A Beginner’s Guide to Using Trello as an Editorial Calendar

trello editorial calendar

There are lots of tools for managing your content pipeline but Trello is one of the best. And you may be missing out on the intuitive features it offers to manage content projects. This article will show you how to create and update a Trello editorial calendar, even if you’re a newbie to using Trello.

What is Trello?

Founded in 2011, Trello is a project management app that allows teams to collaborate using Kanban style boards. It currently has 50 million users worldwide with 150,000 new users per week. When you want to work with someone through Trello, they must have their own account. This isn’t an issue because you can create a Trello account within minutes and set up a board based on existing templates. 

Trello allows you to:

  • Display cards with due dates in a week or month format. With this filter, you can see your entire month’s to-do list on the screen. 
  • Easily manage due dates by dragging and dropping cards. 
  • Track the status of team content projects.
  • Manage a writing team easily by prioritizing tasks.
  • Sync your editorial calendar with your Google calendar so that due dates aren’t missed.   

What should a content calendar include?

You’ve likely heard that it’s important to maintain consistency with blogging and content creation in general. Based on 2020 data on blogging frequency, Hubspot recommends that small brands create at least 1 or 2 blog content pieces per week. The problem is that it’s easy to become disorganized. There are too many things to do. 

What a content calendar does is that it helps you create accountability, especially when you’re managing a content team. You will be able to track finished and unfinished pieces, as well as projects that have passed their deadlines. For a one-person content marketer, Google calendar might just be enough. But when you manage other writers, you should use tools like BaseCamp, Notion, Google sheets, Trello and Asana for content planning. 

It’d surprise you that Trello, with its simple interface, is used to manage content pipelines by some big news sites including Mashable and TheChangeLog. A typical content calendar in Trello for both big and small brands should contain:

  • Editorial. Content ideas you want to publish on specific platforms. You want to plan out podcasts, video content, blog posts, social media posts and content updates in your editorial calendar months in advance. 
editorial content ideas in Trello

Some big companies plan out yearly editorial content. While there may be one or two changes along the way, this kind of content planning will give you direction. But how do I find ideas for content production? Here are 19 content ideation ideas you can use right now.

  • Promotions. Now that you’ve created a post, how do you market it? Are you planning to do a cold outreach? Create Twitter threads? Make a video? You might want to schedule these in your Trello content calendar too. It’s smart to put promotion tasks on another board. This would give you a bird’s eye view of what you need to do per post. 
  • Ideas. You can jot down ideas that could be developed further via your Trello editorial calendar. Some tools allow you to prioritize ideas so your team knows the high priority projects to work on. 
  • Team management features. There are some basic features in Trello to manage writers and other creatives, though they may not be as sophisticated as those found in other project management tools. 

There are existing templates available for using Trello as a content calendar. Start with any of these two Trello templates.

  1. Trello editorial calendar template – created by Leah Ryder. Trello Brand Marketing senior team lead.
  2. Trello blog content calendar template – created by Janet Mesh

How to create an editorial calendar with Trello

Step 1: Enable calendar power-ups.

In your Trello Kanban board view, create a list of all your content to-dos. Set the due dates, and share this with relevant team members. You can invite people using the blue invite tab at the top of the dashboard. Add a label to distinguish task types. 

For example, if you are scheduling tasks for social media, you might use a different color code than for blog content. When you’re finished setting up your cards and lists, enable calendar power up. There are two ways to do this. If you are on Trello’s business or enterprise plan, you can switch to the calendar view easily from the board view options. 

Alternatively, you can use power-ups. Power ups offer more functionality and integration to Trello boards. However, note that you can only add one power up if you’re a free user.

Trello calendar power-ups

Click on the “show menu” tab, navigate to power ups and search for “calendar”. When you click on the calendar power up, you’ll see a calendar list of every card that has a due date, organized either by week or month.  

Step 2: Setting up lists

On the Trello boards, your lists help categorize your work into steps. For example, my Trello list currently has ideation, outlining, writing, editing, DONE, and promotions. Under each of these, I added a basic description so if I had to work with someone, they would know the right algorithm to work with. 

You can add a cover image to each list to make your lists look catchy and to instantly show your team members what to expect. Once you’ve organized your content processes into lists based on your workflow, you can start creating cards for each list. 

For every card you create, added members can add comments, you can label your items and set up due dates. Also, you can include a description of what needs to be done (for example, keywords, resources etc.) and set up a checklist of items in the order in which they have to be done.

Step 3: Ideation and Writing

Now you’ve created your lists. You’ve made a separate list for ideas you plan to work on and another list for ongoing writing projects. When writers have to pitch ideas, you can create two lists for ideation. One where writers submit their ideas and another that includes already vetted ideas. 

This is where checklists can be super-useful. For example, you can vet ideas based on a specific set of criteria. You may also insert already vetted ideas into your ideation list. By clicking on a card, anyone that has access to the card can write a comment and add an attachment. You can also also leave a message for a specific person. 

Here’s a list of shortcuts and syntax for card descriptions, comments and checklist items:

  • Bold text – Command/Ctrl + B (**text** or __text__)
  • Italic text – Command/Ctrl + I (*text* or _text_)
  • Strikethrough text – Command/Ctrl + Shift + S (~~text~~)
  • Inline code – Command/Ctrl + Shift + M (`text`)
  • Links – Command/Ctrl + K [text](url)

For every writer that has been assigned a topic idea and a due date, you want to move their selected cards from “ideation” to “writing”. Now they can tick off the checklist boxes to indicate their progress. 

The Trello editorial calendar feature comes in handy here as you can see updates on multiple content projects within minutes. Note that you can add color-coded labels for each idea to distinguish content types or tasks. For example, guest posts vs blog posts.

Step 4: Editing and Scheduling

Each completed writing project can be moved into the editing list, and then to a scheduling list if you created one. You can also track these tasks in the calendar once you’ve set due dates for them. Also, you can move cards forward in the calendar view if you want to extend due dates. 

Based on your editing and scheduling process, you could create checklists based on what needs to be done. For example, adding graphics, proofreading, editing, search engine optimization, etc. Trello has built-in Dropbox and Google Drive integration. This makes it easy to share Google Docs and files with your team. 

On your scheduling list, you can create labels such as published, need modifications and scheduled to sort different content pieces based on their readiness for publication. 

Trello calendar scheduling


Other content planning features

In some cases, you might have three or more people work on a specific piece of content. Depending on the task, someone might conduct research and interviews; someone else might write, someone else might edit, another person might do graphics, and someone else might optimize the content for SEO. You can use the advanced checklist power up to assign checklist items to specific people on your team. Voting power up is another useful tool for ideation. This allows you to prioritize ideas, so writers know the projects that carry more weight. 

Is the Trello calendar free?

You can use the Trello calendar feature either as a free add-on or power-up. It is also available as a paid feature in the business and enterprise plans. However, the features available in both cases are more or less the same. Consider that for Trello’s free plan, you’re only allowed to activate one power up at a time. This means that if you need to use another power-up, you’ll need to deactivate your calendar power-up. You can do that by navigating to the power up and disabling it. Gold users can activate 3 power ups at a time. Higher plans allow you to activate unlimited power ups. 

Sync Trello with Google Calendar

Connect your Trello account with any calendar tool using the iCal feature. To do this, navigate to the Calendar power up, and click on edit power up. You’ll be able to sync your calendar with any other calendar app using an auto-generated iCalendar link. Note that it may take up to 12 hours for Apple calendar to synchronize with Google calendar. Also, updates between both calendars will not be synced in real time as Google calendar records updates from your calendar only once daily.

integrating trello with ical


Manage Content Better with the Trello Editorial Calendar

You probably already have a content planning solution that works for you. If you don’t, you need a simple content calendar tool with robust features to cover major aspects of your content creation process. Let me know in the comments what tool you use to manage your content projects.

Image attribution: Eyoungstrom, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Agnes is a B2B content marketer and SEO specialist helping SAAS and B2B marketing agencies in real estate get more traffic and exposure since 2015

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