This means you should talk with your designer when you’re having your site built, to ensure that the author either shows or does not show, depending on your preference.
However, adjusting your theme later for this feature is not usually a difficult job, so you don’t need to despair if you didn’t plan ahead. It’s not a DIY task unless it’s an option in your theme. If not, then you’ll need to get into the code, which means you should call your webmaster or designer for help.
Should you show authors’ names or not? In general, a blog or article that shows the author’s name is considered more trustworthy than one that does not. Google’s patent for its news search function specifically mentions that users are more confident about articles with bylines, and that sites which identify their authors are therefore given higher rankings than those that do not.
There are reasons you might not want to do this. For example, you might be using posts for another purpose than for a blog — for product pages, say – where a byline makes no sense. Company blogs often prefer the impersonality of having no author identified, so it’s just the company talking. You might not like how a byline looks on your page. You might also want anonymity or have no one at your company who feels like having his or her name out there for the public to see.
Have a look at a few alternatives we use for our clients:
You can see that we sometimes use the company’s name, “admin,” the name of a fictional character chosen by the client, or no name at all — in addition to our own names or the name of someone at the company that owns the site.
So how can you control the name that’s shown as the author for your posts? When you sign into your WordPress website to create a post, your username will be shown by default as the author of the post. You can change that, though.
First, you’ll need to make sure that the author button shows on your page when you edit your post. Find the screen options button in the upper right hand corner:
Choose and check “Author,” as shown below:
Now your post will show a drop-down menu listing all the authors. You may have to search for this item, depending how you have set up your post page. Just scroll down till you see it.
Once you’ve chosen the author for the post, update or publish your post, and the author you have chosen will show up.
How do you handle bylines at your company blog? Have we left out a great option? If so, please share it with us in the comments!
One of the persistent problems with social media marketing is the difficulty of measuring its effectiveness. A new tool called Social Crawlytics is trying to help with that.
Social Crawlytics takes a different approach from other social media monitoring tools: it doesn’t look at the reach of your tweets or the number of Likes you’ve amassed, but at how the content at your website is shared.
This gives it one immediate advantage: it doesn’t get bogged down in vanity metrics. Another advantage: you can use the tool on your competitors’ sites as well.
To give it a try, just go to SocialCrawlytics.com and sign up for 5,000 free credits. You’ll then put in the URL of the website you want to crawl, plus optional reporting details if you want automatic crawls in the future. You can see those screens above and below (click to see more detail). Step 3 is “Notification” — provide your email address so you can be alerted when your report is ready.
Social Crawlytics now checks how your website has been shared in social media. You’ll initially see a nearly empty screen like the one below, so don’t be alarmed.
The report shows you which social media platforms are responsible for most of the sharing. Our lab site, Fresh Plans, has some shares at Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and Delicious, but 80% of the sharing our readers have done has been on Pinterest. For our website here at Haden Interactive, Pinterest is the least important, behind Twitter, Facebook, G+, and then LinkedIn. Look at charts for a few different websites and you’ll see how pointless those discussions about whether LinkedIn is more important than Twitter are — it differs from one site to another.
On the other hand, if your competitors are making great use of Pinterest and you are not, you might want to look and see what they do that you don’t.
You’ll see total numbers, top authors, and the pages being shared most. In the example below, we can see that our page of monkey lesson plans has been the most shared lately, with 237 pins. We can also watch LinkedIn and Stumble Upon, though they have too little juice to show up in the charts.
You can also see whether images or text are being shared most often — that’s the ring on the left in the screenshot below. Though Pinterest is the top sharing source, it’s text (red) that is most often shared, not images. This is good news for us — we want people to click through and read the text. Our yellow “unknown” slice is probably video.
The blue ring is your “Sunburst Tree.” Click through and you’ll see the shares according to site architecture. For this site, for example, we can see how many people share from pages in our main navigation, how many from pages they found by searching in a category, how many from the general blog page, etc.
This report could tell you how much your individual products are shared, for example.
Note that this doesn’t track only our shares — this shows sharing by readers as well. That differentiates this tool from most social media tracking tools. Check it out and let us know what you think!
We heard this rumor and checked it out right away. After all, blogs are not only an important source of information and entertainment on the web, but also an important marketing tool.
In fact, Google is de-indexing “private blog networks.” These are networks of blogs that allow you to post a single piece of content at hundreds or thousands of different blogs. A truly private blog network might be set up by one individual, but many of these are paid networks. They’re generally set up as a subscription or membership service, and they offer various features:
- They’ll use content you write, or write content for you.
- They’ll “spin” content for you — that is, change up some words to make it look a little bit as though you have a number of different posts instead of just one.
- They’ll post your content gradually rather than at all 3,000 blogs at once.
- They’ll keep all their client information secret so it won’t be as obvious that you’re using the service.
- They’ll find blog posts in their network that happen to contain your preferred anchor text and use the existing posts to link to your website.
Back when I wrote blog posts for all sorts of blogs all over the world, I often found my posts — scraped, stolen, or perhaps intentionally spread by the clients, whom I didn’t necessarily know very well — on these networks. Usually they had been spun but sometimes a whole blog post would be strewn all across the internet, supposedly as part of a blog but in fact in a collection of unrelated articles at a generic looking blog. Usually they’d turn up during linkbuilding work, and cause me a moment of confusion.
If you’re curious to see what this looks like, SEOMoz has an interesting article which will also give you steps to take to clean up your act if you have been using this technique.
Now let’s suppose that you haven’t been using private blog networks. In that case, this can be good news for you.
First, it means that you are less likely to have to wade through poor quality junk next time you are searching for information. That’s the main point of this update (and most Google algorithm updates).
Second, it means that your high quality, informative blog posts have less competition.
It has been suggested that this might mean that Google is planning to be stricter on blogs generally, and that this is therefore some kind of danger sign for blogging.
I don’t think that’s the case. Here’s why:
- This is a Penguin update. Penguin updates are about unnatural linking. Building a bunch of poor quality blogs filled with duplicate content is obviously an unnatural activity undertaken just for the sake of links. That’s irrelevant to the high quality blog on your company website.
- Google is already strict with blogs. Higher quality content performs better than poor quality content. If you’ve been cherishing the notion that you could slap any old thing up at your blog and get search engine love for doing so, you were being unrealistic.
If you’ve been following the general principles of good SEO — providing a valuable web experience for your customers — you have nothing to worry about.
We know how it is. You had a blog built into your website because you really expected to write a blog post each day. Maybe you even wrote a post the first day or two, but then things got busy, you ran out of ideas, and it just didn’t work out. You have one post at your blog, possibly titled “Hello, World!” and it has been languishing since then.
Now you need to hire a blogger.
We have a lot of experience with this, so let us share with you the Top 5 Rules for hiring bloggers:
- Remember that blogging, unlike so many jobs on the web, produces visible results. You can and should ask to see examples of the blogger’s work. You should not ask candidates to write sample posts; anyone who doesn’t have enough work online to be able to show you a good sampling of their published work is not experienced enough to write a company blog.
- When looking at the blog posts, you should first note whether they have a point, make sense, and are interesting. If not, don’t hire that blogger.
- You should expect correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Google does. (Can I make a suggestion? If you’re not a writer yourself and you think you see a mistake, check first. You’d be surprised how many business owners introduce errors when they think they’re correcting them.)
- Feel free to highlight phrases, copy them, and paste them into the search box at your favorite search engines. You should not the see the phrase anywhere else online. You hire bloggers to provide original content.
- When interviewing potential bloggers, listen closely for phrases like “creative juices” or “inspiration.” In our experience, this usually means, “I won’t meet deadlines.”
Now, you might not really need to hire an individual blogger for your company. You could, for example, hire Haden Interactive to write for you. Our writers have relevant college degrees, extensive blogging experience, serious editing credentials, and all the tools we need to get the job done well and on time. Every time. When you hire us to blog for you, you can relax.
If you don’t want to relax, you can also edit and provide topics and ask for changes. We’re very agreeable. We’re also amazingly affordable. Call Julianne at 479.966.9761 to discuss your needs.
Blogging is one of the best things you can do for traffic and conversion at your website, but many companies have trouble getting from a blogging plan to the reality.
You can hire a blogging service like Haden Interactive and cross it off your to-do list. In theory, you also could write your company blog yourself, but a) you don’t have time and b) if you have time now, you won’t have time once the benefits of your blogging kick in. (If they don’t kick in, then you’re not the right blogger for your company.)
You can also use a bunch of bloggers: your staff, friends who blog, freelancers, or helpful volunteers. How can you make sure that you end up with regular postings, a consistent voice, and social media mentions to keep your blog posts in front of your customers?
Bloggers at your website
Decide when articles will be posted and put that decision on a calendar. A regular schedule like Monday/Wednesday/Friday at 8:00 a.m. or weekdays at 10:00 is easy to remember and can lead to more regular readers.
Have one person who is responsible for making sure the articles get posted. That doesn’t mean that he or she (or you) must do all the work, just that there will be one person who accepts responsibility for checking to make sure that scheduled posts actually are published.
If you use WordPress, a plugin like Edit Flow makes it easy to set up an editorial calendar, accept pitches, assign topics with length requirements and talking points, alert photographers to the need for a photo, approve drafts, and schedule posts.
If your blog doesn’t have features of this kind available, set up a system internally. For our clients who don’t use WordPress and who need compliance checks or other types of oversight, we resort to email or shared documents in Google Drive. Josepha uses a spreadsheet to create an editorial calendar.
If you have a lot of people involved in the project, emailing back and forth can introduce confusion, since it’s hard to keep track of who knows what and who is involved in which decision. Using your CRM or a PM tool like Basecamp can help.
We like to keep as much of the management at the blog itself as possible. At Blogger, for example, you can have your bloggers save posts as drafts and schedule them into the future, and put one person in charge of final review and approval.
Make sure the one person you choose is able to catch typos — and won’t introduce errors. If possible, someone who can keep the voice of the blog fairly consistent can be a good thing. The alternative to this is to give all your bloggers bylines so each can have a separate voice. In that case, your responsible individual can just be in charge of catching typos and making sure the post actually posts.
If you rely on external bloggers to write about your company, you may have less control. We’ve been working with a project that involves external bloggers, and we’ve seen errors (like getting the name of the company wrong) but we can’t get in and change them.
You also have less control of voice and overall message. This can be a great benefit of using outside bloggers, of course. People often trust what someone else says about you more than what you say about yourself. You can also reach different audiences when you have multiple voices writing about you. There can also be some value to links from external blogs
“Some value” because later links from one site won’t have the same value from the point of view of linkbuilding as the first link did. Also because paid links have no value at all, and depending on the arrangement you have with your external bloggers, you may be looking at paid links. However, links from an external blog can produce great traffic — we’ve seen a strong external blog be the top source of traffic for a website.
Set up ground rules ahead of time, including frequency of posting. You can still use an editorial calendar, just as you would with internal bloggers.
You can also still have someone who checks to make sure the posts are launched as agreed. He or she (or you) would then need to send an email about any factual errors or typos. I’m always grateful to have errors or typos pointed out and your external bloggers should feel the same.
Once the posts have been planned, assigned, written, and launched, someone must post them at your social media platforms. You can set them up to be posted automatically, or your responsible individual can tour the social media platforms you use and post them.
At Haden Interactive, we have someone responsible for editing posts, someone to make sure they’re posted, and someone to post them on social media. We figure this kind of belts and braces approach gives us multiple chances to catch those typos.
We’re building a new WordPress site for a financial management company. They have a current blog, which we’re keeping up to date while we build the new site.
We’re not making any big changes at the old blog while we work on the new one — we don’t have authority to, in fact. However, we are making some small changes to make it more attractive in the short term.
If you look after your own blog and aren’t planning any big design changes, you might want to consider some small changes that can make a big difference.
Before we get into specifics, let’s acknowledge that merely having a regularly-posted blog with good content is good for your website from the point of view of SEO and conversions. Search engines probably won’t even notice the kinds of changes we’re talking about today.
Humans will, though. And human beings, not search engines, are the ones who buy your goods and services.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at the old blog:
There’s interesting content in the posts. However, the dense text is relieved only by huge CLICK HERE links. Rather than organizing the content for readers, these just break up the text and send people off the page.
We’re adding photos to the posts. Again, search engines won’t care, but human visitors will enjoy seeing some people in the posts, and the images we’ve chosen help communicate the message of the posts. We use iStockphoto for consistently high quality stock photos, but there are other sources if you have more time than money.
We’ve also added a little text widget to help readers find their way back to the main website. If you have your blog off site, this is a must. You can do something fancier than this, of course, but we just took ten minutes to add a couple of text links and a phone number. The twitter feed is also a widget, and just as easy to add.
We’re using more modern methods to add links that go offsite, and organizing the content visually with normal paragraphs and bulleted lists.
None of these changes takes a lot of time, but they give a more polished and appealing look to the blog. Does your need a little of this attention? It’s worth doing!
Many conversations about social media and online marketing center on measurement of ROI, detailed statistical analyses of engagement, or tech tools. Mack Collier proposes a change in attitude in his new book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies that Turn Customers into Fans.
Rock Stars, says Collier, don’t so much market to their customers as they connect with their fans.
Companies can identify and understand their fans, embrace and empower those fans, and empower their employees to connect with the company’s fans and to be fans themselves.
Some of the specific advice in the book is standard practice in marketing. Getting to know who your most enthusiastic customers are and developing an understanding of what it is about your brand that they like is a basic. But not all companies make an effort to reach out to their most loyal fans and give them the tools to be brand ambassadors — backstage passes, if you will.
Collier talks about the difference between influencers and fans, and how and why a company might choose to reach out to both. There are plenty of examples in the book of how companies have succeeded — and failed — with making direct connections with their fans. There are also examples of how Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift use social media for marketing.
My favorite point was that rock stars “find the Bigger Idea” behind their music, and companies should find the Bigger Idea behind their brand. Do your fans buy your healthy snack because they happen to want a snack or because it makes them feel like they’re being better moms? Do your clients come to you because they need a computer network set up or because they want their companies to grow?
Unless you’re selling a basic commodity, there is almost certainly a Bigger Idea. Consider the case of Fiskars, scissor manufacturers. Collier tells us that they discovered that their most ardent fans weren’t buying scissors to cut things — they were buying Fiskars to create. Fiskars embraced the crafting culture and focused their blogging and social media on crafting and crafters — and succeeded.
Collier shares a Facebook study which compared the results for three types of Facebook posts:
- Posts that promoted a product or company. (“Try our new annuity options!”)
- Posts that were related to a company. (“Retirement investment strategies for millennials: read more”)
- Posts that were unrelated to a company. (“Got big plans for the weekend?”)
Type 2 — things that were interesting to people who are interested in the bigger idea about the company — got the best response. Providing information that is useful to your customers, patients, and clients builds trust and loyalty.
Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies that Turn Customers into Fans is an entertaining read, and has some good lessons for you if you’re not sure how to approach social media — or if it’s clear to you that you’re not doing it right.
[Disclosure: The publisher of this book sent me a copy for review. I am not paid for reviews, and you know I always tell you the truth.]
A client asked today which posts should be in his email newsletter and which should be in his blog. Most of our clients use our blog posts for their newsletters, and so do we. We like to have something new in the newsletters we send, though, so regular readers won’t feel they don’t need to click through. We also like to mix things up a bit. But when it comes to a particular topic and you can’t decide whether it should be in your newsletter, your blog, or both, there are some questions you can ask to help with the decision.
First, is it important or useful from the point of view of search? Ideally, you want to have pages for all the questions your customers, patients, and clients might be typing into the search engine query box. If you have something to share that wouldn’t matter much for search, that’s a good candidate for newsletter-only content.
Second, is it valuable for everyone, or just for a subset of your potential visitors? If you want to share details about a planned update, time when you’ll be closing the shop for a holiday or vacation, or a special offer only for subscribers, that’s good for newsletter-only info. If you want as many people as possible to know, then you had better put it on your website where it’ll be public.
With these basic questions settled, you may already have decided where that article needs to be. However, it doesn’t hurt to think about the purpose of your newsletter and of your blog, in terms of conversion. Perhaps your blog is at the top of the funnel, bringing lots of visitors and spreading awareness of your company, while your newsletter exists primarily to drive sales. Or it may be that your newsletter’s job is to bring people to your blog, where you build deeper relationships and have plenty of calls to action.
Which of those scenarios is most true for your company affects whether you will be more likely to build strong sales pitches for your newsletter, or for your blog.
With a clear idea of the goal of your newsletter and of your blog, you can tell which articles belong in your blog, which are for your newsletter, and which should be used for both.
A question came up from a recent post on making your blog page (as opposed to your blog posts) look good. Summarized, the question was, “What is this Featured Image of which you speak?”
The Featured Image can certainly be confusing. You’ll see the place to set your Featured Image in the lower right of some but not all WordPress themes:
Click on “Set featured image,” choose an image to feature, and you have a featured image. Where will the featured image show up? Who knows? If you didn’t build the theme, you won’t know until you try it.
Here are some things that featured images might do:
- The featured image can show up in a specific place in your blog posts — or, if you use posts for other purposes, on the pages or parts of pages for which you use posts. In these cases, the Featured Image is simply making the correct sizing and placement of your images automatic. Sometimes there will be some design feature, such as rounded corners or a border, when Featured Image is used in this way. Typically, you won’t be able to place your images very well manually in themes like this. If you try to place your image in your post and also set it as Featured Image, you’ll get duplicate pictures.
- The Featured Image can show up on your home page or on your main blog page, and not in your post at all. The Featured Image is then intended to show on that other page with a bit of your post, and to lure readers to click through to the main past. In this case, you’ll need to set your Featured Image and also put it into your post. If you want to use different images in the two places, you can. In the shot below, you can see a bunch of thumbnails down the left side; these are the Featured images.
- Sometimes the Featured Image will show up in the callouts but not in your post — and if you put the image into your post with the “Add Media” button, you’ll get duplicate images. This may be irritating, but it can’t be fixed unless you have the option of removing “Show thumbnails” in your theme, or you have your designer fix the problem for you.
There may be any number of additional things Featured Images does in your particular theme. Your best bet is to experiment with the feature, if you haven’t used it before, and figure out exactly what it does. Then go along with that.
The reason Featured Image is so unpredictable is part of the nature of WordPress.
Pages at a WordPress site don’t necessarily exist as a page in the same way that an HTML page exists (though you can have static HTML pages on your website if you choose to do so). Your blog page can pull in all the posts that you have categorized as “blog.” Your homepage might pull in those called “featured post” or “homepage,” or you might be able to change what shows up. The browser just follows the instructions given by your WordPress site for pulling information into the page at the time.
If your theme uses Featured Image, then there are some instructions in the theme telling browsers what to do with it. Unless you built the site, you may not know what it does. Once you find out, you may not be able to change it.
If you’re having a site built and you have a preference for what your Featured Image should do, share this with your designer. If you’re buying a theme, figure it out from the demo or the documentation before you choose.
Your company blog probably brings visitors in to many different landing pages through search. Depending on the design of your website, you might have blog posts pulled onto the home page (as we do here at HadenInteractive.com), you might have a single blog page, you might have multiple pages pulling in different topics, or you might have a combination of some or all these options.
You might not think of your blog page as a landing page, especially if you see traffic primarily to your most popular posts or if you pull recent posts to the homepage. However, a peek at your analytics will probably show a number of visitors clicking on that blog page. You want it to look good.
Let me show you a few of the blog main pages from sites we’ve built.
The one at upper left has an excerpt from each blog post, created with the “More” button. The images are different sizes and shapes for a lively, informal look.
The pictures are varied, but they are consistent in style and placement, chosen to appeal to the target market.
The blog on the right is automatically creating identical placement of photos and excerpts of content, using the Featured Image tool. It balances the grid of product logos on the right.
If the blog post excerpts had varied looks, the page could end up cluttered — as you know if you’ve ever visited a blog where the blog posts are casual and there’s also a sidebar or two with randomly placed logos, badges, and buttons.
Which of these two approaches best describes your blog’s main page depends on your theme if you use WordPress. We build custom WordPress sites, so it’s the decision of the designer. If you choose your theme from ready-made ones, check how the blog page is set up when you’re deciding on a theme and make sure it works with the way you want your site to look.
You should also make sure you use the tools you have to get the effect you want. For example, the blog at the top of the page doesn’t use the Featured Image tool, but we could size the images to the precise same size to make it look as though it did if we wanted to.
The third blog uses the “More” button to cut posts at strategic points, and the site owner does not want images. The posts are automatically sorted into categories which provide the primary navigation, and this is one of those internal pages.
The homepage, seen at right, pulls new blog posts into a main column and a featured column, also using categories.
Again, the theme is what determined exactly how the tools will work. If you use a pre-made theme, you may have to experiment to get the effect you want. However, some combination of the More button, categories, and image tools will allow you to make your blog’s main page look as close as possible to the way you want it to look.
The primary takeaways here are probable these:
- Figure out how you want that blog page to look. Don’t ignore it on the assumption that your visitors will.
- Experiment with the available tools and settings — I’ve mentioned the most common ones, but your theme may include more options, including custom post types or multiple page templates.
- If your theme doesn’t give you the look you want, consider customizing it. Hiring someone to make it look the way you want can save you hours of future frustration.
- Avoid random decorative touches like centered titles, multicolored text, or fancy fonts unless they’re part of the theme’s basic design. Not only does this give you a less polished look, it also makes your blog less readable.
Once you have the look of your blog in hand, you may find that you have more readers there than you had before.
Business blogs should do a job for your company — but there are different jobs they can do. The role your blog fills in your business determines the strategy you should use in writing your blog. Here are some of the common jobs business blogs do, and the tactics that help ensure that they do their jobs well.
A blog can reach people at every point in their buying decision, from thinking about possible solutions to a problem to looking for a specific product with the intention of buying. Say you have a physical therapy clinic. Google Trends tells us that there are lots of searches on the subject of back pain, including “cause of back pain,” “chronic back pain,” and “back pain exercises.” Your analytics tell you that people currently reach your website by looking for “back pain treatment” in your town and for “back pain management.” You can write a series of blog posts on these topics:
- Back Pain: Chronic and Acute
- Back Pain Treatment Options
- How Long Can You Ignore Back Pain?
- Causes of Back Pain
- Back Pain Treatment: Exercises or Surgery?
Each of these posts (and this list could be much, much longer) may show up for a different long-tail search term and bring prospective patients to your website. Seeing your helpful, expert information, they’re likely to remember you when they’re ready to make an appointment with someone.
Improving search results
We write a blog about a particular brand of motion control machinery. Our blog posts range from amusing essays on robotics to discussions of the growing skills gap in American engineering. The site owner’s customers are usually people who have had a breakdown in the machinery in question and are in need of emergency help.
We don’t imagine that those customers, when they need help, will read our blog post on the history of motion control in the printing industry, however well crafted it might be.
However, we know that our client’s blog has more and better content about this particular brand than just about anyone else. Blog posts show up on the first page for many related searches. This blog does have readers, none of whom is probably worrying about a broken servo motor at the moment, but its main job is to prove to search engines that the client’s website is the most valuable website on the subject by including lots of quality content.
Serving customers (and increasing conversion)
Your clients, customers, or patients are more likely to be loyal customers of yours if they find your website helpful. Offering information and entertainment at your blog is a sure way to add value to your website.
22% of internet users use Twitter, 25% of female internet users use Pinterest, but 40% of internet users read blogs. Your customers and clients probably value the chance to go to your website — a trusted source — to find answers to their questions.
One of the sites we blog for is aiming to become the best place on the web for people thinking of starting a particular type of business. He hesitated to post blog articles on subjects already covered by his competitors. However, we don’t want his visitors to look for an answer to a common questions, fail to find it, and leave to search for it elsewhere. We work on posts that are unusual enough to get high rankings for specific terms, but also on having the information visitors want, even if they could find it elsewhere.
In the final analysis, your company blog could do all of these jobs. One of them is likely to be the most important, depending on your overall business strategy.
Edit Flow, a WordPress plugin, is a great tool for blogs that involve collaboration. This is an open source WP project, and they’re looking for people to help, but there is currently no cost for this robust tool.
Collaboration for a blog can mean a lot of different things. Here are some situations in which I like using Edit Flow:
- A blog has multiple authors — Edit Flow helps them communicate.
- The blog is written by a professional blogger (like me) and the site owner wants to have oversight, to assign topics, and otherwise have input before the blog goes live.
- The blog has more than one writer, and there is an editor, legal adviser, or other individual with primary responsibility for quality control.
- The site owner wants to be able to put in posts and have them polished or optimized by the professional blogger before posting.
Of course, since this plugin works for pages as well as posts, it’s helpful during the building of a site as well, even when there’s no blog planned.
Here are some of the things Edit Flow lets you do.
Where WordPress usually lets you save a post as a draft or to publish it, Edit Flow also lets you post something as a pitch to the publisher, as an assignment for one of your writers, as an unfinished “In Progress” piece, or as a draft which is waiting for review. This means that editors and site owners can see where in the workflow the writers are, and can assign a pitched article. Writers can leave work for review without that “The draft is in” email.
When an assignment is made, the assignment form makes it easy to give the essentials — the topic, thesis , keywords, strategic goal, etc. as well as the number of words and due date. I like that you can also point out the need for a photo.
You can set up notifications so that the right people are automatically alerted when the next stage of the work has been completed. You’ll note that Edit Flow lists not only all the contributors (on the left) but also groups. Assign users to these roles and you can keep everyone up to date easily. This feature might be overkill for a blog with a couple of contributors, but it makes WordPress practical for larger-scale projects as well.
Just above the Notifications is a comments panel that lets everyone discuss the post or page right on the page, instead of sending emails back and forth. Not only does this keep everybody in the loop, but it keeps the entire discussion in one place. It’s always easy to lose track when there are a lot of people involved in a discussion. The author of the post is automatically notified of any comments.
In addition to the extra tools on the posts, you’ll see two additional items on your dashboard: the Calendar and the Story Budget.
The Calendar shows all the stories for 6 weeks or so, along with their status — assigned, in progress, draft, published, etc. This is a terrific tool for planning out an editorial calendar that will include company promotions as well as for keeping up with your blog and making sure it’s getting published regularly. We’ve noticed that the length of the calendar varies somewhat from one site to another, presumably because it interacts with other settings at the website.
The Story Budget shows upcoming stories by category, so you can see whether you’re overlooking any of your categories and what needs to be filled out. You can also see whether you have plenty of content in place or if you need to get some more posts assigned. This feature may not be useful every day for the blog that simply gets written and posted immediately, but it can be a big help when you want to take a vacation. Obviously, it’s most useful for sites that are written and scheduled ahead.
So far, we haven’t seen any slowdown at websites where we’re using this plugin, and we haven’t seen any problems with incompatibility. Any plugin can create issues, so watch for them, but so far we’re finding Edit Flow a fantastic help for collaborative blogs. Let us know what you think in the comments!