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September 3, 2013
Joe Williams

How to Create an Editorial Calendar Using Trello (and Why You Need One)

Category: Blog

If you’ve tried out Trello already, you’re probably a fan boy like me. It’s an easy-to-use project management and calibration tool with a visual-zen finish that makes you want to use it for nearly everything.

Did I say it was free?  And they keep adding lots of cool new features.  Like the new Calendar, which is an optional ‘Power-Up’ and something a few content marketers (me included) had been dreaming for.

calendar 98483 640 How to Create an Editorial Calendar Using Trello (and Why You Need One)

Why You Should Have an Editorial Calendar

Using a calendar for your blogging (planning out and scheduling your posts in advance) results in:

  • Higher quality: Thinking ahead helps create a more coherent message, makes you more productive and helps you produce higher quality content.
  • More consistency: Publishing regular and engaging content lets your audience anticipate and look forward to your next piece.
  • More accountability: Assigning content to contributors lets everyone know what is expected and by when.
  • Better collaboration: Having one central location consolidates ideas, files and comments. It beats crawling through long and windy email threads.
  • More control: Planning three months ahead means you won’t miss industry events or products launches, you won’t slipup on contributor’s holidays and you can get a nice blend of different and interesting content.

Why Use Trello

There are plenty of editorial calendar options (like using WordPress plugins or Excel) but Trello has some great advantages because:

  • It excels in collaboration and you can subscribe to updates that are relevant to you.
  • It has Google Docs and Dropbox integration built in which makes for easy content sharing.
  • It’s clutter free, visually appealing and easy to use.
  • It doesn’t have to cost you a penny (although they do offer a premium business version too).

How to Use Trello

To follow this example, you’ll need to understand Trello’s basic structure and do the following:

  1. Create a new Board called ‘Editorial Calendar’. (Boards are a bit like projects).
  2. Add Lists to your Board which will contain different types of content. (See image below).
  3. Start adding editorial content as Cards to your Lists. (Cards are like tasks).

trello calendar How to Create an Editorial Calendar Using Trello (and Why You Need One)

Naming Your Lists

You have a lot of flexibility here. I found it useful having four Lists to group content:

  1. Blog posts we plan to publish on our own blog.
  2. Premium content like whitepapers, HTML5 infographics, videos and interviews.
  3. Planned guest blog posts.
  4. Content ideas that we might use for future content.

Schedule and Update Content Status

Every bit of content you write will go through a process from initial rough idea to finished and published piece. Once an idea’s been approved, you need a way to track the progress of that particular post (especially if you have several authors / editors working on content).

trello calendar status How to Create an Editorial Calendar Using Trello (and Why You Need One)

I’ve added four labels to show the status of each piece of approved content.

  1. Schedule: The content has a due date.
  2. Plan: The content has a high level outline of what  needs creating.
  3. Draft: The writing or creating stage is complete as a draft. This may take a couple of drafts to get it right.
  4. Ready: The final draft has been edited, proof-read and is ready for publishing.

 I’ve adapted and simplified Ali Luke’s Four Essential Stages of Writing.

Enable Calendar Power-Ups

Next you need to enable Calendar Power-Ups in the Board’s menu (see image below). This is easy to do but you need to be a Board admin.

calendar powerup How to Create an Editorial Calendar Using Trello (and Why You Need One)

The All-Important Monthly Calendar View

To view the current month, simply click the Calendar view (top right on the Board).

And you’re done!

Now you have an Editorial Calendar which will make content planning a breeze. You’ll get a full month view so you’ll have peace of mind seeing the status of each piece of planned content. You’ll know at a glance who’s responsible for what – and when it should be finished.

Rescheduling is easy too. Just drag and drop in the calendar view.

trello calendar monthly How to Create an Editorial Calendar Using Trello (and Why You Need One)

Trello is pretty flexible – so please let us know in the comments if you think of ways to add to this or improve it.

Today’s guest post is by SEO trainer Joe Williams from Zen Optimise. Joe and Kevin Gibbons will be launching a content marketing workshop on 31st October.



31 thoughts on “How to Create an Editorial Calendar Using Trello (and Why You Need One)

  1. Very…very useful! I created an account and started an editorial calendar in less than 10 minutes. Simple, easy and quick to implement is exactly what I needed. Now I clear my head and start planning my content more methodologically. Thanks!

    1. Brightpod looks really good too. I was on the beta version and liked what I saw. Will have to drop by and check it out again.

  2. This is great! I was actually thinking about this last night. How to create something like this in Trello. Then I stumbled across this today. This takes all the guesswork out of what I was planning. Thank you so much for writing this.

    This lays out everything I need.

  3. Sorry, I typed too soon. Found it. It’s now under “Power Ups” and then you have to enable calendar. Thanks for this! Very very cool!

  4. We’ve just introduced Trello to our business and it’s already a hit! The calendar feature is also great – do you know if there is a way to put events on that span over a few days instead of having to add the same event each day?

    1. As an ‘add on’, I think the intention is to keep it simple and I don’t think that includes spanning over a few days sorry.

  5. Hello Joe, great feature….would you happen to know why I am unable to see tasks across DIFFERENT boards within my same calendar? It appears as though if I did not start the board myself/am the administrator of the board, but rather, just a member that has been granted access, I can not see deadlines set on a specific task in x,y,z board on my calendar. If I open up a board myself/am the administrator, I notice I can see deadline dates on my calendar. Any advice?
    Thanks!

      1. A possible solution is creating a iCalendar feed for each board (in powerup settings) and import all of those to a single calendar.

        It’s a workaround, but it’s better than nothing!

  6. Hey Joe – thanks for this great post. Extremely helpful and I’m going to be implementing it. Quick question: how do deal with guest authors? Do you add them while they’re writing and assign them to their post’s card? I’m concerned it might slow things down with the learning curve.

  7. I would like to suggest proofhub for organized and scheduled execution of projects. Tasks in projects can be better managed and executed with it. It also has got the calendar, so you can better define events and hold them on time.

  8. @katie and @aidrick

    Proofhub looks good but I can’t comment on it as I haven’t used it. I’ve used Basecamp and liked it but didn’t use it as an Editorial Calendar.

    I really like Trello because it’s very simple to use, easy to collaborate and lends well for an Editorial Calendar. It’s also quite a bit cheaper (free) than Proofhub or Basecamp. That said, if you already use a project management tool and you feel you can turn it into an effective Editorial Calendar, then I’d shoot with that first and see how you get on.

    1. I can’t see it on my iPhone app either.

      Josh commented earlier suggesting a workaround to a similar issue:

      “A possible solution is creating a iCalendar feed for each board (in powerup settings) and import all of those to a single calendar.”

      You could then view it in your iPad calendar if that’s the type of thing your after.

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