Sunday, July 11, 2010

Blogging on the Mac

Blogging on the Mac can be as simple or as complex as you choose it to be. Blogging can be a lot of fun and a truly rewarding experience. The first thing you have to decide is what you want to blog about. Pick something that is interesting to you and that you can write about on a regular basis. It took me some time to learn this important tidbit. Regular blogging is very important to getting repeat visitors to your site. My first six months of blogging I could have lunch with all of my readers because I wasn’t writing on a regular basis. As soon as I set a deadline for myself and started sticking to it I saw an immediate increase in traffic.
I started off by purchasing a domain name through godaddy.com. www.macguy.info serves as my home page and blog.macguy.info is redirected to paulmacguyscott.blogspot.com where my blog is hosted. Next step was to signup for blogger using my gmail account. Once I had the blog site setup and configured the way I wanted it to look I setup blog.macguy.info to redirect to my blog page.
Next to see what kind of traffic I am getting I went to Analytics.google.com and setup an analytics account so I can see how many hits a day I am getting, how my visitors are finding me and what country they are from. This is just of interest to me and it is only very general information but it gives me an idea of who comes to my site and sometimes what pages they are visiting.
Really the best source of feedback is comments on the blog itself, emails, or tweets I get from my readers. Some of them even give me ideas for future posts. As a part of regular posting process I started planning what topics I am going to write on ahead of time. Currently I build my schedule about two months out. I plan topics around certain dates that might be relevant. A review of study software in August right before students go back to school, or a look back on technology when a company hits a mile stone anniversary. Of course sometimes I shuffle things around if a big story breaks or an important issue comes up that needs to be covered.
Planning these ahead of time allows me to start researching and writing ahead of time as well. I can start putting my notes together or interesting bits I think of I want to write in file so i can keep track of it when I am ready to write it. I am also trying to write several articles a week and hold them until it is time to publish so taking a vacation or being busy with my day job doesn’t throw me off my scheduled posts.
Another option when news breaks is to just add an extra story for the week to my blog. Since this is all digital I don’t have to worry about a real deadline or how much space I take up. I can always add a bonus story if I like or just move the schedule around. Currently I plan about two months in advance what I plan to write so currently I just move stories around, eventually I might add extra stories to the blog as I have more time to write.
After the first few months of writing my blog in the web based editor on blogger I decided I wanted a better way to post. So I started looking at different programs that might help me focus on my writing and post my stories. I settled on MacJournal from http://marinersoftware.com/sitepage.php?page=85. It is a nice software priced at $39.95 and versatile. In addition to being linkable to several blogging platforms like Blogger, Word Press, Type Pad, and Live Journal you can create private encrypted journals to share your personal thoughts and writings for just yourself or perhaps a memoir for the future.
MacJournal lets me keep a local copy of all of my blog entries so I have a copy on blogger and a copy on my laptop that is also backed up to Time Machine and Mobile Me. For those keeping score that is four copies of my writing in three different locations on two different kinds of media. In a future post I will do a piece on backing up in depth.
MacJournal also allows you to add your tags and set publishing dates right in the Inspector. This saves time when uploading your blog post. You configure your site settings under share and when it comes time to post your blog you just click share, Send To “Name of your blog here” and it uploads and shows you the page in Safari once it is loaded. The only weak point I have seen with MacJournal so far has been it can’t upload images to Blogger. Any images I add to my blog I have to do on the web after I have uploaded the story. I hope this is something that can be fixed in a future revision. Once I have uploaded the images I can re download the story into blogger and update my local copy and it does download the images just fine although it doesn’t hold the formatting as it is displayed on the web.
If I am traveling and have a need to post in my blog I use BlogPress on my iPad and iPhone. http://blogpress.coollittlethings.com/ This is a great piece of software that allows me to blog while away form home. In April i wrote a story reviewing the iPad while on a cross country flight. Since the plane had WiFi I was able to write my story and post it right from plane. Writing a 2,000 word review of the iPad on the iPad was a good experience and one that showed me short of software development I didn’t really need to carry my laptop with me anymore if I was only going a few days. Now with Remote Access software I hardly ever have to carry my laptop anymore unless I just want to for some reason or I need to sync my iPad with my computer. BlogPress syncs right up with blogger and was the first iPad Blogging tool available on the app store. I just open it up and start typing. I even can add images right to blogger from the iPad. At the time there was on editing software for photos on the iPad so I wasn’t able to rotate the image the way I wanted the screen shot to look but it worked in a pinch.
If I don’t have my iPad with me but I am carrying my iPhone BlogPress runs on the iPhone as well. Now I can take pictures and write a story right in the field. With a Bluetooth keyboard it is easy to write from the iPhone. So now I can take my writing with me wherever I go. BlogPress will even let you save movies to your YouTube Account and link them to your blog. So no we can do pictures, movies, and text all live from wherever we are.
I blog because I like to write and I like to share information with people. I get a great deal of satisfaction knowing people are reading what I write and getting something out of it. For that I want to thank each and every one of you for visiting my blog and enjoying and learning from what I have written. Please keep the comments, tweets, emails, and Facebook posts coming. I couldn’t do what I do without you all.