Writing for a living - Mac Tools to use
I listened to the latest InfoBarrelTips Podcast and there were a couple of good tools in there that could benefit all users, whatever operating system. Evernote and DropBox are excellent tools that everyone should have on the computer what ever you do, writer or not. Good idea too with using Open Office with it being a free alternative to MS Office. The thinking behind using Open Office is that you have to produce Office type files, and I honestly think that is not helpful. There is a web based word processor that will do all the formatting that you need actually in InfoBarrel so all you really need is a basic text editor. Throw the text into the web page when you have hit the create button and you will be good to go. Doc compatible files will not help you do this work, it is the text, the words, that are important, not the format.
There are things that you can use that will help you to create articles faster and organise yourself better though. So what I will do is to outline how I use my Mac to do the writing and tell you why I do it the way I do. Starting with a list of the tools I use to do my writing work.
- Scrivener - Best writing tool
- TextMate - text tool
- Nebulous Notes - iPad text tool
- DropBox - file sharing and back up
- Evernote - Note clipper
- Bento - Database
- Jumpcut - Clipboard extender
- TextExpander - saves me typing
Scrivener is the best writing tool and now is becoming available on the Windows platform too. Journalists, novel writers, technical writers and all sorts of writers use it. It is cheap to buy and the way I use it is to clip my research into it and then split the screen so that I can see the research on one side in a pane and the writing window is on the other side. I can glance across to my clippings to help me write in my own words what is going into the article in the writing pane.
The Full screen mode is brilliant. No distractions and I love the way the cursor always stays in the middle of the screen. Much better than it going to the bottom of the screen when you have a page full, good to know where you are working especially on a large screen. You can set a target number of words and it will let you know how you are progressing towards that target. It will output to whatever format you want, but I like to put it out as pure text and tweak it in Textmate.
I bought this text editor because I have started to write using Markdown. In TextMate there is a bundle, which is what they call their extensions, which will convert my markdown text into HTML. The reason I have started doing this is because sometimes when I put the text into the web editor in InfoBarrel and i want to set a line of text to be a heading, it will also make all the text that follows the same header text too. I then have to go in split up the text and get the section that was converted incorrectly to be a header, back to paragraph text. So if I can just paste my article into the html area of the web editor I have all the formatting correct from the beginning.
Like David said in a recent InfoBarrel Tips podcast, DropBox is great for sharing files with yourself. I have copies of all my documents on all my machines and also on the web. In fact it is better than that because there is also versioning available on the web interface, although I have not used that feature. Dropbox can also be used with Scrivener so that a folder can be synchronised and then I can work with the text in an iPad application too. Nebulous Notes is my choice of iPad text editor at the moment, Edito is also good on the iPad.
This application for use on the iPad means I can work on my writing while I am out and about. It has an extra row of keys on the keyboard so that the characters I need for Markdown are easy to put in and quick. I can use the iPad version of TextExpander which saves me from typing the same word over and over.
If I know that I will be repeating a word many times in an article and it is a long word, and maybe one I have to think about to get the spelling right each time, I use TextExpander. I could have three long words that will be inserted with me only having to type in a couple of characters. It could be longer sections of text too. I do have one snippet of HTML code I always use when I am putting in an image into an article in InfoBarrel. I don’t have to remember the code that goes into the image tag to make it have a border and have the text flow around it. Three characters and all the code is put where I have placed the cursor. Saves me loads of time. I believe that you can get that application for Windows too.
When I am in the browser and looking for information, research I can use for my articles I will often use Evernote, rather than copy an paste into Scrivener. This is because I can select what I want and hit one button in the tool bar and have the text clipped. The note has the url from where it was clipped and I can also tag it so that I can find it easy later. Or I can set up a notebook within Evernote just for that topic I am working on. I can put clippings into Evernote later if I want or arrange my Evernote alongside Scrivener for referring as I write.
This is a database that I use because it is so important to keep track of all your work. You will end up with hundreds of articles and you want to know where you sent them and have dates and other info about the piece. I make a note of the number of words in the article. It will also do a count of the total words I have written. I can see how close I am to my first one hundred thousand words. You could keep track by using a spreadsheet but with Bento it allows me to put in the complete text of the article. Then I have another place with the full text along with the data about it.
That’s all the applications now for how I use them.
- Clip research into EverNote or copy and paste into Scrivener.
- Write the article in Scrivener
- Duplicate that article in Scrivener
- Using the duplicate I put a marker in between paragraphs, then put each sentence on new line. Thats why I need the marker to show where the paragraphs are.
- I re-write each sentence under the original sentence three times. I do the complete document.
- I duplicate that rewritten document in Scrivener three more times.
- The documents are numbered 1 - 4 and the 5th is called ‘For Spinning’
- The original is number one and doesn’t need to be touched. In document two I delete sentences 1,3 and 4. Then arrange the text so that the paragraphs look like paragraphs again.
- Do the same with documents three and four deleting the sentences that are not supposed to be in that version. When I have done all of that, I will have four original, properly written articles. I also have one document that has all of the texts in it and I copy and paste that into TextMate. I have some macros set up for spinning on a per sentence basis. I can also do some careful word spinning. Has to be careful so that it does’t become gibberish.
- Document One is sent to InfoBarrel.
- Document two to four can go to other places such as other revenue sites, Postrunner in The Keyword Academy to get back links, or to a blog post on the money site. Note that the four originals are only used once in one place.
- The document that was set up for spinning I will get 10 spun versions that can be used to send to places to get back links to the money sites. That is pasted to Scrivener, into the document ‘For Spinning’ in place of the text I took out. If I use a version from there on an article site, I cut that version out so it is not used anywhere else.
Revenue Sharing and Niche Sites
I like InfoBarrel because the money comes quicker than from starting up niche sites. The click through rates on InfoBarrel are much better than on the niche sites. I do recommend though that you have both strings to your bow. Good to have an income build up quicker on InfoBarrel or other revenue site because the niche sites could take a year or more to start paying you. Also you never know what might happen with sites that you don’t control, so have an insurance, the niche sites, that will cover your back for the long term.You don’t have to do one to the exclusion of the other and they can easily be both worked at the same time.