I have been a heavy user of Evernote for over a year now. Today, I use Evernote as a digital extension of my own brain. I also use it as a digital filing system, complete with a scanner.
Many people I talk to, however, are still in that stage of wondering exactly what to do with Evernote. In some ways, it seems as if Evernote is a little like the initial days of using Twitter. We all go through that stage of wondering exactly what the hell to do with it. Then, if you persist, something eventually “clicks” and you “get it”.
Until you work up a personal system that works for you, Evernote is hard to “get”. It is this blank slate and you just don’t know what the hell to do with it… even if you have this nagging feeling that it should be awesome if you only were in the “cool kids club”.
While there are myriad of non-blogging applications for Evernote, let me focus for now on how bloggers can put Evernote to use.
There are two categories of information we typically need to collect in order to write effectively:
- Research information to be the “fuel” for our posts.
- Ideas for the posts themselves.
Research is captured from the Internet on various websites. Post ideas can come to us from anyplace. You literally could be taking a leak in a public restroom and have an idea for a blog post (as weird as that might be). You need to have a way to capture that idea whenever and whereever it happens.
The good thing is that Evernote has API’s which allow it to be extended into all kinds of places.
- From The Web Browser: Use the Evernote web clipper to clip research from anywhere on the Internet directly into Evernote – direct from your browser. So, you literally just highlight what you want to save and clip it. It will show up inside Evernote, fully formatted, and complete with the URL where it came from.
- From An Email: Sometimes you get an email which triggers a blog post idea. For example, if you get a question from a reader, that is PRIMO fuel for a blog post. If you’re using a web-based email system, you can just use the browser clipper (see above). Another option is to forward the email into your Evernote account. All Evernote accounts have a special email address, and anything you forward to that address is saved into your default notebook in your Evernote account. Pretty damn handy.
- From An iPad or iPhone: I use the Reeder RSS app on both my iPad and iPhone. This app has a built-in way to clip blog posts directly into Evernote. So, when I see somebody else’s blog post which triggers a content idea, I simply send it into Evernote.
- From Twitter: Yes, you can even send tweets into your Evernote account. Weird, huh?
- From Your Own Mouth: You can record audio notes into Evernote. I use this on a fairly regular basis from my iPhone. While I’m driving down the road, for instance, I can record any idea that comes to my head by simply recording an audio note.
Using Evernote For Blogging
Now that you’ve got ways to send info into Evernote… now what?
Evernote can have multiple notebooks. You can even “stack” notebooks into folders. So, some of the notebooks I personally use which are related to blogging are:
- Idea File – Any random idea I have for a blog post gets sent into the idea file in Evernote.
- Blog Posts – I sometimes actually write blog posts in Evernote (as I am this very post, actually). I write it in the “blog posts” notebook and there it sits until I get it set up in WordPress.
- Quotes – If I come across a quote I like which may spark an idea for something in the future, I put it into this notebook.
- Articles – Many times I see full articles on the web which I either want to save as reference… or may spark a blog post of my own. So, I save these full articles (usually from the web clipper) into this notebook.
- Processes – I keep my business documentation and processes in this notebook. While this goes way beyond blogging, it does include procedures for how I want things set up in WordPress, how content is dealt with, etc.
Now, as I write this post, some other ideas come to mind which I’m not doing (but may start). For example:
- Blog Posts in Progress: You could have a notebook where you keep posts which are in the middle of being written.
- Published Posts: Once a post is published, it could be put here. To make this even more useful, you could include the URL of the actual post on the web. Then, later you can use Evernote’s very strong search capabilities to easily search your own content for cross-referencing purposes. This will allow you to backlink to your own content wherever appropriate and do it like a ninja, not based merely on your memory of what you may have written in the past.
- Dud Posts: We’ve all started blog posts which ultimately fizzled and we never finished them. Well, you can keep these in Evernote in case anything changes and you have a sudden spark of creativity that allows you to finish the thing.
The beauty of all this is that it keeps all this stuff out of your head. Most bloggers are overwhelmed as it is… the last thing they need to be doing is trying to REMEMBER all this crap.
Also cool is the fact that you can access this stuff from anywhere. Evernote has full applications for both the Mac and Windows, as well as every mobile platform. There is even a web-based platform. So, you can ALWAYS access your ideas.
Getting Over The WTF Hump With Evernote
One of the resources that helped me tremendously is a cheap little ebook called Evernote Essentials. Evernote doesn’t really come with a user manual, so Evernote Essentials is basically that missing manual. But, this isn’t just a software manual… it is a manual full of “best practices” on exactly HOW to integrate Evernote into your daily life in a useful way.
I would definitely recommend you pick up a copy of Evernote Essentials to help you get over the WTF hump with Evernote. The book is only $29. It is beautifully put together, and the benefits to your sanity once you really start effectively using this tool goes WAAAYYYY beyond the mere $29 you’ll spend on it.