Bloggers can spend a lot of time selecting topics and researching and writing the posts. Here are four tools I use to speed up the research process. Used in the proper sequence, they also provide an easy-to-follow workflow.
Since Google announced its decision to discontinue Google Reader, users of that service have scoured the web to find suitable alternatives — see “6 Alternatives to Google Reader,” my previous post.
After experimenting with several readers, I chose Feedly due to its visual orientation, ease of use, and intuitive interface. The fact that it is web-based and is a Chrome Extension also won me over.
Feedly is my first stop when preparing to write a blog post or article. I use it to amass content from a variety of sources on topics such as social media, Internet marketing, and small business.
I can see at a glance the featured news of the day picked from those and other topics, and then scroll to see additional content by topic or by source.
Once I complete a cursory review of several pieces of content inside Feedly, I open those that interest me, in new browser tabs. Often, I have as many as 30 tabs open in a browser window.
In the past, I used my browser’s bookmarking capability to save the tabs for later reading. But it was less than optimal.
That’s why I was pleased to find a Chrome Extension called OneTab. Simply click the OneTab icon and it converts all the tabs into an editable, web-based list. Lists can be shared as web pages and list items can be sorted using a drag-and-drop process. Fewer tabs also reduce my computer’s memory use by 95 percent.
I wish OneTab would allow organization of articles by topic rather than just by date, which is the current structure. But it beats the browser’s bookmarking capabilities hands down.
The third step in my research process is to use CruxLight, a Chrome Extension that scans and summarizes the important points of an article, then highlights the summary on the page itself. It also lists important keywords contained in the article, which can help in optimizing the article for search engines.
Users can select a particular keyword and view the summary from that point-of-view and change the length of the summary based on the level of information required and the time accessed.
Click the “Change Mode” button, which is located in a toolbar CruxLight inserts along the bottom of the browser window, to pull the highlighted summary into an excerpt that can be shared via social media or saved using the last tool in my list, Evernote.
The final step is to take the highlighted content and move it into Evernote, a web-clipping application. CruxLight integrates with Evernote, which makes the process seamless.
I save each summary as a “Note,” and then group the summaries into “Notebooks.” This provides a library of curated content that I can reference when writing blog posts or, when appropriate, cite as a quote.
Evernote can be used as a cloud-based application. Downloadable desktop versions are also available for PC and Mac.
Every blogger has a process for creating meaningful content. Using these tools in the order I’ve described can save time and facilitate organization — creating a functional workflow.