Why You Should Write a Plan Even When You HATE Planning

June 5, 2017
Posted in productivity
June 5, 2017 bryan

Why You Should Write a Plan Even When You HATE Planning

Have you ever had a great idea? Like, a brilliant million-dollar idea? So you set to work on it immediately. Without giving yourself too much time to plan and strategize the best way to implement that idea, you just begin going for it. You get a website set up, you start a YouTube channel or podcast or book. And you just start going for it. And then you keep checking your analytics and it’s just not getting traction? And you’re doing all the steps, right? You’re leaving comments on other channels. You’re watching all the “How To” videos on YouTube by other people in your niche and they’re telling you all the perfect ways to do the thing you’re wanting to do. You do those exact five things they tell you, but you don’t get NEARLY the traffic they tell you you should expect.

And before long, you start looking at the returns and thinking, If I spend X number of hours doing X at a rate of X, I will be exactly 850 years old before I make any sizable dent in my project. And so the excitement goes down. You figure, I need a break from this. And you just take a break. Impromptu just like the way you started the project. No big plan. Just go with it.

And that day break turns into a week and a month, and you tell yourself it’s okay because clearly those bloggers and YouTubers and podcasters and writers are more talented and better-looking and more interesting than you are so it’s obviously your idea or your personality that’s the problem. Maybe you just don’t have the universe at your beck and call like that person does.

Anyone ever experienced that? No? Just me then?

I always liked to see myself as a creative person. I would have eight big ideas before lunch on most days, and, rather than write a plan to strategically cultivate those ideas and maybe pace them out, I would try to implement each of them at the same time and try to keep going. And before I knew it, I was getting confused on which project I was working on, and I’d get in over my head, and before I knew it again, I was floating helplessly in a sea of anxiety.

My path to success in marketing myself always seemed a lot harder than other people doing the same thing. I would create content – a great blog post, a great video for YouTube, and I would try to mimic the exact methodology as the other content contributors out there. The successful ones. The ones that were killing it on YouTube or that had 150,000 comments on each post. The YouTuber who instantly has 30,000 subscribers seemingly overnight. Their videos are put out and instantly come with 140,000 views.

I paid attention to what times of day those people posted their content, I paid attention to what kinds of content seemed to be getting noticed, and I’d mimic it. I’d produce the best YouTube thumbnail I could, I’d make the blog artwork as good as I could. And in three days, I’d have exactly ZERO comments and according to the analytics, twelve views.

Is Content King? Is it Really?

All of the big websites for writing and producing content tell you repeatedly that the best way to get views and subscribers and readers and commenters is to be YOURSELF, to write the best content you can give, to write or produce content that provides VALUE for people, and that GOOD content will be appreciated.

So I would try that. And it didn’t work. I would spend half the day making sure the content was engaging or funny or thought-provoking. And I’d think, THIS sounds like what I want people to get out of this.

But they didn’t get anything out of it. In fact, they never even knew it existed.

Engage and Interact with Other Content Contributors. That Works, Right?

The next thing they tell you to do (and they’re always right, whoever they are) is to market that content by commenting and interacting with other content creators in your niche. And don’t just tell them to come to your blog/page. In fact, don’t mention your page or blog at all. Just comment and leave witty comments and engage with those people truly. Build content.

So you do it. I did it. I would leave comments and introduce myself in the most eye-catching and creative ways I could. I would track hours and hours of time in watching YouTube videos and leaving content all in the hopes that those people might discover me.

They didn’t. I didn’t get discovered.

And so I gradually started producing less and less content. And after a while my suspicions were confirmed – I wasn’t very good at this. I didn’t have the natural popularity those other content creators had. So I made the decision that it would be best for the whole world if I didn’t waste my time doing that thing anymore. After all, no one would read it except a handful of people I knew in real life who kind of liked what I did. And the rest stopped following my page because they didn’t want me spamming my Facebook feed again with more self-promoting marketing on the thing I’d spent so much time creatng.

Oh, and I had started my idea and implemented and commented and engaged for an entirety of two weeks.

Do you see my problem?

What I began to realize was that the content creators I’d interacted with and tried to mimic so hard had been doing that content for years. They’d been plugging new material for a long time, and at some point, something clicked with the gods of YouTube and Google algorithms and their posts started magically showing up after sometimes dozens or even hundreds of posts that didn’t seem to get many views.

Very often, the ones who had inspired me so much to replicate what techniques they were using were some of the first people to be creating that kind of content. They were the first to start that niche on YouTube or on their blog. They had two things working for them: 1.) They had kept producing content even when nobody was watching or reading. And 2.) They were early adopters to what they were trying to produce. They didn’t have nearly the competition that would come once that niche became popular.

Turns Out, Writing a Plan Isn’t As Much About the Plan As You’d Think

My wife is a big-time organizer. She’s one of the most organized and strategic thinkers I have ever met, and anytime there is an event we’re in or if she’s just planning a menu out for the week for our family, she will document it and plan it in our calendar, and my phone will buzz eight times throughout the day reminding me that we’re having roast chicken for supper. Eight times! Yes, she is organized.

But this organization isn’t to remind her what she needs to be working on. God knows she has a memory like an elephant on Adderall (probably the only time it is socially acceptable to compare my wife to an elephant). My point is, she’d remember it even if she didn’t write it down. What I’ve learned is that she writes it on the calendar and makes a plan because it reminds her not to deviate from it. No matter if she will be rushed in coming home from work to do it or if the kids complain and writhe on the floor because they refuse to eat carrots, she doesn’t deviate from the plan. Even in the face of negative results (those dang kids STILL writhed in rebellion on the floor and the carrots still got cold), she got something healthy and nutritious on the table. And I’d wind up eating the cold carrots anyway.

You may be trying to create something that you think is valuable and others may have told you you should do it because THEY find value in it, and maybe it’s taking a while. Maybe you don’t seem to be getting any feedback at all. Maybe you’re paying people to read your content.

But if you make that plan and advise yourself to keep putting it out there because it needs to be out there, you can’t decide when someone will view it or see it or read it. But you have the content waiting on them whenever they DO happen to visit it. What you are actually deciding is to stick it out when it’s hard. You’re deciding to continue to produce because it is making your content better, and you will eventually be better at what you do. And when you’re better, your audience gets better too.

I am asking you to keep going.

Write down a plan that helps you stay on task. Even if you hate writing plans. Even if you hate writing schedules. Even if that is typically the most creative-killing idea, JUST write down what you want to do, and follow the plan. And produce it regularly.

Because THAT becomes a discipline that will help you to produce better content and THAT better content will get you BETTER results. It doesn’t come today. It probably won’t come as fast as that YouTube wizardry video said it would. But it will come as YOU are ready for it.

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Why You Should Write a Plan Even If You Hate Planning