Content marketing is all the rage, but that comes with a need for editorial management of that content. Edit Flow is a free WordPress plugin that helps blogging teams collaborate and manage their content. It is a popular plugin, and chances are that if you are looking for an editorial calendar, you've stumbled across Edit Flow.
Location: Edit Flow is found right inside WordPress, where you're already working. It uses the same WordPress permissions that you're already used to, and uses widgets that WordPress users are familiar with. Editorial management is happening right alongside each blog post as it is being created.
Communication: Edit Flow allows you to communicate with team members involved in a blog post right below the post in WordPress. Team members are notified via email, based on how you have set up your notifications, when new conversation occurs.
Editorial Controls: Editors can associate metadata with each post, giving team members who will be working on it an overview of what the editors want to see. This metadata field can be customized to show as much or as little to the team as workflow requires. For example, you can show details on the assignment, draft due dates, word count requirements, and so on.
Calendar: Edit Flow has a calendar, which is the most popular feature and what many users are solely looking for. The drag-and-drop calendar allows you to move posts around the visual interface and see, at a glance, the post status. Using a calendar instead of the verticle listing on the post page in WordPress is a huge step up for blog management.
Custom Statuses: Edit Flow relies heavily on manual custom post statuses. WordPress natively provides three post statuses for you: Draft, Pending Review, and Scheduled/Published. Edit Flow adds In Progress, Pitch, and Waiting For Edit as well as allowing you to create your own custom statuses. Unfortunately, should you ever deactivate Edit Flow, any post designated with these custom statuses will seem to disappear from WordPress. You'll have to manually change them to "draft" before removing Edit Flow.
Many teams who rely on Edit Flow both grow to love and hate the custom status. It's the only way they can, at a glance, see what state their post is in and move the content creation process along from one team member to another, but some teams have difficulty in getting all team members to change the status of a post when they are done with it. Edit Flow relies completely on manual compliance in this regard, or the editor will have to babysit and monitor every post to be sure the status is up-to-date as it moves through the workflow towards completion.
Editorial Controls: The handy due dates that the editorial metadata allows you to create are not active. In other words, they do not remind the team member of what needs to be done unless they are in the blog post and looking at the due date. The strength of being inside WordPress is also a weakness in this particular case in that you have to be in WordPress, and in a specific post, to see much of this important information. Most team members aren't going to be hopping in and out of each post multiple times.
Plugin: The plugin is a bit intrusive and heavy, and the fact that deactivating it could make many of your posts seem to disappear is something that strikes fear in a long-time WordPress user. It's never comforting to know that a major touted feature (custom post statuses) is also a serious weakness in how it fills your WordPress database.
Workflow: Edit Flow has a restrictive workflow in mind. The only flexibility is in how you create and use custom post statuses. Beyond that, you will have to adapt how you work to the limitations Edit Flow and WordPress allow within the WordPress dashboard. Keep in mind that Edit Flow is inside WordPress; if your team members and writers don't want to work there, Edit Flow won't help you much at all.
Edit Flow is a powerful, free WordPress plugin that many bloggers and teams will find useful. It is best suited for a blogging team where everyone is comfortable doing all work inside of WordPress, and where everyone is trained and willing to use the custom post status system. It focuses solely on the collaboration and management of publishing blog posts to your WordPress blog.
Many teams will find, however, that this isn't the best option for them due to the restrictions listed in the "cons" section above. For them, a different kind of editorial calendar and content management tool is a better choice. They may have team members who aren't working inside of WordPress, or they have an important social media component of their content marketing that they need to manage, too.
CoSchedule, the social media editorial calendar for WordPress, would be the best solution. It offers a flexible workflow that does not rely on custom post statuses. Instead, you can create tasks and carry on conversations associated with each blog post outside of WordPress without the additional "weight" to your WordPress installation. Notifications via email and a dashboard make it simple to include team members who work inside WordPress and those who do not. CoSchedule belives that the WordPress database is for your content, and shouldn't be clouded with management data.
CoSchedule syncs with WordPress and offers a sleek drag-and-drop calendar for both blog posts and social media, incorporating unscheduled draft post management into the mix. Social media messages are created alongside blog posts (or can be created as stand-alone messages) and are completely customizable, with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Buffer, and Google+ Pages available. In other words, it's a content management tool that doesn't just stop with blog creation and publishing, but includes your social media content, too.
Each team has different needs and limitations. The key is to understand what you need, and match it with a tool that provides you with the optimal fit.