All right, that is a neat trick. If you paste your Instagram page url into your blog, WordPress will automatically include the image from your Instagram page. Very nice.
As part of getting setup to blog, I’ve been trying to identify a work flow that works for me. In this post, I’ll share what I’ve started with.
I’ve used lots of different word processors. Just like my pens, I figure if I can find the perfect pen I can write the perfect story. If I can find the perfect wordprocessor, I figure I could write the perfect blog. Of course, the talent is not in the tool (give me Tiger Woods golf clubs and I doubt I will golf like him). I know most of the same words as William Shakespear; I just cannot put them together the way he did.
However, having tools you are comfortable with can allow you to be the most productive you can be. Plus if you have fun with them, maybe you will use them more often.
So for me there are three main parts to being a productive writer:
- Keyboard / writing software. Where I enter my prose
- Format I work in
- Ability to work with pictures.
I have two predominant target environments. WordPress and my email marketing software. In theory, you can compose inside both web apps, but in reality that is not what they do best. For me personally, I write best when I have BIG fonts, and a minimum of screen distraction. There are a whole bunch of distraction free editors out there now. On the mac, two of the best are Writeroom and ByWord. They let you work with big fonts. They also take away most of the other on-screen distractions that keep you from typing.
However, I recently purchased a Samsung Chromebook that had been returned to Best Buy. I was lucky enough through GameTruck to meet Jaime Casap, Google’s evangelist for education. Jaime is a neat guy doing amazing things, however, during the interview he talked about the Chromebook and how much his son loved his. I figured, what the heck? I would give it a try.
Besides, Google AdWords and, Google Analytics are hamstrung on my iPad and iPhone. I figured if I had a full blown Chrome browser I could get to the full applications. I was right, but that’s another story. What happened is the Chromebook became a puzzle for me.
Do I actually need a laptop?
I have a spectacular 15 inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It is truly amazing and powerful. However, it cost 10x what the Chromebook cost. Plus, for the most part the Chromebook stores nothing locally. If I lost my chromebook, what would I lose? So for $250 I took a flyer and started to play with the new toy. And for me it’s become a bit of a puzzle. Just how much stuff can I do. And of course, it turns into what can’t I do.
So on the Chromebook, I found Writebox which is an impressive distraction free text editor. I also experimented with WordFlow, however, it left the margins much too wide for my liking and the file save was not what I hoped it would be.
But I leave out one vital piece of information. I have come to enjoy writing in a text format called Markdown. If you have not heard of
Markdown, what makes it powerful is that you essentially write in plain text, with few additional features, but these features allow you to add formatting to your document without making it hard to read. A
Markdown document should be readable as is, without the need to pull out a bunch of
HTML tags or
Markdown is now the preferred document standard for GitHub, the open source repository company. Love GitHub.
So for me, I write in
Markdown, then I convert it to HTML, and paste it into my WordPress blog. How do I convert it to HTML? On the Mac, ByWord can do this directly, but there is also MarkdownPro. On my Chromebook, I used Markdown Preview which is an extension. You need to know if an application is an extension or an application. I am not entirely sure what the difference is but the Chrome Web Store segregates the applications and extensions and if you don’t pick the right one you won’t find what you are looking for – which is weird for a search company.
That leaves the last part of the puzzle. Images. I find images are almost required in a blog. We are people are visual. And Evernote and Skitch are invaluable for grabbing screen shots, marking them up, then saving them for later to copy into a post. However on the Chromebook, I just installed Awesome Screenshot And for the most part, Awesome Screenshot is a capable screen grab and annotation tool. Here’s a sample from my blog.
The other tool I plan to use quite a bit is Instagram. By using my phone as my camera: phonography, I can capture images that hopefully capture what I am writing about.
Now there is one last problem, that of hosting the images. I don’t want to store things locally, and it is a bit of a hassle to upload images to my blog in anticipation that I might need them. But that is a possible solution. However I have found an excellent free hosting service called: imageshack.us. This service allows you to do what almost no one else does, get a direct link quickly to the image itself and nothing else, no borders, no iframes, just the image. Plus it supports scaling the image on upload which is ideal for posting to a blog. This service is called image hosting. Sharing is something different. Sharing is sending people to a web page that displays your image. I want to embed the image inside my own posts and most other services I tried do not support that. The reason? Traffic. They want the web traffic to look at my images. Well, that’s nice and all but this about supporting my creative efforts. And so far imageshack has been the easiest for me to use. It’s not pretty, but it is effective.
So, as I write, I think of images I want to include, upload them to imageshack, I add links into my text, and when I am done, I convert the whole document to HTML using one of the tools I mentioned above, paste it into WordPress then schedule the post. My goal is to stay ahead of the curve so that I have a constant flow of content, but also so that I don’t overwhelm anyone with too much stuff. Some of the stories I want to share are pretty long.
So in summary:
- Grab a photo with my phone, post to Instagram
- or grab a screenshot with Awesomescreen shot, save it to google drive, then post to Imageshack so I can share it in my blog.
- Write the content in Markdown on my Chromebook with Writebox
- Convert the content to HTML with Markdown Preview
- Copy and paste the HTML into WordPress.
- Schedule the post for publication
The only thing I left out was the new tool I am using to manage my social media – HooteSuite. But they have extensive tutorials, check them out.