Or how we execute a robust content management pipeline without sending one, single email.
Ever wonder how huge news sites like Mashable, ReadWrite, and The Changelog keep their content pipeline flowing behind the scenes? Spoiler alert: they use Trello. Whether it is a blog run by an individual or a humongous site with many contributors, Trello is quickly becoming the go to CMS for scheduling and publishing content. In what should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, we use Trello to manage our own extensive editorial calendar. Here’s how we do it:
Any blogger will admit that creating valuable content at a regular interval is difficult. Sometimes it’s hard to find the words to say… well, anything. This type of brain fog necessitates the need for an organized plan to hold writers accountable, centralize and flesh out ideas, as well as keep the content flowing at a steady clip. Creating a Trello board for an Editorial Calendar is an intuitive and visual way to store, overview, and organize content.
Content travels from left to right across countless lists, gradually being poked and prodded through the pipeline until it reaches its final destination, the “Published” list. Our Editorial Calendar lists are as follows, from left to right:
This is where anyone on our team is welcome to submit an idea for an article, whether it is a technical project they’ve been working on, or a Trello use case they got wind of whilst eavesdropping in the elevator.
This is also a place to put an idea that we want to investigate further, to determine whether it would make a good blog post. We emphasize to the team that all ideas are worth considering, and they should brainstorm here without fear of judgement.
Each idea is its own card, and on the back is usually a description of the potential idea. This is also where one (or three) labels gets added, to further distinguish what type of content this article is categorized as.
Fun fact: the Trello Editorial Calendar was one of the first boards to test the unlimited labels feature.
These ideas have now taken on new form: a contact to interview, an author eager to write on a certain subject, or just an outline that everyone agrees is worth exploring.
At this phase of an article’s lifespan, the writer of the article adds him or herself to the card. This way it is clear who has taken point on writing the piece, and everyone knows who to tag in the discussions.
Sometimes ideas get bottlenecked. The journey to Published is long, and these articles are simply resting their weary feet.
Usually these cards have a working draft attached, or at the very least a detailed outline. They also most certainly have a due date by now, as we schedule content in advance.
When deciding on a due date, it’s easy to visualize the content landscape in calendar view. By pressing “Calendar” at the top right side of our board, we are able to see a breakdown of which cards are already scheduled and on which day. We typically aim to schedule 2-3 posts per week.
Editing & Graphics
Cards go here when it is time for the resident grammar stickler (ahem, me) to look over the piece. We integrate with Google Drive to attach article drafts to our cards.
One of the most important and time sensitive elements of content management is ensuring that content gets in front of a designer with enough time for him or her to create graphics. This isn’t always easy. As all designers know there are far, far more graphics requests than there is time to complete them. Having a dedicated place where designers are notified there is a draft or outline ready for them to review is crucial to ensuring that graphics are thought out and complement the text nicely.
These articles are polished and ready. At this step we take time to get quotes approved from people we interviewed.
When an article moves to this list, we subsequently tag Brian, our Social Media Manager, who handles our Twitter and Facebook posts. He then creates a checklist of corresponding tweet text for this article. The marketing team is welcome to move items around in the checklist, as he tweets each one in order:
Ready to Publish
These posts make it to this list a day or so before their publish date. There is a card with a checklist at the top of this list. Before we publish, we make sure that all items are able to be checked off.
Put a fork in these articles, because they’re DONE.
So there you have it: an extremely straightforward, visual way to organize an inordinate amount of content. There can be hundreds of cards in an Editorial Calendar, but having various lists dedicated to each phase of the blog writing process deters feeling overwhelmed, and prevents content from getting lost in cluttered back and forth email correspondence. The calendar view provides a visual overview of the content timeline, which means that every piece of the content management pipeline can live entirely on a Trello board.
Now, all that’s left is to press “Publish.”