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My personal blog post supply chain - my five top social media tools (for blogging)

Thanks to Stephen Davies for tagging me to write about my five must-have blogging tools. I don't blog about blogging often – I worry it would be habit forming and a little tedious if I did - but naturally, I do have something to say on the subject.

The biggest challenge for me - and most people - about blogging is finding the time.

Perfect blogging conditions would be to have four hours or more a day when I could read my feeds, research story ideas, write, edit and publish.

Those four hours rarely come along, and certainly never together when you have a family, job and are hard-wired by evolution to want to get outside every now and again and socialise face-to-face with other human beings.

The solution if you want to keep a blog - and I do, I do - is to break down the process and do little bits whenever you can:

Reading news and other people's blogs: My perfect system is using 1Bloglines and 2Firefox as a pair. I scan the news and open new tabs for any stories that look interesting enough to read in more depth or comment / blog about. I get all my Marktd, New PR, TechMeme stories through here usually too, the fewer sites I have to go to the better. Then I read through the stories one by one. If there's something that inspires me, I think about…

…keeping notes of stories and ideas: For this I use 3Microsoft OneNote, which beats every other note software out there that I've tried. It's always on, so you can take notes quickly without waiting for browser windows or programmes to load and it's got the great "Create screen clipping" function which let's you take precise screen grabs of images which can then be used as illustrations in a blog post. It means I can build up a store of "candidate stories" ready for when I can think about...

…writing up posts: for which I most commonly use 4Qumana, an offline blog editor. (Stuart Bruce thinks Zoundry's bit better, so I'll be trying that out soon.) Apart from being slightly more usable than Typepad for things like spell checking and inserting tags, having an offline blog editor means you can save and come back to stories if you don't have time to polish, fact check or just plain finish writing them by...

…researching / seeing what others have written: I use 5Google Blog Search to find blog posts for counterpoint and reference, as I find it faster and a bit more reliable than Technorati (which I use a lot but isn't as essential to me for blogging). A blog search engine is great for any breaking news as you can see the newest links and sources faster.

There, now I've got that out of my system I won't be blogging about blogging any more.

So now I need to tag five people I'd like to hear from about their blogging habits / favourite tools:

  1. Charles Arthur
  2. Jackie Danicki
  3. Paul Doleman
  4. Niall Cook
  5. Will McInnes

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You sound very disciplined. I have so many distractions during the day - domestic and professional (I do have a day job as well) - and forget to read my bloglines.

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