My CoSchedule review shows that this editorial calendar for WordPress could take your blogging to the next level.
I decided to write this CoSchedule review because their editorial calendar has become a bit of a revelation for me.
This is a prophecy blog and I usually publish software reviews over on its sister site Ergonomic Toolbox.
As a solo blogger with only one day per week available for all my writing tasks, I struggle to find the time to get everything done. That is, until now.
You may have noticed over the past 2 or 3 months that I’ve increased my publishing frequency. And during that time, I’ve managed to publish a new article every 2 weeks.
I’m ashamed to admit it’s the first time I’ve achieved that level of consistency for more than a few days.
And it’s due in no small part to CoSchedule.
CoSchedule has a variety of subscription plans, some of which are hideously expensive and out of the reach of most bloggers.
I will therefore cover only the Individual plan for the purposes of this review.
Disclosure: some of the links on this page are affiliate links. That means that if you click through to the CoSchedule website and make a purchase, it won’t change the price you pay, but I may receive a small commission or discount.
CoSchedule Review: The Blogging Problem
As a blogger, I want to:
- plan content in advance,
- publish a new blog post every week,
- write emails,
- promote my blog on social media…
…and still have time for everything else.
However, if you write content of any kind on a regular basis, you’ll know that it’s hard to keep on top of it all.
It’s difficult enough tracking what you’re already doing, but trying to get ahead of the game is something else.
The Solo Blogger
As a solo blogger, the problem is compounded because I have no:
- graphics designer
- social media expert
- team to delegate anything else to.
It’s all on me – something that the CoSchedule team understand.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been very slapdash with my blogging. Until recently, I might publish 3 posts in 3 weeks, and then nothing for 3 months.
That’s fine if it’s just a hobby, but if you want to grow a business or ministry it’s going to take a long time to gain traction.
Every Friday I look at my long list of goals, projects and tasks. I then ruthlessly prioritise what is most important to get done that day.
But I’ve found that’s still not enough and I can’t seem to build real momentum.
And that’s where CoSchedule comes in.
CoSchedule Review: How CoSchedule Aims To Solve The Blogging Problem
Everything I have ever read about blogging says that in order to grow beyond your first few articles, you need an editorial calendar.
The concept is simple enough: plan all of your writing on a calendar so you can see what articles, emails and social media posts need to be published when.
This calendar is supposed to give you deadlines to work to and enable you to achieve consistency.
After all, if you don’t publish, then you won’t build an audience. And if you don’t publish regularly, any audience you have will soon get bored and drift away.
The Blogging Process
I have developed and honed my own blogging process over some years now and I’m generally happy with the basics.
Up until now, I have used Trello to keep track of the different stages a given article goes through while in production.
Trello helps me track research, keywords, outlines, drafts, graphics, final publishing and promotion. And it’s worked very well.
However, although the process was fine, I still couldn’t get into a proper flow over the weeks and months. There was always something else that would get in the way or slow me down.
And I had more or less zero presence on Facebook or Twitter.
So I figured it was about time to get serious about using an editorial calendar.
I recently started a trial of CoSchedule (and then extended it – thank you, Julie!) to see if they could give me the breakthrough I needed.
CoSchedule is an editorial calendar that slots right into WordPress via a handy plugin.
Sure, CoSchedule allows me to see all of my blog posts on a calendar, but it does far more than that.
For every article, you create its own project and this is where the magic happens.
Each project includes:
- the article itself.
- links to external research and notes.
- plus every social media post you’ll need to promote it.
You can write the full text of your article and then schedule it for publishing from right inside the project.
Better still, you can build a whole schedule of posts for Facebook and Twitter (and other networks). You can have them go out a week after publication, then a month and so on, through a whole year of content.
The project also includes space for tasks, colour coding, tags and the awesome headline analyser …but I’m getting ahead of myself.
CoSchedule Review: First Impressions
Your initial login to CoSchedule is most likely going to be via their website. But once you set up the plugin, you’ll see the same view and options in the WordPress admin area.
The user interface is very clean and functional with plenty of white space, so it’s usually easy on the eyes.
Some parts are not quite as intuitive as they ought to be. But a few clicks around the screen soon helps you understand where everything is.
Starting on the Home page, you’ll see a list view of dates, with tasks and projects that are due each day.
On the right-hand side are 3 tabs for notifications, quick links to recent projects and a “favourites” option.
You can add a new task directly from the home screen, but curiously, you can’t add a new project from here.
From the home screen, you can either click on an existing project to be taken directly to it, or click the menu icon in the top left-hand corner.
The menu contains the following options:
- The name of your company/organisation *
* I understand that this option allows you to select other calendars when you have more than one. However, only one calendar is available on the Individual plan.
I’ll cover ReQueue later (hint: it’s awesome!), but let’s get to grips with the heart of it all: the calendar.
CoSchedule Review: Getting Started With The CoSchedule Calendar
CoSchedule has a great onboarding experience for new users, which takes you through creating your first calendar entry and some other basics.
You’ll also see a little “power tips” lightning icon in the bottom left of many screens. This will allow you to get contextual help, where needed.
You’ll choose settings for your calendar, including colour labels and tags (you can change these later) and the date format.
The latter may not sound like much, but I’m British. It’s galling that many US companies still don’t understand how confusing the month/day/year format can be to outsiders. So it’s good to see the option to correct it, sitting front and centre.
The calendar itself will be blank initially, but will soon fill up with blog and social media posts. After a few weeks it will look more this:
At this point, the view may become overwhelming!
The good news is that you can filter the calendar so you can, for example, hide social media posts, leaving only blog posts on display.
Use the controls at the top to select what date range you want to see. Or use the search box to find the specific project you were looking for.
To create a new project you can click the Create button prominently displayed in the top right corner.
Alternately, if you already know the date you want to publish an article, you can hover the mouse over the relevant box and click the “+” icon that appears inside.
If you want to add a new item without setting a date, click the Ideas button in the top right and another tab opens up.
Drag And Drop
If you want to move any item on the calendar just drag and drop it where you want.
This allows you to move ideas onto specific dates or demote a scheduled article back to an idea if a better one comes along. You can also manipulate individual social media posts, should you wish.
However, the real time-saver comes when you start re-scheduling your blog posts.
Whenever you move a blog post from one date to another, CoSchedule automatically moves any associated social media posts. They will continue to align themselves relative to the article’s publish date, so a Tweet scheduled for one week after publishing will go out at the right time.
This works whether your post is still in draft or already scheduled to publish on a specific date.
Again, it may not sound like much, but imagine having to update a year’s worth of Facebook posts manually? Personally, it doesn’t bear thinking about!
However, with CoSchedule, drag and drop and you’re done.
CoSchedule Review: Getting Started With CoSchedule Projects
Technically, you can create different project types in CoSchedule, from a single social media post through to a video project.
The CoSchedule project view will vary slightly depending on what project type you select. However, only a few project types are available in the Individual plan (sadly, video projects are not included).
I will, therefore, focus on the blog post and WordPress types as they will receive most of your attention.
On the project screen (see screenshot, above), you’ll see the following components:
- Title of the project: doesn’t have to be the final headline.
- Description: a space to remind yourself what this post is about.
- Tags: used later for analysis and searching/filtering the calendar.
- Project type: blog post, social media, etc.
- Colour code label: various possibilities. I use them to illustrate the blog post process previously set up in Trello.
- Person assigned to: of more use once you get a team. 😉
- Date and time: the deadline you are aiming for.
- Tasks: any actions you need to do to get your post published.
- Status: either Draft or Scheduled.
Once you set a WordPress project status to Scheduled, it will automatically publish the article on the due date, followed by your social media posts.
As you can tell, there’s already a lot of functionality in CoSchedule projects. But we’re only just getting started!
On the left-hand side, you can add various larger items to your project:
- External files, including Google docs
- Evernote notes
- A text editor
- A link to another project in CoSchedule
- Social media campaign
The Evernote integration works very well and means you can write your article on the go and have it linked directly to your project.
You can use Evernote (affiliate link) or the text editor to write your article. The text editor allows some basic formatting, although in this state there is no direct relation to your blog.
However, click on the cog icon next to the editor and you can export the text as a PDF file or HTML.
You can also “convert to WordPress”. When you do this the project type will also change (to a WordPress project) and your article will become a draft back on your WordPress site.
From then on, any work you do will be synchronised between CoSchedule and the WordPress editor. You can also schedule your article to be published from either location.
CoSchedule Review: Initial Performance
You can, of course, do everything we’ve done so far inside the CoSchedule app on their own website.
You can also use the calendar purely as a scheduling aid with any blogging system.
However, where CoSchedule truly shines is when it integrates with WordPress.
You’ll see the exact same calendar as a separate menu option in the WordPress admin area and you can open individual projects from there too.
But when you convert a generic blog post into a “Wordpress project” in CoSchedule, something truly special happens:
Your CoSchedule project will be completely integrated into the WordPress editor.
It’s difficult to put into words or understand from an image how much of a game-changer this is, but I’ll try to do my best.
You’ll be able to edit and format your post as usual, but you’ll also have access to the CoSchedule project tools as an integral part of that same interface.
For example, you can use their headline analyser to improve the readability and “click-worthiness” of your article.
I use this alongside Yoast to ensure that my headline is optimised for both search engines and humans.
And once you’ve written your post, you can set up your entire social media campaign from the same screen.
I have only one word to say about this level of integration: awesome!
CoSchedule Review: Daily Use With Social Media
CoSchedule soon becomes a part of your blogging routine and I’m already wondering what I would do without it.
However, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the social media features.
You can schedule individual posts to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. (LinkedIn and Instagram are also supported and you can have up to 10 social profiles on the individual plan)
However, the real power comes with projects and ReQueue.
In a WordPress project, you’ll see a screen like this:
You’ll see placeholders with an example of how the post would look and icons you can click to add social messages days or weeks after the article is published.
You can add posts individually, but importantly, you can also use templates and helpers.
Social Media Templates
You can construct a template that will take the title, link, images and text from your article and push it into a series of social media posts.
This means you can have posts sent to Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter on the day the article is published, but publish twice to Twitter and only once to the other two.
You can then follow it up with a whole series of social updates to each platform, over the next few weeks and months.
You can set a specific time for each post or you can allow CoSchedule to use its “best time scheduling”, which will send them at the optimal times for each platform.
It really is “set and forget”.
Social Media Helpers
Social media helpers are small placeholders that work within the templates.
They help to personalise each social media post and campaign so they don’t all look the same.
Helpers can include images and text and can take the form of quotes, headlines or questions from your article.
When you combine helpers with the aforementioned templates, then each time you finish an article you do the following:
- Check your article for some worthy quotes and headlines.
- Add a social campaign in CoSchedule.
- Click the template you made earlier.
- Fill out the helpers with the quotes.
- Click Save.
CoSchedule then uses your template to set up your entire social campaign in just a few seconds.
It takes some effort to set up the template the first time round, but once you’ve done that, it will save no end of time for each new blog post.
The final string to the bow of the CoSchedule Individual plan is the ReQueue function.
This allows you to take previously published social media posts and automatically re-publish them in between your regular, scheduled posts.
The queue is intelligent and won’t interfere with any campaigns you already have running. It will also ensure you don’t over-post to any one network.
As you write more blog posts with their associated campaigns, ReQueue will come up with suggestions for the queue, based on your best performing posts.
This gets better over time and can also be adjusted for light, regular, or heavy posting, depending on how prolific you become with all the time you’ll save!
CoSchedule Review: Issues
I didn’t come across any major bugs during my time with the trial, but there were a few niggles I’d like to see addressed.
The interface is generally very good but involves a lot of scrolling on smaller screens.
When displaying more than a few weeks on the calendar, it becomes almost unusable on an iPad. Drag and drop operations become awkward too.
I also struggled to find the calendar filters again after the first time I used them. I had to resort to contacting support, although they were very quick to put me straight.
While the links with Evernote and WordPress are stellar, I’d like to see better integration with other tools.
I tried out the integration with Trello via Zapier, but it didn’t work very well. It kept adding social messages to Trello as cards with no names when I only wanted blog posts to be displayed.
It’s possible I didn’t set it up correctly, but it did seem a bit fiddly.
Services like Zapier are all well and good, but IMO they’re no substitute for properly coded API connections (revealing my developer roots there!).
CoSchedule Pricing Plans
It’s disappointing that certain features that would be really useful to bloggers are held back as part of higher-level plans.
For example, the following features are not available in Individual plans:
- Email project type
- Saved calendar filters
- Task templates
- Kanban board
It would so helpful to be able to schedule emails or at least display them on the calendar so they don’t get forgotten.
Task templates or, better still, the Kanban board (the equivalent of Trello) would make for a much cleaner blog writing process.
Without these options, you have to decide whether to use colours, tags, manual tasks or something outside of CoSchedule altogether.
The Ideas Board is ok but soon gets confusing and overwhelming if you put more than 4 or 5 ideas in it …which kind of defeats the object.
Since the Individual plan is aimed squarely at bloggers, I feel that they ought to do more to support the blogging process.
CoSchedule’s own marketing says “see everything in one place” and the removal of these options really takes away from that message.
To be fair, there is still a lot of functionality packed in for the price.
It’s not quite a one-stop-shop for a blogger, but it’s incredibly close.
CoSchedule Review: Pricing
The Individual plan is priced at $20 per month when paid annually.
That’s a lot of money for a blogger, particularly when starting out.
However, there are two mitigating circumstances:
- There is a LOT of power packed into this software, which will save you a ton of time.
- There is a referral programme, which means you can get a discount for referring other writers to CoSchedule or 50% off for writing a review.
Yes, the 50% discount is part of the reason I’ve written this, but:
- a. As a blogger, you always have to offset time against money and this review has cost me time.
- b. I’ve found it’s worth paying for tools that save you time. And CoSchedule has transformed my blogging in just 3 months.
CoSchedule Review: Verdict
While this CoSchedule review is based on an extended trial, it’s a system I know I will be signing up to, very soon.
It’s a flexible blogging system, too. Either:
- setup all articles in WordPress straight away, or
- use CoSchedule (or Evernote) as your editor and convert it to WordPress when you’re ready.
It integrates amazingly well with WordPress and only gets better over time: the more you use it, the more you’ll want to use it.
Scheduling social posts in advance couldn’t be easier. And ReQueue recycles your best messages automatically.
Support has been very responsive, answering questions as well as dealing with any issues I have had.
For the first time in years of blogging, I’m on top of my schedule and have a great feeling of control!
- Empowers bloggers to see ahead and plan content for weeks and months in advance.
- WordPress plugin fully integrates editorial calendar into your normal workflow.
- Headline analyser gets more people to engage with your articles.
- Integrates well with popular third-party apps, like Evernote.
- Powerful social media templates and sharing options.
- ReQueue function has to be seen to be believed.
- Analytics reports help you see how your social media efforts are paying off.
- Grows with you and your ministry or business, particularly once you start working with a team.
I didn’t like
- Can be expensive but referral program can help cut costs.
- Takes time to set up social media templates.
- Many useful functions locked behind higher-tier plans, but you probably don’t need most of them.
- Email marketing, Video projects and Kanban boards are some of those locked functions, which is disappointing for a blogger.
Who it’s for
Bloggers who want to:
- keep on top of their schedule
- publish content consistently
- stay relevant on social media
Yes, yes and yes again!
If you’re a Blogger and struggling to keep up with your own deadlines like I was, then you can’t go wrong CoSchedule.
Even if you’re just starting out, it’s a great investment to get you into good habits.
Find out more here.
P.S. That wraps it up for this series of behind the scenes posts.
Tune in next time, when I’ll be sharing some exciting opportunities and a prophetic word the Lord gave me over the Summer!