Successful bloggers publish frequently. They do so on different platforms and consistently. By using a set of tools, active bloggers can meet their busy publishing schedule. These tools help make bloggers more efficient and increase the quality of their work. In this article, I want to present some of the tools that make a real difference in my blogger workflow. Most of them are not free. Some tools are for the iPad, and others are for the Mac or the web. Let’s dig in.
This nifty utility stores a bunch of small information snippets that I can reuse when I need them. Think of Pastebot as a clipboard on steroids. Keyboard shortcuts can be assigned to each entry for quick retrieval when needed. Paste sequence can be defined which makes things even faster in certain use case. It used to be available for iOS but it’s no longer the case and this is sad.
Like Pastebot, Copied is a clipboard manager for iOS, iPadOS and macOS (not yet universal binary, though). Frequently used pieces of text or images are readily available using the included Copied iOS keyboard. As the number of snippets grows, organizing them in groups is a good idea. Apple’s Shortcuts are supported where you can get the current clipboard saved to Copied for future use. Copied is available for a long time, but it suffers from a few issues that I wish would be fixed. Syncing across devices via iCloud is not always working as expected, which can defeat this utility’s purpose. Also, lists are not correctly updated when deleting snippets.
Apple Frames (An iOS Shortcut)
I recently imposed on myself to never publish a screenshot without processing it through this clever shortcut to put a nice device frame around it. The result is a more professional looking screenshot in all my blog posts. It takes just a few seconds to process, and the shortcut asks me what to do with the resulting file at the end.
Markdown linker (Safari Extension)
This recently discovered safari extension allows me to copy a URL and paste it in markdown format in text editing apps like MarsEdit or while using the native version of Micro.blog app. Copying and pasting a link in Markdown format has never been easier. I made a shortcut version for the iPad, but it’s a work in progress; it only works in the action sheet in Safari.
MarsEdit (A text editor with a Safari extension included)
The venerable MarsEdit is a well-known text editor. MarsEdit comes with a Safari Extension. Link posts using this Safari extension are easier to create instead of doing it manually. Selected text on a page is automatically put in a quote block and a reference to the article source before the quoted text. You can edit the template used for this to add your specificities. Very handy. On my iPad, I do have a shortcut that does similar automation for my Micro.blog posts. Another variant of this shortcut is to create a quote from a website. The resulting text saved to the clipboard can is available when needed. Up to me to use it wherever I want.
Synology Photos management (A storage appliance)
Synology Moments is a solution to manage all your visual assets for easy access from any device, from anywhere. I recently started to use this feature on my Synology DS720+ as I didn’t want my personal iCloud Photos Library to contain assets that are not private photos.
Buffer (iOS+Safari Extension+Web service)
A Twitter timeline can be too busy for most users to catch must-read blog posts from bloggers like me. Buffer allows me to reschedule past posts automatically. For this to work, Buffer is used in conjunction with ITFFF. IFTTT detects a new RSS feed entry from my microblog RSS feed then creates an entry in the Buffer queue. I can later go in Buffer, make adjustments to the scheduled tweets as needed. It’s pretty handy. Buffer doesn’t have a macOS app. I do pay for Buffer every year to get more scheduling features.
IFTTT (Web service)
This well-known web automation service acts behind the scene in many places of my blogger workflow. One of my applets is to save all microblog post URLs into a Google sheet. When I want to search for one of my previous posts and use the reference, it is easy to do so from the iPad or the web. IFTTT, in general, has a weird user interface, which makes it harder to use than necessary. I’m subscribing to their paid tier for less than four dollars.
Putting it all together
In summary, as an example, for a single blog post on Micro.blog, tools like the MarsEdit Safari Extension, MarsEdit text editor, Pastebot, IFTTT and Buffer all contribute to making my blogger workflow faster and more consistent. For example, while reading an interesting article on the web, MarsEdit Safari extension and text editing feature help me create the initial link post. Frequently used hashtags come from Pastebot. After hitting the publish button to post the article online, IFTTT will detect a new article on my blog’s RSS feed. This article will then be put in the publishing queue on Buffer for a later cross-posting on Twitter.
One key thing to consider when selecting a tool is the tool’s invocation speed; the quicker, the better. A keyboard shortcut is preferable to a menu bar item. The former is way faster but puts more pressure on your memory because of the need to remember all those keyboard combinations. Nothing is free.
My toolset is not a static thing. I’m constantly looking for improvements in my workflow. As I write this, I’m considering two other tools for the Mac that could even replace Pastebot and Copied. One is Shortcut Bar and the other is Unclutter. I’m hesitant to go forward with these because they didn’t receive significant update recently to support macOS Big Sur look and feel. Finally, Zapier and Integromat are competitive services to IFTTT. I only recently discovered the existence of Integromat, and I plan to give it a serious look in 2021 to see if it’s easier to use and allow for more flexibility than IFTTT.
If you are a blogger like me, I hope you made some discoveries that will eventually help you improve your efficiency and consistency. Are you using tools that make a difference in your work? Feel free to share your own experience.