Do you have a WordPress blog? Is your blog growing? If the answer is no, there may be a simple reason why…
…and it is as simple as installing a WordPress editorial calendar plugin.
I am sure that you’ve heard of an editorial calendar, but you may be missing the key to using it as a tool for growing your blog. Bloggers are discovering this secret to blog growth, and for you, it may only be a click away.
What Is An Editorial Calendar?
Before we get too far, let me review what an editorial calendar is. Skip this part if you’ve heard it before.
An editorial calendar is basically a place where you can see all of your content in a single place. A good editorial calendar will give you a bird’s-eye-view of your entire content publishing plan, and allows you to visualize your marketing strategy at a glance. It is generally visible as a monthly or weekly calendar. A few of its key benefits include:
- Providing a canvas for blog post ideas and key topics.
- A management platform for editorial tasks and team members.
- A visual publishing schedule that helps you maintain consistency.
- Drag-and-drop simplicity for adjusting your schedule.
- A visualized view of your content plan.
- A platform for promoting your post across many channels.
It’s easy to see why the prospect of an editorial calendar is pretty alluring for any blogger who is looking to get their content more organized. In the coming year, businesses are set to spend more time and money on content marketing than ever before, and it is easy to see why. Many companies that blog generate 67% more leads than companies that don’t1.
Not only can an editorial calendar help you grow your blog, it can also help you grow your bottom line.
Why You Need An Editorial Calendar For Your WordPress Blog
Neil Patel, blogger over at Quick Sprout, has listed the editorial calendar as one of the top 10 growth strategies for small business bloggers, and he has good reason to do so. In recent surveys, at least 61% of consumers say they feel better about, and are more likely to buy from, a company that delivers custom content 1. Content marketing is a smart investment for any business, and that means that we need to protect our investment as much as we can.
This is precisely why it is so important to install a WordPress editorial calendar on your blog. An editorial calendar will improve your consistency, and put your focus on the things that matter the most to your blog. Here’s the big overview on some of the benefits:
When we write things down and make a plan, we tend to stick with it. It adds accountability, focus, and a constant reminder of our current goals. This isn’t just something made up. It is a scientific fact!
Writing things down stimulates the reticular activating system (RAS) at the base of our brain. This area filters everything that our brain needs to process, giving more importance to the stuff that we’re actively focusing on at the moment. This is where writing things down shines. Author Henriette Anne Klauser says that “Writing triggers the RAS, which in turn sends a signal to the cerebral cortex: ‘Wake up! Pay attention! Don’t miss this detail!’ Once you write down a goal, your brain will be working overtime to see you get it, and will alert you to the signs and signals that […] were there all along.” (Write It Down, Make It Happen)
One of the things that tends to happen for many bloggers and particularly small teams is a lack of strategic focus. For many bloggers, even bloggers that have been at it a long time, the writing process doesn’t amount too more than ‘sit down and type.’ By adding an editorial calendar to your WordPress blogging workflow, you insert strategy directly into your process in a very seamless way. Many users of CoSchedule, our own WordPress editorial calendar plugin, actually find that they improve both their blogging and social media strategy when they commit to using an editorial calendar.
The key here is focus. When you make a plan and think it through, you force yourself to consider details that you may not have otherwise. This focus naturally results in better strategy and a smarter process. One example from our journey with an editorial calendar, is the addition of a simple peer review process, something that wasn’t really achievable without the right tools.
There is a good chance that our team will be much happier once a smart process is in place for managing our blogging and social media scheduling. By filling this simple communication gap, we can improve our team’s happiness while simultaneously improving our blog as well. Increased communication usually leads to a better team and a more responsive approach to getting things done. Rather than being reactive, the team naturally becomes proactive long before major issues even arise.
Another challenge plaguing many teams is the wide variety of tools that they often have deal with as a part of their process. A good editorial calendar will bring them to a single place to visualize and execute their shared goals. It is truly the best way to see everything all-in-one place.
How An Editorial Calendar Will Help You Grow Your Blog
Let’s get into the meat of this process. All we really care about is blog growth right? Here are few key strategies that you can implement with a WordPress editorial calendar plugin right away.
Growth Strategy #1: Blog More
There is one dead-on reliable way to grow the traffic to your blog – blog more. I know it sounds super simple, but it’s true: more blogging equals more traffic. This is especially true for a new blog that is still getting its traction. Neil Patel documents this strategy well over on his Quick Sprout blog, comparing three major blogs and their rise to better and bigger traffic. The results in each case were directly tied to the number of blog posts that they were publishing each week.
For Neil, and the popular KISSmetrics blog, they found that the difference in traffic between five posts per week and six posts per week was almost 80,000 new visitors over the seven-day period!
That’s major growth that anyone can achieve (to scale of course) if they are willing to make the jump to more blogging each week. The first step in making that jump, of course, is to plan out your content step further on an editorial calendar. With the proper WordPress editorial calendar plugin, adding one new post per week to your schedule should be a piece of cake.
Growth Strategy #2: Improve Your Social Media Promotion
Once you hit publish on your blog post, what happens?
For too many of us, we send a quick link to our social networks once, and then never again. You could be missing out on huge growth potential with this one. By simply implementing a robust social sharing plan, you can easily increase the number of click-throughs on your links, and improve the number of retweets and shares that each social message receives.
This is not necessarily an old problem, but for all of the plugins and solutions, the social promotion of a blog post is actually pretty hard. There is no shortage of frustrations:
- An abundance of logins.
- So many browser tabs.
- Several disconnected tools.
- Slow, time-consuming, scheduling regimens.
- Irregularity of social networks (posts look different on each one).
- Unreliable or limited plugins.
This is where an advanced editorial calendar comes in really handy. Rather than just serving as an editorial calendar for your blog, tools like CoSchedule can help you schedule your social media messages while you blog, and schedule them on the same editorial calendar.
A good example of a well-considered social sharing plan might look something like this:
- Day 1 – Blog post goes live.
- Same day – Initial social messages trickle out to your accounts over the next 2-3 hours.
- Next day – Messages are shared again on the appropriate social channels.
- Next week – Another series of messages are pre-scheduled and sent the following week.
- Next month – Even more social messages are pre-scheduled for the following month.
- Next _____ – Additional messages can optionally be scheduled for the three-month mark or beyond.
Think of it like this – rather than hitting all of our social media feeds at once (right after the post goes live), a staggered method will slowly drip a campaign to our feeds over several days, weeks or months. It’s a great way to ensure a steady stream of views to your own content.
Growth Strategy #3: Plan Out Your Metadata
Metadata is an important part of the blogging process that many teams skip.
Metadata is simply a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. Some good examples are post categories and/or tags – two of the most common types that almost every blogger already uses. But, there is so much more available. Some additional pieces of meta data could include:
- SEO keywords that you are looking to target.
- Due dates or key deadlines for the post.
- Images or diagrams that should be included.
- A rough outline of the final product.
- Alternate headline options that are being considered.
- General notes and editorial comments.
So, what’s the big deal with metadata?
Well, it simply forces us to think through our posts in a new way as we write them. This is where that impromptu strategy and planning comes in. When we simply sit down to write a new post we can easily skip right past the metadata that will help make our posts more rich and powerful. By taking a few minutes to plan our metadata as we are putting together our editorial calendar, we make some of the key decisions before we even begin writing. This allows us to get straight to our writing long before we would otherwise, and that is always a good thing.
Growth Strategy #4: Spend Time Planning Your Content
Whether you are a solo blogger, or you blog as a part of a team, spending some time planning your content rather than just writing is best. To be completely honest, this is one of the steps that most bloggers love to skip. The problem is that when we simply jump right into writing our content we lack the resolve and strategy that we really need to start pulling in big traffic. By adding an editorial calendar plugin to our WordPress blog, we stop ourselves from doing that right at the source, increasing the likelihood that we take the time to plan our content accordingly.
If you blog as a team, here are a few simple things that you can do to improve your content planning meetings:
Free Content Marketing Editorial Calendar Templates
These free templates are designed to break your content down into three tools:
- An annual overview to rough-out your content plan for the entire year.
- An idea zone to plan out individual posts and content ideas.
- A one-month calendar to plan out specific posts for each day of the month.
You can download these free templates and an easy step-by-step guide on how to implement them into your daily workflow from our website. Just follow the link above.
Growth Strategy #5: Choose The Right WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin
There are a few important criteria to consider when choosing an editorial calendar of any kind, particularly if we are looking for true growth. Here are few key things to consider.
The right editorial calendar should work where we work. One of the common missteps with editorial calendars is choosing to use another tool on top of the many that we are already using. This causes headaches, and a duplicate workload. For example, many teams opt for a Google Docs-based editorial calendar. While this is a fine place to start, it will become more difficult to mange over the long-term. Many bloggers quickly get tired of the manual process that comes with keeping WordPress and Google in sync. The best type of WordPress plugin to consider is one that includes full WordPress support and integration.
The type of content that you will be able to control can be an important factor in selecting a WordPress editorial calendar plugin. A good example of this is the difference between social media calendars and content calendars. Over the last few years, it has become common to schedule and plan out social media and blogging content in the same place. This is an added time savings on top of the already efficient WordPress integration. Many calendars have not been able to support this, but support is improving with each day.
In the world of WordPress plugins, reliability can be a major concern. Plugins are notorious for being released and forgotten. This makes some of them buggy. In addition, the core structure of WordPress itself can introduce complications for plugins that are dependent on third-party services (such as social networks like Twitter, Facebook, or Google+). All of these factors make plugin reliability a major concern for newcomers to the various WordPress editorial calendar plugins that are available.
The speed of the plugin matters, but even more important is the speed at which you can work on your content. Some plugins can be notoriously slow, evaporating much of the time savings that you are hoping to gain.
A team that can’t blog together can’t stay together…or something like that. It will be important for your editorial calendar solution to be able to handle team communication and workflow management. This may include things like assignments, tasks, project templates, and simple commenting and communication. It is also very important for email notifications to be a major part of the process, as many of your team members will rely on them to “stay in the loop.”
Ease Of Use
It is one thing to say that we want something that is easy to use, but the right solution can be hard to find. If we are going to have proper buy-in from our team, we will definitely need something that is easy for our team to understand and utilize on a day-to-day basis. These elements tend to be subjective, but make sure you get proper input from your team before making the big leap.
The Best WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin?
So, what’s the best WordPress editorial calendar plugin out there?
Well CoSchedule of course. Sure, we’re biased, but we also believe in what we are selling. We built CoSchedule to solve many of the problems that we’ve outlined here, and many of our users tell us that we have helped them grow traffic to their blog. The key is consistency and promotion – a killer combination for blog growth.
If you have not already signed up for your free trial, now may be a good time to get started.
5 Final Thoughts For Managing Your WordPress Editorial Calendar
Everyone wants to grow their blog, and an editorial calendar may be exactly what you need to get things started. As we wrap things up, here are a few things that should help you become successful with your new calendar.
- Plan ahead – Become a content planner. Write your headline, choose your date, and stay conscious of your metadata. This will make you a better blogger, and naturally lead to more traffic.
- Get your team on board – If you have a team, you will need to get them to buy into the idea of an editorial calendar as well. Help them understand why it matters before jumping into how it will be used.
- Hold content planning meetings – One of the first steps to getting your team organized is making room for content planning meetings. We have a few tips on running content planning meetings here.
- Develop a social media promotion plan – Social media is a powerful tool for traffic and SEO. Make sure you have a great social media sharing plan.
- Audience – It seems so obvious, but we often miss the boat on this one. Take time as a writing team to truly understand your audience.
- Develop a content outline – Lots of people like to come up with systems for scheduling their writing by category or topic. For example, on Mondays they post about category A, and category C on Thursdays. While it may seem simplistic, it is a good strategy that can be easy to work with. Do whatever it takes to make it work for you.
WordPress is the world’s most powerful content publishing platform in the world, and it becomes even more powerful when it is tied to the right editorial calendar. Make your decision carefully, embrace it, and allow it to propel your blog into more growth than ever before.