One of the best features of WordPress is the ability to schedule your posts ahead of time. You might not always want to publish your blog posts immediately after you finish them. Or maybe you're going on vacation and want to make sure you have content being published while you're away.
Instead of having to log into your site and hit the publish button, you can set the publish date for later and WordPress will schedule it for you. Unfortunately, sometimes there's a hiccup and you get the dreaded "Missed Schedule" error.
I had this problem a while back on this site when I was publishing three days a week, and it was super annoying. Since I like to publish early in the day, I'd have to wake up and manually publish my posts first thing in the morning. That got old and boring real quick, so I started looking for a solution. And I found it!
Why WordPress Misses Scheduled Posts
It all comes down to these little things called cron jobs.
Cron jobs are tasks that are performed automatically in intervals without you having to lift a finger. The program just has to be setup and the cron job handles the rest. They basically take care of repetitive and mennial tasks that can be a time-suck for humans. So we let computers handle it.
One of the best examples of cron jobs in action is daily backups of your site (which you should absolutely be doing by the way.) You don't manually go in and backup every file. It's done automatically through cron jobs.
You probably have several cron jobs running on your site that you aren't even aware of. A lot of the automated tasks that you probably don't think twice about are done through cron jobs. But most of us non-developer bloggers use plugins that set it all up, so we don't have to know the ins and outs of how they work.
Well, the scheduled post feature of WordPress is also run by cron jobs. And unfortunately, sometimes WordPress can be finicky and the tasks misfire.
Tom McFarlin, a WordPress developer, did a much better job of explaining the problem with WordPress cron jobs much better than I ever could, so I'll leave his explanation here:
As convenient as this functionality is, the best way that I know how to describe WordPress cron jobs are as faux cron jobs.
Here’s why: whenever a cron job is defined within the context of an operating system, it is scheduled to run by the operating system for that particular time regardless of if the person is at the computer or not.
After all, what would be the purpose of scheduling a job if it had to run manually?
When it comes to WordPress, you can schedule an event to happen at a certain interval, but it doesn’t operate like a classical cron job.
Instead, the event is set and scheduled and written to the database. The next time a user hits the site, the WordPress cron system will look to see if an event is scheduled and, if so, will then fire the event.
Notice the problem?
Someone has to visit the site before the event actually kicks off. So if you’ve scheduled something to happen hourly, but no one has visited your site in the last hour, then the event will never kick off.
So basically, if someone doesn't visit your site around the time your post is scheduled to go live, the event won't trigger and your WordPress scheduled post won't publish. Instead, you'll see the Missed Schedule error.
Now, that's not the only reason it could happen, but it's almost always an issue with cron jobs from what I've found. Just to be clear, I'm not a developer. I just researched the problem because WordPress scheduled posts wasn't working on my sites, and this seems to be the issue.
Now that you know the problem, how do you fix it?
How to Fix the WordPress Missed Schedule Error
It's as simple as installing a plugin called Scheduled Post Trigger.
This plugin works by running a script when someone visits your site. The script checks to see if there are any missed posts, and if there are, it publishes them. Simple.
In your WordPress dashboard, go to plugins > add new.
Search for scheduled post trigger. Hit Install Now, activate and you're set. You don't have to configure any settings.
Alternatively, you can use the WP Missed Schedule Plugin. This is actually the plugin I used first, but unfortunately it's no longer available in the WordPress plugin directory. Luckily, someone's keeping it going through GitHub.
The difference between the WP Missed Schedule plugin and Scheduled Post Trigger is WP Missed Schedule works at timed intervals. It checks your site every 15 minutes to see if a post missed the schedule. The Scheduled Post Trigger checks for missed posts whenever someone visits your site.
Also, since the WP Missed Schedule plugin is no longer available in the WordPress plugin directory, I'm not sure if it's still being maintained or not.
Here's a tutorial on how to install plugins from GitHub. It's just like uploading any other plugin for the most part.
All you have to do is install either of these plugins and you're good to go. I've tried both and they get the job done.
Goodbye WordPress Missed Schedule Error
There you have it, a quick fix for when WordPress is missing scheduled posts. No more waking up at the crack of dawn just to publish your posts, or constantly double checking to make sure your posts actually published when they were supposed to.
You can schedule your WordPress posts with the confidence that they'll publish when you want them to.
If this guide was helpful, leave a comment to let me know, and share it around to any bloggers you know. See you next time!