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If you’re looking to build your blog audience, the one piece of advice you will encounter most often is to blog consistently. Whether you have a daily posting schedule or a lower frequency, this often means writing posts in advance, which introduces the added challenge of coordinating what gets published when.
Planning your blog’s posting schedule enables you to review the flow of content, plan your writing and editing, and see if you have gaps in your content that you need to fill. Plugins can make this easy by providing a visual display of your scheduled posts and enabling scheduling changes with ease.
In this post, we will look at the three best WordPress plugins for wrangling your posting schedule and taking control of your blog.
The Benefits of an Editorial Calendar
The most obvious benefit of an editorial calendar is having greater control over upcoming posts. However, an editorial calendar can provide a host of other benefits to put you back in control of your blogging.
- Maintain a Consistent Schedule. Consistency is more important than frequency in successful blogging. An editorial calendar will help you visualize the schedule you need to keep for publishing your posts.
- Plan Topics for Writing. Using an editorial calendar encourages you to come up with topics before you need to write the posts. You can capture ideas and set deadlines for them giving you enough time to properly research and plan your posts.
- Organize Your Content. Using a calendar can give you a big picture view of your content strategy. You can plan weekly or monthly content themes or align posts with holidays and business milestones.
- Manage Your Writing Team. Coordinating multiple writers can be cumbersome without a system to keep track of assignments. An editorial calendar can help all team members see who is working on which topics and when content is due.
Maintaining an editorial calendar inside the WordPress administration interface helps to focus efforts right where users are already working, rather than adding another interface to learn.
Let’s start by looking at the de facto standard for WordPress editorial calendar plugins.
The 3 Best WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugins
1. Editorial Calendar (Free)
With over 50,000 active installs and a 4.9 star satisfaction rating, Editorial Calendar is by far the most popular option for a WordPress editorial calendar. We included it in our list of the plugins we think everyone should use.
- Easy to set up
- Easy to use
- No configuration required
- Intuitive drag-and-drop interface
- Limited functionality
Editorial Calendar Explored
The Editorial Calendar plugin provides an easy-to-use visual overview of your blog posts. After installing and activating, it presents you with a Calendar menu option under Posts in the WordPress administration.
There are no settings to configure and no options to fiddle with. You can start using it immediately. Clicking on the Calendar menu takes you to a screen with a calendar display that includes all your published and scheduled posts.
You can scroll backwards and forwards in time to see more posts, and with one click jump back to a display that includes the current day. You can toggle the display of unscheduled draft posts on this screen as well.
Creating new posts is as simple as hovering over any date on the calendar and clicking New Post. This brings up a Quick Edit popup that enables you to add the post title, content, publish time and status right there in the calendar. By default posts will be created as drafts.
The simple drag-and-drop interface enables you to easily change post dates by dragging posts between days. You can also add new draft posts to the schedule by dragging them from the draft drawer on the side onto a date on the calendar. Draft posts will not be published automatically unless you actually set the status to Scheduled.
Published posts in the calendar have view and edit links that link directly to the post’s permalink and the edit screen. Draft and scheduled posts have an additional option for Quick Edit that enables you to edit the post title, content, publish time and status using the same popup mentioned before.
Whether you are a solo blogger or have a team of collaborators, the Editorial Calendar plugin is an easy (and free) way to start managing your blog schedule. You can easily schedule posts and see the status of all posts on your blog.
If you find yourself needing more advanced functionality like social integration or workflow management, you’ll want to look at the next option on our list.
2. CoSchedule (Premium)
CoSchedule by TodayMade enables the scheduling of both posts and social media updates on the same editorial calendar. It is a monthly paid service and starts at $30 per month, but there is a free two week trial. The required free companion plugin shows us that there are currently over ten thousand active installs. The 4.7 star satisfaction rating tells us that many people have found this to be the right solution for them.
- Easy to install and set up
- Intuitive drag-and-drop interface
- Integrated social media publishing
- Team workflow management
- Expensive subscription
- May be too complicated for solo bloggers
Much like the Editorial Calendar plugin, CoSchedule uses a visual calendar to show published and scheduled posts (including custom post types). Changing dates on posts is as simple as dragging them to a new date. Where CoSchedule really stands out is its integration with the major social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Buffer and Tumblr).
Using CoSchedule, you can create and schedule a queue of social media messages that can be automatically sent after the blog post goes live. These social posts are linked to each blog post and even move with them if you click-and-drag the post on the schedule. This makes tasks like setting up social posts the day a blog posts goes live and then every three days thereafter a simple matter.
To get started using CoSchedule, you need to create an account on their site. You can do this before or after installing the companion plugin. An intuitive wizard takes you step-by-step through connecting your blog to CoSchedule. Some sample content and workflows are created to help onboard new users and there are tips on getting started.
The design of this tool is unlike regular WordPress plugins, so it may take some getting used to. Our best advice is to take the time watching the tutorial videos, and follow the getting started tips to learn your way around this powerful application.
Clicking the Create button on any date in the calendar gives you the option to create new blog posts, social messages, events, tasks, and notes. All items can be color coded and given icons to help you easily filter and find relevant items for any project.
CoSchedule has task and workflow management built right in, so you can create a checklist of things to be done for each post and assign steps to various team members. You can also add editorial comments as posts pass through the workflow.
If you are seriously into content marketing and coordinating social media with your blog posts, CoSchedule may be the perfect tool for you. If you are working with a team, the built-in collaboration features will help you streamline your publishing work efficiently. The wealth of features may be a bit much, however, if you are a solo blogger just getting started.
If you are working alone and are not that concerned with strict strategic scheduling, we have something interesting for you in the next plugin on our list.
3. Drafts Scheduler (Free)
The final plugin in our list, Drafts Scheduler, is not as mainstream as the other two plugins explored above, despite having over ten thousand active installs. This free plugin enables you to sequentially or randomly schedule all draft posts on your blog.
- Easy to install and set up
- Simple schedule configuration
- Limited control over posting schedule
Drafts Scheduler Explored
Drafts Scheduler doesn’t represent a use case that will suit all bloggers, but it can come in handy if you have a large number of draft posts, and the exact scheduling is not very important. One example is scheduling the publishing of portfolio items or case studies. You may have a batch of them and want them to go live at random intervals to appear organic.
Drafts Scheduler is very easy to use. Installing and activating adds a menu option under Posts in the WordPress administration. On the Drafts Scheduler option page, you can set the post type to schedule posts, pages and custom post types (like portfolio items) and a start date for the schedule.
The draft posts can be published either in a completely random order or sequentially based on the order the posts were created. Where the fun starts is with the posting interval. You can schedule posts to be published every six hours, for example. Or you can get really adventurous and allow the plugin to publish your posts randomly and surprise you.
The random schedule option enables you to set up some limits to control the publishing such as setting a maximum or exact number of posts to be published within a day, and the hours between which posts should be published.
If your posts are not time sensitive and you don’t need strict control over when posts are published, this plugin could be an interesting way to add variety to your post schedule.
Choosing an Editorial Calendar Plugin
Choosing the best editorial calendar plugin for your needs will depend on the type of content you plan to post, the flexibility of your scheduling needs, and whether you are working alone or need team collaboration and workflow functionality.
If you are looking to simply schedule blog posts and nothing else, then you cannot go wrong with the Editorial Calendar plugin. However, if you want to use your calendar to manage pages and custom post types, you will want to take a look at the other two plugins on our list. If social media content is part of your publishing workflow, CoSchedule is the way to go.
For fine-grained control over the scheduling of your posts, both Editorial Calendar and CoSchedule will meet your needs. If you are willing to give up some control, let Drafts Scheduler create a posting schedule for you.
While both Editorial Calendar and Drafts Scheduler will work with multiple users, for true team collaboration and workflow management, CoSchedule is the uncontested winner.
Creating an editorial calendar to manage your blog content can be extremely time-consuming, especially if you are posting regularly, but is a vital part of successful blogging. Using a plugin can make it easy to setup and manage your scheduled posts.
We’ve taken a look at three plugins in this post that can help you to create and manage an editorial calendar for your content, and shown you how to choose between them. We’ve given you the advice, so now you just need to select a plugin based upon your unique needs.
Do you use any of the plugins we listed? Share your editorial calendar experience with us in the comments, or let us know if there is an alternative you think we should have covered!
Article thumbnail image by Bakhtiar Zein / shutterstock.com