You get inspired, you write a post, the traffic rolls in.
If only blogging was that easy, right?
In truth, blogging is hard work. Putting out strong content on a regular basis takes time, effort, and organization. While WordPress, Blogger, HubSpot, and Medium are great channels to publish your work, they aren’t all that good at helping you catch inspiration when it strikes or plan effectively for future posts. They are all good blog platforms, but they aren’t designed to help you organize the perfect blog post or the mountains of research that go into a blog post.
Luckily, there is a tool that will help you plan, organize, draft, edit, research, and publish your blog.
It’s called Evernote.
A Place to Store Everything
Evernote was founded in 2007 and has since attracted a user base of more than 100 million worldwide. The Evernote team today counts more than 400 employees working in the Evernote ‘universe’ of applications including Skitch, Scannable, Penultimate, Evernote Food, the Evernote Web Clipper, and – of course – Evernote.
Evernote sets out to be something like a second brain for users. Using the program (available on Mac, PC, as a mobile app, or on the web) users can store almost anything at almost any time and in any format. The possibilities are almost endless and, for a blogger with their eyes open for that next great post idea, it is invaluable.
Bloggers know that inspiration can hit at any time.
Maybe you’re driving and a great idea apps into your head. There’s no time to write it down but you can tap a button and record an audio note directly into the Evernote app.
Or maybe you are out with the family and spot something that would make for great graphics inspiration for a post. Snap a photo on your phone and it’s straight into Evernote for later reference.
An email arrives with a couple of salient points? Forward it straight to Evernote for later.
Perhaps you even got some old-fashioned snail mail with something useful included. Snap a photo or use the excellent Scannable app to send it straight to Evernote for when you have a chance to sit down and blog later.
Indeed, it doesn’t matter where, when, how, or in what context your inspiration strikes – Evernote can handle just about anything you throw at it and store it safely for when you are ready to sit down and create your post.
In this post we offer a few pointers on how to get the most out of Evernote as a blogger, and a couple of bonus tips to take your Evernote use to the next level, too.
Evernote: The Basics
Before we get too deep into using Evernote as a tool for blogging its useful to go over the basics of the software.
Whether audio, video, text, image, document, or anything else – there are few files or formats that cannot be handled by Evernote – everything is stored as a note. Evernote doesn’t have any real limit on the number of notes you can create (it’s currently an astronomical 100,000) though it limits free users to 60MB of new data each month and Premium users to 4GB of new data each month.
Notes are stored in notebooks. On first installing Evernote you have no notebooks at all and every note is dumped into the program proper. Once you start to get organized, however, and create different notebooks, you can identify one as your default notebook. This default notebook is where all new notes not otherwise directed will end up. Each user can have up to 250 notebooks on a single Evernote account, though typical users will get by with many less.
If you have a number of notebooks on similar topics you can organize them into a notebook stack. A stack is basically an organizational tool for grouping notebooks and does not combine the notebooks or merge the notes in any way. Keeping notebooks in stacks makes manually searching for notes easier. For example, you might have dozens of notebooks organized into three stacks: home, work, and family. By going straight to a stack you can find the relevant notebooks quickly and easily.
Finally, as well as being arranged in notebooks and stacks you can also tag your notes. The names, types, and number of tags – up to 100 per note – make searching for notes or organizing them across various notebooks easier.
All of your notes in all of your notebooks are synced to the cloud and searchable on any device. You cans each by a keyword, by a tag, within a certain notebook, or within a certain date range.
But search capabilities like this are expected of any program these days – so Evernote has added a couple of extra search parameters that are more than a little bit neat.
Take photos for example. That picture you snapped of an interesting restaurant while you were on vacation? Not only did Evernote keep the photo for you but it also kept the GPS data associated with the picture. In short, you can search by the location of the note you made. If you want to find that restaurant the next time you visit your favorite vacation spot, just check Evernote for the GPS coordinates where you took the photo.
Or maybe you took a photo of a street sign. Evernote is intelligent enough to recognize the text in images and so you can search for words on signs in the photo. A keyword search for a term that appears in your image will return that image – perfect for when you remember something about a photo even if you don’t remember what you named the note the photo was in.
If you upgrade to Evernote Premium for only a couple of dollars a month you also win search capabilities for the attachments you upload to Evernote. Every PDF, Word document, Keynote slide deck, and Google Doc is crawled by Evernote and becomes almost instantly searchable. if all you remember about a document is a phrase or a couple of words form a heading on page 73, Evernote will not only store the document but return that document in a search.
Blogging with Evernote
Once you’ve got the basics of Evernote down and become comfortable using the software to record, well, anything and everything, you can start thinking about how Evernote can help your blogging. There are really four stages in creating a great blog post: inspiration, researching the topic, writing and editing, and publishing. Evernote can help you every step of the way.
Because inspiration can strike anywhere you need to be ready to catch that inspiration anywhere, too. And it’s here that Evernote excels. If you can see it, say it, type it, or record it, you can add it to Evernote instantly. No more missed moments, no more regrets after you forget the perfect headline you crafted in the middle of a run or a trip to the grocery store. And because Evernote syncs directly to the cloud, when you sit down at your laptop later the same day, the same week, or even the next month, you’ll find your hastily scribbled note, audio recording, or image waiting for you, and ready to go. With Evernote you never need to worry about forgetting again.
Once you’ve got your inspiration it’s time to research. Collecting that research might involve snapping me pictures, or scanning some pages from a book or magazine and, if so, Evernote has you covered. But with a lot of your research being completed online, there’s a better way to collect data for your posts: the Evernote Web Clipper. Available as a browser extension for most web browsers it takes no more than a click to send an article, an image, selected text, or an entire webpage to your default Evernote notebook. Even better, if you are the sort of person who regularly clips articles using the Web Clipper the extension will quickly learn what notebook you want these stored in and direct your clippings to the right place automatically.
Writing and Editing
Writing in Evernote is a dream no matter whether you are using the Mac, PC, or web interface. Large areas of white space and a focus on clear text means drafting your blog post is easy. You can drag images into your post, re-size them within the note you are creating, and add all the typical formatting features, too. If you want to draft in Markdown it is supported, and you’ll be able to catch your spelling errors as you type thanks to a built in spellchecker. A click on the notes information icon in the top right corner will tell you the post’s word and character counts so you don’t end up with something too short or too long. And don’t worry about saving your post – it’s saved locally as you type and synced to the cloud automatically.
When it comes to publishing there are a couple of ways that you can use Evernote effectively. If you are using WordPress, Blogger, Medium, or another blogging platform you can simply cut and paste your post and hit publish. As Evernote is not adding all sorts of additional formatting to your text – I’m looking at you, Microsoft Word – it’s a simple process to get it up and online quickly. For real Evernote junkies, however, there is the Evernote enabled blogging platform Postach.io. To blog on Postach.io you simply create an account, link up your Evernote account, and tag notes you want blogged with the word ‘published’. The moment you tag a post published it goes live on your Postach.io blog meaning you don’t even have to worry about copying and pasting anymore – Evernote really does do it all.
Evernote Pro Tips
Using Evernote as a central component in your content creation, research, and blogging can help ensure you don’t miss creative opportunities, lose your place or, worst of all, lose your work either online or offline. For bloggers who have already embraced Evernote, however, there are still some ways to lift your game to the next level. Here are five Evernote pro tips:
- Transcribe your audio notes: Combine Evernote and Quicktate and you’ll be able to transcribe your audio notes quickly and easily using real human transcribers. Whether it is a short list or a long post you have dictated in the car while stuck in traffic, Quicktate has quick turn around times and competitive rates.
- Use Note History: If you are a Premium user of Evernote you can access the history of changes for any note you make. The Evernote software tracks every change you make and saves copies of notes in their various iterations on the cloud server. If you think your post sounded better last Tuesday than it does today, Note History will take you back without needing to hit the ‘undo’ button for hours at a time.
- Merge Notes: At the end of a typical month at DOZ I’ve published 20,000 words in 20 or so different blog posts. I want to keep all of these on Evernote but there is little chance I’ll be going back to each separate note any time soon. The solution: select all the notes from the previous month and hit ‘merge’. Nothing is deleted and all my posts, images, and links are retained, but now they are in a single long note. It’s still searchable but it makes things neater on the front end and, if there’s something any busy blogger can appreciate it’s a clean digital desk.
- IFTTT Integration: Evernote can be connected with your other favorite online and cloud services and notes automatically created thanks to handy IFTTT recipes. Do you get regular emails from someone with great blogging ideas? You can automatically forward emails tagged with a person’s name or from a certain address to a specific Evernote notebook. You can link Evernote with an RSS feed so that you have new content delivered straight to a notebook for fresh ideas, or link Dropbox and Evernote so that those PDFs you drop in one appear in the other. The opportunities for integration are nearly endless.
- Link to other notes: Adding hyperlinks to materials online is easy. But with Evernote you can also link to notes you’ve made or collected elsewhere. Every note you create has a unique URL which means you can link directly to that note inside another. Connect two ideas, two potential posts, or even create a table of contents for all of your blog posts with just a few clicks – it’s all possible with Evernote.
Evernote should be part of every blogger’s arsenal of tools. Used effectively, it helps at every point of the post creation and publication cycle. If you are not already using Evernote, get started today with a free account here.