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!