How to manage content, not editorial chaos with WordPress!

[lead]Managing editorial content, or an editorial team is one of those situations where everyone starts off with the best intentions, but as time goes by, it turns into an infuriating clusterfuck of management, reminders, missed deadlines and an insane amount of emails.[/lead]

Most people rely on the tried and true combination of Email assignments + Word/Google Docs with Tracked Changes + Shared Google Calendar. The problem with this method is that things can get horribly lost in the email pile, and unless you’re an email zen master with a zero-inbox, you will soon find yourself pulling your hair out. Compound that with social media content seeding and scheduled publishing, you might as well start popping prescription pills to keep a cool head. For editors especially, this can be crazy frustrating.

Well, it turns out there are a few solutions available, and they tackle the core problems of editorial flow at the source, right in your WordPress dashboard. The biggest issues include :

  • seeing all your content (draft, pending review, published & scheduled) in a monthly/weekly calendar view
  • delegating article assignments to team members with specific assignment information
  • getting notifications about articles and publications/scheduling
  • (if you have a large team,) segmenting your team in to groups (writers, photographers, graphic designers, editors, publishers)

The following are 3 WordPress plugins/services help you reign in your editorial content to varying degrees, make things more efficient, and turn blogging from a chore to a creative experience.

The Tools

Editorial Calendar

If you’re a small team with simple needs, Editorial Calendar is a great tool to visualize your content, and plan articles ahead. Basically, it displays all your posts (drafts, pending, published and scheduled) on a visual calendar to get a birds-eye-view of your content landscape.

Want to move things around? Drag-and-drop your content anywhere on the calendar. Have a blank spot in your editorial calendar and want to fill it? Create a quick draft post as a placeholder for an article idea and write it later.

It’s a great, simple and easy-to-use tool that will give you a good start on managing and planning your content stream.

Highlighted Features:

  • See all of your posts with their publishing date.
  • Drag and drop to change your post dates.
  • Quickedit post titles, content, and times.
  • Publish posts and manage drafts.
  • Easily see the status of your posts.
  • Manage posts from multiple authors.

Edit Flow

If you’re a serious blogger and want more robust features, Edit Flow will come to the rescue. This plugin is quite advanced in its feature set, and aims to solve most pain points in the entire editorial workflow.

Edit Flow comes with 7 modules, each solving a specific problem, and can be enabled individually depending on how big your team is, and how you work. Customize and put them all together, and the unique whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

Edit Flow has a visual calendar which is akin to Editorial Calendar with some extra bells and whistles. The two features that stand out are Custom Statuses and Editorial Metadata.

With Custom Statuses, you can extend the status of a post beyond what WordPress provides by default (draft, pending review, published/scheduled). For example, you can add a “Needs proof reading” or “In Progress” status to keep track of what stage a post is in. These custom statuses can then be used to filter items in the calendar view. For writers, and those of you with a lot of ideas you want to send to an editor, create a “Pitch” status which can serve as an idea bank.

If you want to give your authors extra details on an assignment, Editorial Metadata allows you to create your own custom fields to add to the WordPress post editor. Such fields could include, an article description, a story style, a word count, a draft deadline, etc. This helps editors define the parameters of the content when they assign it to their team, and it’s always there for the assigned author to reference (just in case they forget what they have to do).

Another Edit Flow module worth mentioning is User Groups. This feature really starts to shine when you have a large team of multiple editors, authors, contributors, photographers, designers, etc. You can create a User Group for each team and manage communications per team. Want to keep publishing communications to just your editors? Keep internal communications separate from contributor communications. Customize this feature according to how your team needs to be structured, and make sure that information goes to only those who need it.

Highlighted Features:

  • Blog posting visual calendar
  • Custom status publishing
  • Editorial Comments
  • Editorial metadata
  • Author notifications
  • Story budget
  • User groups and teams

CoSchedule

CoSchedule is a bit of a different animal. It boasts most features of Edit Flow, but it adds some sweet sweet extras that had me salivating. The most enticing of all is the scheduled social media publishing.

As you may already know, seeding your content to social media sites has its time and place. Even though you schedule your posts at a specific time that corresponds to the best time for traffic on your site, it might not be the same time on social media. You can use social publishing services such as Hootsuite, but there is an extra manual element to it. Most social seeding WordPress plugins like Jetpack let you publish to multiple networks, but they do it at the same time as publishing your post and all with the same message.

CoSchedule lets you schedule your social media publishing on an individual network level with custom messages. Say you want to publish your post on Monday, have it go out on Twitter with a set of hashtags on Tuesday afternoon, and on Linkedin for Wednesday morning. CoSchedule lets you customize these publications right from within the post editor. Now that’s a killer feature right there.

Unlike the others though, CoSchedule is an affordable monthly service to use it, and it’s not necessarily a plugin, but an add on that lives within your WordPress dashboard.

** Disclaimer: I haven’t had the chance to really play around with it because of its pricing, but the video and screenshots really sell it.

Highlighted Features:

  • Blog posting visual calendar
  • Social publishing
  • Team Assignments
  • Editorial Comments
  • Unscheduled Drafts
  • Tasks

The final say

Using spreadsheets has always been a pet peeve of mine. And shared docs are great but can be limiting sometimes. Luckily, there are some awesome tools out there to break us away from the habit of relying on email for editorial management and really look at workflow as a workflow, and not a game of email tag.

How do you manage your editorial workflows? What tools or templates do you use to keep track of publications and scheduling?

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