That may be too late to take advantage of other people’s attention on the hot topic.
Where to post ad hoc content
The same place you publish regular content. It’s easy to categorize content with labels or tags on Wordpress, Webflow or Ghost. I’m experimenting with having two sections of my site:
- Regularly scheduled posts
- The ad hoc stuff
This way I can write about what I want and it’s easy for readers to find the different types of content.
Who should post my ad hoc content?
The same person who publishes your regular posts. If you’re the one posting everything, do it. If you have an editor or assistant, let him or her do it.
Better yet, write a standard operating procedure for publishing your content and follow it when you have something new to publish.
Planned content gives you room for the random stuff
Until recently, writing and blogging was a misery for me. I hated it. It was stressful. It took more time than I wanted it to and it never went anywhere.
A daily writing habit and a backlog of content has changed all of that. I look forward to sitting down to write or edit each morning. Having a backlog of content means I don’t stress about whether or not I’m going to publish this week.
It also means I can write about whatever I want, when I want. It’s freeing. Planned content gives me the room to learn about and write about the important stuff and the random stuff.