Mastering Scheduled Posts
The ability to prepare a post in WordPress and set it to appear on your blog at a future date is one of the most basic, yet fundamentally useful features of WordPress. I’m often surprised to run across bloggers who don’t even know the feature is there. I’ll discuss the basics of Scheduled Posts and discuss some power strategies for business bloggers.
Scheduled Posts 101
Upon completion of a new blog post on the “Edit Post” page, the most common next step is to click the blue “Publish” button in the right hand column. This instantly places the new post on your blog for all to see. The drawback of publishing this way is that if you wish to publish, say, every Friday morning, you must remember to click that button on that time and day. Often, you will want to put together several posts at once to be released on the blog at intervals of, perhaps, a week apart. You have written a long piece with several sections and wish to break it into a series of blog posts. You could save the later posts as drafts and post the by hand later or you could schedule them at intervals of a week each.
The usual way to schedule is to look in the “Publish” box to the right of the entry area and click “Edit” (beside “Publish immediately”). The blog lengthens and reveals an entry area showing the current month, date, year and time. To schedule the entry for later posting, change the date and time to what you prefer and click the “OK” button. Now instead of “Publish” the blue button says “Schedule”. Click it and your post will not appear until the set date and time.
You can also schedule a post from the Dashboard’s “Edit Posts” list page. When you hover your mouse pointer just below the post title, you’ll see an link appear called “Quick Edit”. This can be useful if you have several drafts you wish to schedule without opening the editor. To schedule a post, click “Quick Edit”. Change the date shown to the date you wish it to appear. Now change the status (to the right) from “Draft” to “Publish”. Click the blue “Update Post” button and the post is scheduled.
A Scheduling Calendar
If you like to mark your future postings on a calendar, you’ll have to do that offline or outside WP. I’m hoping some helpful programmer will create a handy calendar-format editing interface plugin at some point (it would be nice to be able to simply drag the posts around from date to date). The closed I’ve found to that so far is this free plugin: Future Calendar. It displays a small calendar on the post edit page with the days that already have scheduled posts highlighted. This way, at a glance, you can pick a date on a different day and even see what day of the week it will be. I’ve been using it for awhile and wouldn’t want to do without it now.
Strategies for Scheduled Posts
If ranking well with the search engines is important to you, you want to update your blog with some regularity. This is more important in the early months of a new blog, but it’s a good idea thereafter, too. How often? I’ve heard many opinions on this. The general consensus seems to be that a blog needs to be updated at least once a week (a rule I admit to not always following with this blog). The search engines use “crawlers” to check websites from time to time. The crawlers learn the intervals based on how often the site is updated. Thus, if your site is updated weekly, it will be crawled weekly and new posts will appear in search listings weekly. The can crawl much more frequently. Once while answering a question for Yahoo Answers, I looked up the subject of the question in Google. The question had already ranked #1 in search– 3 minutes after being posted!
Here’s a few more ideas for using Scheduled Posts:
- Research and write an entire blog series at once, then schedule over the coming weeks.
- Break down a longer work into shorter posts for a blog series.
- If you run across some good material for, say, Christmas in July, go ahead and write the post now and schedule it for December.
- You could schedule several similar event-related posts in advance to appear monthly or even annually in conjunction with a repeating event.
- You could put in a long day and write a month’s worth of posts to schedule over your vacation.
- When starting up a site, you often have many pages to start the site. Rather than posting them all and launching the site full, post a few essential pages and schedule the other posts to appear a rate of one per day for the first few weeks.
I hope this has enlighten you if you haven’t been scheduling posts and stimulates your imagination with ways to make it improve your WordPress business.