I receive a fair number of questions regarding my blogging methods and workflow. So while I don’t ususally like to go off-topic, I’m guessing this information will be of interest to a fair number of our readers. If you’re not a blogger, I’ll see you tomorrow… :-) —Alan
Workflow is simply the sequence of steps through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion. In this case, I’m going to talk a bit about how a blog post goes from idea to post; what steps I take and what tools I use in the process.
Most of my posts start off in Google Docs. When an idea presents itself, I sketch out a quick draft in a new Google Docs document and save to the web. This allows me to get an idea down on “paper” before it vanishes into thin air. Later, when I have more time, I access the doc and continue to work on the post until the text is finalized. For a short news item, this might take just a few minutes and one visit to Google Docs. A full bike review or a long op-ed piece might take multiple days, or even weeks, and a dozen or more sessions. The ability to access documents at any time, on any computer, makes Google Docs an indespinsable tool for my particular workflow (more on this later).
Once I’m done editing the text, I copy everything into BBEdit for formatting. I apply all of the HTML markup manually within BBEdit including structural code, links, and styling. I prefer to code each post manually instead of depending upon the visual editor within WordPress; this ensures portability and compliance, as well as giving me precise control over formatting and styling. (Note: For quick posts that I’ll finish in one session such as news releases or product announcements, I sometimes bypass the Google Docs step and write directly in BBEdit.)
Most of my posts include a photo. Typically, I write a post first, then I capture the photo (or multiple photos) to accompany the post. Less often, a photo will trigger a post idea and the process is reversed. Once I’ve captured a photo and processed it through Photoshop, I manually upload the image to my webserver via SFTP using Fetch.
By the time I get to WordPress, pretty much all the work is done. I copy the fully-formatted post into the WordPress editing window (with the visual editor disabled), type a title, choose a category, check any post-specific preferences, preview, and post. This last step takes all of about a minute.
I use a fairly standard photographic workflow. I typically shoot raw; import, sort, and tag with Adobe Bridge; convert and make global adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw; and finally, crop, retouch, and apply more involved adjustments in Photoshop. I save fully processed images as PSD files, then export to JPG for uploading to the web.
My biggest challenge is producing 1-4 blog posts per day and managing a busy blog while simultaneously working a demanding, full-time job and making time for family and friends. To make it work, I have to take advantage of those little snippets of time between this-and-that to write and process photos. I carry a 13” MacBook Pro and an iPod Touch in my bike bag at all times; the MacBook is used for content creation, and the iPod Touch is used for comment moderation and e-mail. For internet access, I use a Novatel MiFi mobile hotspot that provides a 30’ bubble of Wi-Fi coverage for up to 5 devices. This allows me to do things like write on the train, process photos during my lunch break, and moderate comments while walking to the bus.
- 21” iMac
- 13” MacBook Pro
- iPod Touch
- Wacom Drawing Tablet
- Novatel MiFi Mobile Hotspot
- Canon 50D w/assorted lenses and accessories
- Canon G10
- WordPress (self-hosted)
- Google Docs
- Bare Bones BBEdit
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe Bridge
- Adobe Camera Raw
I hope this window into my workflow is helpful for my fellow bike bloggers who are just getting started. And if you’re an experienced blogger, I’d love to hear about your methods and workflow in the comment area below.