Trello – Blogging Editorial Workflow and Calendar

Trello – Blogging Editorial Workflow and Calendar

I can’t live without two tools: Excel and Trello. There are some WordPress plugins that help manage the editorial calendar and publishing workflow (CoSchedule at $80 a month, PublishPress at $77 a year), but… they cost a lot!

On the other hand, I don’t say Trello is the best place to keep posts’ workflow, because you have to duplicate some information between WordPress and Trello. In my case, it’s the title, link, basic category and some statuses.

Collect ideas

Anyway, at the beginning I mostly wanted to gather lots of ideas for posts and I wasn’t aware of workflow complexity. So I quickly created a Trello board with a few lists (Research, To do, Next, In progress, Proof read, SEO, Published). Then I put my ideas to one of the first three lists depending on priority and advance in them.

Big picture and plan

As I started writing a few articles and pages, I moved the appropriate cards ahead to the In progress list and I added links to the blog posts. You may rightly find similarities to Kanban boards.

Advice

In order to add a link to a card in Trello, just open the card and paste the URL address. It will be added as an attachment – see the image below.

An other option is dragging the URL from address bar to a list in Trello – a card with the link and image will be created automatically after a few seconds.

Link in Trello card

Below you can find an example of the board after I progressed work on some topics:

This view lets me to:

  1. be aware what I’m working on right now and shall finish quickly;
  2. see what are the next steps for every post (proof read, fixing SEO, etc.);
  3. prioritize ideas to write by moving them between To do, Next and In progress lists;
  4. gather sources of ideas in the Research list – items in this list have to be first analyzed to derive any suitable ideas for the To do list.

Editorial calendar

In order to distribute the posts a bit more evenly over time, I had to create a so-called editorial calendar. Thus the next step was using Due Date in cards as marker for planned (or achieved) date of posting:

To visualize the dates, I added the Calendar power-up to that Trello board. A new link Calendar appeared in the board’s links area (top-right corner). Clicking it opens a calendar view:

Categories

I decided to use some categories for posts, like: Angular, JavaScript, CSS, Software. What other categories should I use, and how should I build the category hierarchy? I didn’t know, so I used the Trello board to find out!

I started creating labels for every category I needed and added them to the cards:

Advice

To quickly add labels to cards, point a card with the mouse without clicking, or use arrows on the keyboard, and press a key 0 through 9 to add a label with given color. Simply experiment to find out which.
Or press the L key and type beginning letters of the label’s name.

After a full round of labeling, I was able to collect all categories. I listed them in a reference list which I named Categories and put at the end of the board:

Editorial Checklist

Before I started using full workflow described by the lists in this board:

  1. Research
  2. To do
  3. Next
  4. In progress
  5. Proof read
  6. SEO
  7. Published

I realized that this workflow was limiting: what if I filled in SEO details before doing Proof Read? What if I want to include more steps in the workflow, like: add internal links, check category and tags or inform social media about new post? Using lists from some point (after In progress and before Published) would make the editing very linear and limiting. Instead of using lists to manage that further process, I created a checklist and added them to all cards. How?

First I created a checklist to one card with all the steps necessary to complete a post:

Unfortunately that checklist was added to only one card. Trello does not provide a method for any bulk operations.

Add checklists to all cards – Butler

Fortunately, there is Butler – an advanced Trello power-up for automation.

Advice

In the free Trello plan, a board can have only one power-up. You can have unlimited power-ups in Business Class, but it’s also worth knowing there is a cheaper hidden option: Trello Gold with 3 power-ups.

Although it still does not allow adding a checklist to all cards, it provides a mechanism to execute an action in response to an event. I created a rule to add a checklist of given name (the name I have provided in the first card’s checklist – Editor Checklist) to a card when it reaches certain list (for example, Proof read).

Run Butler, go to Rules and add a new one.

  1. Trigger: when a card is added to list Proof read. Press the + button.
  2. Action: select checklists and fill in: add the Editor Checklist checklist to the card. Press the + button.
  3. Click the Save button.

This rule does not automagically add checklists to all existing cards. Instead, when a card reaches the Proof read list, it will be given the most recent copy of the Editor Checklist checklist. Good enough.

If there was a need to add the checklist to many or all cards in the board, then just move the cards to the Proof read list to enhance them with the checklist, and then move the cards back to their original list. A bit tedious, but not as hard as adding the checklists manually.

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