If you’ve read any of my stuff or listened to the Content Inc. podcast, you know I talk about the two things as most critical to your content business success.
The first is a workable content tilt – an area of real differentiation where you have a chance to stand out as an expert in your field. This usually involves choosing an underserved niche or presenting your content in a unique way.
The second is all about consistency. As a former print newspaper subscriber, I easily recall when I went out to my drive one morning to get the paper, and it wasn’t there. I was devastated. That morning, I went online, found a different source, and ended up canceling my paper’s delivery.
The point? If you set content delivery expectations with your audience and miss a delivery, your audience may leave and never come back.If you don't deliver content as expected, your audience may leave and never come back, says @JoePulizzi. #ContentBusiness Click To Tweet
I can tell from my experience that’s true. Taking a one-year leave of absence from the Content Inc. podcast as well as This Old Marketing podcast with Robert Rose significantly hurt our audience numbers. It took us two years to get back to where the numbers were when we took a break.
We talk about setting editorial calendars, working ahead, hiring contractors, etc., to make sure you always deliver when you say you are going to deliver. I still believe this, but I’d like to take another angle for a second, the seasonal publishing calendar.
Consistency can lead to burnout
Not sure if you’ve noticed, but quite a few YouTubers and other streamers have publicly declared they need a break from creating. In July, Imane “Pokimane” Anys, a popular content creator and one of the most recognizable faces on Twitch, announced she was taking a break from streaming.
Even though her announcement indicates she won’t deliver content consistently, and she doesn’t say when she’ll resume producing, I don’t think her decision is unreasonable. Content creators need breaks to recharge and not go into deep burnout.
In Content Inc., Matthew Patrick, creator of the popular YouTube channel Game Theory (16.2M subscribers), told me burnout is a real concern when operating in content business model:
“Some content creators have been going for a weekly video, or maybe seven weekly videos, without missing a beat for the better part of eight, nine, 10-plus years. Even ourselves. Game Theory’s been running as a show for eight years, and we’ve rarely missed a week. And it’s exhausting when each episode takes a hundred hours to produce. So what you’ve seen over the last two years is a lot of open and honest talk about creator burnout. About “Hey, I hopped on this content treadmill and I need a break, or I’m out of ideas, or I’m spent.”
But what if you built a hiatus into your content business plan?What if you built a hiatus into your #ContentBusiness plan? @JoePulizzi shares how. #ContentEntrepreneur Click To Tweet
It’s time for a new tact on publishing schedules
What if you didn’t need to publish every week?
What if you followed the model that’s worked for broadcast TV for a long time and streaming services in the modern day?
Break your content into seasons.
Adam Levy is publishing season 6 of his Mint podcast. This way, he batches content, publishes it, and creates a break between seasons. The seasonal publishing calendar sets content delivery expectations with subscribers. This is much like what Stranger Things or Ted Lasso does. The seasons give the creator flexibility.
It works for newsletters, streams, blogs, etc. Instead of following a newspaper-like schedule (i.e., delivering every morning), you adopt a TV mindset (i.e., delivering fresh content in seasons).
A seasonal publishing calendar strategy works in the Content Inc. model because you still deliver content consistently, setting and meeting the expectations of your audience.
Benefits of a seasonal publishing calendar
Seasons also present more benefits than mitigating creator burnout.
You can pick a theme for each season. Or maybe you create a storytelling arc that entices your audience to watch, read, or listen to the next episode. You could even create a cliffhanger or set the stage so your audience eagerly anticipates the next season.
Within a season model, you also get to decide if you want the episodes to launch all at once (i.e., binge-watching) or to drop each one on a regular cadence.Forget a traditional calendar. Create seasons for your content just like TV shows do, says @JoePulizzi. #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet
And seasons are often easier to sell. Instead of selling sponsorships for a four-pack of podcast episodes, for example, you could sell multiple sponsors for a season. We’ve experimented with this idea, and you’ll see it in the podcast soon.
If you’re struggling with burnout or find your frequency consistency isn’t possible, seasons are the answer.
About the author
Joe Pulizzi is the founder of The Tilt, author of seven books including Content Inc. and co-founder of speech-therapy fundraiser, The Orange Effect Foundation.