I’ve just started using CoSchedule, an editorial calendar tool that helps you plan your content creation ahead of time. It’s an external service that connects with your WordPress blog using a special plugin.
If you’re serious about creating content, you want to post new stuff on a regular basis a couple of times a week. That’s when an editorial calendar will come in very handy. Starting at $15/month CoSchedule will give you a scheduling tool as well as some extra super powers that makes your life as a publisher a lot easier.
But in all honesty, keeping a calendar is simple, you could do that in Trello or Google Calendar just as easy. It’s all the other things that CoSchedule brings that really makes it worth the monthly fee.
First of all, you have the calendar view where you get an overview of all your planned posts. Rescheduling is a matter of dragging an item to a different day, just as easy as you’d image from looking at the screen shot above.
Notice the social media icons that appear in the schedule above? They are items in the social queue which is one of the first super powers that CoSchedule brings. So what is that?
For each post you create, CoSchedule will help you promote it on different social networks. As part of the onboarding process you are asked to connect CoSchedule to an many Social Networks as you need or want. They currently support Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr and Google+. (you can go back to the settings page and add or update social profiles later).
Right in the post editor in WordPress, you’ll get a tool that allows you to create posts that will be sent out to your social media networks. In the screen shot below, I’m creating a Twitter message that will go out the same day as this very post is published.
You can place as many messages in the social queue as you want to and you can decide what day (same day, day after, week after etc) as well as the time of day that the social messages are sent out.
CoSchedule features a statistics page that shows you how many links/shares your WordPress posts gets on the various social networks. As you can see below, my stuff is mostly shared on Twitter, but that’s just me, your stuff might me more shared elsewhere (yes, I’ve obfuscated the actual numbers in the screenshot below, the real report shows the exact numbers).
So this is the second super power delivered by CoSchedule, a way to quickly see what’s working in terms of sharing and linking in the social media world. Just as the social queue described above, this feature alone is worth paying for. It helps you understand what works and what doesn’t.
CoSchedule is not just for you. If you are more than one working on your WordPress blog, you can share CoSchedule withing the team and assign tasks to one another. I haven’t explored this feature at all since I’m the only one publishing on this blog. CoSchedule has a video demonstrating these features, so go check it out.
CoSchedule has lots of integrations that boosts what you can do with it. Most notably:
- Google Calendar The Google Calendar integration makes whatever you put in your editorial calendar visible in your standard Google Calendar view. That means that whenever I have a look in my calendar to schedule meetings etc. I also see what I have committed to on my blog. If you have a post planned for Tuesday morning, don’t fill Monday back to back with other engagements.
- Bit.ly I was already a bit.ly user before so this is great for me. Bit.ly is a link shortener service that also delivers great statistics on who clicks on your links. So every link used by CoSchedule is also visible in my Bit.ly account complete with all the analytics I’m used to.
- Google Analytics If you are on one of the more expensive plans you can have CoSchedule create special analytics dashboards in your Google Analytics account for even more advanced insights into who visits your posts, where they came from etc. all integrated with your CoSchedule efforts.
- Evernote I haven’t tested the Evernote integration simply because I’m not an Evernote user. But this will allow you to connect Evernote notebooks and share them with your team for even simpler content creation. I bet this is a big deal for Evernote users, but I can’t really comment on how useful this is.
Support and getting started
Getting started was a breeze. CoSchedule has worked a lot with the on-boarding experience, you can tell. In fact, when I had gone through the steps to get started, I was so impressed that I spontaneously sent a Tweet saying just how impressed I was:
@eriktorsner Thanks Erik! The team worked really hard on that. We're so glad you like it! ~Nicole
— CoSchedule (@CoSchedule) September 14, 2015
That’s actually two nice things. First, the on-boarding really is great! Second, they have a support team that are paying attention. I haven’t had a reason to contact them with a real support question yet so I wouldn’t now, but I get the feeling that they are actively listening.
So what’s the downsides? Well first of all this doesn’t come for free even if that’s what we’ve gotten spoiled with when it comes to WordPress plugins. CoSchedule is a paid service but they let you evaluate it for 2 weeks before deciding on buying. The plans start at $15 per month for a single user and $30 per month for teams. Personally, I thought $15 was in the higher range of what I’d be willing to pay as a single user, but after using it only a short while, I don’t want my WordPress installation to lose the “Calendar” menu item. I haven’t monetized my publishing a lot yet, but even so, I’m confident that this product can help me earn more than $15 extra per month.
The one thing think they’ve could have done better is scheduling the social queue. As far as I understand right now, I have to schedule each individual social message by hand. I would have loved a feature that allowed me to take a social message I’m happy with and say “repeat this every 4th day until…. X”. On the other hand, that kind of feature would be misused by spammers so we should all be glad that it doesn’t exist.
The other thing I’d like to see is the effectiveness of each social message. If I send out tweets promoting my latest post, I will vary the wording in the message slightly in each of them. Afterwords, it would be really nice to see which ones that are driving the most traffic back to the post. Perhaps this is possible using the various Google Analytics dashboards they have and I just haven’t understood how. It’s a complex tool.
If you’re serious about creating content on your blog on a regular basis and if you want to get some super powers in terms of scheduling, promotion and analytics, CoSchedule is most likely the tool you’re looking for.
If my review doesn’t give you enough, go give them a try. First 14 days are free. The only thing you’re risking is falling in love and start a subscription simply because you can’t imagine going back to not using CoSchedule.