Scheduling for content creators

As a content creator, the thing I struggle with the most is time management. I realised this particularly in 2024 when I set concrete goals. Two blog posts per week; Focus on YouTube; Publish 5 YouTube Shorts every week; One podcast episode per week. I set ambitious goals but didn’t have a plan.

As a family man with a full-time job, I know I need a plan. I need structure. Daily habits. Tools to help me organise my process. It’s all new to me and I’m having a hard adjusting to structure and sitting down each morning, writing, recording, and editing videos and podcasts. Stopping to fulfil my paternal duties, and get things done around the house. I’m writing this on Monday 8th January, 2024. It’s exactly 10:00 AM. Do I want to be writing this article? No. I don’t.

So, I’ve gone from being a content creator who approaches things willy-nilly to one who’s seeking structure and trying to build a business, and my brain hurts. You know those headaches you get when you give up sugar and flour? Yeah. I’ve been walking around with that headache for two days. But! I’m getting things done. I want to share the things I’m doing to bring structure to my life as a content creator.

1. I’ve set goals. They’re clear. They’re concrete. Two blog posts per week: One on Monday at 8:00 AM; and one on Thursday at 8:00 AM. One podcast episode. Because these goals are concrete, I will know when I miss them.

2. Prioritise writing. As a YouTuber, I’m tempted to think in terms of video first. In 2024, writing is the priority. These articles become the stepping stone to YouTube Shorts, Podcast episodes and long-form videos. As I write new ideas spring up and I jot them down for later.

3. Task Management Tools. for the last 3 or 4 years I have used Google Keep to write articles and jot down ideas. Google Keep is a note-taking service. I like it because I’m not restricted to writing on a local desktop file. I can access Keep from my phone or desktop. In 2024 as I turned my attention to having a content plan and I had to arrange, prioritise and track tasks, I immediately began feeling the limitations of Keep. I’ve heard about a productivity software and note-taking service called Notion, and I’m looking into it.

In the meantime, to track tasks and their status I’ve used Google Sheets to create two spreadsheets. One is a publishing schedule for articles and podcasts. The other is a publishing schedule for videos. Let’s talk about the fields in the first spreadsheet. There are seven fields: Article name; status; publish by; published on; podcast status; podcast recorded on; podcast edited on; and podcast published on.

This simple change has done a lot for me. Yes, based on how I’ve always done things, it’s a little boring, but I now have one holistic view of my content plan. Colour-coding rows help too. For example, a row highlighted in yellow means the article is written but the corresponding podcast episode hasn’t been recorded. Green means both the article and podcast episode are published.

Timeboxing/Timeblocking. I learned about timeboxing during my undergraduate studies. The concept sounds great, but I hate timeboxing. When I’m working on something that’s all I want to work on until it’s done. Imagine if a video takes days to record and edit, and a blog post and article are due. Problems. Timeboxing involves setting a maximum unit of time for an activity in advance and then completing the activity within that time frame. As much as I hate timeboxing I now use it to batch research, write, edit and record videos and podcast episodes. Every morning I dedicate an hour to writing. There are timeboxes for recording podcasts. Others for recording YouTube Shorts. Timeboxes on Thursdays and Fridays for editing.

I hope you’ve found at least one little gem that makes your life easier as a content creator. If you have any tips on managing your time please feel free to leave a comment.

Solving crime in Trinidad: A politician’s playbook

It’s 2024. General elections are in 2025. Can you imagine government ministers consulting their playbooks: Trinidad politics for Dummies. In one corner you have the UNC pandering toward police officers:

“We feel your pain…the government doesn’t understand or care about you. We will take care of you. We will ensure you get your pay increases.”

In the opposite corner, you have the PNM. Like the UNC, their playbook has one page. Four tactics. Tactic #1: Free food; Tactic #2: Free rum; Tactic #3: Pave roads; Tactic #4 talk about solving crime. Fitzgerald Hinds can’t find his playbook, Rowan Cinnamom is holding his upside down.

In a dusty corner, the prime minister finds a 600-page report that looked into the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. The report was written in 2017 and concluded that the police service is ‘very troubled and wounded.’ Awww. So sad. It sounds like police officers need a hug. Maybe TTPS should introduce ‘Therapy Thursdays’ instead of ‘Tactical Tuesdays.'”

600 pages. Can you imagine Rowan Cinnamom’s face?

“You read all those words?”

Anyway, with no other plan in sight, it makes sense to comment on the report, to more or less suggest that it’s up to the commissioner to action the plans. Professor Emeritus Dr Ramesh Deosaran says that one strong recommendation is establishing a police inspectorate to address issues like absenteeism and performance; because clearly, what a troubled and wounded police force needs is more paperwork and oversight.

Wait, what? I’m confused. As a citizen, you’re telling me that the police service doesn’t have that? And I don’t know if you know this but the word Emeritus is used when an official has retired but is allowed to retain their title as an honor. Honestly, I’m embarrassed because for all this time I thought Professor Deosaran’s name was Emeritus Ramesh Deosaran.

On becoming a better content creator

Hi, my name is Lyndon Baptiste and today I want to talk to you about becoming a better content creator. I’ve been a writer and YouTuber since 2008, but I should warn you: it’s only in 2024 that I committed to becoming a better content creator. I may not be the ideal guide. These are merely my thoughts, and how I go about things based on my gut and the articles I read. If you glean something, I’d be pleased to hear. You can reach me on Instagram or X @lyndonbaptiste.

Know your audience. If you’re still here, chances are you’re a content creator who likes to read; or, if you despise reading, you’re here because the information is important to you. While your audience probably loves you, ask yourself what are they looking for: Love? Nostalgia? A taste of Trinidad and Tobago? Or Grenada? Are they searching for scenic accommodations on a hillside in St Vincent? Or luxury, all-inclusive hotels?

For me, the first step to becoming a better content creator is setting goals and sticking to them. For far too long I’ve done things willy-nilly. No clear goals. Nothing to aim at. No process. No business plan. No structure. Although I heard successful YouTubers and podcasters preach on the topic. For 2024 my goals are clear. Publish weekly: two blog posts; one podcast episode; at least one YouTube Shorts on weekdays; and one long-form video on Thursdays at 8:00 PM. Find good clients. I’ve set goals.

Create a plan, a creative schedule; stick to it. It involves batch writing, recording, and editing. My goal is a content savings plan. I’m writing this article on Wednesday 3rd January, 2023. By the middle of January, I should have a month or two worth of content saved. To get that done I have to write at least two articles every morning and record a podcast based on the article. Then I’ll settle into a more realistic schedule because, boy, oh, boy, I’m working hard, but I love it! Pressure invigorates me!

Learn something new every day. Know the players in your field. Listen to a relevant podcast. Read 5 pages. Listen to 10 minutes of an audiobook. Read articles.

Write every day. Gosh. I didn’t realise how much I missed writing every day. As I write I generate more ideas. And more ideas. For other articles, videos, podcasts. As I said, it’s the third day in January. Prioritising writing, I’ve written over twenty articles that will become twenty videos and twenty podcasts. As I write ideas come to me. I note these ideas. These ideas will become future episodes. Chances are if I was working on one specific video I wouldn’t have twenty other ideas. Let your writing drive your content creation strategy.

Batch record. Whether it’s videos or podcast episodes batch record. Of course, planning (and writing) enables batch recording. If you’re a YouTuber work on saving up a bank of videos. Commit to one a week. In the background keep creating so you can graduate to two a week then three. Work until you have a bank so big you can show up every day then twice a day.

Choose a video platform and stick to it. In 2023 I was posting everywhere. The metrics looked good and hooked me. As a solo creator, though, I was stretching myself thin. Particularly when it came to audience engagement. After years of experimenting, I feel like YouTube has the tools and audience I’m looking for, and when it comes to video content it’s where I’m going to settle.

Of course, there’s a lot more to becoming a better content creator like knowing your strong points, the software tools you use to manage different aspects and how to price your services. At the time of writing, these are the points that stand out.

In episode 19 of the Caribbean Content Creators podcast, I spoke with Ishmael Baig about pricing for content creators.

I’m a Caribbean writer. Here’s how I got an ISBN for my first book

You’re a Caribbean writer. You’ve completed your first manuscript and you need an ISBN for your upcoming book because every respectable book must have an ISBN, right? Not necessarily, but if you want to see your book in major bookstores and libraries your book really should have an ISBN.

An ISBN is a unique numerical identification for a publication. The barcode you usually see on the back cover of a book. The ISBN helps with stock control, ordering and information retrieval. If you’ve ever purchased a book or borrowed one from the library you’ll notice that the cashier or librarian scans the ISBN to retrieve information about the book.

Caribbean writers and publishers can apply for ISBNs through CARICOM. On some islands, like Jamaica and Trinidad, the National Libraries are the designated agencies through which you can apply for an ISBN for your book. So a publisher with residence in Trinidad would apply for ISBNs through the technical services department at NALIS. You could apply for 1, 10, 100 or 10,000 where 1 ISBN might cost about 20 US Dollars. The more you buy the less you pay per unit.

How many should you buy? Back in 2008 when I self-published my first book I applied for a block of 10 ISBNs since I planned to write more than one book. Buying one costs 20 USD compared to a block of 10 which costs about 50 USD. I filled out an application form, paid via Wire Transfer got my ISBNs in about two to three weeks. Oh, every different format of your book must have a different ISBN so if you have a paperback, hardcover, ebook and CD/audiobook, that’s four different ISBNs.

I applied for a block of ten ISBNs using this form. Today you can pay via wire transfer. Back in 2008 I believe I paid with a certified cheque and submitted the form and payment details to the Technical Services Department at NALIS. 2008 was a long time ago. The details are a bit fuzzy, but there was some back and forth via email but I know I had the ISBNs within two weeks.

If you’re located in Trinidad you can find more details on ISBNs on The National Library’s website by clicking here.

If you’re located in Jamaica request an ISBN online by clicking here.

CARICOM is the Regional ISBN agency. Visit their website by clicking here.

Self-publishing your book with a US-based self-publishing company can cost you upwards of USD 1,500. I’m working on a course that can teach aspiring writers how to format and publish their first book at a fraction of the cost. You can book a consultation below

Icacos in 2024: Nostalgia, Neglect and a Dismal Future?

Revisiting the past is hard. Especially the happy places of my youth, to see how much the familiar faces have aged, how much they’ve greyed and slowed. Growing up in the 80s, I loved Icacos. Loved it and hated it. Hated it because of the mosquitoes. Loved it because of my aunts and uncles, the villagers, and the endless miles of coconut trees. As a boy, I felt like the people of Icacos emanated love, contentment, and courage you couldn’t find anywhere else in the world.

Years passed. I am embarrassed to admit I neglected Icacos. Family. didn’t visit as much as I should have. Didn’t stay in touch. In January 2024, on a whim, I drove to Icacos. Everyone is older. A little bit slower. Body parts don’t work like they used to. It feels like Venezuelans outnumber locals. There’s little evidence wooden houses ever existed. The love is still there. What terrifies me the most, though, is that the goodly fire that raged inside villagers doesn’t burn as bright as it once did. There’s joy, content, and friendliness but underlying uncharacteristic despair tarnishes the air. I think it has something to do with the torrents of terrible news from other parts of Trinidad.

At a parlour, I met an old woman who immediately told me about the water crisis in Icacos. It isn’t a new story. It’s been going on for years. “Just last I paid my water bill I don’t even get water,” she said. “I’m paying for a service I don’t get. Water is the real issue. Since Covid, we haven’t gotten water in Icacos.”

“Since Covid,” I exclaimed.

“Since Covid,” she echoed. “December 2019 was the last time I got pipe-borne water to fill my tanks.”

I exclaimed again but she ignored me.

“We’ve protested. To no avail. WASA stands for failure.”

A Venezuelan woman walked past the parlour. Six children between the ages of two and five followed her. One was barefooted, another wore diapers. The sun shone brightly and the asphalt burned hot, but the barefooted child walked unbothered.

The old woman craned her neck and watched the Venezuelan woman and children until they disappeared. Then she went on to tell me how the prime minister scares her. She was listening to him talk on the evening news and couldn’t believe how he spoke for a diplomat. I didn’t ask for details but I gather she was referring to a press conference about the Paria Diving Tragedy.

“The prime minister scares me very much,” she said again.

For some reason, the sentence is still stuck in my head.

At the same parlour, I met three fishermen, older men more familiar with the colonial order. They wore caps and were talking about how the price of Cavalli had dropped because of an islandwide overabundance of Cavalli.

“The vendors don’t even want the Cavalli,” said the fisherman in the red cap.

The fisherman with the black hat was tall, slim and mumbled. “And the price of gas is killing fishermen.”

The fisherman in the white cap was in a hammock. The hammock swayed just slightly. He bobbed his head but said nothing.

“Don’t talk about gas,” said the fisherman in the red cap. “It costs about one thousand dollars to fill up the boat with gas.”

“A thousand dollars!” I exclaimed. “How long does that gas last?” I expected the answer to be a week.

“One day,” mumbled the fisherman in the black hat.

“It depends on where you’re fishing,” said the fisherman in the red cap. “Let’s say you’re fishing about six miles from here, and you’re fishing salmon, first we have to go to Erin for bait then we have to go to start the day work. Easy-easy you’ll use one thousand dollars in gas. “

“The government doesn’t care about fishermen,” said the fisherman in the black cap. “I remember when it cost twenty dollars to fill a pan of gas.”

The fisherman who was wearing the white cap swayed gently in the hammock. He nodded then said, “And we don’t get paid if we don’t clear the one thousand dollars.”

“What,” I exclaimed.

“That is truth,” mumbled the fisherman in the black hat. “Before we get paid, we have to catch enough fish to make the money we spend on gas.”

I tried to picture one thousand dollars in fish. “So you could work hard for an entire day and go home empty-handed?”

The fisherman in the red cap smiled contentedly and said, “We might get a fish to carry home.”

On Constance Beach, I met a writer named Michael Cozier. He was dressed like a salesman, selling his books on the beach. He wore polished black shoes and carried a laptop bag with books. When I first saw him, he was talking to a couple sitting in a car. The couple bought two books and the car drove off.

“What I’ve noticed,” Michael Cozier told me, “is that since the Point Fortin Highway opened more people from the north are coming down to Icacos.”

I wondered about the disadvantages that came with the ease of access to Icacos but said nothing.

A pickup truck pulled up to the beach. The driver got out and two tourists. They looked like Canadians. Michael Cozier excused himself.

At the top of Lalla Road, there’s zero evidence of the two-storey dry goods store that once stood tall. I met an old man with a great white beard. He was smoking a cigarette. We spoke about the past, and how I remembered Icacos growing up in the eighties.

“When I was a boy,” the old man said, “Icacos only had about 5 or 6 wooden houses.”

“Do you miss the Icacos of your past?”

He signalled that he didn’t quite get the question then said, “No I don’t miss it. Icacos has progressed a lot since then. I’m happy that the village has progressed. The years have brought education and progress. What troubles me is that I’m paying for water and we don’t get water. What troubles me is the killings that are happening all over Trinidad. Every evening I sit down and watch the news. Did you see what happened to that family in Mayaro? They were robbed and when the man went to the police station to report the crime he recognised a soldier as one of the bandits.” The old man chuckled then suddenly got serious. “People are living in serious fear in this country.”

“Are you living in fear?”

“No,” the old man said. “I feel safe in Icacos. Outsiders have a very different perception of Icacos. They think every fisherman is trafficking drugs and women. But the reality is very different for people who live in Icacos. I go walking on the beach and feel safe. My sons, daughters and grandchildren go walking on the beach every day. I go out and I leave my doors and windows opened.”

“Where do you see Icacos in twenty-five years?” I asked.

“Honestly?” the old man said and flicked away his cigarette. “Drugs are licking up the place. In twenty-five years I think Icacos would be one big drug den.”