The Ultimate Guide to CoSchedule
When you're first starting your business, the budget is tight. I know - I've been there. Everyone is recommending tools that "are only $5 per month", but you can barely afford your domain name and web host. I get it, we all have to start small.
There is, however, one tool that I recommend all business owners splurge on when they have the money. This is an investment that gives you instant returns and can grow your business faster than any other tool: CoSchedule.
Now, I know I've recommended buffer in the past, and while I still love their tool, I think, if you can afford it, CoSchedule is a better option. (Click here to watch my video on why I switched). This guide will take you through CoSchedule, show you how to use it and how to get your money back on your investment by building your content and social media in one spot.
Let's jump in.
(P.S. This post is not sponsored in any way. My affiliate link is in this post but you DO NOT have to use it. All these statements, videos and reviews are my own.)
01. The Overview
What is CoSchedule & How to Use it
One of the common misconceptions about CoSchedule is that it's only for WordPress users! Luckily, that's not true (although it was just a couple years ago). you can definitely use CoSchedule with Squarespace. I'll even show you my exact workflow for scheduling blog posts later on in this guide.
CoSchedule is a content calendar on steroids. Not only can you plan and schedule content, but you can schedule social media posts, manage your team, add tasks and track analytics too. It's like your content calendar + buffer + bit.ly + google drive + google analytics + task manager all rolled into one!
Prices & Plans
CoSchedule has 2 plan categories: Solo calendars and Team calendars. We'll talk about teams later on, but unless you can easily afford the price and have 2 or more people working on your content with you, a solo calendar will be plenty of features for your business. I'm currently using the Solo Automation calendar, but I DO NOT pay the full $60 per month. So, before you think "I can't afford this right now" - hear me out. CoSchedule does a fantastic job in making their tool more affordable. (I do want to preface this by saying, I would pay $60 per month if I had too, the tool really is that valuable to my workflow & my business).
CoSchedule starts out with a free 14 day trial, no credit card needed. During that time, if you write a blog post about CoSchedule you'll automatically get 50% off any plan you end up purchasing. Plus, for every friend you refer, you get another 10% discount. These discounts are valid for 1 year from the time they're added to your account. On top of that, CoSchedule has regular sales and discounts through the year. I purchased an entire year of the solo automation calendar for only $220. That's a $500 savings!
If you're looking for a way to improve your content and social media, keep an eye out for sales (and sign up for their newsletter) and make a game plan for your blog post and referral sign up before starting your trial. You might even be able to get CoSchedule for free if you could get 5 signups. And trust me, it's worth the time and planning.
Oh, and if you'd like to sign up with my affiliate link and help me make CoSchedule cheaper for my business, I'd really appreciate it ;)
We'll talk about teams more in this post, but unless you have regular guest contributors, other content managers and a social media manager - the team plans aren't necessary. You'll get the same features with the only added bonus being multi-user support and the ability to add more social profiles.
A Quick Tour
02. The Basics of CoSchedule
This is the page you'll start on when you first log into your account. From your dashboard, you'll see upcoming items that have been assigned to you, top content on social media, popular posts on the CoSchedule Blog, your task list and on the left column, your menu.
Until you start scheduling and sharing content, your dashboard will look pretty bland, but as you use CoSchedule, this page will become more and more valueable. This is the page I look at every morning when planning my day so that I can make sure I'm staying up-to-date on all my tasks.
Your calendar is the heart of CoSchedule. This is where all your content will appear; where you can sort, drag, color code, and schedule all your ideas. Let's dig deeper into your calendar.
The Color Code Chart we stick to is as follows:
- Purple ~ YouTube Videos
- Blue ~ProBlog Posts
- Teal ~ Regular Blog Posts
- Green ~ Podcasts
- Yellow ~ Products, Workshops, and Launches
- Orange ~ Newsletters and Announcements
- Pink ~ Social Media Campaigns and Messages
ReQueue is a newer feature to CoSchedule for all Automation Plans. It works in a similar fashion to Buffer's Queue, but it's much smarter. You simply add your social messages to your groups, set the frequency of the posts, and the magic CoSchedule robot does the rest. I'll show you exactly how it's done in the video below.
The Settings menu in CoSchedule has a ton of stuff in here. So I'm going to walk you through each option in the video. You might only use a few of the options, but it's still good to know what you can do in your account.
03. Building Your Content Calendar
Your content is the key to CoSchedule, it's what makes this tool useful. How you schedule your content will depend on the type. We'll go through each kind of content below and I'll show you how to add all the gadgets to make the most of your calendar.
Events, Notes, Tasks and Social Messages
04. Using Templates and Social Queues
Social Queues are a helpful little tool that let you save some time making social media message. If you're using one of the CoSchedule Marketing plans, you'll gain access to templates as well, which can speed the process up even more.
Tasks are a great way to make sure you stay on track when getting content ready. We created a template for some of our most common content types, scroll through the photos to see our exact task templates. All of them are fairly simple, but the reminders and dates set are very specific, so we can make sure content is being prepared completely and going out on time.
Social media helpers and templates work similar to tasks, but it's a bit more robust and takes a little longer to set up. Watch the video below to see how we use social helpers to schedule our social media posts and how to set up templates to save you time.
Uploading files can really help if you're on WordPress, but they can also be a huge asset when you're working with a team or planning content months in advance.
05. Working with your team
CoSchedule offers 3 "Team Plans" that match the features of "Solo Plans" with the added benefit of multi-user support. However these plans can get expensive fast, so I wanted to give you some alternative options for working with team members without blowing your budget.
Team Plans vs. Sharing Logins
If you looked at the price of the team plans, you probably we're rushing to sign up. The team plans can be expensive and unless you need more social profiles and logins than the solo calendars, they're unnecessary. I do work with three other team members, though, so we had to figure out a way to all access the calendar and still be able to work on our tasks.
There are a couple ways you can do this. The first options is to give your team your login information and allow them to access your account fully. This is what we do, but if you're working with contractors or freelancers, be careful about sharing passwords. You also won't be able to access the calendar at the same time. When one team member logs in, everyone else is kicked out.
The second option is to set up Google Calendar integration with your team calendar so that your team can see all the calendar content without editing or changing the content. This way they can alert you to mistakes, keep up with the content, see your plans, but not mess with any of the scheduling or content.
Personally, I recommend hiring people you trust and giving them login access - but if you really need separate logins, start referring and earning some affiliate juice so you can get your team calendar at a steep discount.
Notes & Tasks
Because my team all jumps in under my one login, we're unable to assign tasks to different people. This isn't a huge problem for us since I create about 95% of the content, but it can be tricky to work around, that's why we just assign tasks through Asana. If a task is unassigned in CoSchedule, my team knows to check Asana and see who it is actually assigned to. Asana sends updates and tracks the Due Date in the same way (and we already use Asana for all our other projects), so this method works well for us. Anything I'm personally responsible for, we assign to the account (Nora Conrad), since I'm in the CoSchedule calendar the most and I'm working on most of the content.
Leaving notes for each other is another good way to communicate through the calendar. We can create notes on specific dates, remove any color coding and then the whole team can see it, right there on the calendar. This also shows up on Google Calendars, so even team members with no login access can see what's up.
06. Integrations and Bonus Tips
One of the reasons CoSchedule is so popular is because of how many amazing tools it ties into one resource. There are plenty of ways to integrate with CoSchedule, which I'll list below. I also want to give you more ideas on how to use CoSchedule to its full potential so you get the most bang for your buck.
How to Use CoSchedule with Squarespace
This is one of my favorite features CoSchedule recently introduced to its lineup. Headline Analyzer pulls SEO and Keyword data from multiple sources to analyze your content title and rate it on a scale of 1 to 100. It's like keyword research for dummies. The good news is, you can use this tool for free, even if you don't have a CoSchedule account.
The world's favorite link shorting tool connects seamlessly with CoSchedule. That means if you have a custom Bit.ly URL (I use Norac.co for example) you can connect your account and within a few keystrokes you'll never have to shorten your URL again.
If you're a Buffer lover like I was, there's good news! Buffer connects to CoSchedule! This connection allows you to build content into your Buffer queue and use Google+ with your accounts. It's a match made in heaven.