Project Planning with CoSchedule – Getting Organised!
Today I am going to tell you all about how I got organised by using CoSchedule! You see, since the launch of The Creative Curator back in late May of this year, I have been faffing around trying to find the right way to get organised, both with my sewing and pattern making projects, and the editorial calendar for my website too.
Disclaimer: This post has been submitted to CoSchedule for approval – if they approve, I will receive half price on the monthly subscription fee for one year, for talking you though just how awesome it is.
I don’t believe in tooting anyone’s horn for the sake of it, so please know that I am only writing this for two reasons…
- CoSchedule has seriously helped me get consistent and be ON IT with my site and content creation!
- I really believe that it is something that would help anyone looking to plan and manage a fashion creation project, a series of sewing or design projects as well as a marketing calendar of some sort for those serious about their blog. It really does have many uses outside of it’s intended market! 🙂
I had found that trying to keep up to date with my never ending task list and content creation was a challenge. I seem to want to do so much, and even though I am SURE there are enough hours in the day, I always run out of time! Well, not so much now!
Different Project Planning Methods
I have tried a variety of project planning methods, with varied results, and only one – CoSchedule – has been successful in keeping me on track!
The A1 Content Calendar
The A1 card plan, taped to the inside of my work cupboard. It worked for a week, until I realised I needed to move a couple of planned posts around due to extra freelance work. *Fail*
The Printed A4 Sheet
I then moved on to printing out a monthly calendar on an A4 sheet of paper, planning out that month’s posts and sewing projects that way. The problem I had with this was not having that piece of paper with me when I needed it, nor enough space on it for it to be useful. You see, if I was out and about at a fabric shop in London and needed to know just the right amount of fabric for an upcoming pattern review post?
That sheet of paper, with it’s limited space and information, was not helpful. There just wasn’t enough space on it to hold all the essential information. The blog title, the keyword and the planned publish date was all that really worked. *Fail*
Project Management and To Do List Apps
My final effort was to try using a project management tool combined with a reminder app to keep me organised. I tried Tello, Asana, Evernote, Nozbe… There are a whole bunch of different apps out there, for both Mac and Windows, iOS and Android. If you need an app to to help you get organised and stay on track, there are a gazillion to try. But I was tired of all the different apps, and all the different pen and paper schedules. So, I turned to a Facebook contact for recommendations. Kimi of The Blog Dept had been a wealth of information when it came to understanding the way a blog schedule should work; frequency, content quality etc. I figured she’d have an answer to my problem, and she did. CoSchedule!
You what??? You’re probably thinking that you’ve never even heard of it. It doesn’t sound like anything that might actually help you with fashion creation projects right? Well, that’s where you might just be wrong m’lovelies! I’ll run through why below… 🙂
What is CoSchedule?
CoSchedule is essentially a marketing calendar web application. (Don’t stop reading just yet, it has awesome capabilities for us fashion creators!).
It is an application, used on the internet, by people who work in the marketing industry. They use it to plan out their marketing schedule. It is great for planning out your marketing content, your social media posts and most importantly for me, blog posts using WordPress integration.
For me, this was the deal breaker. Being able to sync my WordPress based site with CoSchedule in order to plan out, and work on my blog posts is a life changer.
You see, I have finally found a way to have a visual editorial calendar within the back end of my site, which enables me to access my future (and past) blog posts, along with all the notes for those posts that I store there. And those notes include everything I need when out and about. *Woop woop*
If I am planning a post on the Sew Over It Betty Dress? (Which I was, it goes live on Monday 14th November) I make a draft post and add in all the basic information there. The fabric requirements, the zipper length and style, as well as any thread I need to buy too, to match with the fabric purchase.
It includes relevant research on the brand, and links to other people’s reviews. The way I write, is to make sure that each blog post draft is a thorough and scattered page of research notes. It contains a list of photos I’ll need to take, and other back up sites for further clarification and research. And it is always available in the backend of my site. But… WordPress is ridiculously hard to navigate on my phone when out and about. CoSchedule?? Quite a bit easier! And you see, that is the beauty of CoSchedule; it integrates amazingly with WordPress!
What can CoSchedule Do?
CoSchedule is a drag and drop content marketing calendar. This means that it allows you to plan, create and promote your content, all from within the one place. I’m going to run through EVERYTHING it can do below – you really need to see it from the fashion creation angle after all! – but check out this video first…
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a technique used to create and share valuable content to a targeted audience. As an example, I create and share sewing and pattern making related content to people who want to learn to create their own fashionable clothes.
A way for me to get my content out there is to ‘market’ it to the right people. I use different ways to do this. Via email to to my already engaged readers and via social media.
Now, the amount of time it would take for me to sit and write every single Tweet, Facebook post, Instagram post and Pinterest pin without CoSchedule is immense. Between creating the content for the social media posts, the blog posts themselves – many are over 2500 words you know! – and then the emails I write to my subscriber list three days a week? I would have no time left to plan new projects and posts for you all. *Boo to that*
Content marketing it time intensive and I think my time is better served creating new content for y’all rather than manually sharing old content over and over again, on the many different platforms.
What is Social Media Marketing?
This is me sharing a post via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, and my followers sharing it onwards in their networks.
Now, this is slightly connected with the content marketing bit we talked about above – I am after all sharing my own website’s content primarily – but with a social media marketing strategy, it is also cool to share other people’s content which might be helpful to your readers… i.e. YOU!
I follow quite a few sustainable fashion blogs, sewing and patternmaking blogs, and for me to go in and manually share every single link would take a fair bit of time. *Not Cool*
What are Marketing Projects?
My understanding of a marketing project is a full on plan of how you will implement a marketing strategy. CoSchedule allows you to assign tasks to different members of your team so that you can keep the whole project team on track. With tasks assigned to individual team members, the project team will always know what needs to be done, and the deadline too.
I use this aspect in order to plan out the tasks I need to complete throughout the project. I even have a Task Template set up!
What is Blog Management?
Coschedule describes this as your all-in-one editorial calendar, with the ability to plan, publish, promote and automate your blog. And that is true. Yet for The Creative Curator, and other sewing and pattern making blogs out there, CoSchedule is an invaluable tool that lends itself well to project management too. *Actual Project Management!*
Within CoSchedule, I can plan posts relevant to a project, determine how far apart they should be posted. I can set up tasks associated with that post / project, so that I stick to the critical path and ensure that I do not run behind and disappoint my readers.
Once the content has been planned and written, I can then use CoSchedule to share my posts to my social media accounts, so that those people who are not already subscribed to my email list also get to read the post some time after.
What CoSchedule has finally allowed me to achieve is consistency.
A Closer Look At CoSchedule – And How It Works For Me!
I decided the best way for you to see how amazing it is would be to show it to you via the control centre of The Creative Curator.
Now, don’t be scared by my calendar. It isn’t that scary, just DETAILED so I stay track of everything. Seriously, I’d set a task for everything if I had that much time, I LOVE to do lists! 😉
HEADSUP: I’ve added in rectangular boxes in my yellow to highlight where you’d need to click! 🙂
Creating a New ‘Something’ in CoSchedule
This is the main calendar area for me. In the upper right hand corner is a little pencil icon which I click and up pops this window.
The options open to me are:
- New Content
- New Social Campaign
- New Blog Post
- New Event
- New Note
- New Task
- New Social Message
Lets take a brief look at them individually, before delving into how I have put them to use within my blog and project management! 🙂
Create New Content
This is my favourite section, which I use even when using CoSchedule within my WordPress panel!
Create New Social Campaign
This is where you plan out a campaign for a particular post.
Create New Blog Post
Self explanatory? A new WordPress Blog Post can be created just by clicking this button!
Create New Event
I use this function a fair bit for when it comes to planning out key moments.
Create New Note
This is where information that needs more than a sentence is stored.
Create New Task
Another favourite. The Events or Notes are broken down by tasks and keep me on track. You can even set reminders, and will receive an email alert! Love it! 🙂
Create New Social Message
This is used to create a new social message. It’s where I create messages of other people’s content to my social media accounts, providing value to my readers across all the platforms.
The ONLY thing CoSchedule is missing at the moment is the ability to post to Instagram – I do hear rumours of this feature being added soon! – and I would love to plan my email content in the calendar view too. I guess I could save my Fashion Flashes as Notes, but they’d take up a bit of space in the calendar. Maybe I’ll try adding them to the calendar using New Content, and then just copy the text over to my Email Service Provider…?
Anyhow… I’ll run through setting up each of these elements, so you have a step by step guide to setting up CoSchedule!
Create New Content Using CoSchedule
Right’o… Lets take a closer look at one of my favourite elements (I have two) – Creating New Content!
Once you click the pencil icon on the top right hand corner of your calendar view, you get to select what you want to create. I selected ‘Content’ and a box (below) pops up.
Enter in a title for your content – you can even use Schedule’s ‘Headline Analyser’ later on to see how likely your headline is to engage your readers!
Next, you can assign an owner to the new content – I selected myself – and even set a due date. This is fantastic for those who like to see everything on a calendar view.
You then hit the ‘Create Content’ button on the right hand side of the screen…
And up will pop this:
I hit Text Editor (highlighted with the yellow box) though as you can see from this screen shot, there are other options to import content from elsewhere.
When you select Text Editor, the window below will open up so that you can create your written content. You can see from the yellow boxes, that within this view, you can also set up new tasks too, specific to this piece of content.
I’ll run through the ‘New Task’ option further down… You can also click the ‘Plus’ icon below the text box to set up a new social campaign too.
When you’re ready, you can click the cog icon just above and to the right of the text box, and up will pop a menu. You’re now ready to convert to WordPress or download the content instead.
Up then pops this box, explaining the process to you. Click Continue!
Assign any relevant categories to the post, and the author too, before clicking Convert.
You’ll see an ‘in progress’ box, with checkmarks appearing when completed. Click continue…
And then complete.
Voila. You now have a new post created and saved to your WordPress site.
Creating Tasks Using CoSchedule
This is my other favourite bit as I love to-do lists and the task list is basically that. AND you can add them to your calendar and be notified by email of the following day’s upcoming tasks! Woop woop!
Start by selecting New Task and this box pops up. Here you can give the task a name, assign it to one of your team members, and add a due date too, so that it doesn’t get lost.
Click Save Task, and it will appear on the assigned date in your calendar view. Boom! 🙂
Setting Up A Task Template
For projects that require the same tasks to be completed, you can set up a Task Template. This works wonders for streamlining your work process, and freeing up time for other projects.
Firstly you click to set up a new task template, and enter a name for it. This example is for my Blog Post creation.
The next step is to add the tasks which would need completing overtime you were creating a new blog post. As you can see, there are quite a few steps, so a task template works wonders at keeping me organised!
The same idea works for sewing or fashion design projects. Yes, this task template could be written in a spreadsheet and printed off for each planned project.. BUT… for me, and other sewing or creative bloggers out there, it is fantastic to have this template option!
Adding New Notes
Adding new notes is a fantastic way of staying on track with individual projects or posts. As you see in the above screenshot, I was working on recreating a dress worn by Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. As I would be working on that project for a few days, I decided the easiest way to keep track of it, would be to set it up as a full note, with individual tasks inside.
As each task within the note was completed, I could manually delete it, and at the end of each day, I could drag the Note to the following work day.
Editing Existing Posts
Within CoSchedule it is also possible to edit existing posts, making it easier to add to and edit content ad hoc. I usually have five or six posts on the go at any one time, so being able to locate the drafts within the calendar, and add more to them as I feel inspired is a great way to keep my productivity up.
Scheduling Posts to Social Media
The final element to CoSchedule which is only really relevant to any sewing, patternmakng and creative bloggers out there is the ability to schedule your posts and others to your social media accounts. There are two ways to do this.
Method One: Scheduling a Specific Post
If you have just finished creating a post and it is scheduled and quality checked, hit the Plus icon and start scheduling. You can schedule for the same day, tomorrow, next week and next month, and for each of the social media accounts you have connected.
In the screenshot below you can see that I scheduled my ‘Selfish Sewing’ post for the day that it went live, at the ‘best time’. This means that CoSchedule will analyse my previous shares to see when was the optimum time for engagement with my followers and will then post the new content around that time.
It is also possible to add specific dates and times too, so you do not have to stick to the fixed recommended schedule.
I find it good to add the new post to the different dates in the recommended schedule, but I add new text and images to each of the social networks, so that it isn’t all same. You don’t have to do this, but i feel like my readers would be bored of seeing the same content, and visuals, again and again over the course of the month.
The Screen shot below shows this, I have added a completely new image to the scheduled Twitter post.
Method Two: Scheduling Your Best Content
Start by going into Calendar, analytics and then selecting Top Content. Here you’ll see an overview of your best content in terms of social shares. My most popular post is ‘How to Avoid Sucky Seams’ with 1320 shares in total, which went live about three months ago.
Now, as that post is doing so well, I might want to share it again, and that is easily done by clicking the share icon next to it.
Select a social media profile that you would like to share it to…
I’ve chosen to share it to my Facebook page for The Creative Curator:
The post automatically contains the Post title from the permalink. You can keep it like this, or modify it if you’d like to say something new about the post.
I like the post title – it sets out to the reader that it is a ‘How To’ post and so will teach them something new, so I keep it.. BUT, i do change the ‘Link’ (outlined in the Yellow box) to ‘Image’…
Why? Because the permalink image is the vertical image which I use to share my posts on Pinterest. They don’t work so well on Facebook, so it works better if i change the image to a landscape format. This is done easily enough by clicking image.
You can then scroll through the images in the post until you find one that best works for you. You then select the date, and the time that you want the post to go out. And Voila… Successful social media scheduling!
I love CoSchedule. I love what it enables me to do and how I feel in control and organised with my business / blog. I know it won’t be for everyone – I am a bit OCD and quite a bit of a control freak! – but for those looking for an awesome app to organise and plan projects as well as your content and social media marketing – CoSchedule is the bees knees! Seriously… have you seen my calendar??? (And that’s a minimal amount to not frighten you!) 😉
Til next time…
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