From brainstorming to writing the first draft to design, edits, and publication, there are a lot of hands involved in getting an article blog-ready.
I don’t know about you, but by the time we’ve hit each of these steps (and run it up the flagpole each time), there’s anywhere from 3-4+ different people involved in getting it all done right.
That’s a lot of collaboration. So what’s a content marker to do? Use an editorial calendar—or actually, something we think is even better—a system. It’s a clear and organized funnel that blog posts travel through from brainstorm to publish. And we do it all with project management tool Trello.
We LOVE Trello. That’s why we’ve put together this content marketing guide on how to use it. It’s our favorite editorial planning tool for a few reasons:
- It’s easy to use, intuitive, and has a nice UX.
- Comments, card subscriptions, @ mentions, and the notification center make collaboration super easy.
- While there’s affordable premium versions, you’ll get all you need with the free version. Most of the good stuff is free.
- Their mascot’s name is Taco. Taco is a cutie.
The Funnel Method
There are a few different ways to use Trello as a project management tool, but here we’re going to focus on using the funnel method.
We love the funnel method because it’s simple yet organized—it’s also easy to understand because it’s kind of like viewing your blog post process as a sales funnel.
Just like a sales funnel, there are action points in the process where tasks will sit until that action is performed on that task. Once performed satisfactorily, that task will be moved on to the next point in the funnel. Trello’s list and draggable card structure makes using the funnel method super intuitive.
The Bare Bones
The first step in our content marketing guide is setting up our basic board structure.
First we’re going to set up our lists, or the points in the sales funnel; then we’re going to talk about using cards within those lists.
Create a new list by clicking in the text box that says “Add a list…”. Let’s call this first one Pinned Resources.
I like using a “Pinned” card at the front of all my boards so I can keep all the important stuff right in front of my nose. Your Pinned card is great for saving information that doesn’t really fit into your funnel process, but is good information to have on hand throughout your whole funnel.
Include any resources here that might help your writers. I use:
- A card template card — There’s certain fields of information I like to include on every card, so an easy way to make sure all these cards look uniform on the inside (in the notes section) is to create a template card and copy from it when making a new card.
- A style guide card – I simply call this card “Style Guide” and like to attach any style guides that apply to the blog here. Upload your style guide as an attachment or copy and paste it in the card description.
- Lists of other resources – For instance, a list of free stock photo sites your writer can browse to get feature image ideas. Or perhaps even a good article on editing tips.
Basically, anything you want in the forefront of your writers’ minds, keep it pinned here.
Let’s add the rest of our lists.
- Idea Inbox — This is where you’ll do your brain dump for blog post ideas. A card in this list doesn’t need to have any details or a good headline yet; this is just where you’re dropping all your half-baked ideas.
- Unassigned — You’ll move a card from the Idea Inbox to here once you’ve got an idea a bit more flushed out and ready to move on through the funnel.
- Assigned — As soon as you’ve assigned your post to a writer, you’ll move it here.
- Ready to Edit — Once the writer turns in the piece, you can move a card here so whoever is in charge of editing knows exactly when they need to review it.
- In Edit — Your editor (whether it be an actual in-house/freelance editor, the post writer, or even yourself) will move cards here when they’re working on editing pieces.
- Design — Here’s where a post will sit when it’s in the design phase, when your designer is working on the feature images, other images throughout the post, or any other visuals that might fit well.
- Ready to Publish — Once your editor’s cleaned everything up and given us a shiny, blog-ready post, she’ll move the post’s card here.
- Published — The end goal. Once you’ve moved a card here, you’re finished.
- Distribution — What’s your process for marketing the post? Who’s in charge of getting it out to the right channels at the right time? This is where your post will sit during this phase of spreading the word about your post.
A Card As a Unit
Now that we have our basic lists typed out, let’s talk about how we’re using cards.
In this system, the lists are each point of a funnel and each card is one unit that moves through the funnel.
In other words, 1 card = 1 blog post. Everything that has to do with that blog post should go on or in that card, whether it’s in the card title, description, comments, attachments, or anything else.
Make sense? Now that we’ve got our bare bones list and card structure down, let’s talk about using a few basic features to keep everything organized.
Using Labels, Checklists, and Attachments
These are our basic tools. This stuff comes free with a basic account and isn’t quite as advanced as using power-ups (which we’ll talk about below), but can easily take your board’s effectiveness to the next level.
You can use labels however you want, but we recommend using them to distinguish post types from one another. For example, here are the categories we’ve broken down our ideal blog posts into:
Add labels by clicking on the top right “Show Menu” button, clicking “More”, then clicking “Labels”.
Posts can have more than one kind of label (for instance, if it’s a list article but is also time sensitive, i.e. SEO Clean Up Checklist for the End of the Year should be done before December) but should always have at least one label, even if it’s “Miscellaneous”.
Checklists are great for figuring out how you’ll start tackling a post. Break it down into small, manageable steps with checklists so you know exactly what you need to do to move a blog post on to the next step in the funnel.
Any kind of file you’ll need your writer to access to write your post, attach it. You can attach files from your desktop, Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, or simply paste a web link.
We use attachments to upload pictures that would work well with the posts, any data PDFs/spreadsheets the writer should reference in the post, or links to helpful articles.
Before we move on to our most advanced features, let’s take a look at what our board looks like so far:
Nice, we’re almost done setting up.
Using Power-Ups & Calendar View
Trello has dozens of power-ups, or extra features you can use on your boards by going to Menu and clicking on Power-Ups.
This is the highest level of features in Trello, and depending on what kind of account you invest in, you can pick and choose which features you’ll use on your editorial calendar. Free accounts come with 1 power-up per board while the Business Class and Enterprise plans get you unlimited power-ups.
Here are some power-ups that might be of use to you on your editorial board, especially if some of these tools are already ingrained in your team’s other work processes:
- Google Drive — great if you’re using Google Docs to write posts
- Slack — for keeping in touch with your team
- Custom Fields — if you prefer a bit more structured way to include the post details we mentioned above
- Card Aging — for seeing how long a card has been on the board
But if I had to choose one? I’d go with the Calendar View power-up.
Here’s how it works – You’ll open a card, click on due date, and enter your due date in the fields. So easy.
Do this for all your blog post cards. Once you do, you’ll be able to open Calendar View and view everything like an actual editorial calendar.
From here you can change the due date easily by dragging a card from one date to another, and you can even open the card from here to edit its details. Trust me, when it comes to actually visualizing your blog posting schedule, Calendar View is a LIFESAVER.
Oh, another handy thing about due dates and Calendar View? Cards that are coming due soon turn yellow and cards that are due or past due turn red, which makes it way easy to see where you stand with your blog posting at a glance.
You’re All Set Up
Once you’ve set up your lists and cards, a system for using labels, attachments, and checklists, and enabled your Calendar View power-up—you’re good to go. Dare we say you’ll have the most efficient and effective blog posting year yet?
Do you have an editorial system set up already, or do you think you’ll try moving your editorial calendar over to Trello? Did you find this content marketing guide helpful? Let us know in the comments below.
Have a question regarding your content marketing strategy or planning? Marketing 261 can recommend practical and proven strategies and techniques for what’s working, what needs improving, and what’s simply eating away at the budget. Schedule your free one-hour session today.