If you’re having trouble keeping up with the amount of content you need to publish on your blog or other publications you contribute to, then an editorial calendar is the solution to your organizational troubles. Sometimes, just seeing an upcoming post is due will keep your writing on track. Of course, there are lots of tools to choose from, including ones that are not officially calendars, but could still work for your needs. In this post, we’re going to show how you can determine your needs and some tools to use for specific situations.
Determining Blog Management Needs
First of all, you need to determine your management needs. If you are just managing yourself as a content creator, the world is your oyster in terms of editorial calendar choices – you’re simply looking for something that is easy for you to use. Of course, you also have to keep in mind future growth – will you always be the sole content creator for your business, and will the tool you choose adapt or have to be changed?
If you are managing yourself and people inside your organization, your choice of editorial calendar will differ from those who have to manage people within and outside of their organization. The latter could involve employees, guest bloggers, and freelance writers.
Another area to consider is how much detail and collaboration you need built into your editorial calendar. Do you just want to be able to post a date when a particular blog post is due, or do you want to be able to discuss topic ideas and have different deadlines for post submission, post editing, and post publishing?
Tools to Try as an Editorial Calendar
Take a moment to think about the considerations mentioned above. Now, let’s look at some popular tools businesses use for editorial calendar management.
Remember the Milk
Remember the Milk is not an editorial calendar, but more of a to-do list tool. For those who are just managing themselves, it can be an easy to use tool to test out.
What I love about this tool is that you can use it to manage your tasks on their website, on your mobile, and even within Gmail using the Remember the Milk Gmail Gadget. This makes it easy to access whenever and wherever you need it.
Task details can include three levels or prioritization, due date, repeating due date, URL, location, tags, and notes. You can also delegate tasks to your main inbox, personal, work, or study for further organization. Best of all, adding and entering tasks is easy. Just add in the task name and date due.
Edit the details in the sidebar.
Then hit 1, 2, or 3 on your keyboard to mark its priority and it’s all set. Once you’ve completed the task, you can mark it as complete, or if you need to postpone it, you can use the Postpone button to move it to the next day.
For individuals managing their own content creation who do not like traditional calendars, this can be a great tool to try. It even gives you the option to have your tasks emailed to you so you also get a daily email alert with your complete to-do list.
Prefer using spreadsheets? Google Spreadsheets can be a good solution for creating a simple spreadsheet full of ideas, due dates, and people assigned to a task.
Because of the share ability of Google Drive documents, it makes for a great tool to organize an editorial calendar for those who prefer the functionality of a spreadsheet over an actual calendar. This can include the ease of updating tasks with published URL links, filtering to specific authors, approved topics, or topics with specific keywords, organizing by date, and so forth. It can also allow multiple contributors to easily suggest new topics for themselves or for others in the pool to write about.
Google Drive has several other benefits for blog contributors and management. Authors can submit their posts in Google Docs, multiple editors can make changes and leave comments, and the author can re-submit their content with revisions. Blogs that like to create expert roundups (like 25 Experts Share Their Favorite WordPress Plugins) can use Google Forms to send out a survey or one or two questions to their target experts and collect their responses in a spreadsheet to compile into a post.
Now, let’s move back to traditional calendars. Google Calendar can be used to manage multiple people through the sharing of personal calendars with others.
You will simply create an event for each blog post due, categorize it within the right calendar based on the color coding and sharing options you want the event to have, and then configure details. Details can include due date, repeating due date, location, description, popup or email reminders, and even guests for sharing collaboration tasks.
Because of the sharing capabilities for individual events (posts) and calendars, this can be a good tool to use for an individual or those managing in-house and external content developers.
As an alternative to Google, Microsoft Outlook can also be used in a similar way for those who are within an organization or on the same Exchange server.
For businesses who need something more robust, Trello can be a great solution. This tool allows you to collaborate with contributors within and outside of your organization and has free and premium versions based on your needs.
Tasks within Trello are organized with boards, lists, and cards. For example, you could have a board for your company’s blog, and within it, lists for each category within the blog, and within the lists, cards for each topic due within that category on the blog.
Within each card, you can assign specific task to-do items with their own due dates, such as submitting a topic, entering the first draft into WordPress, and publishing it live to the blog. You can assign cards to one or more members of your organization. Reminders for each task item within a card will be emailed to assigned members before and on the due date.
You can also see the current members of your organization and their most recent activity.
Also, within the cards, you can have discussions with other members by using their @username when making comments so that user will be alerted to a new conversation. You can even attach files to share drafts and revisions.
There are lots of other ways to organize your boards, lists, and cards. Some companies may choose to create lists within each board of upcoming tasks, in progress tasks, and completed tasks. Others may choose to create one board with lists for their own blog and the blogs the contribute to. As you can see, this is a strong tool to use for businesses with lots of content creators and projects to organize.
There are tons upon tons of tools you can use to organize your editorial calendar and manage both your contributors and content. These are just a sampling of the ones I’ve seen used successfully by small to medium sized businesses.
What tools do you use to manage your blog? Please share in the comments!