I certainly wasn't looking for an editorial calendar for WordPress because it never occurred to me that one would exist. But somehow I stumbled across the WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin (free).
And I'm loving this plugin as an individual blogger. But before I get into the details of this particular plugin and how I use it, let me first be clear…
Who this plugin is NOT for
- Agencies managing large scale editorial calendars for clients
- Large, multi-author blogs producing multiple pieces of content daily
- Large or medium sized multi-author blogs in general
- People merely looking to brainstorm potential post ideas
- A replacement for Evernote or Trello type services
Who might find this plugin useful
- SEO consultants and small boutique agencies managing editorial calendars for clients
- Individual bloggers
- Small multi-author blogs
With that said, let's get in to why this plugin kicks ass for those in the latter category and how I use it.
What is the Editorial Calendar Plugin?
As you might expect, this plugin allows you to create an editorial calendar within your WordPress backend. Unlike methods creating an editorial calendar outside of WordPress, this one automatically creates drafts of the posts you add to the calendar.
How Does It Work?
You install it the same way you would any other plugin. Once it's installed, you'll find the calendar under the Posts category in left sidebar in your WordPress Dashboard. (You can click any of the pictures shown in this post to see a larger version.)
Important note – the calendar will not display any draft posts that you had in your back end before installing the calendar, but it will display already scheduled and published posts. Additionally, any post you create in the traditional fashion (Posts > Add New) even after installing the will be considered an unscheduled draft and will not appear in the calendar.
Adding a post
To add a post to the calendar, mouse over the date you'd like to designate the post for and click the “new post” link that will appear when you mouse over the date. The following screen will pop up.
On this screen you can designate a post title (this will be the main post title in the edit post screen), some content to include in the post draft if you want (you could add a description of the general gist of the article – anything you want to add to flesh out the post topic before you actually write it). The information you put here will appear in the general post content area in the edit post screen.
You can choose the time that post should go live, as well as the post status (you can choose between Draft, Pending Review and Scheduled – note, setting the post as Scheduled means the post will publish on the date and time designated automatically).
Once you've added everything you want to add, click Save. The post will then appear in the editorial calendar and automatically be created as a draft in your WordPress Posts section. To edit, write or publish the blog post, you'd simply do it the same way you always have in the edit post screen.
To move a post once it's been added to the calendar, you can drag and drop it onto the new date you want. Note that you cannot move already published posts – only scheduled and draft posts.
Changing the screen options
The plugin has a pretty fleshed out FAQ page but for those who won't RTFM, I'd like to point out a few nuances. One of those is that while you won't find a “settings” page for this plugin, you will find the ability to change some things via the screen options (top right corner of the Calendar page).
The most notable is that there is a way to display the post author. This is unchecked by default. It makes no sense to me why it would be unchecked by default, but it is. You also have the ability to change how many weeks of the calendar shows as once. You can choose to show as little as 1 week per screen or as many as 8 weeks per screen (the default is 3 weeks).
Navigating the calendar
This is a little less than intuitive. Most of us have been trained by digital calendars that if you click to show the next month of the calendar, the last week of the month prior will appear in the screen as well. Not the case with this plugin.
The way to get around this is to use the up and down arrows to navigate the calendar, vs. clicking the navigation buttons on the top left of the calendar.
Which user types have what permissions
Administrators and Editors can use every feature available in the calendar (and be aware that editors can delete an admin's posts). Authors can use the calendar to add, edit, move, and publish their own posts, but other people's posts are read-only. Contributors see everyone's posts, can add and move their own posts, but can only save drafts (vs. scheduling something to publish). Subscribers can't see the calendar at all.
Cons of the Editorial Calendar Plugin
The most significant con (for me, and anyone running a multi-author blog with one person in charge of assigning topics) is that you can't assign a user to a post you add to the calendar. The post is automatically set to have the author be the person who added the post to the calendar.
Additionally, it sure would be nice if the plugin highlighted posts where the logged in user was the assigned author for said post.
Something else important to note? Deleting a post from the calendar means it's deleted from the blog in general – whether it's published, scheduled, draft – doesn't matter, it will be deleted.
Right now, you can only use the editorial calendar with posts. To be honest, that's not really a con for me, but I'm mentioning it because depending on how your WordPress site is setup, it could be a con for others.
Lastly, not really a “con” but a feature I'd love to see? Major holidays integrated into the calendar so I don't accidentally set a post to publish on Christmas day when I have a specific post type that publishes every Thursday or what have you.
Why I Find Using This Plugin Helpful
It organizes my content schedule, in one place
The less complicated I can make setting and following an editorial calendar, the better. For me, this calendar plugin makes more sense than keeping a editorial calendar in my Outlook or Google calendar (or insert your favorite external calendar here) and then trying to ensure my posts in WordPress are following it.
Looking at a long list of drafts and trying to ensure I have posts scheduled for the dates I need them to go live can be very frustrating at times. Looking at one main screen and knowing I don't have a post scheduled for Tuesday when I typically publish a specific type of post every Tuesday is extremely helpful in keeping my posting schedule on track.
Adding draft posts complete with notes from one screen
The plugin allows me to do some keyword research and then schedule blog posts around terms I want to target. I copy and paste the applicable keyword(s) I'm targeting into the content section of the post (as well as a synopsis of how I envision the post content angle if applicable). This is much easier and faster (for me anyway) to do from one core screen.
The drag and drop feature makes rescheduling posts easier
Let's say I have three related blog posts scheduled to publish Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. But then something happens – let's say I have an idea for a new topic, but it's time sensitive, so I need that post to go on Tuesday now and as a result, push my three post series back.
Without this plugin, I would need to go into each individual post and edit the scheduled date. With this plugin, I can merely drag and drop each post to go one day later than originally planned in seconds.
Happy content calendar organizing. :)