Will CoSchedule help me reach more people or just take my money?
Sure it’s a pretty-looking app, but there are so many pretty looking apps that I’ve tried. Let me tell you about my background so you know where I’m coming from with this review.
My real passion is solving problems.
It doesn’t matter the industry. I’m a nurse, I’m a teacher, I’m a designer. I love learning about how others have solved interesting problems. And so I can’t help myself when I find an organization filled with great people, that has a great message, does great work—but is not sharing their story. It kills me. I can’t help but think about what changes would help them reach more people.
Having a great website is important but it doesn’t help you share or engage with your audience. If you want a website that you never have to update—you’ll need to write an entire book for it. More likely, you’ll want to periodically write new content and tell your story through a few channels.
So if you’re not ready to write a whole book right now, then you’ll need a strategy to tell your story over a longer period of time. I won’t tell you “just start.” No. Strategy is the operative word here because I don’t want you to burn out.
Common hurdles to committing to a content strategy:
- “I don’t really even know how to get started.” Starting from scratch, there’s a lot to learn so even thinking about starting is taxing. (I get it, but keep reading and we’ll get over that hurdle.)
- “I think it’s going to take too much time.” We’re all running behind. But taking a moment to strategize now will save you hours later.
- “How do I know this is going to actually help?” Without knowing what success looks like or what to measure, you end up feeling like you’re wasting your time.
I’m passionate about helping worth-it organizations share their stories, but I know we’re all busy and disorganized. So I try to keep up with apps and tools and resources that actually save time.
I try just about every free trial there is so I can share my results with the people in the trenches of promoting themselves or their organizations online. When it comes to CoSchedule I do have a wish-list, but it’s been just what I need.
CoSchedule has been a game-changer for my own writing and sharing and I’ll tell you how it can do the same for you.
CoSchedule puts your content (writing, posts, videos, etc.) and your social media all in the same place. I’ve never found a more complete solution for putting together an editorial calendar. In essence I think it’s really three tools:
- Editorial Calendar and Planner
- Post and Social Media Scheduler (independent and relative to content)
- Workflow Manager/Reminder App
It’s an Editorial Calendar and Planner
You get a birds eye view of what you’re posting and where. You can also plan ahead and put your post schedule together even a month in advance. Much of this is automated in the content schedule and at any time you can reorganize with simple drag and drop. (This ability to strategize and restrategize so easily is what really sold me.)
It's a Post and Social Media Scheduler
You can plan future content by typing in a headline and then leaving the status as Draft. If you’re really organized you can choose a content type and a color label.
When you open up the CoSchedule calendar, you’ll see the whole month at once. Adding content starts with titling your future content. There’s a great headline analyzer that gives you instant feedback about whether or not you’ve written an interesting title.
As you plan your posts you can schedule your social media messages at the same time. If you use Wordpress you can post directly to your blog with the CoSchedule Wordpress plugin.
This is huge, and I need to say it again: you can schedule posts relative to your content so your content doesn’t get stale and you don’t get discouraged.
Same day, Day After, 2 Days After, Week After, Month After, etc… You can also create Custom Times to share.
It's a Workflow Management/Reminder App
Beyond scheduling social media at the same time as other content, you can also create templates to remind yourself of actions you want to take related to your content. This way things run smoothly and don’t fall through the cracks.
For example, I like to search for related content about 2 weeks before a post so I can share useful content. Then about 5 weeks after a post I make sure to go back, check analytics, and refine content that is doing really well. CoSchedule has tools to do all of this in the same place.
Here’s an overview by the company:
How I Use CoSchedule with Squarespace
I can’t speak for how it works with Wordpress (but it looks like it’s pretty slick) because I prefer to work with Squarespace for myself and the great majority of my clients. But for CoSchedule to be worth it I needed to be able to easily integrate it with my workflow for Squarespace.
I don’t necessarily love the way its blogging works. But you take the good with the bad, and I think the good wins. I write in at Medium or with Ulysses and then import into Squarespace.
But my problem has always been not writing often enough.
The writing platform wasn’t the problem.
My process was the problem. When I sat down to write, I faced a blank page and had no ideas and no resources. I hadn’t planned. It took me a long time to feel that problem—because the first thing you feel is that I’m-a-bad-writer.
That’s not really it though. The first step to producing more content is planning it out in advance.
Churches are actually a great model for this (so they should be able to adopt this method naturally!). Every Sunday the pastor gets up and gives a sermon—every Sunday. A lot of churches use a lectionary for this too. So the pastor reads the texts and writes a sermon that relates to the texts for the week.
What’s the model? Exactly what I preach with content scheduling:
No ifs, ands, buts. You’ve got to see it like it’s your job, which will be especially easy if it literally is your job. And don’t break your trust in yourself. You must produce something in relation to the prompt. Otherwise, how will you know you’ll follow through with anything? Seriously though, if you don’t follow through on something for yourself, you stop believing yourself and stop believing in yourself.
The next step is separating the various stages (from idea to publish).
Once I’ve planned my weeks in advance with Drafts (a huge step itself because I write a working title and add notes about what I’d like to talk about) I make Tasks for myself within CoSchedule like I talked about above under Workflow Management. I set todos for myself at key times related to the post. That way, when I sit down to write I don’t also have to make images and edit and post all at once. Scheduling Tasks allows me to break apart the writing process into pieces I can handle.
Now, there are some other nice integrations with CoSchedule that you can take advantage of:
- Bitly: to use your own branded shortlinks
- Google Analytics: to track traffic to your content
- Evernote and Google Docs: to write content and import it directly
- Buffer: if you’re into using this tool for social media already
Also, make sure to check out the CoSchedule blog. They are certainly using their own tool. They are always sharing and they are always putting together incredibly helpful resources. I’m astounded at the amount of content they produce.
There are a few pieces of CoSchedule that I find frustrating. Of course, as with Squarespace, the good far outweighs the bad.
Better In-App Post Editing
I don’t use the Wordpress plugin because I can’t, but the in-app post editor is jittery and unpredictable. I’ve never lost content but I have to chase the cursor around a distracting amount.
This is probably my biggest problem with CoSchedule. The is otherwise clean and works flawlessly.
Schedule Posts to Be Emailed
I don’t know how possible this is, or if it opens a can of worms, but Squarespace does allow you to post from an email message. It would be nice to export to email straight from CoSchedule. This would be a make-shift Squarespace integration.
Better Organization Details
Being able to label these color tags would be tremendously useful.
I like to tag posts with colors and post types, but neither feature seems well-implemented. They are universal, yes. They work. But they aren’t well described.
You can’t label which color means what.
Was I using yellow for caution or yellow for summer posts?
I would also like their Content Types to be cleaner. This is really nitpicky. It almost doesn’t matter at all. But if they streamlined the style a little bit it would make for a more cohesive interface.
What were the hurdles keeping you from committing to a content strategy?
“I don’t really even know how to get started.”
Well, this article should hint you that I’d suggest you start with CoSchedule. Not only is the application excellent at making a content strategy quick, but the company also shares incredible resources constantly. Please contact me if you want help starting with CoSchedule. I really think their free trial is worth it—if only for you to wrap your mind around the power of an editorial calendar.
“I think it’s going to take too much time.”
It’s clear that writing takes time. But the rest of the process is made a lot simpler by taking the reigns with CoSchedule. Planning is easier because it leads to writing. And publishing is easier because you schedule your sharing at the same time. It’s not a completely hands-off solution, but it’s intentional and the best I’ve seen.
“How do I know this is going to actually help?”
You can know this will help because you can work in larger batches. That’s more efficient. You also can see your strategy as it’s going to play out. This takes a lot of the tedium out of strategizing. You’re able to just sit, plan, and execute.
I hope this was helpful!
Do you have any questions? I’m happy to help. As I said, I love solving a good problem.