Episode #30: Planning vs. Documenting Content (Content Creation Mini-Series, Part 2)

In today’s episode, we’re continuing our mini series on content creation by discussing planning vs. documenting content and how to balance it. Then we’ll finish the show with a weekly actionable tip.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’d rather see people get the content right than the visual perfect. Because I think that the content matters more then how it looks; at least when you’re getting into the realm of what are people; what do they care about. Right? Because you might really care about this one thing and you make this cool graphic in Canva, and it’s got your three bullet points you want to teach people; and all of that and you think that that’s great. But if it falls on deaf ears, I think ultimately none of us feels great spending time on something that people don’t care about.

Welcome to Driven; a show about business, life, and wellness from two confident, curious women who are pulling back the curtain on what it’s like being an entrepreneur. Each week, join hosts Diane Sanfilippo and Cassy Joy Garcia talk about being your best, showing up for your dreams, and kicking self-doubt to the curb.

Diane is a business whisperer, best-selling author, and plant-hobbyist based in San Francisco. Cassy Joy is the founder of www.FedandFit.com, best-selling author, and casserole enthusiast. She calls San Antonio, Texas, home.

Diane Sanfilippo: In today’s episode, we’re continuing our miniseries on content creation. Today’s episode is all about planning versus documenting content, and how to balance it. And we’ll finish the show with a weekly actionable tip.


  1. What’s on my plate [1:19]
  2. Shop Talk: Documenting versus planning content [16:32]
  3. What to plan [36:27]
  4. Tip of The Week: Change it up [1:01:12]

1.  What’s on my plate [1:19]

Cassy Joy: What’s on My Plate. In this segment, we talk about what’s happening in our businesses, and in our lives for the week. Diane; what’s going on over there?

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh my goodness.

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m doing new things. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: I love new things.

Diane Sanfilippo: New things. So; I don’t know, maybe it was a couple of weeks ago, I posted in my Instagram stories asking people what they thought I did when I realized I needed to create a pitch deck. Which I’ve never done before. And I asked folks in a little poll, one of those; it’s a question thing, where; well, there is a right answer. I wish Instagram would give us a poll where it’s not just two choices, right?

Cassy Joy: I know. I’m with you.

Diane Sanfilippo: So; I asked folks, I’m going to try and remember. Did I one; you know, ask my best friend or ask my friends who’ve written a pitch deck before. Did I ask someone more experienced who already has a business what they did? I don’t remember all the options I had. But one of them was; Googled that ish.

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: And that is what I did. I didn’t ask anyone; because frankly, you know, I know a few people. I’ve actually received a pitch deck before. I was going to; I mean, this was years ago, but I was going to potentially invest in someone’s small food business years ago. And I just did not know what goes into a pitch deck, so I Googled it. Found out I also found some examples of tech its tax which are not exactly the same as something you do for the food industry. But I did find a couple of food industry ones. I thought that was really interesting. So, I also then opened up Canva as I often do; feel free to contact us, Canva; we’ll gladly take you as a sponsor. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: And low and behold, I searched pitch deck, and found some templates. And I was like; great, fantastic. Here we go. I’m using this. Modifying a little bit so that it makes sense, but yeah, I’m creating a pitch deck because it turns out that I; I don’t remember what I talked about last time on the show here, but I want to explorer taking this business of Balanced Bites initially meals and we’ll see beyond that, to retail. And what that’s going to require is a lot of money. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: And probably more than I’m willing to personally put up. I think I’m definitely willing to risk might time and my fanny; wait, if you’re somewhere abroad that sounds bad. My butt. I’m willing to risk my butt {laughs}. I’m willing to risk all of my energy and my; all of it. But I don’t think it would be wise to take a very large chunk of my own finances and do that in this situation

But, in looking out there. For the last couple of years, at least. At least a year, Cassy. Right? You and I have had these conversations in the morning; which is one of the reasons we wanted to start this podcast. We’ve had these conversations where I’ve said to you; I don’t know what is next. And I actually have a handful of prolific influencer, author, blogger, health coach friends who are in that space right now. So I’m trying to hold space for them, the way you did for me. But for at least a year, if not more, I’ve said; I don’t know what’s next. I don’t have another book I want to write. I just don’t see it. I don’t see the path forward.

And over the last three months, it has become crystal clear that this thing that I started back in late 2007 early 2008 with delivering meals locally in San Francisco, then a little over a year ago starting it as a frozen meal business, just direct to consumer online, learning that what I did in the first year was double what most businesses like that do in their first year, and I’m like; oh. I guess I’m capable of some things.

Cassy Joy: It’s working!

Diane Sanfilippo: Something; I’m doing something right. I had several really rough months with this business, and so I was very much questioning everything. And then the new menu released this year, and it has been so well received. That was just such a pat on the back that I needed to hear that I know what I’m doing, I know what my customers want; I know what you guys want who are listing. Maybe some of you are customers. There is a reason that I’m just able to push forward on certain things.

So anyway, all that to say, I’m going to need investors. Which is a little scary to me. But I’ve been told that there are plenty of investors out there who are happy to be like; here’s the money. We believe in you, and we’re here for you, but we’re not trying to tell you what to do {laughing}. Because that sounds like the worst situation to me. But I looked around the store; did I say this last time on the show? I looked around Sprouts, I was there a couple weeks ago getting some cold brew coffee, and there was a copy of Practical Paleo, and it was just this ah-ham moment. Where I was like; my book is in this store. There are maybe 20 books in this store. If my book can be in this store, why not my food?

Cassy Joy: Mm-hmm.

Diane Sanfilippo: I mean, unfortunately, for me, I’m the one who doesn’t think I’m capable of things until somebody smacks me in the head with a brick. Of course, Cassy always believes I’m capable of things, and pumps me up and tells me. But at the same time, I just very often think; I don’t know if I could do that. I mean; how many times did I say that to you last year? I’m like; I don’t know. I don’t know. I can’t do those things. And then I’m like; why not me? So it’s just going to mean I have to roll my sleeves up and do some hard things I’ve never done before; the least of which is the pitch deck; right? I can put together a presentation with information and all of that, but actually getting in front of people and sort of proving to them that I’m worth their investment.

Which, I’m actually really confident about at this point. Because; I don’t know. I just feel like they’d be silly {laughing}. They’d be silly not to say; I believe in you. You know?

Cassy Joy: They would be.

Diane Sanfilippo: And that’s kind of where my track record the last 10 years has taken me to now. Now I’m seeing maybe what all that was for, you know? Anyway. We’ll see. It remains to be seen. I’m hopeful and I’ve learned that as a Manifestor Human Design type, I actually need to keep speaking these things out, as I’ve said over the past several episodes. I know I did talk about that last time. So anyway. It’s exciting, and I’m totally nervous about it. But we’ll see what happens.

So then the last thing on that front in terms of meals and that whole business is that we’re going to kick off development for the next set of whatever new meals we’re going to be creating. Just looking at the past calendar of how long it took to take recipes to launch, it was at least three months for that last round. I kicked it off in November, we didn’t get to launch it until February. So hopefully this round can be a little bit faster just based on what we know about more and more we know what works well, what executes easily, etc. Hoping to maybe do some breakfast options. We’ll see what happens. Anyway; so yeah. Kicking that off. We’re in the process of interviewing customer service candidates; I’m really excited about that. We’ve got some great solid candidates for that position.

And the last thing that is super relevant this week is; you know we were supposed to have this big Beautycounter conference, our leadership event here in San Francisco, but due to potential issues surrounding Corona virus, the company decided to cancel the event. Expo West was postponed; for people who are familiar, the natural products expo. I’m not 100% sure about this, but I feel like it’s definitely the largest natural products expo there is, but I think it might be one of the largest conferences at all in this country. Do you know that statistic?

Cassy Joy: I don’t actually, no, but I did say that to Austin the other night. I was like I can’t back this up with facts, but having been there and seen the scale, it feels to me like one of the largest conferences in the country.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think it might be. We can look it up. But there were supposed to be about 86,000 attendees, 3600 vendors. I mean, that’s a lot of people at a conference. Anyway, so that’s getting supposedly postponed. But our Beautycounter event that was supposed to happen here in San Francisco was canceled, and so now everyone’s kind of pivoting. People are holding meetings locally, etc. We do actually still have a number of people coming into town, you know, we’ve got a team leader above both myself and Cassy who is hosting something here. Luckily, I got to lobby for a location which is only two blocks from my house.

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Because I was like; don’t go downtown. That’s not the San Francisco experience. And we’re going to be up here by the water, which is going to be beautiful, and I’m really excited. There’s going to be a live stream. So proud of this company for pivoting and saying; we’re not giving up on getting this information out. We’re going to use technology to our advantage in this business, and find a way to communicate with people the information we want to communicate, and get connected digitally. Which is such a huge part of all of this.

You’re going to be pivoting, right? You’re going to be hosting something in San Antonio?

Cassy Joy: Yeah. You know, I’ve found when it comes to; when you’re leading a group of people, I have found. So news broke {laughing} that the conference was getting canceled; gosh, what was it? It was late; it was, I’m in central time zone, and I think it was about 7:45 that I caught wind and then everybody knew by 9:00 PM central So it was pretty late in the day. And I stayed up for 2 1/2 hours on Voxer communicating with my team that had planned on going to San Francisco. I had about 35, almost 40 team members who had booked flights and hotels and had really looking forward to this for a number of reasons.

So I have just found, when you are leading a group of people. Because they are crushed; understandably really crushed. Had been really looking forward to this. Had lined up their childcare, if they had children. They’ve been really working towards this; maybe they were really hoping this would be the something to really move a certain piece of their business forward. And so I felt this pressure to step in immediately with an alternative. Because; and they did. Beautycounter was great, when they told us that we’re canceling lead because we stand for health and human safety of not only our consultant base but clients in general. This is consistent with our brand messaging, that we’re not going to put a bunch of folks at risk.

And so, but as such, they did announce that they were going to do the live stream. And so I said; let’s pivot; and I will host everybody here in San Antonio. And it was great. And I think it gave people an outlet, because to feel like something just got taken away from you without an alternative for that community and being able to see the people that you wanted to see. I think that was just a little too much. So I was happy to do that.

And then, Diane, I haven’t even told you this. So; Diane does know that I was slated to speak at this lead conference. And we’ve spent; gosh, I don’t know. We’ve had four rehearsals so far for this panel I was supposed to be on. And so this news breaks about lead getting canceled. We’re up late coming up with alternate plans here in San Antonio. We’re going to do a blended workshop, some filming for my team members who are coming there for the content that they can use, and then I’m taking them all out to dinner on the San Antonio Riverwalk. And then I find out two days later that they wanted the members of our panel to fly to Los Angeles anyway to be there for part of this live streaming. And I’m the only one; I said, I can’t go. I can’t do that to my team. So I’m no longer on the panel, because I couldn’t cancel on them twice. I just can’t.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. I mean, also you’re pregnant. So traveling.

Cassy Joy: Yes. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Being a little bit more in a vulnerable population and making that trip to anywhere in California at this point, I think it’s a little bit.

Cassy Joy: Totally.

Diane Sanfilippo: Questionable.

Cassy Joy: There are a lot of factors that went into the decision. But really, ultimately, I just, I couldn’t.

Diane Sanfilippo: You moved faster than they did to make that call.

Cassy Joy: I did! and I can’t cancel on this group of people twice. You know? Even though I maybe wasn’t responsible for the first one, I stand by the company and I’m proud of the decision that they made. I just couldn’t pull the rug out from under them again. So I’m no longer on the panel. But that’ll be OK. And I’m just excited we’re going to host everybody here/

And then Expo; I was also slated to attend that in Anaheim, and then had also made the decision not to go when they said that they postponed. Other things going on; I’ve talked; we’ve been through this. Since we’ve started Driven, not that long ago, I feel like both of our businesses have evolved quite a bit. There have been a lot of moving parts behind the scenes. And I’ve been talking about this team that I have; this core team here at Fed and Fit a bunch. But Diane; I cannot tell you. It feels like; and there is so much ahead, and we have so much work to do, and we have such grand visions for this business and this company that we’re building. We, the collective four of us on the team. But it feels like we’ve hit such a really exciting plateau, in a good way. Like a ledge or a milestone in our business that I didn’t realize I had been hustling for so, so many years. I feel like we’re finally capable of doing of the majority of the work that we had set out to do. And it just feels dang incredible.

Amber’s been with me for several years; y’all have heard her name a bunch. And she and I have been working like dogs to really get so many projects off the ground. But I don’t want that life for her, and I don’t want that life for me. I want us to be able to really enjoy our work, and not have to take extended vacations. And so, anyways, we’re there.

And the last, on a personal note, I had a skin epiphany {laughs}. I had a facial this morning, and probably one of the most talented facialists I’d ever visited. Her name is Jenny, she’s at the Hiatus Spa in San Antonio. And she just; she took in my skin. I have rosacea, and I have these annoying bumps. And I have seen a lot of facialists over the years, and they couldn’t really; they were like, your skin is irritated. And the rosacea is genetic, and it also has something to do with food and other things. I’m really not asking for advice. But she gave me some really great insights; and I was able to walk out of the treatment room seeing a difference in my skin based on her assessment. So, it was just really encouraging. So keep looking! You never know when someone’s got the advice you need.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s so nice.

2.  Shop Talk: Documenting versus planning content [16:32]

Cassy Joy: Shop Talk. In this segment, we talk about topics that are on both our minds and yours. We’ll cover all sides of the issue and hopefully land somewhere concise, actionable and helpful. Today we’re talking about planning versus. documenting content. And this is interesting. When I was making notes, Diana and I were on this call already. I was putting these notes on there, and I even told her, I was like; I think we might even spare a little bit over some of these bullet points {laughs}. Because I; maybe not. She’s shaking her head no. Our businesses look a little bit different as in; we’re an editorial.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.

Cassy Joy: And Diane is meals.

Diane Sanfilippo: How would you describe me?

Cassy Joy: Oh gosh! {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: I can’t wait to hear this one.

Cassy Joy: I immediately regret it! {laughing} Oh man. How would I describe you? A prolific entrepreneur. I think you have the…

Diane Sanfilippo: What would you say you do here. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: {laughing} I’m blushing! Do you see? This is not rosacea! Oh man.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, but that’s good. We have really different businesses. So it’s helpful, because folks listening have really different businesses, too. And you know, a lot of folks may be looking to create a blog, create a hub for content, build all of that. And some folks may not be doing that at all. Which is; I’m really not. I mean, we create content. We do have some that’s planned, and a lot that’s more in the moment. But, we have both so I think it’s totally fine. We can get into the planning versus documenting content. And I think that the way that we approach it on our personal; well, right now, your Fed and Fit account is really the only place you are posting. And I think eventually, maybe sooner than later, I feel like during your maternity leave you’re probably going to; this is my, you’ll just be sitting there, “bored”. This is like; she’ll have 30 seconds without something on the calendar, and then Cassy will be bored. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: {laughs} Yes. That’s exactly how it works.

Diane Sanfilippo:  So, I think that when you have a different type of business, then the way that you approach planning versus documenting; or, you know, creating versus documenting is different. So let’s give folks an overview of what we’re talking about. I know we mentioned it last week, but let’s kind of create this divide and paint the picture of what does it mean to plan and create versus document.

Cassy Joy: Ok. So when we’re talking about planned content, what we’re saying is when you’re looking at the landscape of all the areas where you’re interacting with your readers and the public and potential new readers and clients and customers, you’re putting some sort of material out there for them to consume. Right? And the question is; I’ll use the word “should”, and you’ll see by the end of this episode, it’s a really fuzzy, grayed out should.

But, should you be planning all of this content to be the true professional, right? And to think that you are being able to really take your business very seriously. Right? Should you plan all this content out, should you shoot it all in advance. Should it all be photographed by the same person in the same style with the same filters. Right? Should all the content be based on not time sensitive things? Right? Is this educational material? So are you planning all of this stuff out? Are you curating your, let’s say on social media, curating your feed? Are you curating your website?

Or, is this documented content? And documented content is; this happened, or just is happening, and I’m going to share about it. Ok? So, the old school days of blogging, that’s what I did. Is it documented? I cooked dinner, I took a picture of it in terrible lighting under the light from my vent hood on my stove, and then the next morning I posted the recipe. And I said; here is what I made for dinner last night. Here’s the recipe and here is what’s going on in my life right now. Right? Blogging was more of a journal.

Then when social media came around, Facebook and Instagram, in the span of me blogging. Which makes me feel about 87 years old. That was also what I did then. Here’s the snack I just ate. Right? I documented everything. And as my business changed and as we started to really transition from a blog to an editorial, there also came with it a need to story tell from a brand perspective. And so that’s where planning content came into it. But there are a lot of; I really think that this; do I plan content or do I document content gets a lot of folks hung up, a little analysis paralysis, and they wind up not posting anything.

Diane Sanfilippo: Totally. And I think that most people assume they should be planning, and assume that that’s a better way. Or, they lean towards the planning side because they feel more confident that they can execute that because it’s not as in the moment. And I think a lot of folks are not comfortable with in the moment content creation. That feels like too much pressure, or I can’t think on the spot.

So; {laughs} Liz and I used to talk about this all the time on the Balanced Bites podcast. She loved to; not fully script, but have really detailed notes that were almost scripted of what she was going to say. Because she just liked having that moment to think and breathe before giving a response to something. I am not that way. I would rather you just ask me questions I don’t even know what’s coming and speak extemporaneously. Which I don’t think I knew that word before I did that podcast with her.

But learning that that is a comfortable place for me, it feels most authentic and most doable for me to operate from that place. That doesn’t mean that planning and creating ahead of time is inauthentic. It just means; it feels different for each of us. And, I cannot uphold a content calendar on my Instagram. I have tried. I have tried it with a pattern. Like, a pattern is the least of it. Right? Where your just like; well, I should do a quote instead of a picture today. Well; no. I will just buck against all of that. I’ve tried it; it just doesn’t maintain for that long.

So going back to the, know yourself better episodes that we did; and this pins back to the talk I just gave at the NTA Conference, which we’ll maybe address this in a future episode. I talked about three different types of entrepreneurs when you are in that health coaching space, where you have a health coaching certification. Because people assume that there’s one way to do things, or one best way, or one way that works the best for everyone. And that’s just not true.

So you have to be very, very self-critical. Do an audit on yourself. Do you work best from a plan? Because what we’re going to say about what works best for some of these different platforms; there are some things that, there’s flexibility actually with all of this. Even some of the ones that I would agree do best with planned content, there are options for doing things that are more documented versus planned. But you really have to know; what will you do? Because what you “should” do, or the best way to do something, doesn’t matter if you’re not going to do it. And that’s the thing that I’ve learned over the last 5 to 10 years. Is like; yeah, the best way to blog is minimum once a week. Right? Consistent, minimum once a week. Well, guess who doesn’t blog once a week? Me.

Cassy Joy: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: But guess who could show up for a podcast every single week for 8 years, 400 episodes for the Balanced Bites podcast. I could do that, because I can talk every week for an hour, right? So you just have to go with what is it that you’re going to be consistent with? Being consistent with documenting doesn’t have to mean anything in particular other than showing up all the time.

Cassy Joy: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: It doesn’t have to mean; I always use this filter. I always do this. So, anyway. I also want to throw it out there; I think the first place that I heard about this idea of documenting versus planning was from Ali Maffucci of Inspiralized. But she heard it from Gary Vaynerchuk, where he was talking about the fact that he doesn’t sit down and write out content he’s going to make, he literally just has people following him around with cameras all the time. Which would drive me completely nuts. Like, I don’t want anybody next to me that often.

Cassy Joy: You don’t want to live in a reality show?

Diane Sanfilippo: I just don’t want people around me that much {laughs}.

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Just my husband and maybe not always. {laughing}

Cassy Joy: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: I just need a lot more time by myself. But, I don’t think I ever put words to it before, getting that information. And I personally really enjoy the in the moment ability to share something. So even something I just shared last night to my Instagram feed; which is not attractive to be in the Instagram feed. Maybe I’ll archive it one day, because it looks kind of funky. But it’s like a screenshot of an e-mail where I wiped out a few different personal elements in it. I really hesitated to post that to my Instagram feed. But I was like; you know what? This is what’s real. This is what; I thought to myself, people are interested in this. I know it’s going to connect. I’m going to post it I’m not going to worry how it looks. I’m not going to worry about this overly curated thing. Because that’s also not me, and it’s not my Balanced Bites brand page. This is my page. I do what I want. {laughs}

So all of that matters, too. Like; who are you, what is your goal, what is your business? All of those things come into play. So, do you want to jump in and start talking about maybe the best places that we can do things that are more planned ahead. Maybe they’re to a certain calendar. We’re taking into account seasonality. Things like that; fire away.

Cassy Joy: Yes. Ok. So, we’ve broken this up into the best places for planned content, the best places for documented content. Because I think what Diane and I can both agree on is that a blended approach; and it’s going to be a totally different amount on either side of the scale; to your point, Diane. Your personality and your business type is going to weigh heavily more for planned content, or maybe it will weigh more heavily towards documented content. But a blended approach, I think, is something to consider for everybody.

And like you said; planned content might feel more comfortable for most folks. And if you’re in that camp, I would challenge you to do some documented content. And hopefully this will inspire some ideas. And vice versa. We’re going to talk about how you can bridge these two together. And then we’re also going to talk about just kind of getting a little bit granular, but I think it’s good detail that I would want to have just based on lessons learned, but if you’re going to plan; how far out to plan.

Ok. So the best places to plan content; number one is really obvious, but your website. If you’re running; if you have a website where you’re publishing content, that’s a really great place to just sit down and say; these are the kinds of articles I want to share. If you have a recipe website, for example, you’re probably sitting down and looking into Google search trends. What recipes are your audience asking for? Are they really curious about that Instant Pot air fryer? And they really want an air fryer recipe from you that also happens to be keto? Know those kinds of things, and then brainstorm what’s going to be relevant air fryer keto-wise in May. In the month of May. And I’m going to develop this recipe and I’m going to publish it in the month of May.

That’s how we plan content for Fed and Fit when it comes to recipes. We think; what is our readership curious about right now? What is going to be seasonally appropriate when the time comes that we can plug this piece in? And then also it gives you the opportunity, which is very attractive to someone of my personality, to lead the story. I get to lead the narrative. Although, yes, I am paying attention to what our readers are very curious about; the whole team is. We also then get to curate, what is the story that we’re telling on www.FedandFit.com. Because folks might be curious about something that we don’t really want talk about.

So when it comes to planned content, you get to stay on top of that. And you get to control the narrative and the themes. So I think that’s a really great place to do it. Articles that’s low hanging fruit. You can plan freebies; downloads, eBooks. You know that when the Thanksgiving timeframe rolls around, you really want to publish some sort of a; maybe if you’re a physical therapist, right. If you’re traveling for the holidays here are stretches you can do to stay well in the airports and in long car trips. Right?

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: That’s what I mean when I’m thinking planned content.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. And I think this also feeds into; so the way that we look at planned content for something like the website, is; we tie things back to, what are we sharing on social? What are we sharing in our newsletter? Do we have a spice of the week or a meal of the week? When is our menu updating? We look at all of that. So from the perspective of a company that is selling products versus information, right? At this point, the bulk of what you might have for your editorial Fed and Fit is an information service type of situation. Of course, there are products as well.

And then vice versa, right? We have products that we’re selling. That’s the bulk of what we do. But we obviously also educate. We give recipes, etc. So we’ll go backwards from; ok, what does it look like? What is our mapped out plan for the next couple of months look like? Which space is going to be featured this week? Does that align with what’s seasonal? We used to go only in a rainbow order for which would go when, just to keep a really easy for Niki, who’s managing that, to kind of know what to do next. But now that she’s got a vibe, we can adjust which goes first, which goes next, taking more seasonality into account. We made sure we got the Coffee Barbecue out when we were talking about like Super Bowl parties, and making wings, and things that kind of fit seasonally.

So that’s a level of planning that we will also do because it’ll also tie back to; are we running a promotion? Is there a sale that we’re going to do? So we’re not going to talk about this thing today, because next week we know that we have this sale planned. Or whenever it may be, right? So all of that gets taken into consideration.

So here’s how that might look if you have a small health coaching business, for example. Maybe you know that you’re going to take people through a 21-Day Sugar Detox in May. Leading up to that, you might plan some content that, it’s called seeding. Where you plant the seed ahead of time with your readers or anybody who is following you. That you’re going to talk about where sugar hides. You’re going to talk about the problems with eating too much sugar. You’re going to plan content so that you are paving the way for this bigger thing that you’re going to talk about later that will involve potentially them buying something. Right?

So that’s very intentional and planned. Now you can do some things in the moment that are documenting, where you’re like; here’s what I’m eating. And the planned part is, you make sure you address and talk about; is this a low-sugar item, etc. Does that make sense? Where you are thinking ahead to your own plan, to your point of leading the story, but also you have some flexibility in the meantime of something you might post that’s relevant or you can tie it back and make it relevant knowing that the plan ahead is; I’ve got this thing that I’m launching.

Cassy Joy: Mm-hmm. I love it

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s a way that you can marry that.

Cassy Joy: So something that just came into my mind. It’s a quote by Pablo Picasso, and I think; I didn’t know it was him until I just Googled it. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m glad I inspired that, maybe? {laughs} 

Cassy Joy: I’m not that well-read. {laughing} But apparently Pablo said this, but it’s something that I have thought about a lot. My sister, who is a musical artist talks about it a lot. But the quote is, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” And that’s how I think about the marriage between planned and documented content.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: Is; your planned content is your; maybe your professional hat. It’s the outline. The way at Fed and Fit, what we do is we look 12 months out, the outline of our business. What is going to be our focus for a month on the website. What SEO search terms; what search terms are we going after? What affiliate partnerships are we really trying to bolster, to Diane’s point. So we build this big system, right? We build this big outline, and then what we do is me as the Rebel at the helm, I go in and I break them. I break these rules that we’ve made, and it feels like an artistic expression. And that’s really where the documenting gets to come in. I get to do the yes, buts. Right? That’s a little bit more real time.

Another really great place for planned content to live is going to be; I have here YouTube, or if you have a Native video player. And this is just another form of folks who are blogging and creating content. So if you consider yourself a video blogger, a vlogger. Because I know just about every video blogger also has a website. But your main medium is either written or visual, right? And for the folks who do consider YouTube maybe where the majority of their content lives, obviously the majority of that is going to be planned out. But you can also look at a really successful channel and see that not all of them are. Every once in a while, they’re going to pop in with a; here’s a real time update of something going on. So I think that’s another good example.

And then; you have here planned content; another really good note is; Facebook is a really great place. I do believe, as well, for planned content. Because you can go in and you can schedule things to go live. I think if you have a group, you know; a group that you created for your readers to chat, you can go in and you can create discussion prompts. And I think, at most, maybe seven days out is a great way to tackle that. But create some prompts that will allow your group there and your members to really rally around a conversation that probably seeds into something that you have planned on your content calendar. So that’s kind of how I would approach that.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, and I think the conversation that happens on Facebook; you know, what I’ve noticed at least with recipe sharing and things like that, very much like; its national donut day, or whatever it is, and people are going to be able to click through for that recipe. And obviously, that happens on Instagram as well, and can carry through to a blog, etc. But I think that that’s because you can really get those posts scheduled, that is a good place to have a little bit more planned content, as well.

And then, to your point about, if you have a group; we do this a lot law for the 21-Day Sugar Detox in that group. We have a list of prompts that we might rotate through for different days, depending on where folks are in the schedule of when we start one of our groups. So we typically, the first Monday of the month is when we start a new 21-Day Sugar Detox group, depending on holidays and things like that. But I like for people to start on a Monday because they get the weekend to prepare. So we have different prompts. It’s like; you know, one day before. Day zero. Day one, etc. And so we have a plan of what we know people are going to be asking about, how we can support them along the way.

So that is planned, of course. But we’re in there also commenting and answering questions, etc. More just along the way.

Cassy Joy: Ok.

3. What to plan [36:27]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, should we dive into where we would document more?

Cassy Joy: Yeah, let’s just do it.

Diane Sanfilippo: OK. So, first and foremost, I think this seems the most obvious. But Instagram; there is plenty of planned, you know, curated, etc., content on Instagram. I’m definitely a little bit of a purist in the Insta element of it. It’s not the direction that app and the platform has taken, but that I love the idea of sharing something in the moment. I would like for it to be well lit, and slightly edited. {laughing}

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: And not just filtered with like Broadway filter or whatever those filters. {laughing} You remember the filters we all used in the very beginning?

Cassy Joy: Oh yeah. I used them. Mm-hmm.

Diane Sanfilippo: I forget what some of them were called, but they were pretty gnarly. I do think that obviously Instagram stories, like the most important to use for documenting versus planned content. The only time I’ve ever used planned content in Instagram stories, or plan what to do much ahead of time, is surrounding some kind of launch where my team is like; hey, Diane, we’re seven days out. Go on and make sure you talk about this. I don’t typically record that ahead of time; it’s just the intent of what to do when is premeditated, if that make sense. Every now and then I might record, you know, I have my makeup on, so I might record a couple of things that then get shared the following week. That’s really the only time I’ve ever done stuff that’s kind of more planned out in that way.

And then beyond that, we do sometimes make a little bit more, I say with finger quotes, but like ad style videos where I’m just kind of throwing a video in there. It’s talking about a program that’s launching. It’s talking about Balanced Bites meals, etc., and it’s a video, something along those lines. But for the most part, it is done in the moment and it’s something that, you know, I’m taking people through my day. I’m talking about something that’s happening right then. And I think that that really connects the best anyway. There are times that I will reshare some old content that is still relevant in the moment, but for the most part that’s obviously going to be documenting.

And then, splitting that, in terms of Instagram on the feed; this is a place where I think that a lot of folks struggle. Because they’re like; well I want to plan it out. I want it to look good. And I, to your point; I want to challenge the people who do this like 80 to 90 or more percent of really planned out content. I want to challenge them to look at the engagement on those posts. Because if you just go to the grocery store and hold a product in your hand and take a picture that doesn’t look as good as those other ones, and post it, what happens with that?

And I think at the end of the day, most people would rather have engagement than a feed they look back on that seems perfectly curated, if you had to choose one or the other. And I don’t think you have to choose one or the other. I think there’s a sweet spot. I just don’t believe that everybody is as well equipped to hit the sweet spot from day one. And I think if what people are trying to do is figure out what their audience wants and loves and needs and will engage with, I’d rather see people get the content right than the visual perfect. Because I think that the content matters more than how it looks. At least, when you’re getting into the realm of what are people; what do they care about? Right?

Because you might really care about this one thing and you make the cool graphic in Canva, and it’s got your three bullet points you want to teach people, and all of that, and I think that that’s great, but if it falls on deaf ears, I think ultimately none of us feels great spending time on something that people don’t care about. Does that make sense?

Cassy Joy: It does. It feels like an ad.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. It’s hard to get that balance, and I want people to really be paying attention to what other people are paying attention to. If that makes sense.

Cassy Joy: It does. it makes great sense. And I think an example, like Diane said, she’ said she doesn’t want you to get the picture perfect, it’s more about the content that you’re writing. And I think about; I look at somebody like Half Baked Harvest, right? Tegan Gerard. She is one of my favorite food bloggers to follow because her food styling and photography is incredible. But you’ll notice on her feed, these are all styled, heavily styled food photos, that are absolutely stunning. But her captions are obviously written in the moment. Right? And so I think that there’s a way to do both. So the supports, the content that she has planned, that she has very carefully curated a content calendar. You can especially tell her strength is through the holidays. She has just these incredible recipes that come out that are very great for seasonality.

But her captions are a way that she really brings it back to the conversation with her readers. Versus; hey you guys, ramen is on my mind right now and we should all be eating more ramen. You know; that feels a little dry, a little sterile, and if you were just planning your content out, let’s say on an app like Planoly, that you might be tempted to write that. You can tell that, of course, these photos are taken in advance. She’s not snapping photos of her lunch every day and posting them. But the content that she is actually writing is much more conversational. And so I think there’s a way to marry the two together.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm. And I think that works really well; this particular approach works really well when someone is at that kind of expert level when it comes to photography. And I have a hunch that, like, less than 1% who are listening are at that place.

Cassy Joy: That’s true.

Diane Sanfilippo: Because I don’t think somebody who feels really expert level with photos is questioning whether they should plan or document. Do you know what I mean?

Cassy Joy: Maybe so.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think if you’re in that place, your like, well obviously I do this really, really well. So it wouldn’t make sense for someone, in that situation, to be documenting. But I think that most of the people who are listening to this are looking at that as this aspirational thing that is just not within reach right now. And so I’m kind of trying to strike the balance between, like knowing the types of things that I think people are posting. Do you know what I mean?

Cassy Joy: I do.

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s just a different type of content.

Cassy Joy: It is. And I think that there’s a swell, though, of content that’s being posted that is; it’s a collection of stock photos. And it’s a collection of, you know; I mean people are just; or quote cards. I think that more than ever people are having an easier time visually displaying something that looks really nice on a grid. And I think what I’m trying; I’m not saying, I don’t even hold a candle to Tegan’s

photo or her food styling. I’m not saying that that’s the reality for the majority of us. But I think just the concept of; I think it has more to do with the caption than it does the photo. I think that’s really what I’m trying to drill down here.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: I think that there’s a lesson we can learn from that in that it’s less to do; I wouldn’t worry about to having this perfectly curated photo or a really messy photo or whatever it is right? I think that it’s just; it has more to do with the conversation you’re having with your readers. Because if you’re looking also at folks that are in the fashion and the influencer; {crash} whoo! Oh my gosh that just scared the crap out of me. {laughs}

If you’re looking in the world of the fashion and the influencer group, there are totally different vibes of folks who are posting things. They obviously have a photographer that is following their family around, right, that is taking these really beautiful images. And then they’re writing in real time. And then you also have these folks that are just taking these really messy photos that are poorly with their cameras on their phone, and then they’re scheduling those out. And so I think; I guess I’m really just trying to get down to; it has less to do with the photo and way more to do with the quality of the content and the conversation you’re leading.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think that’s an interesting point. And I think we are seeing right now, to this point, there was a time when we felt like people weren’t reading captions. And I actually think there has been a bit of a shift on that. And I think it’s because people know that often there’s a selfie, and the caption has nothing to do with the selfie. And what happens is conversation and connection is what’s happening in the comments, and people are answering a question. They’re engaging with what you’re saying. So I think the point that you’re making is a really valid one. It’s that, actually, people can stress a lot less about the photo itself, and be a little more concerned with; what am I saying here?

Cassy Joy: Yes. That is what I’m trying to say, yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: And who am I talking to? Am I connecting with them? Because I’m saying something that matters to them right now and is relevant right now. So quick example; let’s say you were to have planned out, because; well it’s almost not winter anymore, I guess. But let’s just dial back, say it was you know beginning of January, and you had planned an immune health post, and you had written a whole caption, it was ready to go. Well, lo and behold, Corona virus becomes a topic on everyone’s mind and everyone is curious about it. if you post an immune health post in the midst of that being everyone’s concern, and you don’t even mention that, then that’s like a tone deaf, misstep, disconnected way to plan content. Right? Because you were going to be posting about it, because it was seasonal. But you missed the mark on the fact that this is the conversation that people want to have right now. So I think that’s kind of a way to address that. Is like; you might have it planned, but you need to be able to pivot in the moment, and be a little bit more responsive in the moment to the conversation that is happening. Does that make sense?

Cassy Joy: Agreed. It does. It makes perfect sense. The last area that I think is really great for documented content versus canned; or, canned or planned content, is going to be; I have on here, other video. So if you haven’t looked it up, I would definitely look up Bon Appetit’s YouTube channel and they do such a great job. What they’re trying to do is make it the kitchen and work in the kitchen and developing recipes seem so much more realistic and doable. And these are not highly edited videos. They’re just the real people, the real chefs in the Bon App kitchen making real food and sharing their stories, and goofing, and having guests and visitors. It is just really interesting.

So I think there’s this pressure, when it comes to video especially, for it to be perfectly polished and perfectly scripted. But what we’re finding is that the readership and the viewers are craving more true raw unpolished unscripted content than ever before. You think about the world of Tic Tok, of Instagram stories, of Snapchat. Right? These apps and these avenues exploded because it was the most real unpolished way to really get a glimpse into someone’s life.

So when it comes to documented content, I know it feels a little conflicting when it comes to video. Because if you’re having to bring in a video editor, I would encourage you; try to push the envelope and have it be as unedited as possible. Or have as many bloopers, or real conversation in there as possible.

Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome. I think what people might need to continue to assess for themselves is; if they’re more comfortable with planning, how do they find a way to get comfortable with just documenting. Meaning, showing what you’re doing that day and how it’s relevant. And, if you typically are only leaning on documenting, but you’re not giving forethought to any planning and really tapping into kind of the collective consciousness that’s happening, you know, in a certain month because it’s the holidays, leaning into that a little bit and finding a way to anchor yourself in some planned content so that you’re not just letting many days go by without posting something. Without engaging with your readers, you know. Whether it’s 50, 500, 5050, 500,000. No matter how many people are there. I think it’s important to do that.

So, why don’t you bring us to place where we can bridge these together a little bit?

Cassy Joy: Ok. So how we’re going to bridge these two together. This is how I think about it. We can document how we’re putting our planned content to use. So in the landscape of Fed and Fit; we have all of these articles that were publishing. We’re going to publish one on CBD, for example, coming up. And we’re putting a lot of research and a lot of elbow grease into this article. And there is a lot going into it. And that is obviously planned content. And we’re going to have some really polished Instagram stories; did you know’s that are going to go up on stories, and a post on social media. But I am going to be documenting my own experience with it alongside to help show how I’m using this content.

So if you are a content creator, I think that the opportunity to document how you’re using your own content is really important. So whether you’re cooking dinner, using your own skin care regimen. If you’re consulting people on skincare regimens, well you better, by golly, be showing how you’re using your own skin care regimen and how it’s having an impact in your routine. Are you using your own workout plan? Nobody does this better than Juli Roth of PaleOMG. She’s constantly showing herself using these workouts. She’s walking the talk. And I think that’s a really important way to show how these two come together.

Or, are you selling meal plans? Are you publishing and selling plans, and then go and use them and show how they can be put to use? Cook Once, Eat All Week was a little bit of a rainbow unicorn child in terms of just how well it did, but I do believe that a huge reason why it was as successful and caught on as quickly as it did, this weird idea, is because I showed myself using it over and over again.

And then I would also say planned sponsored content as you need, but share how these products are showing up in the less glamorous part of your life in order to help weave it into a more authentic brand story. So let’s say you land a sponsor for Instagram, and you’re so excited. Maybe it’s a toothpaste sponsor. Tom’s comes on, and they’re like; I don’t know, $100 for an Instagram post, and you are pumped, right? That is going to be scheduled content; planned content. You’re going to pick a date for that to go live. You’re going to take a photo. You’re going to write a caption. There is a good chance they’re going to want to see it, and they’re going to want to review it, and then you’re going to schedule it to go live. So that is planned content.

Now, how you make that be less of a hiccup, or a speed bump for the reader or user experience for the people who are following you; is you just are very generous. If you genuinely love this toothpaste. And I wouldn’t take a sponsorship if you don’t. But if you genuinely love it, then share that leading up to and after that sponsored content. And again, that’s a really good way to blend these two things together.

And then, in our content calendar for Fed and Fit, another way that I bridge planned versus documented content together, because I am a blogger at heart. That’s how I started. It was my online diary for a very long time. Is; I always have at least one if not 2 to 3 articles that are little bit more story related, and personal to me and my life that I get to work on. I’d get to kind of chip away at them, and then I would publish them about once a month. Right? So maybe it’s like, when my daughter is born, it will be another birth story, for example. Right? That is documented content. I’m not necessarily planning it. It’s not like we’re doing all this research on CBD, for example. And so that’s another way that you can weave it in. because even if you are leading an editorial, the narrative and the point of view really matters. Google is getting smarter and smarter.

So if you’re listening, and you have a food blog, you’re like; we’re going to crack the SEO code. We’re going to write all the recipes for all the search terms that people are searching for the exact time of year, and we’re going to best everybody out of the water. If your content in the conversation that you’re leading is sterile or tone deaf, to Diane’s point, to an actual point of view, Google is actually smart enough to know that. If you don’t actually have a unique perspective with which you’re sharing that creates a stickier environment on your website; people are going to stay there longer, going to click to more pages, you’re going to get dinged. And so, as much as you can, try to weave in your actual point of view.

And that’s true, of course, like we said. That’s true for your website. That’s true for social media. Your own point of view when it comes to video content, Instagram stories, all of those things. Try to be you and in the moment as much as you can through these planned pieces.

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s funny; it’s kind of the way that blogging really used to be. So, two of the original people that I had known about and followed in like the way, way back original days of blogging; Shauna Ahern Gluten Free Girl. Gluten Free Girl was one of the first food blogs I think that was out there, and definitely one of the first prolific ones, and for sure probably the first gluten free blog. And Deuce.com, Heather Armstrong, she has been blogging for like ever. {laughs} That’s a, just a little expression. But still blogging. And really; I mean, Heather was definitely one who just poured out her life, you know? And I think that we may not need it to be this full documentation of every emotional moment of our lives. But, to your point about being authentic and being real, if you’re going to blog, you can’t just make it a publication. Even with something kind of as big as you’re creating with Fed and Fit, there will be personal elements to it. You can’t be closed off to sharing your life if you’re trying to make a connection.

And at the end of the day, the thing that we’re doing with all of these businesses that were creating online is building and creating connection with other actual people. So, you know, people joke all the time about how when people post a recipe blog post; they’re like, I don’t want all of the chatter ahead of time. And I’m like; neither does the blogger.

Cassy Joy: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: Literally everyone would rather just give you the ingredients and the how-to, and be on our merry way.

Cassy Joy: Sounds great. Yeah. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Right? But that’s not what is rewarded in search. And frankly, it’s not what builds connection, either. I mean, look. Of course it’s faster. Every is putting a jump to recipe now, so everyone just simmer. You can save your recipes whenever, just buy the cookbook instead. But the reality is, we need to create connection and build that relationship. So if there’s one thing that I will always come back to for people in terms of what direction to go, should you plan or document, which platform to do what on; it’s always going to be knowing yourself and what you will do, what will help you accomplish the thing, and in parallel, is that the thing that will help you connect with the people you’re trying to connect with?

Because you could have the most beautiful perfect plan, and you post it on schedule. You do everything right. You’re walking, you’re marching in line, perfect Upholder-y way to be, and nobody is listening. Nobody’s engaging. Nobody cares. And what good is that? To me, I would rather someone figure it out in a scrappy way and get the connection. Because what you want, at the end of the day, are people on the other side of it who are actually there and having a conversation with you and going back and forth.

Because so many times the question that people ask us is, like; what product or service should I create or sell? Right? What should I be doing? What do they want? And it’s like; well, you can’t know what they want if they’re not talking to you. So you have to…

Cassy Joy: Ask them.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. Then you can ask them, or you can get really good at listening and reading between the lines as far as; you know, they might say one thing but then they bought the other, etc., etc. So, I think that there is just a high level of proficiency that you might want to develop in terms of actually creating things. But I always come back to emotional intelligence and being able to communicate with real, actual people, and remembering that that is who is on the other side every time you’re posting.

Cassy Joy: Absolutely. Somebody sent me a DM the other day. I know that they didn’t mean this in a negative way. But she sent me a screenshot of our website and an ad. Ads are annoying; I get it. It’s monetizing our bottom line, though. It’s how we’re able to bring you the content. And she asked me; she says; have you ever thought about the user experience on your website with these ads? {laughs} And I know she was just genuinely trying to be helpful. But; of course. Of course we have. Of course we have. And if you haven’t; if you haven’t thought about the user experience; if you haven’t thought; what is somebody walking away from this Instagram post with? What are they walking away from spending the next 4 1/2 minutes watching all of these Instagram stories? What’s the takeaway after this blog post and the overall feeling? If you’re not thinking about that, the rest of this conversation doesn’t even matter. Right?

So I think that as long as you have your finger, to your point, on the pulse of what is the user experience and what is somebody going to actually get out of this. Versus, am I my pushing my agenda to the fullest of my ability, but what is somebody getting out of this? I think that you can’t go wrong.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: Whether it’s going to be a curated feed or purely like; I’ve never posted a photo that I didn’t take 5 seconds ago. Right? It doesn’t matter as long as you’re paying attention to that person.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm. Yes. Agree. And I think 80% of the game has to be in service, and 20% can be finding the way to get your air quotes agenda served. Right? Because, this kind of came up recently. We were talking about how do we show better, easier, quicker, easier to understand ways for people to use Balanced Bites spices. And we can have what we think is a great way to do it. Which, we had one solution that was this PDF of like here’s what blend goes best with different foods. And we still get the question over and over; what do I do with these? Which do I use on this? And so to me, I don’t take it as criticism. I’m like; well obviously we’re not answering the question in a way that’s useful for them. So how do we go back to the drawing board and present content in a different way. So yes, now we’ll plan it in a different way, and share it in a different way. But it’s got to be of service; even if, yes, 20% of it is that; of course we want someone to buy one of the spices. But some of them have already purchased it, and now they’re asking this question. So how do we serve them in a way that answers questions and helps carry them along.

So, anyway. It is really interesting. I think we’ll probably be able to get into more in our Q&A episode that will be coming up. So if you’ve got questions about this. If you want us to dive deeper on anything we talked about today, collect up your questions and make sure that you’re commenting and sharing them over on the Driven Podcast on Instagram so that we can answer those for you.

4. Tip of The Week: Change it up [1:01:12]

Diane Sanfilippo: Tip of The Week! In this segment, we give you one tip that you can take action on this week to move your business or life forward. Cassy, why don’t you give us a tip?

Cassy Joy: Ok. So we mentioned it a couple of times. But think about how you’re publishing content. Are you planning more? Are you leaning really heavily on the planning side and not so much documenting and staying real time? Or vice versa. Are you documenting entirely and not necessarily planning around your overall business objectives? Whichever camp you fall in, we challenge you to do a little bit of the other. Ok; and we’re not saying you have to strike a 50/50 balance. Like we said, you’re going to come up with your own magical formula that works great for your personality and your business. But try the other one. And when you publish it on Instagram, we want to see it. So tag us, The Driven Podcast on Instagram in the caption. So we can cheer you on and really see how you’re bringing this to life.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s it for Driven this week. If you liked this episode, be sure to subscribe in Apple podcast, on Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Follow us on Instagram @TheDrivenPodcast. Cassy is @FedandFit and I am @DianeSanfilippo.

Tune in next week for the third part in our miniseries. We’re going to be talking about staying inspired and branching out versus staying in your lane, and how to do all of that and come up with new ideas. We’ll see you next week.