Scrivener to WordPress, Fast

Blog fridge magnets

by C.K. MacLeod

Do you blog efficiently? I try to. Here’s how I get a blog post from idea to published, as quickly as possible.

I use

  • Scrivener
  • Markdown
  • Hemingway app
  • WordPress
  1. Collect ideas in advance. Whenever I have an idea for a post, I create a new file inside of a Scrivener project. If I know something about the topic, I might sketch out a few notes in a Scrivener file, or on a Scrivener note card. Note: Scrivener is brilliant for blog management. You can store all of your posts in one project "file."
  2. Draft the blog post in a Scrivener file. Do a quick point-form outline and then write quickly, using the Pomodoro technique. Format in markdown. If you have several posts on the go at once, use labels in Scrivener to communicate the status of a draft.
  3. Take a snapshot of your post using Scrivener’s Snapshots feature. This is a great way to store several versions of your draft, in the event you want to go back to an earlier version.
  4. Revise your writing using the Hemingway app. Copy the post into Hemingway’s Edit view and make corrections in Scrivener. Take another snapshot in Scrivener. I label this version Hemingway.
  5. Prevent formatting problems with HTML. Copy the post (written in markdown) from Scrivener into Daring Fireball’s Markdown Dingus. Follow the steps in this post and paste the resulting HTML code into the Text tab in the WordPress editor. Insert any hyperlinks and pictures.
  6. Preview the post using the Preview button in WordPress. Remove any extra spaces between paragraphs by clicking on WordPress editor's Text tab and deleting nonbreaking spaces. These are indicated by the code &nbsp.
  7. Copy and paste the post (HTML version) and store it in Scrivener. You never know when you might need a web-ready back-up copy.
  8. Add keywords, select categories, and hit publish.

What tips do you have for streamlining your blogging process?

Image by Christian Schnettelker

The Easiest Way to Format Your Writing

Markdown

by C.K. MacLeod

Writers are encouraged to write a first draft without editing or formatting. And with good reason. Formatting and editing can often get in the way of getting your thoughts down. But at some point, you’ll want to format your writing so that it’s easier for your reader to navigate. That is, in fact, the point of formatting: you format for clarity. For reading ease.

What to Format

Sure, you can use the tool bar or the ribbon in your favourite Word processor to add

  • boldface
  • bulleted and numbered lists
  • headings
  • hyperlinks
  • images
  • italics

You can even use your word processor’s styles feature to format most of the items in the list above. But if your writing is headed for a digital environment, such as a blog or website, there’s a more reliable and efficient way to format: writing in markdown.

Markdown, Made Easy

Markdown is a way in to creating HTML—the language of the Web and other digital environments and you don’t need to be techy to figure it out. It doesn’t take long to learn, especially if you use Daring Fireball’s Markdown Dingus. The Dingus is a free online tool that supplies you with a cheat sheet for the markdown “syntax,” in the margin, and it then converts your markdown to HTML. Just follow the steps in the image below.

Markdown Dingus

Once you have your HTML text, you can pop it into your blog’s text editor. In WordPress, put it in the Text tab.

Markdown in Scrivener

You don’t have to write in the Dingus. I write in Scrivener instead (Scrivener is great for organizing blog posts). I’ve created my own markdown margin cheat sheet using the Project Notes area in Scrivener.

Markdown cheatsheet Scrivener

If you use Scrivener for Mac, you can export a file to the Multimarkdown (.html) format, which is similar to Markdown. No need to use the Fireball Dingus. This approach doesn’t work seamlessly for PC users, though.

Markdown Anywhere

Once you’re familiar with markdown, and you don’t have to rely on a cheat sheet, you can write in markdown in any word processor or text editor. I’d recommend trying the Hemingway app because it also doubles as an amazing proofreading tool.

Markdown is simple to learn, and saves you from having to fuss too much with formatting while you’re trying to get things down. Learning it will also prevent the wacky formatting that can occur in digital environments.

Image by Downloadsource.es

Mobile-Friendly Web Design for Writers

Snail

by C.K. MacLeod

Writers and editors are encouraged to build platforms—websites and blogs—to connect with readers and showcase books and services. After running analytics on my site, I learned that a surprising number of readers were accessing this site on a smartphone. Your readers may be interacting with your site on a smartphone, too. Is your website mobile friendly? Try Google's Mobile-Friendly Test to find out.

A Smartphone-Savvy Site

How does your site behave on a smartphone?

  • Is it easy to navigate?
  • Does it load quickly?
  • Is the font large enough so readers can read your content, without having to pinch and spread?

A surprising number of sites don’t meet this “mobile-first” design criteria (mine didn’t). Why? Many sites have been designed for desktops and laptops and haven’t yet adapted for small-screen viewing.

Below are a few tips to help you make your site small-screen savvy. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a web developer to execute these ideas.

Choose A Responsive Theme

Many writers use WordPress to build websites. WordPress comes with a multitude of beautifully designed themes that you can choose from. But here’s what I didn’t know: not all themes perform well. Some themes, while pretty, can make your site run slow, and others are not necessarily designed with small screens in mind. When searching for a theme for your site, choose a responsive theme that will work on desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Type “responsive” into the WordPress search box while searching for themes to see your options.
Note: Weebly offers free responsive design themes, too.

Choose Function over Form

What’s more important than a pretty, multi-column visual feast is a website that’s easy to navigate. I’ll admit it, the current design for this site is pretty no-frills when viewed on a desktop computer. But it works surprisingly well on a smartphone. Consider sacrificing some “splash” if it means a better reading experience for readers.

Consider the Default Theme

Each year, WordPress developers design a new default theme for WordPress users. The latest theme is aptly named 2015. In the past, I’ve tended to ignore the default themes, not realizing that the current year’s theme is—according to Morten Rand-Henrickson, the instructor of WordPress Essentials at Lynda.com—the most stable free theme available from WordPress developers. It incorporates the most up-to-date features in web design, including smart design features for small screens.

Cellular networks are slower than wifi networks. After installing the WordPress 2015 theme, my site speed improved on a smartphone. If you want to keep your smartphone readers engaged, finding ways to improve your site’s speed will matter. While there are lots of ways to do that (I’m only beginning to discover other improvements I can make), selecting a light and stable theme is a great place to begin.

Mobile-first design is the way things are heading. Have you discovered any tips to make your site work for an audience of smartphone users?

Image by Vasile Hurghis