How To (Expertly) Use Evernote To Be A Better Blogger

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".
I love me some Evernote. 🙂

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.

Information Collection

There are two categories of information we typically need to collect in order to write effectively:

  1. Research information to be the “fuel” for our posts.
  2. 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

Everybody goes through the initial WTF hump. It is that period where you’re thinking, “WTF do I do with this thing?”

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.

 

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Responses

  1. Thanks for this post, David. I’ve had evernote on my new laptop desktop since I bought and really had no clue what to do with it.

    I started experimenting with it the last few days at home while doing research and writing content.

    Today at work, I had a huge epiphany of how this could streamline the confusion of trying to keep track of special customer designs, standards changes, etc. at work. Right now, everything is divided between and excel workbook, saved emails and scattered paper notes.

    I downloaded evernote and started using it as I work and save things to it every time I think I’m doing something I’ll probably want to refer back to easily later.

    I’m keeping my mouth shut about using it for now, though. My company is HORRIBLE about liking people trying new software or new approaches. I’ll wait until I have a lot of content in it and can easily retrieve whenever somebody asks for it.

    I might just start enjoying my job again. Who knows?

  2. Is there anyway to add web content into Evernote from your iPhone?

    Thank you for everything you do David. I’ve been following your stuff for 2 years or more 🙂

    1. Thanks, Robyn. 🙂

      Its a lot harder to clip things from a browser on the iPhone, but I think they have some shortcut where you can add a special bookmark to Safari and be able to get some functionality.

  3. Thanks for this. I too have checked out Evernote before and swiftly uninstalled as I had no idea how to use it. I will download it again and give it another go. Thanks.

  4. I have LOVED Evernote since the day I downloaded it!  I use it in my writing, blogging, quotes, photos, etc. — anything I might want to use again and my poor human brain might forget.  The search feature is phenomenal.  I’d be lost without, so no one else use the word “crash” in the same sentence with Evernote, OK?

  5. Hi David,

    Thanks for the recommendation of Evernote Essentials. Having installed Evernote 3 times only to uninstall it within 24 hours each time, I definitely can relate with the WTF do I do with this…

  6. I was sold on buying the book based on your post, but instead of being $20 as you mentioned, it’s $29. Kind of a big difference. Thought you might want to know and update your post.

    1. Ah, gothcha. Guess he changed the price point. When I bought it (which was admittedly probably a year ago now), I’m pretty sure it was only $20.

      Either way, $29 is worth it. Its solid, and he also put some nice work into the presentation of it, too.

  7. Hi David.
    Great idea. I use Evernote and seems to help keep my aging brain in order.
    I noted the link was priced at $29.00
    Do you know a discount code to get it to $20?
    Every bit helps
    Thanks
    Keep up the great blogging information work.
    Dale

    1. If its $29, then it is what it is. Trust me, quibbling over the $9 isn’t worth the the time.

      Just my opinion.

  8. One more thing. A lot of us are focusing on how we store things in Evernote. I think part of its genius is how easy it is to retrieve. Since I use it religiously to store everything, I know that no matter what document I need, I can have it in my hands within 30 seconds. That’s so liberating.

    1. Yep. The search capabilities are great. Beats the crap out of trying to find things in a filing cabinet.

  9. LOVE this article Dave. These insights into how you process things using tools like this are great! I use Evernote… a lot, but there are some real gems in here, like the audio notes. I use the web clipper to put articles I want to look at later, I also have an extension that will save and article as a PDF in my Google Drive ( on Chrome, I think it’s called Send To Docs extension). 

    Reeder looks pretty impressive, I use Greader (and have since 2008), Reeder also has a Mac app, so it might be a great tool…

  10. If Evernote crashed, I think I might stop existing. I’m that dependent on it. I use Evernote for all of the blogging process: a sketchbook for initial posts, first drafts, I even use Evernote as a back up for all of my posts already in WordPress. I also keep a “swipe file” for writing styles I want to emulate and a notebook for all of my goals. In addition to my blog, I use evernote to keep up with all of my household routines: menus, recipes, chore charts for my kids, etc. Evernote Rocks!

    1.  I SO resemble that part about if Evernote crashed! 🙂  Also, Evernote makes a wonderful recipe book, as you mention.  It’s where I keep ALL mine!

      1. Well, its like I said to somebody else… everything you put into Evernote is also stored locally. So, even if Evernote disappeared one day (which isn’t all that likely, barring something big and unforseen), you’d still have your stuff.

  11. Good stuff, Dave! I also use Evernote for EVERYTHING. I think I’ve tried all those uses. I appreciate that it integrates well with so many complementary products. I especially like it with my my project management app, Nozbe.

      1. Nozbe is great. It is based on the David Allen GTD system, which I think you use. I’ve tried a half dozen of the GTD-based project apps, and I like this the best. It syncs perfectly across my iPhone, iPad and computer. Add that I can link projects to Evernote tags, and my life is synchronized. I don’t have any financial agreements with them, I just like sharing when I find tools that work. Cheers!

  12. Happy 4th to you and your family!!  Yes, trying to get some things done today although I have to make a cake later for a cook-out, distractions distractions!

    After reading your post a few days ago (the reason why you work all day and nothing gets done) I realized you had given us information on some of the tools we needed to stay on track in your ‘Time Master Formula’ program.  I went back into the tools section and reviewed the videos on Evernote and Workflowy.  I also watched the video on Wunderlist, which I had not watched before.

    Your post today re-confirms that I need to get started using Evernote ASAP.  One case in point…can you believe I have been saving links to articles and information I find on the web in my Favorites.  What a nightmare when I have to go back and search for them.

    I can see Evernote for the big picture of running your business and top ideas, and maybe add in either Workflowy or Wunderlist for the daily task tracking and to do lists.  Those two seem to accomplish about the same thing.

    Looking forward to our Mastermind call in the Academy next week.

    Sharon

    1. Yeah, Favorites is a pretty poor way to store links to info you want to reference later, I’ve found. 🙂

      See ya on next week’s call. 🙂 Will announce details on that, likely, on Monday.

  13. I use Evernote for lots of things I do clip lots info I never thought of it as a blogging tool but it is a great research tool…great post.

  14. I use Evernote for lots of things I do clip lots info I never thought of it as a blogging tool but it is a great research tool…great post.

  15. David – great post.  Like all of you I also use Evernote daily, but noticed something the other day when I was working remotely (no wifi) – I wasn’t able to access Evernote on my local machine 🙁  is this new?  I feel like I used to be able to create new notes & maybe even edit old notes, but obviously nothing would sync until I connected to the web later -anyone else experience this?

    1. I still work with Evernote without being connected all the time. Sounds like some problem unique to you.

      1. yes it was strange because I feel like I have always been able to work on Evernote without being on the web -strange

  16. Great post!  I LOVE Evernote and use it everyday.  I spend more time on Evernote than almost everything else.  Thanks for sharing this post Dave!  btw I am checking and reading email today. 😉  Happy 4th!

  17. Hi Dave – I am a newbie here – I started your blog academy 6 days ago.
    I love the little related post pop in you have here – where can I get that?

    Thanks
    DAve

  18. I’ve been using Evernote to help organize my blogging life as well, using the clipper to save snippets of posts for later use, making audio notes on the go so I don’t forget ideas, and taking pictures of things that might spark an idea for later use. I’m even sketching out an idea for an app using the evermore sketching utility. Love it!

    1. Oh, that reminds me, I’ve GOT to check that out! 🙂

      I hope they bring that technology to the iPad app. That’d be so awesome. Hand-written notes that go right into Evernote.

      1. If you install Skitch (the drawing and image annotation utility that Evernote acquired late last year) on your iPad, there’s a one-tap option to send the current sketch to Evernote. It’s super slick. Also, check out Penultimate (another app recently acquired by Evernote) that’s for hand-written notes and sketches that also integrates nicely with Evernote.

        1. Nice. Yeah, I have PenUltimate. Haven’t opened it in awhile, actually. This will get me to do it. 🙂

  19. Great post David.

    Evernote is something I use every single day.

    One of the features that I find EXTREMELY useful is being able to use the “email”  feature.

    For example, if I have an email that I want to send to Evernote, I just forward it to my private “Evernote email”.

    How do you find your own Evernote email?

    Go to:  Evernote > Account Info

    From there you will see the email address.

    So now, if you ever see anything from your inbox that you want to save in Evernote, just forward it to that address.

    I use this for “swipe file” ideas, quotes, snippets I want to discuss etc.

    #EvernoteRocks

    1. Yep, I do the same. 🙂 Pretty damn handy.

      Oh, and congrats on the personal brand change on your side of things. 🙂

  20. David:
    Your mention of Evernote in one of your podcasts sparked me to start using Evernote again.

    One thing I’m using it for is taking notes as I listen to podcasts or webinars. It keeps me active during the session and more focused.

    I can save my notes with tags and makes them easy to find even if I don’t recall which notebook I stored them in.

    1. Great use of it. I do the same sometimes, although more with webinars. With podcasts, I’m usually out and about and not at the computer. But, several times, a podcast will spark an idea, I’ll pause the podcast, record a quick note into Evernote, then continue. I do that from my iPhone often.

  21. One thing I do as a service for all my blog readers is to make sure that I use Shareaholic Sexy Bookmarks, and choose the Evernote clipper as one of the embedded bookmarks.  So all my readers who haven’t quite gotten over the WTF factor can still be reminded that here’s a great use of Evernote. I also, when I find a blogger that has content I find interesting, beg them to add an Evernote button to their blog.  Ummmmm…where’s your Evernote button, BTW?  (I realize that most dedicated Evernote users already have a clipper installed, but you never know when one more visual indicator will set the light bulb ablaze!)

    My only beef with your comments is that instead of Evernote being an “extension” of my brain, I am afraid that if I ever “lose” my Evernote, for whatever reason, I will discover I don’t actually **have** a brain!

    1. I thought about adding the Evernote button to this site, but my concern was simply over-cluttering the site with buttons – especially one that I felt a majority of readers wouldn’t use. Perhaps I’ll change my mind at some point – if I get enough requests. 🙂 But, until then, the clipper works everywhere so it’d be easy to clip any of my blog posts into Evernote.

      In terms of losing Evernote… I hear ya. 🙂 But, one thing to keep in mind is that Evernote stores everything locally AND online. So, even if Evernote as a company went POOF one day, you’d still have all your data and the software would continue to work. And I betcha the community would rally around to keep things cookin’. 🙂

  22. Awesome Post Dave Thanks.  I have been looking for a way to organize all my thoughts and the thoughts of others into one format.  Evernote is a name that keeps ringing, but your post is the final push I needed to delve in.

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