How To Blog In 2014

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I still love to blog… how about you?

It’s amazing to me how I often I get asked about blogging and the merits of publishing longer, text-based, content on a regular basis. There are still tons of blog posts being published daily, and they get shared in a myriad of online social networks. It feels like the desire to share this type of content can’t be satiated. And, that’s a good thing because… I really do love to write, share, provoke, think and push what’s happening between my earholes. I also enjoy reading blogs (still!). With that, I’m fully cognizant that it’s much easier (and popular) to be shooting photos and sharing them on Instagram. Still, I’m all about the words. If you’re reading this, you are as well.

So, how does it all come together? 

I’ve been blogging (daily) since 2003. And, the world of blogging has certainly changed. Blogs like Mashable and The Huffington Post have become media properties (we don’t call them blogs anymore!). Personal, online journal-type of content, have shifted to become more op-ed-like or BuzzFeed link-baity. The people who were simply blogging, because they can, have faded off into Twitter and Facebook and, if you ask me, the world of blogging in now predominantly driven by super-interesting people who have a desire and knack for writing and producing text-based content. In short, blogging is better than ever (it’s the quality over the quality). With that, I often get asked in interviews and by private emails how to blog. More specifically, what tools do I use, and is there any connection between the tools that I use and my ability to publish so frequently.

The stuff that makes the content. 

Most content creators don’t understand that reading is ninety-percent of blogging. Writing is – somewhat – the easy part. It would be challenging to write out my full plan for reading, but I am an infovore… and constantly on the hunt for inspiration. That inspiration can be an idea for a client at Twist Image, a blog post, an article for Harvard Business Review, a new story to include in a presentation and/or something more substantive for a future business book. Those ideas are captured in two places:

  1. Physical. I keep it very simple. Moleskine for the win. I keep two physical journals. One in my back pocket and a much bigger one in my bag. I’m a writer. As amazing as digital is, I like to physically write my ideas/notes down on paper. Capture everything. You never know where something interesting might come from. Don’t believe me? Read what James Altucher has to say about taking notes.
  2. Digital. Whatever I read (and find interesting), I now save with an app called, Pocket. I love Pocket, because it works great across all screens (iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air). The tagging functionality is priceless, and the ability to read the content saved while being offline is simply magical. I have written about my love affair with Pocket before.

Let’s talk about blogging software.

Another one of my love affairs of blogging has been with a piece of blog writing software called, Windows Live Writer. Yes, there are many types of blog editing/writing software – and may people will also recommend pure writing software like iA Writer or Scrivener (which are both awesome), but I have been hooked on Windows Live Writer for years. So much so, that when I made the switch from PC to Mac several years back, I wound up installing vmware and having a virtual Windows environment on my Mac, just to use that one piece of software. The killer functionality that it had (that all other blogging software lacked) was an auto linking feature that allowed me to save my links. Any time that I typed in a word that had been saved to the “auto linking” feature it would automatically create the link for me, but only for the first instance that I typed the specific word (or phrase) in a blog post. This feature is not only a time-saver but a life-saver, because I love a blog post that is properly linked-up. Sadly, I had to ditch Windows Live Writer last week. I’m not sure if it was the Mac OS update, the vmware update or that Windows Live Writer was simply no longer working well with all of these newly-updated operating platforms, but things went wonky. I could no longer copy and paste content between my Mac and vmware environments. I tried most of the hacks that Google and others provided in social media, but to no avail. After a very intense review, I recently started using MarsEdit, and it’s amazing. While I do miss the auto linking feature, MarsEdit handles links in a fairly painless way (still, no idea why no other software package hasn’t done this “auto linking” thing) and everything else (including the ability to switch between text and HTML, which is flawless). What I love most, is that I’m native Mac, and it provides a nice and clean canvas to pump the words out.

Publishing platform.

You would think that Six Pixels of Separation is on WordPress. You would be wrong. It is still, currently, being published on MovableType. It may – at some point in the future – change to WordPress, but we’re currently still using MovableType with little-to-no issues.

Simplicity rules.

Life is complex enough. Part of the reason that I feel comfortable blogging at the frenetic pace that I keep, is because I try not to allow applications, software and technology to get between me and you. As I switched to MarsEdit, I realized this in a much more profound way. If you want to blog. Blog. Keep it simple. Keep your ideas centralized and always on-the-ready. Be able to track that content and write it out, no matter where you are or how connected you may (or may not) be. To get good at blogging, you have to keep at it… like anything else. Writing is a muscle. If you want that muscle to be buff, you have to regularly exercise it.

What do you use?