CoSchedule - The #1 Marketing CalendarIn the long journey toward becoming a multi-published author, there have been both pitfalls and stepping stones. However, discovering CoSchedule as a social media scheduling tool catapulted me forward into a comprehensive content strategy and marketing plan wrapped into one easy-to-use program. And just when I thought CoSchedule was as good as it gets, they’ve made it even better, leaving me more time (and mental energy) as an author to spend time writing my next book instead of struggling to keep up with my marketing.

So, if you’re a solopreneur (operate your own business) like me, check out these features and how they can help transform your marketing plan too. (If you have a team, there are even more ways to use CoSchedule to streamline your communication and work flow.)

First, I’m a visual person so the content calendar format makes it easy to see a helicopter view of several weeks worth of content at a glance. Empty squares are visible right beside the packed ones and with the drag-and-drop rescheduling feature, I can move content around to provide a steady trickle of information. Not only that, I can filter the display to only show certain types of content, certain platforms, or even the status of a particular post. With customizable colorful labels, I can see if I’m balanced in the type of content I’m sharing or if I’m too buy-my-book heavy. Since I tend to work in batching or chunks of time, a sparse calendar lets me know I need to set aside another block of time to work ahead.

Second, I love the calendar when it comes to planning a book launch.  For example, as I brainstorm a series of blog posts introducing the characters in the book, I can add notes right in the calendar…then drag-and-drop them to shuffle my ideas to a different date. Since notes look different than blogs on the calendar, it’s obvious that I still need to write the actual post, but being able to plan visually when the ideas are sparking is priceless.

And speaking of planning, what about my endless lists of things to do? In addition to tasks associated with a specific type of content, with a single click I can also create a task instead of a note. There’s even a spot to add a description so I can record all of my brainstorming ideas for that task without running out of room. Once again, as I fine-tune my book launch plan, I can drag-and-drop tasks to different dates when I see too many things to do in too few days. The beautiful thing about tasks is that I can see a master list of them on my CoSchedule dashboard and always see what I should be working on next…then check them off when they are completed. (See this screenshot for a view of a dashboard with a list of this person’s upcoming tasks. Scroll down to see a video specifically about using the calendar to plan a full event including print materials, emails, and more. I haven’t even used a fraction of what CoSchedule can do when it comes to planning…)

Creating content of any type inside CoSchedule is also super-easy. Simply click on the “+” inside a calendar square and up pops a variety of options. Blog posts, social messages, events, notes, and tasks are all possibilities. Since I’ve already covered notes and tasks plus events are self-explanatory, let’s talk about those social message or social media posts. If you select to add a social message, then your next options are to pick from one or several platforms (meaning you can schedule or send the same message to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram while only having to enter the message once), choose the style of post (i.e. image-driven, text-only, or a link), and then type your message.

I’ve tried several other scheduling programs before, but I was always confused as to what the post would actually look like on that platform. CoSchedule takes the guesswork away by showing you a preview right there below the editing window. Below the preview, you can add a color-coded label, change the status of the post (if you need to come back later to add a graphic), then either pick a time or let CoSchedule’s built-in analytics calculate the best time to send your message.

Speaking of letting CoSchedule do the work for you, they also have an additional feature called ReQueue that allows you to create a library of easily-edited evergreen content that will be automatically added to those sparse squares whenever there are gaps. You have the ability to place that content into specific groups and then trickle out a balanced variety of posts. For example, you could have one group of evergreen book promotion posts to cover your backlist of titles but a different group promoting a single upcoming or recently released book with a custom date window to display those messages.

Blog posts are a little more involved but still easy to create. After clicking the “+” and selecting a blog post, you will enter in the title, author, label, and date as well as optional descriptions and tags. Once you click the “create post” tab, CoSchedule gives you several options on where you can create or edit the content. I use WordPress on my website, so I simply select that option and then click to edit the post in WordPress. At that point, the program signs me into my website’s admin panel and pulls up the new post page with the title and date already selected. After typing the words and adding pictures, categories, and tags like I normally do, I hit preview and then schedule.

But before I leave, I can scroll down to the bottom of the page beneath the text editor and suddenly I’ve got an area where I can create a social campaign to promote this new blog post. Not only can I have the post publicized immediately after publication, I can also share it on multiple platforms the following day, three days later, a month later, or on a custom date. With some of CoSchedule’s advanced plans, your social campaign preferences can be stored as a template and then automatically applied to future blog posts without manually entering each message.

Promoting your blog posts is a tremendous way to offer value to your social media followers while also driving traffic back to your website. In addition to creating a promotion campaign during the creation of a new blog post, you can also promote past content from inside the main calendar. Simply click to create a social message post, then click on the “share old post” button near the top. You’ll then be able to search your past content for the correct blog and CoSchedule will automatically pull in the right picture and wording to go along with your message. From inside your blog, you can choose to edit that particular post, then scroll down to the CoSchedule section in order to create multiple posts on multiple networks and fill up your calendar.

What about sharing other valuable content you find on the internet? CoSchedule has a handy Chrome extension that allows you to create social messages while on different websites and smartly pulls in the best images and text. As with other messages, you choose the platform, style, label, date, and time…then click schedule and the new post will show up on your master calendar.

So, by now it should be clear that everything I need to create a comprehensive social media and content strategy in contained on a single calendar within CoSchedule. Future ideas are captured. I have a list of tasks to accomplish. And I can see at a glance the types and frequency of content being shared across all of my social media channels. If that was all CoSchedule did, it would be worth every penny. Check out this video to see how many of the features come together to plan an event like a book launch and imagine the possibilities for your writing!!

 

But wait, there’s more. There is also an analytics section that identifies my top content and I can continue to promote my best material. There is also data about social engagement so I can see what platforms my message is resonating most with followers.  Plus there’s an app for my mobile device so I can easily change or content on the run. In addition, there is a comprehensive video training series to help you navigate the features as well as a headline analyzer to help you craft the perfect blog post titles. And team leaders? CoSchedule has a plan for you too where you can color code tasks or content by team member, see what still needs to be done, and even open up a task discussion sidebar where your team can collaborate with ideas. (Even if your team is just you and a virtual assistant, that visual collaboration on tasks with built-in communication can be priceless.)

How much does all of this awesomeness cost? The Essential plan (perfect for bloggers and solopreneurs) has a monthly payment option or you can save money by paying for a year in advance. If you’re not sure you’re ready to take the plunge, there is also free 14-day trial. What do you have to lose? Sign up for CoSchedule today.

(**Note: All links in this post are affiliate links that provide me with a discount on my own membership in exchange for telling others about how awesome CoSchedule is. If you love it as much as I do, depending on what plan you use, you too could get your fees reduced the same way!)

The Author Toolbox: Why CoSchedule is Worth Every Penny