Hi readers -- If you've been reading snackdinner for a while, you know I do not include sponsored posts or run ads. That's partially a design preference (I don't want ad blocks mucking up your reading experience), and partially a personal mission (I'm selling my ideas, not other people's stuff).
But even little fledgling businesses have expenses, and so from time to time you'll see me review products I'm currently using that I find may be of use to other readers. When you see a post marked [Review], you'll know that I'm describing a product or service that has offered an incentive for a review.
Here are all the things you're supposed to do if you want to succeed at blogging:
Choose a domain
Design a website
Create social media profiles
Join blog sharing groups, comment pods, group boards, and twitter chains
Sign up for affiliate advertising groups
Master SEO strategies
Pay for blogging courses to teach you tricks of the trade
Buy a better camera so you can take photos to accompany your blog posts
Use hashtag apps to make your posts more visible on social media
Host product giveaways to get more followers
Sign up for reader-hostile pop-up services to drive e-mail sign ups
Create e-mail newsletters
And, oh yeah, write something.
I'm learning to make the same kinds of choices with my blog too. I am not a professional photographer. I am not a professional web designer. I am not a professional marketer. So I outsource these essential blogging skills to places so that I can focus on my writing.
Instead of spending hours snapping and editing photos for my posts, I use stock photography from Unsplash and other sites. Instead of spending weeks tinkering with web design, I enlist professionals to do a far better job than I ever could.
And instead of spending hours each week sporadically sharing my content on social media, I'm using CoSchedule.
What is CoSchedule?
CoSchedule is a content marketing calendar that lets you schedule posts for sharing on social media.
Let's say you finish a blog post on a Saturday morning, but don't want to run it on social media yet. You could tell Wordpress or Squarespace to schedule the post to appear on facebook on Monday. But when you do that, your post will only be promoted one time.
When you use CoSchedule, you can set up repeated shares of your content, helping ensure that more people see each one of your posts.
You can also use CoSchedule to advance schedule your social media messages, which will let you achieve greater consistency in posting and no gaps in engagement when you get sick, take vacation, or any other time when life gets in the way of writing.
How CoSchedule Saves Me Time
If you're a fledgling freelancer like me, not the head of a burgeoning media empire, you might think that this kind of service is too big for you. And the price tag of $39/month may seem like overkill when you're not yet selling much of your writing. But even junior league bloggers like us can gain a lot from big league content scheduling. Using CoSchedule has cut down on 5 of my biggest time thieves:
Time Thief #1: Sharing blog posts on social media
Self-promotion is my least favorite part of the job. But it is essential if I want to get my ideas out there. CoSchedule makes it easy for me to schedule recurring shares of a post in just a few minutes. I customized CoSchedule's social templates for different types of content. For a holiday themed post that's relevant for only 2-3 weeks, I have a more condensed sharing schedule. For perennial parent-panic topics, I use a template that spreads shares over multiple months.
Time Thief #2: Sharing my freelance work on other platforms
I also use CoSchedule's social templates to share work that I'm writing on other sites that may be of interest to snackdinner readers. My freelancing template, for example, is set to run a little less frequently than the content for snackdinner, but frequently enough so that my regular readers can see what I'm up to on other sites.
Social Templates let me quickly choose how often to share content
Time Thief #3: Reinventing the wheel
There is absolutely no reason not to re-share content from year to year, but if you're not using an automated scheduler, it's hard to remember what you wrote last week, let alone two or three years ago. CoSchedule is making it much easier for me to identify content to re-post. My next few months are already full of goodies that I expect my readers missed the first time I shared it, back in those dark days pre-content marketing.
Time Thief #4: Instagramming
If you use Instagram, you know that no apps let you post pictures directly. But Coschedule is an improvement over other popular options because it allows you to construct posts from your computer and send them from your phone later. That's really helpful if you write a lot of content for each post.
Social Message scheduling lets me create and edit posts from my computer instead of my phone
Time Thief #5: Fanning my ego
Top Content lets me see what's getting read and shared
I freelance for a number of publications that offer share bonuses. Prior to using CoSchedule, I would probably refresh popular pieces once every few hours to see the growing share count. It's thrilling to watch those numbers go up, but considering that share bonuses are often modest, I was probably wasting my whole bonus in unproductive time spent seeing whether or not I would earn a bonus.
CoSchedule's Top Content gives me a quick review of how my work is faring on social media. Because I'm logging into CoSchedule every day to share content, I allow myself just one peek at how my work is doing before settling into writing and ignoring the share count.
Seeing what content gets liked and shared on social media stokes my ego, of course, but it also lets me know what kind of content my readers are most interested in, which helps me generate ideas for future content.
What I'm Doing With My Extra Time
It's hard to measure exactly where I would be as a blogger/freelancer without CoSchedule (remember, snackdinner readers, to beware the unobserved counterfactual!). But there are two broad ways in which CoSchedule is helping me grow my little business.
First, I've done a lot more writing, both for my own blog and for freelancing opportunities. I'm still a part-time writer, and yet am able to manage my own blog while writing weekly for another parenting website and submitting freelance contributions to dozens of others.
Second, I've found new opportunities in my inbox. By scheduling each of my posts to run multiple times on multiple social media accounts, I've been able to reach more people. Some of those people have reached out to me to syndicate my work. I've also just taped my first podcast interview, which will run later this fall.
There's also a third, less tangible reward to using CoSchedule. When freelancing from home--especially when you share your office with a 3-year-old's art studio--it's hard to feel like a true professional. Using CoSchedule has helped me stay disciplined and organized, even amidst the chaos of working from home.
If you're a Squarespace user like me, you can't use all of CoSchedule's features. For example, while WordPress users can create, edit, and post their content from within CoSchedule, Squarespace users will have to copy and paste links into CoSchedule for sharing. Even without the full functionality available for Wordpress users, CoSchedule has made a tremendous positive impact on my work.
You can get a free trial of CoSchedule using my referral link.