Do You Plan Every Article in Advance, Or Do You Wing It?

To create a successful blog, most people will do what they can to streamline the process of maintenance. This includes creating content. And when you have five blogs that need your attention, it’s helpful to plan every article well in advance.

I’m not saying that it’s a mandatory process. However, it’s greatly beneficial if you have things laid out before opening WordPress.

I know in my case, it makes a huge difference in what I create.

Today, let’s take a look at why you should plan your article beforehand and how I manage a team of writers.

5 Benefits When You Plan the Article in Advance

First, I’ll break down a handful of the benefits for good planning. These are elements that I experience on a regular basis. Whether it’s my own blogs or getting a team set up for the week, planning is very beneficial.

Keep in mind, this is based on personal experience. You may find other benefits that are not listed below.

A Clear Idea of What You’re Creating

Having an idea about what you’re creating helps keep the flow of writing strong. This is because you’re already focused on the article and what it’s going to entail.

When you plan out an article well in advance, you can spend a bit more time fleshing out what you want to create. Perhaps you’ll decide some points are more poignant than others.

My point is that having a clear idea about what you’re going to write about today helps keep you focused and the momentum strong.

Less Time Spent in Front of a Blank Screen

Perhaps one of the most important benefits for me is knowing what I’m going to write about today without spending time sitting in front of a blank computer screen.

I can’t count the number of times when I sat here for a half-hour trying to come up with a topic for any one of my blogs. When I plan out the article, I don’t feel like my morning is wasted on brainstorming.

It’s incredibly nice to just look at my list of things I want to cover and start writing. And when you’re time is as limited as mine for everything you want to accomplish, any shortcut is valuable.

Getting More Done in the Day

When I have a plan for an article, I can get started immediately, as mentioned above. This creates a ripple effect throughout the day among all the different projects I want to complete.

For example, I was able to publish two blog posts on separate websites while managing the content on GreenGeeks and making a YouTube video. All of this is because I had a set idea about what I was writing and what my team was doing.

The best part is that I wasn’t working until 8 pm trying to get everything done.

Easier to Make Edits While Writing

One of the things I like about having a good plan for content is that I can make adjustments on the fly. And as I have an idea about the content already, I can quickly make edits and modifications to the piece.

Since I planned the article earlier, I already have it in the back of my mind throughout the week. Which means if I think of something later, I can easily add it to the list of what I want to write about.

For me, it’s an incredible time-saver when it comes down to getting things regularly published.

Usually Results in Higher Quality Posts

Perhaps one of the most important aspects is the quality of the article. When I have an active plan, it just seems the piece comes out far superior than if I just try to “wing it.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve improvised A LOT of content over the years. But none of the posts perform nearly as well than the ones I have planned out.

Take the post about Buy Me a Coffee on WriterSanctuary.com, for example. It was a planned piece and is the most visited post on the website by far. Part of that is because of the topic, though.

5 Drawbacks When You DON’T Plan an Article

You’d think with the above benefits, I would plan every article for myself as well as my clients. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. Mostly because I forget that’s what I want to do when I have free time.

So, yes, I’ve experienced all of these below and am working hard to get a better flow going.

Getting Lost in Thought

How often do you sit in front of the screen and get lost in thought about what you want to write? I see “#writersblock” all the time on Twitter. And it’s not just creatives who can get stuck.

A few mornings ago, I spent almost 45 minutes trying to come up with an idea to blog about on this website. Which is awfully silly considering this blog has more flexibility in content than the others.

Still, getting lost in trying to come up with an idea can easily chew up a lot of time. The end result is that same ripple effect I mentioned earlier…only this time, it’s going the other way.

Ah, the ebb and flow of content creation.

Harder to Keep a Flow When You Don’t Plan an Article

When you don’t know what you want to cover in an article, your flow of thought can become disjointed. Your mind can start jumping all over the map to the point when it sounds like you’re rambling.

This is one of the reasons why I’ll plan out all of the headers in an article before I even start typing the content. It helps keep a flow of what I want to share and helps keep my train of thought on its track.

It’s also why I’ll include latent semantic indexing, or LSI, when I plan an article. Keyphrases are nice, but the LSI terms help me remember exactly what the piece is going to be about.

That’s because the same keywords can be used in a myriad of ways. The LSI focuses the content on exact specifics of what you want to write about.

Easier to Forget What You Want to Highlight

There have been a plethora of times when I write an article only to remember there were things I wanted to add in the piece and forgot. Sure, I can go through and add them later. But what about subscribers?

If you have people following the blog, your core audience, they already read the piece and probably won’t see the addition. Now, you have to hope that a new visitor sees the add-on and starts following the blog.

This is another reason why I add headers first. Otherwise, I know I’ll forget some of the points I want to make in any given article.

Increases Stress for Meeting Deadlines

That ripple effect I mentioned a second ago, part of it contributes to increased stress levels. This is because everything gets shifted forward. And when you have a lot of things to do today, that can be very bad.

For instance, if I don’t have a clear plan for an article first thing in the morning, I’ll finish the day uploading a video to YouTube by 7 pm or so. To put this into perspective, it’s my goal to finish my day by 5 pm.

Of course, not everyone will be under as much of a strain to be productive as I. But still, the more time you spend trying to write something amazing, the less time you have for everything else.

Doesn’t Always Come Out as Good

And lastly, a lack of planning often results in a piece that isn’t nearly as good as others. And I’ve created some posts that never saw the light of day in terms of visitor traffic.

Those ones I usually plan for revamps later on. Still, that means I’m missing out on connecting with an audience for that particular topic and not really making anything in terms of ad revenue.

Rarely do I see a piece of content without a previous plan actually perform well for what I’m trying to accomplish.

How Do I Plan an Article?

Even though I don’t always plan my article for the sites I own, I do have a workflow for my clients. After all, they are more important to me than my own work. Because without them, I wouldn’t be enjoying the job I have today.

So, here is a list of what I do when I plan an article for my teams, writers, and sometimes myself:

  • Using a Spreadsheet, Again
    I use a spreadsheet for just about everything including a plan of action for content. I put in all the information below so I can keep track of what needs to be written and when projects are complete.
  • Have an Idea of the Topic
    Having an idea about what I want to create gets the process going. Do I want a tutorial today or should I share a listicle? What is the overall topic covering?
  • Research Relevant Keyphrases and Terms
    Once I have an idea, I research relevant keyphrases and terms to use in the article. This includes the LSI terms I mentioned before as well as common methods people search for the topic.
  • Use CoSchedule to Create the Title
    Next, I often use CoSchedule to create catchy headlines and titles. And although I love this tool, some of my higher-performing pieces in Google search were created without CoSchedule.
  • Add the Info to Asana
    Lastly, I’ll add the information I collect about the piece into Asana. This has been instrumental in helping me remember what I want covered and keeping my team on the same page.

Of course, if you don’t have Asana or a team of writers, you can always just create drafts in WordPress to remember what you want to write about later. In fact, I’ll do this often if I come up with an idea for my own blogs.

How Often Do You Plan an Article in Advance?

Not everyone needs to spend time planning out what the want to write. I’m sure there are many out there who do well from the seat of their pants. In fact, I work well when doing orders in Textbroker without being able to plan anything.

Still, there are a lot of benefits to having a clear-cut flow of what you want to write. In the end, it all comes down to what makes you the most efficient.

For me, it’s better to plan the article than try to come up with something on the fly.

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Michael Brockbank

I've been a freelance writer since January 1, 2012. I've worked with a myriad of clients and currently the Content Marketing Team Lead for GreenGeeks web hosting. My fingers are also in a lot of different industries such as gaming and fitness.

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