As with most professional endeavors, having a schedule as an influencer is of the utmost importance. Creating an editorial calendar is as easy as setting up a spreadsheet or filling in dates on a template. Building an editorial calendar that maintains your authenticity, however, takes thoughtful planning and strategic execution.

The most important part of editorial calendar planning is creating the right balance of sponsored to unsponsored content. This does not mean you should have an even 50/50 split. Approximately 5% – 25% is the average for what should be sponsored. This will shift throughout the year depending on your area of influence. In general it is always better to post more unsponsored content than sponsored.

Regardless of the amount of sponsored content you create, maintaining authenticity across posts is vital. Influencer marketing works because of the continued narrative across content whether it is sponsored or not. Studies have shown that readers don’t mind sponsored content as long as it is as educational, entertaining or otherwise as informative as your other posts. Your audience will stay engaged regardless of a sponsorship if the content is high quality and is what they have come to expect from you as an influencer. Here is a great example of a post that is sponsored but is still highly valuable to me as a reader.

As you build your calendar, look as far into the future as you can. Planning for an entire year in January is hard, but it’s not hard to sketch out which holidays and events you know you’ll incorporate. Additional planning will be much easier once you have sketched out the basics. It is easier to agree to sponsored work when you know what else you have planned. For example if you are a travel influencer, you will want to schedule in trips you have planned and the content you’ll create from them.

Well organized influencers never commit to sponsored work without consulting their calendars. Nothing ruins authenticity and turns off an audience like posting for competitors within a short timeframe. What that timeframe is will depend on the brands and how closely they are competitors. For example, fashion influencers post for different brands regularly. But if you are a vegan food influencer who just created a post sponsored by Silk Soymilk, you should give your audience a break before posting for another soy milk brand.

Keep your calendar up to date and stay on top of changes or delays that cause posts to move around. This will help ensure your balance of sponsored content and that you are not overlapping brands. As you look ahead you should also look behind you and see what recently shared posts can be cross promoted (this is especially handy for bloggers and vloggers). See paragraph four above where I linked to a previous blog post about holiday content.

Authenticity is what makes influencer marketing successful and maintaining it will ultimately decide which influencers rise to the top. Using a thoughtful and strategic approach to plan your editorial calendar is a sure fire to stay on top of your authenticity game.