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From where we started to now: How We Plan All of our Social Media Content

April 7, 2021  —  Written by Julia Marcum 

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This post is sponsored by PLANOLY

I started Chris Loves Julia back in 2009. And from 2009 to 2016, I worked on it as my full time job. Writing posts 5 days a week. Taking all the photos. Editing. Scheduling content to go live on the blog and planning my Instagram posts when that finally came around (in 2010!). There were many days that Chris and I would stay up late working on projects or I’d squeeze in painting a room during one of the girls’ nap times. There were many really difficult times from 2013 to 2016 where I felt like I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was exhausted. I was designing, executing, photographing, editing, writing, posting and marketing all of the content, and I was a mom of 2 little ones–I was burned out. My brain felt like it was at max capacity and I was having trouble keeping all of my deadlines and posting schedule straight on my own.

In 2016, Chris Loves Julia was making as much as Chris’s full time job, but it wasn’t sustainable alone.  Chris and I both agreed we had to choose Corporate America or Chris Loves Julia. We could no longer do both. We made the scary decision to go all in on Chris Loves Julia in June 2016. Me and him. Together. Instantly work picked up more than ever before. It was a huge blessing, but I also think it was because I had a little more time to dedicate to my emails and getting organized.

PLANOLY also came out in 2016. It has evolved over the last five years but it’s something I so desperately wished I had back in the good ol’ days of dropping photos into a grid on Photoshop to plan my IG feed (more on that later). It is the tool we now use to draft, plan and schedule content for social media. We have eight employees now, but consider PLANOLY an honorary member of the team, and I couldn’t do what I do day to day without it.

We use it for all of our channels: Chris Loves Julia, Good Influence(r), and Propertee. PLANOLY has genuinely saved our business. Recently, PLANOLY asked if I wanted to share my story (although vulnerable) and I couldn’t say no, because I know there are probably a lot of other content creators in my 2016 situation — overwhelmed. Overworked. Unorganized. And probably feeling like you need help.

You can use PLANOLY to plan content for Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, but we mostly use it for Instagram. Here’s how:

We use PLANOLY to organize our Instagram Feed.

The desktop version shows us our feed so we can easily drop photos in, rearrange them, and schedule them. When we’re drafting posts, we upload a folder of photos directly to the platform and try out which one looks best in feed. We can also slide posts around, noticing where we might see several room shots in a row without a photo of a person, for example.

We can also rearrange carousel posts, noticing which “first” photo looks best in-feed.

Also! You can batch-edit photos if there’s a filter that you use for all of your content. We’re pretty light on the filters over here, but even there’s a minimal step you like to take to brighten or warm up your photos a bit — this is such a great tool for consistency. 

We can organize drafts of our feed by the month or the week (we do things a week at a time). This helps so much with consistency! Now, I have what I consider to be a strong eye. I know when an image or even a view feels “on brand” for Chris Loves Julia. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to see content in chunks like this on PLANOLY. This is a tool for cohesive storytelling.  

We draft posts completely — captions and hashtags (there are folders in which to save hashtags, if that’s your thing), too — and then schedule them. Since PLANOLY is completely integrated into Instagram, we get a notification at the scheduled date and time that our posts went live successfully. Whew! (This will work for you if you have a business account. If not, you’ll manually go in and post your scheduled content.)

Once we have things scheduled, we can cross them off the list! That means we’re focused on projects or researching for our next round-up or filming videos or gathering inspiration or, you know, spending time with our family :)

 

We use PLANOLY to plan our Instagram Stories.

I know we’re really pulling back the curtain here, but you guys already know that we limit our sponsorships to three spots per week in stories. And we plan lots of other fun content around those spots. PLANOLY helps us to see where we could use a walkthrough of one of our rooms, a behind-the-scenes look at one of our projects, or even a swipe-up to a past blog post. If we’re planning a whole day’s content on refinishing the fauxdenza, for example, we can easily see the opportunity and slip in a story slide on how we built the fauxdenza in the first place!

We can plan our Daily Dupe and decide, based on what else is going on that day, when’s the best time to share. Also, any member of our team (social media manager, brand manager…) can upload content to PLANOLY for approval. It’s so cool to see all of the pieces come together! 

Stories don’t post automatically. But PLANOLY will notify us at the time we scheduled a Story, and we can push it through. It’s quick and easy once all of the organization is out of the way.

 

We use PLANOLY to analyze content performance.

Beyond the Insights that Instagram gives us access to, PLANOLY will show us comparisons of comments, likes, and engagement from week to week, month to month… And you can see the analytics right on your calendar view, which helps to choose a good time to post. It’s really fun to see our best-performing content with different petrics.

The calendar view also shows big events and holidays — which are important when you’re planning content. 

We’ve upgraded to the paid version, and even with multiple users, it’s only $23/month. But I’ll tell you that the free version is really good! You can get REALLY organized with PLANOLY on just $0. 

Right now, Planoly is offering the first 500 readers 100% off their first month of Planoly with Code: chrislovesjulia

 

In summary, PLANOLY:

  • Simplifies your social marketing by automating and organizing social posting.
  • Draft, plan and schedule content for Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
  • Has a mobile and desktop planner so you can plan ahead and even see how it will look once posted to your feed.
  • Is now an official Instagram and Pinterest partner so it works safely and seamlessly with those platforms.
  • Has free and subscription-based options. I highly recommend trying out the free option–there’s lots you can do with it. And then treat it as a hired employee for the affordable paid version
  • Easily create and customize content for all of your social channels with their selection of designer templates (great for stories!)

If you’re a small business with a passion project, an influencer wanting to streamline your content or just someone using Instagram to share content — I really recommend checking out PLANOLY.

My favorite part about using PLANOLY is social media feels fun again. It doesn’t feel heavy or weighted by the pressure to produce content at the same time you’re posting content. I can work ahead in case something comes up and I can take time off when I need to.

I’m so grateful I am not doing this alone anymore. We have an amazing team. But even if you are on your own — you don’t have to be. Technology like PLANOLY can be a HUGE support in your content creation.

 

What do you think?

  1. Wow…I wondered how everyone is so very organized. I just made a reel and it’s pretty much child’s play compared to your posts…but as I worked on redesigning a space in my home to use for a home bakery, I’m using the time I’d normally bake to instead learn how to better use and plan social media. It’s a struggle so this glimpse into your method was great to see – btw it’s @ameetabakes in case you want to remember the days when you were straggling along trying to learn…

  2. Mindy Schaper says:

    That was an interesting read. I have a podcast and managing the social media and posting aspect is a deal. I am not big enough to need to use something like Planoly yet- FB Creator Studio is sufficient for me now- but I relate to hearing about the “do it all” years and getting worn out.

  3. Amyleigh Pellegrino says:

    Thank you for sharing these details! So helpful. I really appreciate your vulnerability. Also this is the best type of sponsored post. It’s so helpful and so authentic. Thank you!

  4. Shila says:

    I had no idea Planoly had a desktop version! That’s going to make scheduling our social media posts so much easier. Some things are just easier on a desktop than a phone.

  5. Janice says:

    Wow! Amazing ….thanks for sharing, always wonder how all this gets done and of course you started the old fashion way! Keep on keep on doing this and can’t wait to see your new home and updates!

  6. Maya says:

    I love Planoly! Thank you for the great post – I have never actually even thought about using it for Stories. Also, thanks for always being so transparent about how much work running a blog is, especially in the early days when you’re doing all the different elements yourself. It makes me feel better to learn that even people like you have had times of feeling overwhelmed. I’m currently trying to convince MY hubby to jump on board with my blog ;)

  7. Brittany says:

    So cool to see a peek behind the curtain. I’m so impressed by the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes and I have so much respect for this ever-changing line of work!

  8. Julie says:

    You say 8 employees, does that include you and Chris? You guys have sure make a beautiful things that I enjoy. I love the blog posts the most.

  9. Jordan says:

    Thanks for the BTS details! I’ve always admired how professional and real your page feels. A truly perfect balance. I’ll check out planoly now because it seems like missing piece that could ease the overwhelm of ALWAYS needing to produce content on the spot. You can batch work ahead! This is great!

  10. Stephanie says:

    omg I LOVEEE this post! Thank you for sharing it. Honestly, as a blogger, it’s so refreshing to read blog posts like this from the bloggers you admire. It totally inspired me today.

    Stephanie | SPV Living

  11. rhana says:

    I know a lot of people look at what Chris and you are doing NOW and probably think it’s so easy. Thanks for sharing, Julia, and taking people behind the scenes and showing how much work goes into everything. Also, I’m currently using Later, but will def try Planoly.

  12. Love seeing how you do this, I’m still in the very early stages of starting my blog and business, but I am always so fascinated to see how others do it- I am currently using a big excel spreadsheet, which has been working amazing for the last 6 months, but I would love to be able to plan out my feed!

  13. Courtney says:

    I’m not a content creator (just a content consumer :) ) and I love this little peak into how CLJ is organized and run. One thing I’ve always thought you do well is the balance of real life, behind the scenes, and of course, relatable and attainable content. It doesn’t come across too raw or performative at all (which I think some influencers do), and instead, it comes across as thoughtful, intentional and professional. Looks like you guys have a great team behind you as well!

  14. Carrie says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I appreciate the vulnerability in it, I don’t really think people understand how much work social is if it isn’t part of their job. I handle all the marketing/art direction/etc. for a small destination marketing organization and am constantly bleh about Hootsuite, but other schedulers that people in my industry use are a lot more money. I’m sure I could justify the cost but I don’t see how much it would make life better. This shows me how PLANOLY would! I’m so visual and that alone would help me plan the things, and organize my thoughts. I’m excited!

  15. Mara says:

    I use Planoly desktop and preview for iPhone. It makes planning the week so simple! Plus the free post scheduler is awesome! I spend less time on Instagram (unless I want to) and everything is much more cohesive. I only have 93 followers (1 month in and trying to grow!) but I used to feel stressed about what I was posting that day because I didn’t have my content scheduled. Now I can plan ahead and have themed weeks and my grid looks 1000% better!
    Shout out for my little instapage: @marasworkshop it’s not just DIY, it’s not just organizing. It’s DIY organizing. My little niche! Blog is forthcoming!

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