Here at MemberPress we manage five lively blogs. Yep, five! As the company's content manager I can tell you – that's a heck of a lot of content.
Not only is it a lot of content, it's a bunch of fast-moving parts. Five blogs on five different websites for five different products means there's a ton to keep track of. Add a dozen or so writers to the mix, and you've got a recipe for hand wringing.
It can be a bit of a logistical nightmare at times. Well, I should say that it used to be that way. Since I started using the Strive Content Calendar, my job has gotten a whole lot easier.
I decided to write this Strive review because so many of you guys (our customers) are content creators and/or manage your own blogs.
As I've been using Strive over the past few months, it's occurred to me more than once how much any content creator could benefit from this fantastic product.
So here's the lowdown on why you need Strive!
First, here's why we needed Strive (and so might you)
If you're a content creator or manage a blog, you know all about blog content calendars. They're an essential part of the process. Content calendars are where you…
- Keep track of topics
- Organize ideas
- Determine assignments
- Schedule posts
- …the list goes on
If you're super organized (like we are!), your blog content calendar is only one part of your main content calendar.
Your main content calendar is the big one where you keep track of blog posts. And you also keep track of other types of content – things like guides, infographics, ads, and PDFs – organized by topic.
Our team uses Asana to build and manage our main content calendar. It works great for keeping track of the big picture. But there are two problems…
- The main calendar is HUGE, which makes it tough to use as a working blog content calendar.
- Not all of our writers are in-house with access to Asana. That makes assigning topics to those writers a real pain in the arse. The email and Google Docs back-and-forth can get over the top.
The Strive Content Calendar fixed the above problems 100% for us. Here's how.
Strive Content Calendar in a nutshell
Just like MemberPress, Strive Content Calendar is a WordPress plugin. That means it creates your blog content calendar right inside the WordPress backend.
That alone fixes my two main problems.
- Because the blog content calendar lives on the WordPress backend, each blog has its own calendar. And those individual calendars are separated from our main calendar. This makes managing and organizing topics incredibly simple. (If you're wondering how we combine all the blog calendars into the main calendar in Asana, keep reading.)
- All our writers have access to the WordPress backend. With Strive, our blog content calendars live in WordPress. So assigning, reviewing, and processing posts is now an absolute breeze. (More on that later, too.)
And the calendar's drag-and-drop functionality is amazing:
You can move posts around within the calendar, as well as to and from the unscheduled drafts sidebar. When you move a post, it's automatically scheduled for that day in the WordPress editor.
That's probably my most favorite feature, but this plugin has got a lot of good stuff. Here are a few more of my favorite things.
Other Awesome Strive features
Aside from being super easy to set up and good-to-go out of the box, Strive has some amazing time-saving features. Here are four I really like.
A beautifully easy revision process
Content optimization is important if you want a high ranking blog. And that means lots of regular content revisions.
Unfortunately, content revisions are a publishing pain in the neck. You've got a live post that has some solid SEO juice, so you don't want to take it down and screw that up.
So you have to work like a maniac to make your changes fast. That way you don't have to hit the update button, and you don't risk losing all your hard work.
The other option is to cut and paste the whole thing into a doc so you've got time to rework it. Once it's done, you paste the copy back into the backend, section by section. It's a clunky and time-consuming process.
Strive's Revisions feature fixes all that.
As soon as you install the plugin, you'll see a “revision” option attached to each published post. You can access it from the frontend admin bar in WordPress:
You can also get to it from your list of posts in the WordPress backend:
When you click that link, two magical things happen:
- In WordPress, Strive opens up a brand new draft of that post that is completely separate from the published post.
- Once you make your updates and click “Publish”, Strive automatically and seamlessly combines the revised version with the published version. Now you've got an optimized article – no one's the wiser, your SEO juice is safe, and you didn't have to mess with a confusing redirect.
Also, revisions in the Strive calendar view are labeled as such. That really helps to keep tabs on the ratio of new-to-updated content.
The Pipeline view
I do most of my work in Strive's Calendar view (mentioned above). But when I need to get a look at the big picture, I click the Pipeline tab.
The Calendar view only shows scheduled and published posts. The Pipeline view lets you see all the post statuses, all in one place.
Being able to see all the statuses together keeps things from getting lost in the shuffle.
You can see everything that's scheduled, in progress, ready for editing, and not started, all at once.
You can also toggle between row and column layouts. I prefer the row layout, but your preference will depend on the way your brain works.
I'm sure you know just how many little details go into proper blog post formatting.
You've got grammar, preferred style and usage, meta-data, link settings, image alt text… there's a ton of stuff to remember. And that's especially true when you're working with a new writer.
Strive's customizable Checklist feature takes the guesswork out of it. Just add all your details to a list under the Checklist tab, and you're good to go.
Anytime someone works on a post, they just click the Checklist icon right in the WordPress editor, and they can check off items as they go.
Not only is this feature great for practical blog posts writing, it's also a great way to document your process.
We've already touched on post status throughout this review, but they really deserve their own section.
In WordPress, there's no way to tell the difference between, say, a post that needs editing and a post that's all set to go. Strive's Post Statuses give you a way to do just that.
And when you update your post status in the WordPress editor, the changes are reflected through different colors in the Strive Calendar.
In the same way, when you update a status in Strive, it's reflected in the WordPress editor.
Strive adds the following handy statuses to WordPress:
- Not started
Don't be fooled by the simplicity of these statuses, either. They hold incredibly powerful organizational potential. I'll talk about that next.
How to use Strive to manage your blog workflow
In this section I'll show you how the MemberPress Content Team uses Strive to manage our blog post workflow.
Like I said, we have several writers working on five different blogs. That means keeping the workflow organized and under control is a big job.
Fortunately, Strive has two awesome features that make it a super easy and ultra organized process. These features are:
- New Drafts
- Post statuses and corresponding colors
Here's how we use them…
On the right side of the Content Calendar page you'll see an Add New Draft button.
Click that button, and you'll get a pop-up. There you can add all the basic details your writer might need to complete a post.
I use the Title field to indicate which writer is assigned that post by adding their name before the post title (more on that in a minute).
The most beautiful thing? When you're all done filling out the form, you click the Add New Draft button at the bottom of the window. When you do that, Strive automatically creates a new draft in WordPress. (Commence oohs and ahs.)
All the info you entered in the pop-up will populate in the WordPress Editor. Any info you change in the WordPress Editor will sync with the Strive Content Calendar. It's a little like magic.
Adding a New Draft also creates a box in the Unscheduled Drafts column to the right of the calendar. This makes it super easy for your writers to see what's on their plates.
Now whenever you see the Open Editor icon anywhere in Strive, you can click it to open your draft in the WordPress Editor.
You'll see the Open Editor icon whenever you hover over a post box, which turns out to be quite handy.
Now on to…
All the pretty colors
Strive's colors might be pretty, but they pack a powerful punch.
Each color indicates a different stage in the blog post process, so we use these colors as triggers to communicate what needs to be done next, and by whom.
Here's how we do it…
- When I create a New Draft, its default post status is Not Started, and its color is RED. Red lets the writer know the blog post is assigned and ready to write.
- Once the writer starts working on the draft, they switch the post status to Writing, and the color changes to ORANGE. This lets me know the post is underway.
- When the draft is wrapped up and ready for me to review, the writer switches the post status to Editing. The color changes to YELLOW, which alerts me that the post needs my attention.
- Once I finish the edits, I switch the status to Complete, and the post box turns GREEN.
Green is important for us. That's because Strive has an optional setting that will make any Complete (green) post go live automatically on the date and time it's scheduled in the WordPress Editor.
We use that setting because it's a major time-saver. But it means you have to check your dates and times diligently anytime you “go green”.
Finally, once a post is published, it goes to BLACK, and you know you're all done.
How to connect your Strive content calendars to your main content calendar
Strive's built-in, individual blog content calendars make our blog workflow incredibly simple. But what about that main Asana calendar I talked about earlier? The one where we keep track of all the deliverables around our topics?
There's no way I can double-up and transcribe each WordPress post into Asana. Ain't nobody got time for that!
Fortunately, our amazing Dev Team came up with a brilliant solution using Zapier.
The team set a “zap” that's triggered anytime a new draft is created in WordPress. Once triggered, the zap transfers the draft into our Asana content calendar under the “New Blogs” section I created.
The zap task created in Asana is automatically assigned to me. That way I'm alerted that the draft is there. Then I just go in and drag the post down to the right topic section in Asana.
‘Tis a glorious thing.
If you're a creator, Strive Content Calendar is a worthy investment. It's also a surprisingly small investment.
For $7 a month, you get all the features I talked about above, plus a lot more. And the first month is free.
What's your time worth? Probably around $100 an hour, right? Strive will cost you less than half of one cent per hour. When you consider the time you'll save, it's a pretty smokin' deal.
Ready to give Strive a test drive? Just click the button below.
If you decide to try Strive, let us know how it's working for you in the comments. We'd love to know!
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