WordPress.com: The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Site Editorial Calendar

TL;DR

All WordPress.com users enjoy 3 options to show blog/site coming attractions, a/k/a an Editorial Calendar. Neither plug-in nor $$ account is required. Details follow.

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Why Bother Posting a Coming Attractions / Editorial Calendar?

Editorial whaaaaa ???
Editorial whaaaaa ???

For the lion’s share of 2017, I’ve maintained a paper Editorial Calendar. The term refers to a calendar dedicated exclusively to blog/site-related concerns. Between the blog post ideas littering the Daily Logs of my bullet journal and the Editorial Calendar itself, I seldom confront the what-to-post-tomorrow headache.

I like to keep things stress-free. Knowing what will be posted when eliminates one stress source. Happy with my private Editorial Calendar, I grew curious about how to erect its electronic equivalent at this site. Rationale: time remains valuable. Some folks will find the coming attractions interesting; others will conclude not my cup of tea. Either way, the listing answers the what next question.

Option 1️⃣: Show Coming Attractions by Embedding a Google Calendar

We enter items in Google’s Calendar. The universal intent: refer to the calendar later, for reminders about upcoming events. Goggle, however, presumes all possess Sheldon Cooper’s1 eidetic memory (ability to recall all details of an event, even from years ago). Hence, Google’s default standard month view —when posted on the web— truncates the event title to a mere 1-2 words. That reality renders the calendar useless — you’re stuck with the blatantly ignorant web-based presentation. It inspires the same one word response as Tammy Fay Baker’s makeup application: clown!

✧︎︎︎ Embedding a READABLE Google Calendar at WordPress.com

The fix materializes in the form of an Agenda view of your targeted Google Calendar. But you’ll jump through many a hoop to accomplish the task. Rather than reinvent that wheel, I direct you to the most lucid resource I found treating this subject:

Chron (Hearst Newspapers): How to make an embedded Google Calendar Show as Agenda

Of course, you’ll also want to know precisely how WordPress.com treats this issue.

WordPress.com: Google Calendar

WordPress warns: the username associated with your Google Calendar will appear within the embed code. I saw only an odd string of characters in my embed code. Check your code carefully if this is a concern.

✧︎︎︎ Embedding Your Google Calendar as a Sidebar Widget (🤗)

A welcome surprise greeted me during my how to do this surfing escapades. Your Google Calendar can be embedded as a widget in the sidebar! Cliff Notes-style summary:

  • you copy Google’s iframe code from your calendar web page
  • paste into a draft post or page, and save
  • after the save, open the page/post and flip to the WordPress HTML view
  • notice: the iframe’s replaced with a “shortcode;” copy
  • create a text widget using the Modern or Classic admin editor
  • paste the shortcode into the text widget
  • assign a title if desired, then save
  • tweak the width and height within the shortcode if desired; save again

The Greyhound-route explanation appears on a gCal-dedicated WordPress.com support page. Scroll mid-way down for the sidebar goodness info.

Woot! An easy way border color change
Woot! An easy way to change the gCal border color! Yeah babeeeee!

Last point: the default blue border color may not float your boat. With a color code cheat sheet in hand, color changing becomes kid’s play. Keep your retinas on the string of numbers following the percentage sign, within the code secured from Google. That’s the segment you’ll replace with your preferred color code.

⚠️ Warning about the Implementation Chore

Unless your patience level makes the biblical Job resemble the Tasmanian Devil, you’ll want to approach this task from a desktop machine. Yes, I know Google positions itself as champion of mobile. Umm, me no think so!

If you fail to heed the desktop advice, you’ll find yourself bursting with brand new multi-syllable cuss words. Two guesses how I know this.

Note: Once the calendar is up and running, you can access it from a mobile device without grief.

Option 2️⃣: Use the WordPress.com Upcoming Events Code

Studying the pertinent WordPress.com descriptive page confirms: this code also depends entirely on Google Calendar. It presents a 3-column view. Personal opinion: puts the U in Unforgiveably Ugly. (Pic presented in the next section.)

I suspect CSS customization can transform this into something other than an assault on the eyes. Since there’s nothing I liked about this presentation, I moved on.

⭐️ Option 3️⃣: Use the WordPress.com display-posts shortcode

The basic magic: display-posts post_status=”future”

You can add optional parameters to order by date, display the date, include the excerpt, include a thumbnail image (the assigned feature image), etc. My SiteMap creation guide provides more specifics, both in terms of coding nuances and resource links. In fact, you can take a quick glance at my SiteMap to see how a listing looks with the date displayed, and ordered by title (Photography) vs ascending date (other sections of that page).

✧︎︎︎ Why I chose this display-posts option

This particular option offers three luxuries.

First, unlike Google Calendar, there’s no need to manually enter the post titles twice:

  • WordPress scheduler
  • Google Calendar

The display-posts code simply rifles through your WordPress.com database, targeting posts scheduled for future appearance. Thus, my electronic Editorial Calendar maintenance work begins and ends with configuring the display-posts coding, situating it in a page, assigning a title, and saving. As I add and schedule new posts, the Editorial Calendar page auto-updates (give it an hour, per system caching). Read: the ultimate 2fer! 🤗

Second, unlike the other two options, the display-posts alternative permits intense fine-tuning, e.g. date and its format, selecting tags to include/exclude, and more. I rush to add: Google Calendar permits title massaging; the display-posts listing plays slave to your designated page/post title.

Finally, and unique to the display-posts shortcode, we can add thumbnail images per title. ( display-posts image_size=”thumbnail” ) Yields a delightfully rich presentation!

✧︎︎︎ Tips

1️⃣ I chose to include an image thumbnail with each entry. That coerced me into adding an “excerpt” for every listing. The extra wording tames excess spacing introduced by the thumbnail (a munchkin version of the assigned feature image).

2️⃣ Be aware that the listed titles appear as links. Since these are “future” as opposed to “published” items, I feared clicking a link would yield a 404/Page-not-found error. WordPress.com anticipates, and precludes, that potential snafu. It uses an apparent temporary URL, presenting the page if the linked title is clicked.

UPDATE: Paid WordPress.com users enjoy CSS customization power. I discovered: the link effect can be eliminated —the focus of an upcoming post.

3️⃣ I initially set the Editorial Calendar page to draft as I hammered out the coding. Later, I changed to private and immediate posting. I did so because I wanted to check the page “live” at the site. My procedure recognizes occasional differences I’ve noticed between the editor’s “preview” version and the “live” version.

4️⃣ As you schedule posts, keep in mind they WILL appear within the Editorial Calendar. To prevent an item’s inclusion, set it to draft.

Here’s a screenie of my midway-tweaking version of the Editorial Calendar.

My almost-final Editorial Calendar, using WordPress.com's display-posts shortcode.
My almost-final Editorial Calendar, using WordPress.com’s display-posts shortcode.

The final result? Take a look. Yep, I (1) killed the link effect and (2) converted the red links to black mini-headers. More on those specifics in a week or two. (I caught heck trying to add the coding to this page. I’m teaching myself those nuances so I can present an easy-to-follow guide.)

How Do These Calendars Differ in Appearance?

The image below reflects the results of my preliminary testing of each of the three options discussed:

3 ways to embed an Editorial Calendar at WordPress.com
3 ways to embed an Editorial Calendar at WordPress.com

Call to Action

I’ve twice posted weekly alerts noting the following week’s scheduled postings. It occurred to me: embedding an Editorial Calendar, on a dedicated page, offers a much more efficient alternative.

You may choose to forego such a public posting. But if you’re serious about blogging, a private Editorial / Coming Attractions Calendar will prove a BFF. Coercing both focus and organization, it also encourages more predictable posting. Bonus: as you review your schedule, additional blog posts ideas tend to materialize.

Footnotes

  1. Among the most popular TV sitcoms in recent years: The Big Bang Theory. The four main male characters, all brainiacs, include Sheldon Cooper.

 

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