As I mentioned in my post about publishing a Paper.li online magazine that I’m running an experiment about using iPad as blogger’s only tool, from idea to publishing. I’m now going to share the results of the experiment, and the workflow I found suitable for my purposes, and working well together with an iPad.
Cause I’m lazy doing the actual write work I tried to figure out a workflow which minimizes the effort of the last push, and concentrates more on preparing beforehands. I’ve divided the flow into four phases: Phase 1 – collecting ideas, Phase 2 – gathering the material, Phase 3 – drafting and Phase 4 – publishing. It’s not that I always go through all four phases and then start again from phase one for another blog post, but I may have several posts cooking up simultaneously. For example I’m currently in the phase three, drafting, of this post when writing it first time, but I have other posts in phases one and two. In the next chapters I’m going through each phase detailed.
Phase 1 – Collecting Ideas
I usually might come up with an idea for a blog post any time and any place. I also tend to forget the idea in half a minute if I don’t write it down. There the iPad comes to rescue. After I bought the device, I’ve been carrying it around where ever I can, and even at home it usually follows me to the same room I happen to be in. So when ever my mind pops up an idea, I can easily write it down right away.
For storing ideas I use Evernote, where ideas can be saved as notes which can include text, images, audio and video. Evernote has an application for iPad which makes it more convenient to use than through the web service. Evernote allows tagging of notes with multiple tags to make them easy to find later. I use one note per one idea, tag it as “blog”, “idea” and with other suitable keywords which describe the content. For instance I used “publishing”, “iPad” and “Evernote” to tag the idea note of this blog post. When ever I feel I have some extra time, I pick any of the ideas and carry it on to the phase two.
Ideas which are carried to phase two, are the ones I feel most confident writing about. Also another criteria to be carried through is that I need to be convinced the ideas are worthy of spending time on finding the related resources and content. For saving the material, I also use Evernote. Usually when I bump into a good website, blog post or even a public email which relates to my upcoming blog post, I use the Evernote Web Clipper to save the resource for later use. I’ll tag it as the best I can, to make it easily findable later. Time spent for well thought tagging is paid back later with a multiplier.
When working with iPad, the Evernote Web Clipper is a life saver, but it needs a little gimmick to get it working with Safari. I used these instructions to have a fully working Web Clipper on Safari. This is the bit where I might cheat a bit, when considering the topic of this post. I also have web clippers in my PC browsers as well, so if I happen to bump into a must read resource while I’m sitting in front of my PC, I might clip it with a desktop version of the clipper. That still happens quite rarely since I have replaced 95% of my PC usage, with usage of iPad since I bought it. Fortunately also with these cases, All the clips will be synced into my Evernote account, which I can access later, and read the articles with my iPad.
Phase 3 – Drafting
Third phase of the flow starts when I think I have enough material to start drafting the post itself. As material I consider my own notes about the subject, related links and tips, photos and screenshots. Usually if I’m attaching screenshots as imagery in my post, I take them in the drafting phase if I can. This gives me most time to draft the architecture of the post, to know which kind of imagery I would like to attach.
If I’m able to take the screenshots with iPad, it’s dead easy once I got it. Pressing sleep + home button simultaneously takes the snap and saves it to your image stream. The native iPad photo app is perfectly capable of doing most of the editing work like cropping, enhancing and rotating. For resizing the image, you’ll need separate app, but I let WordPress app to do it for me when attaching the image to the draft.
The writing of the draft I do straight in the WordPress app for iOS. Only thing needed to do before starting to create the draft is to change the publish status setting into draft, as default, it will be published.
Phase 4 – Publishing
As the final push, there is the actual publishing phase. This is the phase where I create the formatting of the post. The WordPress app has easy to use html interface which allows me to create bold, italic or quoted text. It also allows to create bulleted lists, hyperlinks, code formatting and some more functions I haven’t even needed yet. It has also possibility to preview the post. The preview window renders accurately how your post will look like when your blog’s theme has been applied, and all the formatting takes place.
When I’m satisfied with the looks, I usually proof read it through a few times before changing the status to published.
Recap of iPad as the only tool
As I already mentioned, iPad has replaced most of my PC usage since it goes with me where ever I go. Also the christal sharp and clear retina display gives it most of the capabilities to work with text and images as well as one could with PC. Also I haven’t found a missing app for any purpose I’ve needed, and all the apps I’ve installed so far has been free. These qualities make the device sufficient for quite efficient workflow.
Of course every rose has its thorn, so does this. One quite annoying thing is when I’m editing text, and I need to manually place the cursor to any given point, I seem to always hit one row up or down. Another weakness is actually caused by me. I was cheapskate and bought the wifi only version. I don’t know if the problem is in the poor broadcasting of my Lumia hotspot, or poor wifi receiver in my iPad, but looks like it’s not possible to browse any online content with this combination, for example when traveling by bus. Luckily Evernote comes to save here too, I can write notes offline and Evernote syncs them online when ever it gets a working network connection again.
As a whole, there are much more positive than negative things, so I can recommend iPad for bloggers if you are still figuring out which tablet to buy, or even if tablets are useful for anything at all. I think they are.