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.

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

AD80F25C99934EB7947D757592B9374C

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.

Get Started Journal Writing With These Journal Prompts

Start_Journaling_Today copy 2Some of the benefits of journal writing is how it can help build your writing skills, as well as being a save place to write about goals, dreams, problems, and experiences in your life.

The following is a set of journal writing prompts from my forthcoming book, Starting From Day One-Using Digital Journaling to Enhance Your Life. I recommend that you respond to one prompt per day for the next 10 days. Let me know which of these prompts you found useful.

Day 1
For what purposes are you keeping a journal? Write a list (or paragraphs) of the reasons for why you want to keep a journal or diary. And set a goal and challenge for how often you will commit to journal writing. I suggest starting off daily for at least a month.

Day 2
Today, write about your earliest memories of writing? Did you start writing in school? Were there writing assignments that you liked/hated? Was writing difficult for you?

Day 3
What would you like to improve on or change about your writing style and/or approach to writing? Do you enjoy reading your own writing? What type of writing do you prefer—fun, insightful, story-driven, analytical, opinionated?

Day 4
Make a list of the types of writing you regularly do, including for your job, school, and personal life. If you like, add comments about each type of writing you do.

Day 5
Complete the following sentence starter: The plot for a novel or movie I would like to write involves… Push to write at least a paragraph describing the plot, the characters, and the setting. Let your imagination run wild. Remember, you’re not being judged. Continue reading