Where to Find My Work

Looking for my work? Though this my personal blog site, you can actually find my current blog posts and other resources on two of my consistently updated blog sites: MacAutomationTips.com and NaJoWriMo.org.

When I have time, I add content here about my blogging activities and resources, and other related topics.

If you need to contact me directly, you can use the Contact Form in this site.

How I Use 2Do to Develop and Monitor My Blogging Strategy

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Taking blogging to a professional level is like running a business. It requires setting goals and building a strategy for achieving those gals. That’s why I turned to my time management application of choice, 2Do, to develop and document my blogging strategy.

This year I started two blogs, National Journal Writing Month, and Mac Automation Tips. I’ve started a few other blogs in the past, but I was always too busy to maintain them, and I didn’t have a strategy for developing them.

What’s been different about this year is that I have been using some really awesome tools (e.g., CoSchedule, MeetEdgar, Canva) and that help make blogging more manageable and efficient. I have also benefited from taking Jonathan Mulligan’s course, Blogging Your Passion University.

But for several months I was overwhelmed by all the things I needed to do to develop my blogs. As any blogger knows, there are numerous tasks and projects that need to get done, including writing and editing content, promoting content on social networks, developing premium content, designing promotional images, and all the small things in between. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t discover things that I need to do, and ideas I would like to try.

So eventually I had to figure out just how I was going to keep track of the blogging strategy I was building. That’s where using 2Do came in. I discovered that this management tool is useful for developing and documenting my goals and strategies, and most importantly keeping track of ideas and tasks that I want carry out in the near future.

2Do_blogging_strategy

Before Using 2Do

Before I started using 2Do I kept blogging tasks and ideas in digital notebooks, and saved related bookmarks in Safari, and the read later application, Pocket. But my notes and bookmarks were scattered, and I didn’t have a big picture of where I was going.

I was getting a lot of good ideas from Blogging Your Passion University and other similar professional blogging sites and podcasts, but I didn’t know where all the ideas fit into my overall plan. I didn’t even have a plan. I was mostly caught up in trying to write, maintain, and promote blog content and related projects. And needless to say, I couldn’t do everything I needed or wanted to do in a few weeks or even a few months. I needed a tool to help me stay focused for the long term.

I first thought about using a spreadsheet in Apple’s Numbers, but as I tried working in it, I didn’t find the user interface attractive and user-friendly. I then turned to Wunderlist, because I really liked its minimalistic design and ease of use.

wunderlist

I especially liked using Wunderlist on my iPad, because I could quickly add content, using the iOS Sharing feature, to selected folders from within almost any app. But as I started using Wunderlist, I realized that though I found UI design appealing, the application lacked many features I needed, including setting recurring dates, creating projects with subtasks, and color coding folders. Subtasks can be added to Wunderlist, but they get buried in a hidden side panel.

Using 2Do

So I decided that though 2Do is not as clean cut as Wunderlist, it fulfills the purposes I need for developing my blogging strategy.

Thus, I recreated folders and tasks from Wunderlist into 2Do. Those folders include:

  • Blog Post Ideas (brainstormed lists of blogging topics)
  • Blog Site Development (ideas and tasks for developing my blogs)
  • Email Subscription (ideas and tasks for getting email subscriptions)
  • Freebies (Ideas for blog related freebies for my readers)
  • Future Tactics
  • Premium Resources (ideas for monetizing my blogs)
  • Twitter Strategies
  • Webinars (ideas and plans for webinars)
  • YouTube Strategy

I also have folders for Business and Finance, Online Subscriptions, Affiliate Resources, and Read Later bookmarks.

The list of items in my folders are numerous, and I can’t do everything at once. Instead, I simply star items I want to work on for the next month or two. I don’t add deadlines to most items, but I will set due dates and recurring dates to items that are time sensitive. For instance, I set a recurring date to check my online subscriptions every three months, in order to consider which ones I should cancel. I set dates for updating my Twitter profiles, and doing regular Twitter follows and unfollows using Crowdfire.

starred-items

Most of the content I’m adding to my 2Do folders is while I’m browsing articles on my iPad. When I come across an article with useful ideas, I now have a place to bookmark and review them later.

iPad_share

With this management system, I finally have a way to keep track of the big picture and most of the important parts that fit into the big picture. As I work though Blogging Your Passion University, for example, I document ideas and tasks that are pertinent to my goals and strategies for my blog sites.

I also use the 2Do management system for developing checklist lists and project plans. Any item in my 2Do can be converted to a project or checklist with sub-tasks. For instance, I have a checklist for creating a webinar, one for creating a video tutorial in ScreenFlow, and another one for blog maintenance tasks. I’ve always kept these types of checklists, but I now find them more accessible in 2Do, and they are a part of my overall blogging strategy.

Use Any Management System

Naturally 2Do is one of many task management systems. I prefer 2Do because it’s cross-platform and not too complicated to use. But other tools including Evernote, OmniFocus, or Wunderlist could also work.

As for carrying out my tasks and plans, I started using iDoneThis.com. Though I have lots of daily to-do’s in 2Do, I find that keeping a daily log of my accomplishments and goals for the day and week helps me get things done. I use iDoneThis also for reflecting on my work —what’s working and not working, and how could possibly do things differently.

Conclusion

I hope you as a blogger find my approach useful, especially if you have not started documenting your blogging strategy. This article is part 2 of my series about how I’m taking blogging to a professional level. Part 1 of the series covers the related tools and services I use for promoting my blog content on Twitter.

My Current Twitter Tools and Strategy

My goal this year is to take my blogging to the pro level, and one of the focuses I’ve been working on for the last few months is building my presence on Twitter.

Anyone new to blogging will quickly learn that no matter how great your content is, if people don’t know that your content exists, you won’t get readers and responders to what you’re producing. Fortunately, social networks like Twitter help solve that problem.

My Current Twitter Strategy

My current Twitter strategy is to stay present on Twitter on a daily basis, and to engage with my dedicated followers. My goal is to build a following of at least 5,000 people by the end of next year. While you can pay to get often fake Twitter followers, the best way to grow your following as a blogger or business is to find people who are interested in what you’re writing about. This is not always an easy task, but there are several useful tools that can make Twitter related tasks easier and more efficient. The following are the tools I’m currently using.

CoSchedule

CoSchedule is the first blog related program that I’m actually paying for. It serves as an editorial calendar for creating and scheduling blog posts inside your WordPress account, and it also allows for creating and scheduling posts to your social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and I believe LinkedIn. Social network posts can be scheduled for when an article runs and for future dates, like the next day or the next month.

Co-schedule_calendar

What I also like about CoSchedule is that I can schedule task reminders in the program, and it notifies me by email of those tasks. I mainly use the reminders to proofread an article again before it is scheduled to run. But more importantly CoSchedule makes it easy to schedule, reschedule, and manage blog posts, and it helps to keep my Twitter streams updated with fresh content.

Crowdfire

Crowdfire has been useful for gaining followers on my Twitter accounts. It would be great to grow my accounts organically, but it order to get followers, you have to find your audience, and Crowdfire helps with that.

Crowdfire

Though there’s a free version of Crowdfire, the paid version includes a feature called Copy Followers, which allows you to copy the followers of other Twitter accounts in your niche. So for example, for my Mac Automation Tips blog site, I copy followers from accounts like Macworld, TextExpander, Keyboard Maestro, and the like, because the people who follow those sites might be interested in the subject of Mac automation. In turn, Crowdfire enables me to also unfollow people who don’t follow me back. So I typically follow about 50 to 60 people every other day, and then unfollow people who don’t follow me back within about two days.

Buffer

I have also been using the social network posting site, Buffer, because it too allows for scheduling tweets. Buffer integrates with many other websites, and it helps keep my Twitter stream from posting tweets too close together.

Buffer’s latest feature also allows for posting videos directly into your Twitter and or Facebook account. This has been very useful for my Mac Automation Tips site, because I can post usually silent 30 second videos that automatically play on my Twitter stream.

However, I have recently started using a newer site called MeetEdgar that also allows for scheduling social network posts.

MeetEdgar

By far the most time-saving program that I’m using for Twitter related tasks is MeetEdgar. Though it is expensive, at $50 per month, it allows for scheduling hundreds of tweets for various accounts and categories of content.

What’s great about MeetEdgar is that it stores all your content into a library, and it pulls from the library to keep your social networks updated. MeetEdgar can also pull from the RSS feed of your blog sites and keep them in rotation for as long as you like.

With MeetEdgar, I’m posting 6 to 9 tweets a day on my accounts. And after doing the basic work of filling up my library, the service enables me to spend more time engaging with my followers instead of constantly creating or finding new content to post on my Twitter accounts.

MeetEdgar

MeetEdgar may seem difficult to use a first, but the company provides several tutorials for getting started. If I could only pay for one subscription program, this one will probably be it. Twitter is an extremely crowded space, and if you’re not posting on there on a regular daily basis, most of your followers will miss your tweets. I would venture to say that it is important to post a minimum of five social network posts a day in order to get minimum of exposure. MeetEdgar helps solve that problem.

Twitterrific

The last tool I use for handling Twitter traffic is the iOS app, Twitterrific. Out of all the Twitter clients I have tried, including the official Twitter app, Twitterrific is the one with the best and most productive features.

It allows for quoting tweets and replies, and most importantly “muffling”and muting selected users and topics that junk up your Twitter stream.

I also make use of Twitter Lists to filter the Twitter accounts I want to keep up with. When you start following 500+ accounts, you will run into a lot of noise while browsing. With Twitter lists, I can filter accounts I want to see most, and engage with people who favorite and retweet my tweets.

I’ve learned that in order to grow a Twitter following that it’s very important to engage with people. So when someone retweets my tweet, I don’t just say thank you, I try to ask them a related question so that we get into a little dialogue. And anyone who favorites my tweets, I always follow them because they are considered a “Fan” of my content.

Learning As I Go

Building a Twitter following is essential for getting exposure to your content. But I’m finding that I need tools to help me manage Twitter in less time consuming ways. And the same goes for any blog related tasks. I need to automate tasks as much as possible so that I have time to write blog posts.

I think until I get over a hundred quality posts on my sites (this one, Mac Automation Tips, and National Journal Writing Month) won’t be profitable as I need them to be. So making sure I automate Twitter and other related tasks will hopefully provide more time to focus on writing. I figure that I should be writing at least one article a day throughout the week in order to keep my sites fresh and relevant, which in turn will make my Twitter streams relevant.

Next year, I plan to start building a Facebook account, but right now I want to keep the focus on Twitter because it’s easier to manage and gain followers, in my view.

Why I No Longer Handwrite

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Pens and Pencils.”

Add a little bit of body text

In the last say seven years, and especially since I started using the iPhone and iPad, I haven’t handwritten more than a few pages of writing. In many ways, I probably could be losing my handwriting skills, or at least the patience to write using pen and paper.

I’ve read studies which report that hand writing notes is better for memory than typing. But that’s not the case for me. I write articles, blog posts, emails, and notes on a daily basis. And because I grew up during the time when there were no computers, and only electronic typewriters, I had to handwrite and then type college papers, as well as class and reading notes. I would easily fill up spiral-bound notebooks with copious notes and quotes for various projects. In my office closet, there is a box of 17 paper notebooks that I filled up over the years for journal writing. I’m no stranger to pen and paper, but the day I purchased and started using a large a clunky Brothers word processing computer, that set me off on the road to paperless writing.

For me, paper notebooks are not practical. I used to also keep stenographic notebooks for jotting ideas and lesson plans. But it was always difficult to go back and find particular pieces of notes that I wrote in those notebooks. As the years went by, those notebooks remained archived in a file drawer. Unless I bookmarked pages, finding specific notes was like searching through a garbage dump.

Digital Apps I Use

In this regard, digital apps has made writing and keeping notes a hundred times easier. I use several digital word processors, including Scrivener for longform manuscripts, Day One for journal writing, and several Mac and iOS note apps, including Letterspace, Vesper, OmniOutliner Pro, Evernote, and Drafts. Each of these apps provide quick access to typing, and I can easily manage and locate content using tags and searches.

With digital apps, I’m no longer waisting paper, and my notebooks are with me everywhere I go. I can easily edit my writing, copy and paste content, and even voice dictate words as I’m partially doing now.

While handwriting will always be more personal, it has dozens of disadvantages that make me not too concerned with losing my handwriting abilities. I predict that in the years to come, more and more people will be using voice dictation on digital devices, which in many ways makes for more accurate writing than typing, especially when using applications like Dragon Dictate, which never misspells words, though it does misunderstand dictated words.

Perhaps if I were still in school, I might take handwritten notes, but even in that case I would use Livescribe to digitally process my handwritten notes. I just don’t see the practical use of handwriting anymore, when typing is more efficient.

The Hardest Part Of Writing My New Book

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The hardest part about writing my new book was the editing and proofreading. There’s no getting around that part of the process. You can’t automate it, you can’t do it in ten easy steps, and you’ll feel like the job is never done.

Fortunately I had a few people help me with the proofreading– particularly my sister-in-law who read the book three times. She’s not a professional proofreader, but she has the necessary patience and attention to detail to see mistakes that I overlook, and because I tend to focus on content rather the typing and grammar mistakes.

I could have also used a book editor, but the rates were too expensive. So I tried my best to make the content of my book very browsable. I tried hard to write the book as a guide, so that each time readers open the book they can get an idea or two for journal writing and apply those ideas in their Day One journal. I worked hard to sharpen the sentences, use lists, and interactive image galleries so that readers don’t have to read the book from cover to cover.

As for editing and proofreading, I chose to print the pages of my manuscript and do the first proofread on paper. I have a hard time proofreading long documents on my Mac or laptop, and sometimes even proofreading on the iPad can be difficult, though I did just that several times. Reading on paper helped a lot. It provided a way to view the content in a slightly different way. The printing, however was a little expensive–about $12, which is more than the cost of a typical ebook. I mostly stopped using pen and paper about five years ago. I don’t even own a printer.

Anyway, I hope in the proofreading process we caught all the errors. With so much content being published these days, it’s easy for prolific writers of books and blog posts to miss small typos and other errors. And thus that’s why I highly recommend getting or hiring at least one dedicated proofreader. It’s very difficult for the writer of a book to proofread, or even adequately edit, his or her own writing. In fact it’s almost impossible.

Export Your Day One Journal to PDF On December 31st

I’m always confident that my Day One journal is automatically backed up on my Mac on  a daily basis, and likewise my journal is synced to Dropbox each time I use it. I’ve even set it up to retain the last 10 backup files just in case something goes wrong. I also know exactly where to locate those backups, because the button is right there in Day One Preferences.

Why Export to PDF

But I also export my journal entries to PDF, two or more times a year, and especially at the end of the year, for two reasons: to have one more backup and archive of my journal, and to later browse and read through my journals as I do a book. I also filter selected tagged journal entries (e.g., entries tagged “jazz”, “emails”, “online comments”) and export them to individual PDF journals.  After adding a cover to the PDF file, one copy gets saved to my hard drive, and another copy gets added to the Kindle app on my iPad.

IMG_2170.PNG iPad 8.1.2, Yesterday at 11.38.54 PM

These are not time-consuming tasks, especially compared to the amount of time I have taken to write in my journal on an almost daily basis. The PDF versions of my exported journals are treated like paper journals that I can cherish for years to come.

Reading journal entries in PDF format also allows highlighting with the Kindle marker passages that I want to perhaps do more reflection on.

Exporting iOS Day One Journals

Day One makes it very easy to export journals. On the iOS version, open Preference settings, and tap on Export PDF. Set the date range for the journal entries you want to export.

PDF-export

Notice in this setting that you can tap on “Only Tagged Entries” and filter one or more tagged entries for exporting.

After you’ve made your selections, simply tap Create New PDF. Next, tap on the PDF file, and then tap the Share button on the top-right to save it to a supporting app, such as Dropbox, or a supporting PDF reader such as GoodReader, iAnnotate, iBooks, or the Kindle app.

Export Mac Day One Journals

To export to PDF on the Mac, click on the top-left button that filters and displays journal entries by year, and select the current year.  Notice also that you can click on the Tags button and filter one or more tagged entries for export.

Finder Finder, Today at 10.14.52 PM

After the entries are filtered, select the arrow icon on the top-right, to select Export, Print, or Open PDF…. to save the PDF to your computer.

Finder Finder, Today at 10.15.26 PM

If you like, locate or create a cover design for your exported journal. Open the exported journal in Mac Preview, and then select the Thumbnails view. Drag and drop the cover image file above the first page of your journal, and save the PDF file.

Journal_2014.pdf (page 1 of 371) Preview, Saturday, December 13, 2014 at 7.11.27 PM

That’s it, you’re done. Backing up your precious memories can be done less five minutes.

Note: this and other Day One tips, features, and journal writing projects are covered in my forthcoming book, Starting From Day One-Using Digital Journaling to Enhance Your Life, due out in January. Click on the title of the book to be taken to the book landing page where you can provide your email address to be notified when the iBook book will be released.

Mark Your Calendar: 30-Day Digital Journaling Challenge

Join 3If you’re wanting to develop a journal writing habit, or you want to try your hand for the first time at digital journal writing, then mark your calendar for the 30-Day Digital Journaling Challenge.

The Challenge is being sponsored by myself, Nathan Ohren, of EasyJournaling.com, and co-sponsored both other journal writing coaches and journal app developers, including Mari McCarthy of CreateWriteNow.com, the International Association of Journal Writing, Write4Life, Day One, LifeJournal, and HeyDay.

The 30-Day Digital Journaling Challenge will begin on October 1st. Registration for the event will begin on or before September 1st.

Why This Challenge

Journal writing is a proven method and tool for self-reflection, setting and achieving goals, documenting your life experiences, improving writing skills, and much more. And using a digital application for writing is a beneficial tool and method for insuring the privacy of your journal writing, accessing your journal on multiple devices, and reviewing, archiving and publishing journal entries in PDF or paper format.

The 30-Day Challenge will include daily journal prompts from leading journal coaches and writers who understand the power of journal writing and how it enhances the lives of journal keepers.

So mark your calendar for September 1st to register for the challenge on EasyJournaling.com. I will post more updates about this event in the coming weeks.