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Evernote: Remember Everything, Write Better

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For as long as there has been writers and deadlines, the “idea notebook” has been a fixture of almost every writer at some point.

However, much as with everything else to do with writing, the idea notebook/scratchpad is moving online. A slew of services have come up to make it easy to quickly jot down and organize your thoughts, including bookmarking services such as Diigo and Del.icio.us, as well as more-targeted note-taking services such as Google Notebook.

However, with the announcement that Google was stopping development of its Notebook product, many began scrambling to find alternative to the service, including some fairly hack-like solutions, such as the ones Google recommended.

Fortunately, Evernote has been around for some time and appears to be a safe bet for anyone who needs help remembering the information they need. Best of all, for bloggers, who often get their ideas in a wide variety for formats, locations and sources, it may be the best tool available.

How it Works

For those unfamiliar with Evernote, the idea is pretty straightforward. You take the things that you need to remember, whether it is a street address, a link or even a task you have to do, and put them in the “Notebook” of your choosing. You can then view those notes later using either Evernote’s Web interface or one of their applications.

What makes Evernote so interesting is the sheer number of data types the system can accept and the ways that you can access the information. Evernote has versions of its software for Windows, Mac, iPhone, Windows Mobile and even U3 (for use on a flash drive). You also have the option of installing a bookmarklet in your browser (to aid in clipping Web pages) and you can also access your information and take notes via the Web.

Best of all, you don’t need to hammer out a text note every time you need to remember something. You can also take pictures of what you want to upload, such as a business card, and upload it that way. Evernote will search the image for any text that it can read and make it searchable for those words automatically.

The idea is that, any time you see something you know you’ll want to come back to later, there is an easy way to take that information and get it into Evernote, once it is there, you should have access to it anywhere you go, either via mobile phone, desktop application or the Web.

Evernote for Bloggers

So how can Evernote help bloggers? The answer is pretty simple. If you write for multiple sites or try to keep a regular schedule on even just one, it can often be hard to come up with ideas on demand. As such, its important to remember the ideas you get when they come in.

Evernote can do that very easily, without even making full use of the service, all one has to do is the following:

  1. Create a notebook for each site that you write for (personal blog, business blog, etc.)
  2. Install the bookmarklet for all of your browsers to capture interesting Web content. The bookmarklet automatically preserves the source URL, making it much more useful for Web content.
  3. As you find content you want to link to or report on, select the relevant text and/or images and clip them the applicable notebook.
  4. Use tags to indicate which topics within your site the article is for and, if you have a stories that require multiple clips, create a tag for each one.
  5. Once you write an article, delete the clips from Evernote to keep it clean. You can also drag and drop notes between different books if you decide the idea would work better on another site.

Though this works best with blogs that get most of their ideas from the Web, since you can upload almost any media type to the site, it can work well with camera phone snaps on the street, doodles on a whiteboard or almost anywhere else you come up with an idea on the fly. However, obviously, you will have to use the media capture device right for that input.

Also, this isn’t to say that Evernote should only be used to keep ideas for your blogs, but that it is capable of replacing your scratchpad at the same time it helps you keep other aspects of your life in order. For most, their “idea” notebooks will likely just be a small part of their Evernote collection.

Finally, it is also worth noting that, while Evernote is capable of bookmarking links, it isn’t meant to be a replacement for a true bookmarking service. Those who need to keep track of a lot of links, rather than just a few story ideas, would probably be better served by another site.

Conclusions

When I first set up my Evernote account, about six months ago, I was skeptical about how useful the service would be for me. For most of the time I’ve owned it, it has gone pretty much completely inactive.

However, I realized that my system of keeping ideas notes, namely using a small legal pad near my keyboard, was causing me too much grief. Not only was my handwriting almost illegible, but if I had to work from home or otherwise didn’t have it with me, I had only what information was left in my head.

Ever since I shifted to Evernote for remembering potential blog post ideas, I’ve found myself with more topics to pull from, better access to my notes and more time to create the content that I need. I spend less time re-researching my stories and more time pulling them together.

I think it is safe to say that Evernote has improved my blogging and is a tool that I’m rapidly finding new uses for. Though I usually don’t openly recommend tools or services, Evernote is one that has proved useful to me in so many ways, I almost wonder how I got along with out it.

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Are You Trying to Rank or Help People?

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Check the intent behind your blogging actions. What are your drivers? Some bloggers desperately want to rank, to place articles on page 1 of Google, to drive sweet, passive search engine traffic. Good luck with that. Nobody succeeds ranking until you give virtually all of your attention and energy to helping people with your blogging efforts. The rank comes after the generous help and that generous help often spans years of your life because developing page 1 Google skills is no joke. If it were easy, everybody would rank on page 1, right?

But you would be surprised by how many folks struggle blogging because the focus on rank over help dominates their minds. I never fell afflicted to this common limiting belief because I give scant attention to ranking on Google. Most of me could care less. I help people through my guest posts, blog posts, course and eBooks. My intent is to help people not to try to get traffic and money through manipulating things. Be honest about the big difference between the two because making this shift will improve your life tremendously, along with positioning you to experience increasing blogging success.

Focus heavily on people and little on things to discover the secret of blogging success. Bloggers succeed by generously helping human beings for sustained periods of time. Imagine some blogger who appears to be all over their blogging niche. Study this individual. Guaranteed, this bloggers generously helped people for years, hours daily, through multiple methods of helping people. Imagine guest posting, blogging, broadcasting live on Facebook and podcasting. See how the top bloggers always seem to be assisting people from a generous, genuine energy? Be that person. The tops never obsess over ranking because doing so attaches you to outcomes. Attach to outcomes. Feel fear. Attachment is fear. Any time you blog from a vibe of fear, you will struggle, fail and quit eventually. Top bloggers feel fears but release the energies versus panicking and bailing on generously helping readers. Everybody else panics, bails and tries to manipulate things to get traffic and money, failing horribly over the long haul.

Nobody gets ahead trying to manipulate things because money flows through humans mainly, then, through things which act as receiving channels. Imagine if I sell a copy of my blogging course. Generously helping human beings instills trust in the person who bought my course. Money flows from them to me through Selz, and my bank account, from their credit card or bank account. The things – Selz, bank accounts – are receiving channels, facilitating the sending and receiving of money, but generous service and trust put the financial transaction into action.

Stop trying to rank before all else because dealing with things solely – SEO and Google – moves you out of the realm of reality, into thing-ality. Bloggers who succeed keep helping folks generously and keep promoting themselves, realizing the things are just tools humans use to connect with each other, to help each other and to prosper each other. Focus on helping humans, not trying to rank on page 1 of Google, to uncover the secret to successful blogging….and to uncover the secret of ranking on page 1 of Google.

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Why Blogging Jealousy Is a Damaging Emotion

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I spent today enjoying lunch and a hike through the forest with my wife. But like the past goodness knows how many years, I will work 6-8 hours daily….or more. I put in an hour or so this morning. Now I get to work a bit before 5 PM. People love my travel photos. Folks often tell me how jealous they feel, envying our life. We are so lucky! We are blessed. We are aligned. All that jazz. But the same folks NEVER feel jealous or envious of the fact that I worked 6 hours daily for the past goodness known how many years of my life. I tell folks about my workload sometimes; most look at me like I have 3 heads, people proclaiming themselves lazy and definitely, believing I can have this workload because working long and persistently is not for them.

Before you envy my movie-worthy life, envy my movie-worthy workload. Before you jealously bust my chops about my photos in Fiji and Bali, be just as envious and flat out jealous of the 20,000 hours I have blogged over the past decade of my life. You cannot have the sweet fruit unless you patiently water the seed and allow for it to thrive, during growing season. Likewise, you cannot have blogging success unless you patiently, persistently and generously work, to succeed.

Jealousy and Damage

Most bloggers never realize the intense jealousy that damages their blogging campaign. Why does jealousy hurt you and your blog? Delusion, that’s why. Take my Fiji or New Zealand or Costa Rica pictures. Most people who see the pictures envy my life because most folks CHOOSE to work a 9-5 job and CHOOSE not to travel. In the same breath, after expressing intense jealousy at me living a cool life of travel, I advise the person to begin blogging, to engineer a similar life for self and family. In an instant, most bloggers complain about having no time, no time, and no drive to design such a life of fun and freedom. Why? Being jealous of bloggers immediately places you in a “they have it, but I cannot have it,” type victim, non-empowered, weakling energy. If you believe only I can live this life, and envy me, and you foolishly believe you cannot life this life, you make endless excuses to cling to your belief system. Said excuses guarantee your unhappiness and comfort.

If you envy my life of travel, envy the 6 to 10 hours or more I have worked every single day of my life over the years. Do you envy working 8 hours every Saturday and Sunday? Are you SOOOO jealous that I will work 6-7 or more hours today, after being out of the house for about 6 hours, hustling into the evening? Nope. I did not think so. Few human beings envy someone who works generously, diligently and persistently because most people hate doing the very thing that sets them free. Why? Doing the thing that sets you free forces you outside of your comfort zone, to face deep, pulsating fears. Facing these fears seems highly unpleasant. Nobody enjoys facing fears, but you need to face fears in order to grow, to succeed, and to live a life of movie-worthy levels, you being the object of blogger envy.

Stop being jealous. Get to work, admire industrious bloggers who live their dreams, and you too will live your dreams.

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How to Ride out Traffic Swings

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Traffic swings occur for every single blogger who ever blogged.

Literally, nobody is immune from seeing traffic stats swing high, low, back, medium and all over, in between. How do you ride out these swings? Blog for the love of blogging and see traffic as an extra, a bonus, or some add on to your blogging campaign. Make the blogging work, the reward. See all else as extra, or a bonus, and you become totally chill in response to inevitable traffic swings. Way too many bloggers become obsessed with traffic stats. Even more make the foolish mistake of obsessing over traffic stats on a daily basis. Guys; this is nuts. How can you focus on daily traffic swings when you know all good, lasting things take time, energy and a willingness to have a vision? Relax. Slow down. Calm down. Trust in yourself. Trust in the blogging process. Good things take time and generous service.

Imagine if Jeff Bezos panicked over day to day traffic and sales numbers on founding Amazon over 2 decades ago? Imagine how doing so would have crippled his campaign? Everybody experiences swings – usually, wild swings – as a newbie entrepreneur and blogger because no growth is perfectly linear. Over time, with generous effort and a blanket trusting in the blogging process, you traffic increases month over month. But day to day analysis is a silly way to assess how you are doing. How in the heck can you honestly make a blanket assessment of your blog over a 24 hour period? It’s only 24 hours! We measure success in thousands and tens of thousands of hours…..not 24 hours. Come back down to earth. Get your head out of the clouds. Nothing of meaning, of lasting value, unfolds in 24 hours. Please be gentle with yourself and be even more gentle with your silly mind because the mind wants fast results but your heart knows; successful blogging is a long term gig.

Check Stats Infrequently

Do you have an absolute blast checking stats? If so, check stats monthly. Allow momentum to gain by generously helping people daily, over a monthly period. Observe your traffic stats to iron out any kinks and to not be swayed by the day to day fluctuations leveling most bloggers, creating a roller coaster wave of emotions in mind. I barely check metrics because if I love what I do, trust in the process and trust myself, the more generous service I put into blogging, the more blogging generously serves me. Simple equation here. Why in the heck would I assess my success based on 24 hour increments? Blogging success hinges on thousands of hours of generous service, not 24 hour blogs of work, right?

Pump your breaks guys. Get uber busy helping your readers by creating as much quality content as humanly possible. Be generous. Focus heavily on giving, not getting, to allow your daily stat checking obsession to dissolve just a wee bit. Blogging become uncomfortable here and there but does get easier and easier the more often you give freely of your time and talents. The challenge is not to panic when you resist checking stats for a few weeks as most folks go bonkers mad, ready to explode, once they try to detach from frequent stat checking.

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