In outlining my blog writing process, I thought I might share some of the tools I use as part of that process.
Social listening and an ideas file provide inspiration for blog post topics.
For social listening, I use Feedly and Flipboard. Feedly is an RSS reader that allows me to bring several sources, such as blogs, news, and other information, into one place. Multiple feed options let me group information by topic. As I read through the content, I can save a story by marking it for later, adding it to custom boards, or sharing it to other sites, including social media dashboards and social networking sites.
While I curate most of the content on Feedly, Flipboard curates most of the content for me. I chose several categories such as documentaries, filmmaking, and virtual reality, and the site groups the content under them. This grouping makes focused scanning quite simple. I also have the option to curate content for the site, but I haven’t explored that option too much yet.
For the ideas file, I keep everything in Standard Notes. Privacy minded and open source, Standard Notes functions across multiple platforms, including Mac and Windows desktop and iOS and Android mobile. It features extensions for locked files, spreadsheets, dark mode, daily backups, and much more. After some concentrated effort, I have managed to move all my notes into this app.
More specifically, I keep a section marked “Blogging.” Under that section, I have folders for “Ideas,” “Drafts,” and “Published.” In the ideas folder, I keep individual files for more developed ideas, such as a post about research sources, and a single file for undeveloped, flash-in-the-pan ideas that I might want to explore later.
Composing drafts is a multi-part process that involves developing outlines, doing research, and writing paragraphs.
My primary app for all of these processes is, again, Standard Notes. If I find I have a few minutes to spare, I can open the app and add notes to a post idea or a paragraph to a post in progress — no matter what devices happen to be with me.
A secondary app for composing drafts is Byword. Byword is a minimalist writing app that composes in plain text but also supports Markdown. It allows customization of fonts and their sizes, and it features dark mode. If I really need to focus on the writing itself, I use Byword.
Sometimes drafting finds me stuck in a conceptual corner, and I need help thinking my way out of it. Two apps help with that problem. Cloud Outliner Pro develops outlines with a depth of detail, making it easy to see the relationships among information. The other is SimpleMind, a mind-mapping program that allows you to sketch ideas and create relationships through branching and connecting.
Please note that colored markers and paper can serve similar fuctions as these two apps.
Every blog post has some extras, such as stock images, photo management, and social media posts.
Lots of websites offer stock images for free and for cost. Since I operate on a zero-dollar budget, I opt for the free. The best luck I have had with images is through Pexels, a website and an app of people’s free-to-use images.
Pixelmator Pro is a photo editing and drawing program. I bought Pixelmator Pro as an alternative to the Adobe suite and have never regretted it. The program is intuitive, and it requires no annual subscription.
Marketing my own blog posts has never been my goal; I prefer to focus more on content creation. I even forget to post them on Twitter, and that’s the social networking site I use the most.
But to learn more about creating materials for cross social networking site posting, I subscribed to Canva. It makes the creation of shareable graphics and infographics very simple through drag-and-drop functionality and a deep library of fonts and images. I started using the app to develop Pinterest pins for the blogging how-to posts, and found it quick and easy to use. The pins even generated a little website traffic to boot.
Please note that none of these tools are musts for any blog writer. Some bloggers do all of their writing work right in WordPress, whose apps and website make that option possible. The point is to use the tools that work best for you.