I am a skeptic when it comes to trying new online tools created to supposedly make life easier. It always seems like a lot of work to learn something new and I'm basically lazy when it comes to such things. But the rest of the IFB team convinced me to stick it out with CoSchedule, a calendar tool for WordPress, and I'm very glad they did. It's easy to use and has saved so much time that I'm a convert.
It's just a plugin, which sounds really basic and like it wouldn't be that big of a deal—but the way CoSchedule allows you to plan ahead not only blog posts but also social media has saved me a boatload of time. For each blog post you write, it could save you 30 minutes of social media writing and scheduling—and that could lead to hours of your time saved every day.
Here's how: It saves you from having to switch applications from WordPress (it works with other publishing tools, but less smoothly), Twitter, Facebook, Tweetdeck, Buffer, or any other social media program (except for Instagram, of course). You can do everything in one browser window. Second—and this is huge for me—because you're switching applications less often, you have less risk of being distracted by your friends' latest new puppy photos on Facebook or the latest street style photos tweeted out from The Cut (a worthy distraction to be sure, but problematic when on deadline).
Here are some basics on how to get started with CoSchedule. I was a bit overwhelmed when I first looked at the interface. The calendar gets a busy and crowded pretty quickly. But, trust me, it's easy to use.
1. Sign up
CoSchedule offers a two-week free trial, so you can see for yourself whether you'll be as into it as I am. And if you decide that yes, I want to have a long term relationship with CoSchedule, it costs just $10 per month.
2. Connect with WordPress
After you sign up with your name and email and create a password, CoSchedule will ask you to name your calendar and ask if you work alone or with a team (either works great). Next up you'll type in the URL of your blog, then sign into your blog from the CoSchedule page. If all goes well, it will download and install the plugin automatically. If the magic doesn't happen, you just go to your plugin tab on your blog and download CoSchedule like you would any other plugin and activate it.
3. Connect your social profiles
Click on “Calendar” from the left tab in your wordpress dashboard, then click on Settings. Choose “Social Profiles,” and connect away to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Google+. If you click on “Integrations,” you can also link up CoSchedule with Google Docs, Analytics, Calendar and more.
4. Start scheduling
Now comes the fun part. From the CoSchedule calendar, click on the edit icon on any date. You can choose to write a blog post or just a social media message. If you choose blog post, you'll get a prompt asking for a post title. After you fill that in, a window will come up where you can do pretty much everything you need to do to schedule a blog post and social media messages. Add categories, change the author, schedule a time for posting. Click on the plus sign to schedule social media messages attached to your blog post.
CoSchedule will automatically add the headline and link to your social media messages, or you can customize the language. Use the dropdown menu to choose as many social media outlets as you like. You can also schedule what time you'd like to send the messages, and you can send multiple messages from the same platform… i.e. you can send one Facebook post now, and schedule two more for later in the week or next month.
5. Start writing
To write a blog post, click on “Edit in WordPress” from the aforementioned CoSchedule window. That will take you to your regular WordPress blog post creation page. Once you've written your post, scroll down and you'll see that same plus sign where you can schedule social media without leaving the page. This is particularly handy if you forgot to schedule your social media in the CoSchedule window, or if you decide you'd like to add more messages.
6. Get Creative With Marketing
The more I use it the more I realize I'm only scratching the surface of what CoSchedule can do, but one of the coolest things I discovered as I dug a little deeper into its capabilities is the “Top Posts” page. Here, you can see your top posts of all time, ranked according to social shares, which helps you know which direction to go with your coverage and content. And even more awesome, from this page, you can schedule social media posts to promote those older, but very popular articles. The CoSchedule folks suggest you could increase your traffic by 30% by doing this—and it's so easy, why not give it a try?