By now I'm sure you've heard of Evernote. If not, where have you been? No, but seriously, it's about time you were introduced to the awesomeness that is Evernote.
Evernote is a fantastic tool you can use in all aspects of your life. Think of it as your second brain. You can save notes, clip things from the web, and organize information. The beauty of Evernote is that there are thousands of uses for it and you can customize it however you want in order to make it work for you.
When it comes to blogging, Evernote is the perfect place to organize everything related to your blog. With notebooks, notebook stacks, and tags, plus the ability to clip things from the web and save documents, you can create a central hub that will help you save time and streamline your blogging process. Here's how:
Getting Started with Evernote
First things first, you're going to need an Evernote account if you don't already have one. Signing up is easy. Go to evernote.com and click on the green button labeled sign up now. Enter your email and a password, then click sign up.
For this tutorial, I would recommend downloading both the desktop app and the web clipper. Evernote for desktop is definitely not necessary to have, however, we will be creating notebook stacks and unfortunately that capability is not available in the web app yet.
If you'll just be using your Evernote account to streamline your blogging process, then notebook stacks won't be necessary and you can get away with using solely notebooks. But in terms of keeping things neat and tidy, we'll be using notebook stacks.
How to Setup Evernote for Blogging
From the desktop app, click on notebooks in the left sidebar. You’ll see that you have one notebook there already. This is your default notebook. I personally like to name mine .inbox, but you can leave it as is for now since it has nothing to do with this post.
Click on + New Notebook at the top of the screen and create a notebook called ideas. Repeat 4 more times with the following notebooks: published, guest posts, drafts, and updates.
Your notebook screen should look like this (minus the AB design and zArchive stacks — ignore those).
Now we’re going to create a notebook stack to contain all of our blog related notebooks. Click on guest posts and drag and drop it onto drafts. You’ll notice that a notebook stack called drafts stack has been created.
Right click on drafts stack and click rename stack. Name it blog (or something along those lines). Drag ideas, published, and updates onto your blog stack.
Your blog stack is all setup. From the sidebar, you can click on the blog stack to view all the notes in those 5 notebooks, or you can click on an individual notebook to view those notes only.
It’s time to set up our tags. Click on tags in the left sidebar, then click + Tag on the top left of your screen. We’re going to create a tag called categories that will hold all of our category tags. This isn’t necessary, but I’ve found that tags can get out of control once you really start using Evernote, so I like to keep tags for certain things together.
Once you’ve created a tag titled categories, make new tags for each of your blog’s categories. In my case I created tags for blogging, creative business, design, and website tips. Now just like we did for our notebook stack, we’re going to drag and drop each of our category tags onto the tag labeled categories. You should end up with something like this:
Now we’re going to create more tags to help us identify the status of each of our posts. Create tags for the following: status, outline, draft, ready. Drag and drop outline, draft, and ready onto the status tag.
Sidenote: if you go to drag and drop a tag (or even a notebook) and it’s not working, click on the refresh button at the top of your screen and try again.
Using Evernote to Organize Post Ideas
We’ve got our Evernote all setup for blogging, which means the next step is to put it to use! First up is organizing all those wonderful post ideas you have floating around in your head or jotted down in random places.
To keep all your blog post ideas organized, you’re going to create a new note in your ideas notebook for each and every post idea you have. Go ahead and fill it up! Feel free to add any notes to each post idea for further clarification, such as title ideas, topics to cover, etc. For each post idea you have, be sure to tag it with the appropriate category tag. This will come in handy later.
While many of your post ideas may just come to you, you’ve probably been inspired to write posts based off of questions and discussions you’ve seen online, am I right? This is where the Evernote web clipper will come in handy.
Whenever you see a question or discussion that you think would make a good blog post topic, use the clipper and clip that text. That way you’ll have the exact context of the topic right at your fingertips.
To use the web clipper, highlight the text you’d like to save, then click on the Evernote extension button in your browser. By default, the title of the note will be the title of the page. Change this to reflect the post idea. Also, make sure to select the ideas notebook and tag it with the correct category. Then click save.
That idea will now be clipped and saved for you. What’s great about this is that whenever you clip from the web, the URL is saved along with the note, so if you need further clarification, you’ll have the exact source right there, a click away.
Sidenote: If you don’t see your new web clipped note right away, don’t worry! It will take some time for the desktop app to sync. You can speed up this process by clicking the refresh button at the top of the Evernote screen.
We don’t just get post ideas when we’re in front of the computer though, right? I don’t know about you, but I often think of ideas when I’m trying to fall asleep or while eating. Instead of writing them down somewhere and losing the piece of paper or forgetting the idea completely, use the Evernote app (iOs, Android). It syncs with the desktop and web versions so you’ll have all your post ideas in one place that you can access from anywhere.
Writing Blog Posts in Evernote
I’ve already showed you how to handle your post ideas in Evernote, so let’s look at how to handle the rest of the blogging process.
When it’s time to write, grab an idea from your ideas notebook and move it to your drafts notebook. The drafts notebook will be your holding area for all posts in progress. Remember those status tags we created earlier? Now’s the time to use them. We’re going to tag your drafts with their status so you’ll know how far along you are with each of your posts. Use the outline tag for posts that only have an outline, the drafts tag for posts that you’ve started to write, and the ready tag is for posts that are complete and ready to be scheduled/published. Feel free to create additional tags to help you zero in on the status of your posts.
Once you’re done with a post, you’ll want to copy it over to your blogging platform. If you’re using a CoSchedule Solo Marketing plan, they make it ridiculously easy to do so. If not then you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way. Not ideal, but I’ve found it’s so much easier than writing in my blogging platform and navigating through a ton of half written posts.
After you’ve scheduled or published your post, your immediate reaction might be to delete it. And while you definitely can, a better solution is to move the note containing your post from the drafts notebook to the published notebook. This way you’ll always have a backup copy should something go wrong with your site. Oh, and don’t forget to delete any tags, although if you don’t you can always filter round them by searching for notebook:drafts to eliminate any already published posts.
Using Evernote Saved Searches to Manage Post Drafts
One of the great features of Evernote is the ability to save searches. This is where your tags come in handy.
Sidenote: This might seem kind of pointless if you have a small amount of notes, but it’ll definitely come in handy as your collection grows.
To save a search, enter your query into the search bar. As an example, I’m going to search for notebook:drafts tag:blogging. This will present me with a list of all my notes in my drafts notebook tagged with blogging. To save the search go to Edit > Find > Save Search (on a Mac) or click save search (on Windows). Give your search a name. In this case I named it blogging drafts, but be as descriptive as possible. Now when you click the search bar, you’ll see your search saved at the bottom, like so:
Depending on how often you’ll want to access the results of that search query, clicking on your search bar, then clicking on the saved search might be a little much. Luckily, that’s what shortcuts are for! Drag your saved search over to your sidebar in the shortcuts section. Now you have a quickly accessible link to those search results.
Manage Your Guest Posts in Evernote
As any serious blogger knows, guest posting is incredibly important in growing your blog and building a community. And just like how you can organize your own blog posts in Evernote, you can also use it to organize your guest posts.
First, let’s take a look at using Evernote to manage posts you’re writing for other blogs.
Remember how you created a guest posts notebook? That’s going to be your guest posting hub. Use it the same way you would your drafts notebook, but for guest posts.
A great feature of Evernote that comes in handy when guest posting is reminders. From within the note, click on the little clock icon in the top right corner of the screen. Add a date and that’s it. You’ll be reminded on the date you set. To clear a reminder, mark it as done, or change the date, simply click on the clock icon again.
Now let’s say your guest post is done. How are you going to send it to whoever you’ve written it for? If they didn’t specify a method, send it to them via Evernote! Click on the arrow next to the share button in the top right corner of the window. The drop down menu will present you with a few different sharing options.
Clicking on share note allows you to enter an email address with another person. They’ll receive an email with a link to open in Evernote. If they don’t already have an account, they’ll be prompted to create one. This method is best if you want to be able to give another person editing capabilities.
If you want to share regardless if people use Evernote or not, you can click copy public link. This makes the note public to anyone with the link, so use caution. If the person has an Evernote account, they can click save to Evernote to access it via their account. When you no longer want to share the note publicly, click on the share arrow again and select stop sharing public link. Your note is now private again.
Once your guest post is live, I’m assuming you’ll want to save a copy of it somewhere for your records. Time for the web clipper again! Visit your guest post and use the web clipper. Unlike before when we highlighted some text for post ideas, you don’t have to do any highlighting. Make sure article is selected and the web clipper should automatically select the entire post for you. Save it to your published notebook with the tag guest posts, or create a new notebook specifically for published guest posts.
Now what about using Evernote with guest posters for your blog? Similarly to how you might use it when you guest post, you can ask your guest posters to do the same thing. Of course they’ll need to use Evernote for this to work, but if they’re already using it, it’s a great alternative to emailing or using Google Docs.
Using Evernote to Keep Track of Blog Updates
Blogging is a lot more than writing posts. As a dynamic site, your blog will constantly require updates. Since you’re already using Evernote to manage your blog posts, why not use it to maintain a list of blog updates?
There are a few ways you could go about this. The first way is to create a note in your updates notebook and dump all your site tasks there. This is great for simple tasks.
But what if some of your blog updates are projects in and of themselves? You can create a note for every task you want to complete, then add notes and subtasks to the note itself. You can even create another set of tags just for your blog updates.
Now that you’ve streamlined your blogging process, blog away! Remember that Evernote is an incredibly versatile app and can be used for just about anything. If the above method doesn’t work for you, create your own. There’s no right or wrong way to use Evernote.
About the Author
Allyssa Barnes is a New Jersey based web designer who works with and helps small business owners, bloggers, and website DIYers simplify web design and look amazing online. She runs a community for website DIYers and just launched a 00+ page ebook titled Web Appeal: 25 Ways to Beautify Your Site and Get Noticed.