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Planning Instagram content 30 days in advance has many benefits.
It allows you to create and prepare everything so you only need to spend a few minutes on Instagram each day.
It helps you to “show up” consistently without Instagram becoming your full-time job.
It saves so much time and lets you create an Instagram routine that works with your busy life.
And, you never again have to stress out about throwing a post together last-minute.
If you’re wishing for a better posting strategy, or if you’re just curious about this whole “planning” thing, you’ve come to the right place. Because today, I’m sharing my simple step-by-step process for intentionally planning 30 days of Instagram content.
Why plan your Instagram content?
Have you ever found “post to Instagram” on your to-do list get pushed back for days or even weeks on end?
It’s a common struggle that causes many entrepreneurs to miss out on consistently connecting with their audience. And it also means they get more and more hidden by the algorithm, which decreases engagement. Womp womp.
Instagram is one of the social media platforms that I focus on the most. I love curating an aesthetically pleasing feed, and I find it so enjoyable to connect with fellow creative entrepreneurs.
But it’s quite time-consuming and draining to photograph, write, and publish each post one-by-one on a daily basis. And it often wouldn't get done. So it’s a task that I started to tackle in batches.
After planning my Instagram content 30 days in advance, it freed me up to focus on other elements of my business. It was so beneficial that I'll never go back to creating posts one at a time from scratch. Never.
Here's my 12-step process so you can implement his time-saving and productivity-boosting strategy in your business, too.
Plan + create 1 month of Instagram content in just 5 days!
1 // Define Instagram’s purpose in your business
To start-off planning, think about how you want instagram to benefit your business: for example, providing value for your audience while also marketing your products and services.
Also, consider ways Instagram will not help your business: for example, taking up your time by getting distracted browsing for hours at a time.
Write down a statement outlining Instagram’s purpose, and keep it near your workspace. Include a specific goal or two for the next 30 days, too. Refer to this note often to increase your ability to stick to it.
This defining step lays a solid foundation and serves as a guide while you set goals and create a strategy.
2 // Focus on your ideal audience
Another important foundational step is to stay focused on your ideal audience, and make sure you know them well.
Everything you post on Instagram should be high-quality content that is of interest to them. Provide as much value as possible for your audience. Share images that grab their attention. Write captions that connect with them. Strive to be among their favorite accounts to follow.
Think about what they want or need most, whether it's a resource, inspiration, motivation, etc., and strive to be the go-to source for that.
By putting your audience’s needs at the forefront of what you share on Instagram, it will ensure they stay engaged with your account and look forward to your every post.
3 // Keep your branding in mind
Everything—from what you share to how you share it—gives you the opportunity to develop your business’s branding. The more you brand your account, the easier it will be to stand out and be remembered.
Build your visual identity and recognition on Instagram by working-in your brand’s color palette and other signature elements.
Develop and brand your written voice through captions.
Showcase the experience of your brand through the value your provide and the way you interact with your audience and how fast you respond to their comments and messages.
4 // Establish a consistent content vision and usage routine
Consistency is one of the most important aspects to focus on with Instagram. So create a routine for when you use and post to Instagram, and outline a vision for the type of content you share.
Posting and showing up consistently helps your followers know what to expect so they keep an eye on your account and anticipate the content you share, which boosts engagement.
Defining your “active” usage time will help you create an Instagram routine that fits in with your life and allows you to “show up” consistently. (This includes when you hit publish, reply to comments, and how often you spend time scrolling and being active in the app.)
What time of day will you be on the app? What time will you hit “publish?” How often do you want to post to the grid and Stories? Will you use IGTV? Will you share only photos, or videos, too? Will your captions be long and thoughtful or short and sweet?
The possibilities are endless, and this is the step where you get to dive in and come up with a really creative vision for the way you utilize Instagram. Aim for something unique--it might be just what you need to stand out from the crowd.
Then, list how many of each type of content (photos, videos, graphics, etc.) you need for a 30-day period.
5 // Create a content checklist
Next, it’s time to plan out the actual content you need to fulfill your Instagram’s vision.
Use the number of photos, videos, and graphics you determined in the previous step, and map out the actual content you will create. Think of this as creating a storyboard for each component of your Instagram.
List out specific content you need for each of the following:
Specific photos do you need to take or gather
Particular videos you need to film
Any graphics that need to be designed
This will serve as a checklist of items you need create or compile in the following steps.
I use Asana to plan out my concepts for each month of Instagram content. It helps me stay organized, and it makes editing, organizing, and rearranging a breeze.
6 // Have a photoshoot and video recording day
To make Instagram as efficient as possible, set aside part of a day (or two) to take all of your photos and videos for the next month.
Tackling this step in large batches makes it much easier to post consistently because it only pops onto your to-do list once each month. This frees you up to focus on other aspects of your business.
Helpful Tip: Pre-recording Story videos is a great trick that I like to implement. You can record all of your short clips in one day and then simply upload whenever you want to share one. This helps me check in with my audience and share behind-the-scenes more consistently without always having to figuring out what to say. Just note that Instagram segments Story videos into 15 seconds, so keep that in mind when deciding how long to make your video.
If you already have photos and videos you want to include, go ahead and gather them into one folder so everything is organized.
7 // Edit photos and videos in advance
Next, edit all of your photos and videos for the month so they are ready to go.
If it seems a bit daunting, you can spread this task across a few days, but do yourself a huge favor and edit all of your photos and media in advance. Tackling this task in bulk saves time in the long run, and it helps the editing turn out more visually consistent.
Plus, when your photos are at your disposal, it’s easy to use them for other things besides Instagram—like in blog posts or on your website, for example.
8 // Design and create graphics
If you want to include graphics in your Instagram content, now is the time to design them, too.
I sometimes use graphics in Instagram Stories, and they often include photos. So I like to design them after I’ve taken and edited my images. This lets me create a month’s worth of graphics in one big batch without having to stop and edit photos as I go.
9 // Lay out content in an Instagram planning program
Once your photos and videos are ready to go, lay them out in a program that lets you drag them around until you're happy with how it looks.
I use Planoly to arrange and manage Ponder Trail’s Instagram. You can plan out photos for your grid and Story content, too.
The free plan lets you upload 30 photos each month, which is perfect. To make the process even more convenient, Planoly also works on a desktop computer, so you're not stuck uploading all of your photos from their app on your phone.
10 // Assign dates and create an Instagram content calendar
Once you have your content laid out, assign publishing dates to create an editorial calendar for your Instagram. This is the best way to be consistent and stay on top of your posting schedule.
If you are using an app like Planoly, this step is a breeze. All you need to do is add a date and time for each post, and the app will automatically notify you when it’s time to post. You can also enable auto-posting.
I prefer to be notified because I like to click publish when I have time to be on Instagram to respond to comments quickly.
11 // Write captions that connect and convert
Once the content is planned out for the month, work on writing captions for each post. Or if you prefer, simply outline them, or just write them in the moment, right before posting.
But I find it essential to write at least a week’s worth in advance (if not all 30 days) so I can stay ahead of Instagram. This frees me up completely to focus on other things.
I write my captions on each post in Planoly, but you could easily write them in a document and simply copy and paste then when you go to post your photos.
12 // Create hashtag lists
Oh, hashtags. The tricky, yet, wonderful search tool. Hashtags help your posts get discovered when people search for or scroll through them, so I always suggest using as many as Instagram allows. Currently, this number is 30.
Create several lists of hashtags according to the different categories you plan to post about, and list 30 for each. In Planoly, you can save these lists and easily apply them to your posts.
Don’t use the same hashtags over and over on each post. Change things up for best results.
Choose hashtags that your audience will likely use instead of ones people in your industry use.
To make your captions appear neater, paste your hashtags as a comment immediately after posting your photo instead of including them in the actual caption.
Plan + create 1 month of Instagram content in just 5 days!
And that's all there is to it! Since planning 30 day of content for my Instagram, I’ve saved lots of time. I hope you enjoyed learning how I do it.
Have you ever planned your Instagram posts in advance? What was the outcome? Did you find it helpful? I'd love to know! Leave a comment below.