All of the top0bloggers have their own system for making their quality articles and getting their popularity. Each of them uses a different combination of techniques. Some effectively use other peoples effort and leverage it elegantly. I’m not talking about plagiarizing the work of others, but rather the effective tapping into the community for their resources. That’s an effective technique once a blog achieves a critical mass, but not readily workable for the smaller or newer blogs.
I have developed a system for fitting our blog writing into our daily routine, and it involves the use of technology by gaining efficiency from productive software and streamlining the thought processes. This helps get around the press of servicing clients in our software development and web business at Paladin Consultants, LLC .
Inertia and the lack of a clear idea of what to write about has been the number one blogging stumbling block for me, along with a cumbersome production process of the blog article itself. I have solved this in several ways.
- I found I had a lot of ideas, but didn’t have a way of recalling them when I needed them. So I started using Evernote, which recently added a Blackberry extension. Since I am never far away from my ‘berry, I can text, dictate, or send a picture to Evernote, and harvest those thoughts at the proper time. I also am a heavy user of OneNote, so, on an as needed basis, I copy thoughts from Evernote to OneNote for a more permanent and well-organized record. There is a good blog for OneNote, which talks about the many uses it has.
- I try to have a small camera near me all of the time. At very least, I have my Blackberry camera. So, armed as such, it is easier to get illustrations of some of my topics and ideas.
- Recently I have found that once I have decided on a thought or idea, it is productive to actively think about that idea while falling asleep. During the night, somehow, the idea seems to be processed and examined from all sides, and, oddly enough, seems to be well developed my morning.
The next bottleneck is usually the development of the idea. This is partially resolved by the sleep technique discussed above. The problem with the sleep technique is that if you don’t capture it quickly, its persistence appears to be limited. Use it or lose it. So among the first tasks of the morning needs to be the capture of the previous night’s thought process.
I’ve had success with mind mapping techniques, especially for short blog articles. For a longer treatise, a hierarchical outline, such as one might produce in Word would be more appropriate. Usually, I draw the mind map on a yellow college ruled pad, but I’ve gussied up the one for this article to make it visually appealing. See if it makes sense to you.
Once I have the ‘plan’, then it’s time to bring in the power tools to take care of the details. I use BlogJet, a very convenient and inexpensive online blogging software, which lets me compose, spell check, insert artwork, links, tags, and virtually everything I need to do to produce the blog itself. I felt that this piece of software reduced the amount to time I spend visually composing each article by at least 1/2 hour. They also have a very nice feature which fits into Firefox, which allows me to copy and paste pieces of web pages into the text of my blog very easily.
Firefox is an extremely important piece of software for me. It seems that no matter how hard Microsoft and Google try, they can’t quite come up to the standards of the Firefox Mozilla browser: Mozilla always seems to be one step ahead of them. There are two Firefox plugins that are particularly effective for me: Taboo, and SEOQuake.
Taboo is a software tool which allows you to take many tabs open in Firefox, and store them in one tab as thumbnails. So, instead of having 20 tabs opened, you might only have two: the one you’re immediately working on, and the other containing the Taboo ‘reservoir’ collection. Taboo allows you to temporarily store dozens of pages in this thumbnail format, each image growing as you mouse over it. It saves looking through the tab array, and saves scarce memory. A very useful tool! I have a Bookmark category called ‘Blogging Tools’, which I open in tabs (about 10 sites), then annex them to the Taboo page. Makes for very efficient research and fact checking.
SEO Quake, is another Firefox app that analyzes the keyword/ key phrase content of your article. At the end of writing the article in BlogJet, you can save it to a temporary HTML file, and use SEO Quake to appraise it for links, key phrase effectiveness before you publish. And it always helps to have a list of your Wordtracker phrases to rework your article against.
In the Pantheon of Tools I rank Delicious near the top. It’s a very powerful tool which lets you save sites, software techniques and articles, like your Browser Bookmark feature. Except that your Delicious sites are available to you whether you happen to be at your computer or not. Available on client machines, Available on your Blackberry or iPhone. Available on your laptop. Available in subgroups as RSS feeds of your tags, of as subscriptions to the tags of the rest of the universe. An extremely powerful element in anyones toolkit, and a great contribution to social knowledge.
In addition to photographs, I try to include portions of scanned documents like software code where appropriate, to illustrate my point, as well as screen clips, video clips, and charts. I find that Google charts allows one to create some very nice looking graphics with ones own data. Those graphics, though not ornate in any sense, are far more professional looking than those produced by Excel.
Finally, if you are not a strong typist, or are composing at the keyboard, while doing your research at the same time, Nuance’s Dragon Naturally Speaking is a good candidate for you. I confess to using it sometimes to squeeze out a quick article when I am short on time.
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