That’s the last post from the series The First 6 Months Of Blogging and it will be about tools I use when I blog. Every activity is enhanced by tools and blogging is no exception to this. Today’s post will be rather technical or at least strictly focused on the technical part of the whole blogging process. If you came here directly, you may want to have a look at the previous posts of this series:
Without further ado, let’s start.
iBlueSky is a mind mapping application for iPhone. I already wrote a review for iBlueSky, so if you’re curious you can go directly to that page. I’m often stroke by some idea or thought in the middle of something: while I walk, while I exercise or while I’m reading something. Most of the time I have my phone with me and I use it to quickly capture that idea. Mind mapping is sometimes faster than linear writing and it let me empty my mind pretty quick. I guess around 30-40% of my blog posts are ideas sketched using iBlueSky.
Another fantastic application I use for capturing ideas is Evernote. Evernote lets you capture text, audio or photos using your iPhone (or anything else if you’re using the desktop client). One neat thing about photos is that Evernote process them for writing recognition and made them searchable, which is extremely useful. Evernote is well deserving a post on itself, but until then, I will just emphasize on its versatility as a capture tool. The notes are stored remotely on Evernote dedicated servers and can be accessed with the Evernote desktop client for further tweaking. Most of the time I record voice notes using Evernote client for iPhone which I process every 2-3 days on my laptop.
I do all my writing using MacJournal. I already extensively wrote about MacJournal here, and if you’re interested in more details you can always check the post about power blogging with macjournal, GTS style. I use MacJournal not only for blogging but also for writing ebooks. There is a post which details my ebook writing setup, if you’re curious. MacJournal is also offered with a significant discount to DragosRoua.com users, so feel free to check the monthly MacJournal promotion.
When it comes to analytics software, Woopra is one of my favorites. I’m a veteran of Google Analytics and although I highly appreciate the reports in Analytics, Woopra has several things that make it stand out. One of the most important would be real time alerts: you can set up as many visitor alerts as you can, based on a countless choice of parameters, and Woopra will alert you in real time whenever the criteria are met. I can see in real time my visitors from StumbleUpon, Twitter or Digg, for instance. There’s a 50.000 monthly impressions limits to any Woopra account right now, but even with 50.000 impressions is enough to get an idea about your blog traffic.
I use thesis, a commercial framework for WordPress, or, in plain English, a commercial WordPress theme. The main reason for using thesis is its flexibility. Thesis features a hooks systemÂ by which you can greatly enhance your blog theme without compromising future upgrades. I already wrote about how you can customize thesis with some simple hooks for Twitter, Digg or StumbleUpon. Thesis also features an affiliate program for those of you who are interested in promoting it, you can sign up here.
This is a wordpress plugin I wrote several months ago in order to assess my blogging progress. This plugin lets you create blogging goals like the number of posts you intend to write per day, per week or per month, the expected number of comments per post or per day and the expected number of pingbacks per post. After setting up your goals, you can asssess your pogress by checking up Blog Audit main screen and see if you met or not your goals. Blog Audit is in a very early stage, at the version 0.1 beta, this is the reason why I haven’t yet officially launched, but it can be downloaded if you want to play with it from a separate page dedicated to blog audit.
Those are my main 6 tools I used in my first 6 months of blogging. There were of course some other plugins or experiments in using other tools but none of them lasted more than several weeks.
Interesting enough, when I intended to write this post, I wanted a short list of applications, nothing complicated. Call it synchronicity, but today’s assignment at the “31 days to build a better blog challenge” is exactly that: write a list post.
I guess I just did 🙂