Execute a Practical Editorial Strategy With the ‘Prepare; Don’t Plan’ Philosophy

How to balance an Editor-in-Chief’s long-term and short-term responsibilities.

Are you an Editor-in-Chief?

Editor-in-Chief (noun): a person who assumes complete responsibility for and ownership of all the communication he or she puts out into the world to enable a self-directed, creative career.

Do you want to become one and learn effective ways to take control of your own digital media platform?

In this 9-minute episode, I discuss:

  • Why this show is called Editor-in-Chief
  • The cure for a monotonous, boring routine
  • My definition of an Editor-in-Chief
  • How to remain responsive to what’s going on in your industry while meeting content goals
  • Your second assignment to help you manage long-term and short-term editorial responsibilities

The Show Notes

Execute a Practical Editorial Strategy With the ‘Prepare; Don’t Plan’ Philosophy

Stefanie Flaxman: Hello there, my Editor-in-Chief friends!

I’m Stefanie Flaxman, and you are listening to Editor-in-Chief, a new audio broadcast that delivers the art of writing, updated for the digital age, to help you become a stronger media producer.

Editor-in-Chief is brought to you by Authority Rainmaker, it’s … a … different kind of online marketing conference.

The event is a carefully designed live educational experience that presents a complete and effective online marketing strategy to help you immediately accelerate your business.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see Dan Pink, Sally Hogshead, punk legend Henry Rollins, and many other incredible speakers live … not to mention — the secret sauce of it all: building real-world relationships with other attendees.

Authority Rainmaker is a unique experience because you finally get the chance to connect with other people who understand what you love to do with your online work — because they love it, too.

So get all the details right now at rainmaker.fm/event, and we will look forward to seeing you in Denver, Colorado this May.

Check out rainmaker.fm/event.

Why This Show is Called Editor-in-Chief

What is an Editor-in-Chief?

The term covers a lot of ground, so let’s … edit and expand the question. Look at us, jumping right in to editing work.

Why is this show called Editor-in-Chief, and what does that have to do with you?

I realize that’s a two-part question, so let’s start with part one.

This audio broadcast will address editing on micro and macro levels, which really parallels the responsibilities of an Editor-in-Chief.

He or she has to have a strong vision of the big picture while also maintaining a sharp focus on details and immediate publication needs.

In each episode, I’ll either talk about larger, big-picture ideas that help you become the Editor-in-Chief of your own digital media platform … or specific, actionable tips you can implement to become a stronger media producer each time you create a new piece of content.

Sometimes, I’ll cover a little bit of each category in the same episode.

As an Editor-in-Chief, you MIGHT not control every piece of your production, but you oversee it through to completion.

And to answer the second part of that question: What does this have to do with you?

The Cure for a Monotonous, Boring Routine

When you become the Editor-in-Chief of your career — and your life — you constantly challenge yourself because you have many different projects to orchestrate. It’s a cure for a monotonous, boring routine.

There’s no room to be bored when you’re an Editor-in-Chief.

My Definition of an Editor-in-Chief

Here is my definition of an Editor-in-Chief that we will use on this show:

Editor-in-Chief (noun): a person who assumes complete responsibility for and ownership of all the communication he or she puts out into the world to enable a self-directed, creative career.

Your Second Assignment to Help you Manage Long-Term and Short-Term Editorial Responsibilities

To balance the long-term and short-term responsibilities associated with managing the content in your editorial calendar, give yourself the flexibility and space to recognize when your editorial schedule needs to be revised to include different content — even though you previously had decided what you wanted to publish.

I call this the “Prepare; Don’t Plan” Philosophy.

Let your priorities evolve. A topic you originally thought of as a top priority may not be as important in light of new information.

How to Remain Responsive to What’s Going on in Your Industry While Meeting Content Goals

You want to remain responsive to what’s going on in your industry.

To the untrained eye, it may look a bit chaotic, but it’s actually an intentional way to stay present.

It goes back to the severe awareness that I talked about in Episode 1, which is called Become the Editor-in-Chief of Your Own Digital Media Platform.

If you’re listening for the first time today … welcome … feel free to go back and check out that first episode to further familiarize yourself with the Editor-in-Chief model.

You can start preparing, not planning, right now by writing down an unordered list of your next 12 content topics, leaving plenty of space in between each topic.

For this exercise, we’ll assume you’re publishing one piece of content per week, but you can adjust this tip to match the frequency in which you publish.

And by an unordered list, I mean don’t number each item one through 12. Use bullet points, dashes, or just stack the ideas on top of each other in a lined notepad or in a word processing document on your computer.

After every third item, insert a row called wild-card content. After the wild-card content placeholders are inserted, you’ll have 15 items that you can add to an editorial calendar to assign potential dates for publishing each piece of content.

With this method, you have 12 solid pieces of content you can begin producing, but the three wild-card spaces give you room to move around the order in which you publish your content.

You can’t plan and foresee everything that will happen over the next 15 weeks — there may be a new conversation in your industry you want to comment on or something may happen in the world and you don’t feel comfortable posting what you had originally scheduled.

You can prepare the media you’d like to publish and give yourself a comfortable amount of room to adapt so your entire schedule isn’t disrupted if you do have to postpone or cancel a piece of content.

If you reach a wild-card content placeholder and you don’t need to add anything new or rearrange your schedule, find another place to put the placeholder on your calendar where you think it might come in handy. Move the wild-card placeholders around as needed.

How do you structure your editorial calendar?

Do you prefer a flexible, “prepare; don’t plan” approach, or does a strict schedule work better for you?

Whichever one you choose, make sure it’s producing the right results and moving your business forward. If not, perhaps it’s time to try something different.

I hope you’ll join me next week when I talk to Copyblogger Media’s Chief Copywriter, Demian Farnworth.

We’ll discuss the fragile nature of a writer-editor relationship, as well as the way Demian has successfully implemented the Editor-in-Chief model throughout his career.

I’m Stefanie Flaxman. Thank you for listening to Editor-in-Chief. Now, go become one.