How I Use My iPhone for Blogging
I bought an iPhone – and in this post I’m going to tell you how I use it (so far) in my blogging…
A few weeks ago I ranted about the sorry state of Australian mobile carriers and how they (particularly the one I used, Telstra) make buying an iPhone a crazily expensive. In the days after writing the post I decided to bite the bullet and switch carriers to the one offering the most affordable option (Optus).
I settled on a black 16GB model and after waiting for 9 days for it to come into stock it arrived last Thursday.
I’ve been Tweeting a little about my initial experience of the iPhone and quite a few of my Twitter buddies have asked me to write a review of the iPhone as a blogging tool. I am not writing a general review here of the iPhone as a phone – but want to focus this upon it as a tool for bloggers.
My Review of The iPhone as a Blogging Tool
I should start out by saying that I didn’t buy the iPhone with the hope that it’d ever become my primary blogging tool – however I did hope that it would assist me in some areas of my blogging.
Blog Post Writing
The primary task of a blogger is to write and publish content. I do not see the iPhone as playing any real part in this task for me (with one exception which I’ll write about below).
The main reason for this is that my style of blogging is to write posts that go into a reasonable depth and which often go over 1000 words. The thought of having to write 1000 words on an iPhone is enough to make me want to curl up in the fetal position and start crying.
I know the speed and accuracy in which I’ll be able to input text into the iPhone will increase with practice – but this is not a gadget that has been designed with the goal of inputting large amounts of text. The on screen keyboard does the job well for small amounts of text (for Twitter it’s perfect) but unless Apple (or one of their partners) develops a keyboard that can be connected to the iPhone – I don’t see me using it to write posts.
The other reasons that I don’t see it as being that useful for writing posts is that my style of writing a post is one where I tend to use images, screen captures, flip between windows while writing etc – while some of this can be done on the iPhone it isn’t ideally suited to my posting workflow.
The WordPress Application is excellent. As you’ll see from the comments of my Twitter friends below, it is one of the most used applications that they’re using.
The exception to this would be for breaking news when posts need to go up quickly and need not be long. The iPhone will be very handy in this case.
I do think that some other bloggers will use the iPhone more for writing posts (for example Wayne Sutton has a blog where he’s ONLY posting with the iPhone) but it’ll be suited more for those who write shorter posts (or those with more patience than me).
All is not lost though fellow bloggers – let me share how I DO see myself using the iPhone as a blogger:
I’ve written before about how I am a big user of notebooks and try to carry one with me everywhere so that I can capture ideas for posts as they hit me. I could definitely see the iPhone as replacing my Moleskine notebook as a tool for capturing ideas.
I’m still testing different applications for this type of task – however there are a few that are promising including Evernote (to be able to capture ideas as pictures, voice, text etc is very attractive), Younote (similar) or even just the default ‘notepad’ that comes with the iPhone (and there are a lot more that I’m going to test before settling on one).
Other Task Management
I suspect that whichever application that I choose to capture ideas for my blogs will also be used as a more general ‘task managing tool’ also. This is the other thing that I use my notebook for. This includes creating ‘to do’ lists, making notes for presentations, making notes for email newsletters etc.
There are times where it can be particularly useful to know if there is a ‘traffic event’ happening on one of your blogs. For example it’s good to know when a post gets a rush of traffic from a social media site or another blog linking up. On the other hand it’s also good to know when your blog is down.
I saw the power of the iPhone as a monitoring tool this weekend when Sitemeter had issues and didn’t allow my blogs to be viewed by IE7 users. I knew of this problem within an hour of it happening because I received emails and tweets on my iPhone and also noticed stats were down when I checked them on it. I found all this out while out shopping with my family and was able to take action reasonably quickly all while away from my computers.
What I would like to do is set up some way to be notified of ‘traffic events’ on my blogs. For example to have some sort of notification service (SMS or email) when a post gets a lot of traffic or when servers go down for XX minutes. I know some hosting services offer this but it’d be interesting to see an analytics package develop one for smaller publishers.
My use of Twitter and Plurk over the last few days has probably increased slightly. While I still tend to do these activities in ‘batches’ being able to jump on these social messaging services in a spare minute when you’re out and about is quite handy.
Of course you could use these services to simply have fun, fill in time etc – but when services like Twitter are an important part of your blogging then it is effectively helping you to be a more productive blogger.
One of the things I played with over the weekend was instant messaging on my iPhone. I got on Gtalk and while I was just jumping on to ‘see if I could’ and test the app I ended up having a conversation with another blogger which was really productive.
I don’t foresee me using IM much on my iPhone – but to know I can is handy.
Moderating comments is a job that needs to be done regularly and on the iPhone it’s a relatively simple job. I actually did it this morning over breakfast and it took me just as long on the iPhone as it does on my computer.
Again – I probably won’t do this daily but it’ll be handy to be able to quickly moderate comments when traveling.
Probably more useful will be when you have some sort of a situation in the comments on your blog that needs you to oversee it. For example when you have a flaming war happen between two readers and you need to step in.
One of the things that I’m enjoying most about the iPhone is being able to quickly flip through my email to do a little ‘processing’. Over the weekend it was great to be able to quickly scan the latest emails to see if anything was urgent (and to respond to these quickly), to spot any emails that could be deleted quickly (social media notifications for example) or to see what needed to be marked for ‘later’.
Being able to do this task quickly on the fly frees up time later when you’re actually on your computer for other important tasks.
Another task that I did a couple of times over the weekend was to edit posts. On one occassion it was simply logging into the back end of WordPress to set the time to publish for a post that I’d already written and on another occasion it was the editing of a spelling mistake. These small editing tasks are no brainers on the iPhone.
I follow 600+ RSS feeds so I doubt very much whether the iPhone will ever be my primary place to read them all – however I’ve already used it to follow my ‘A-list’ (a handful of blogs that I read religiously because they are either so useful or consistantly break news that is relevant to the niches that I follow). I’m currently doing this via Google Reader directly – but am told that the Byline Application is useful and syncs well with Google Reader.
Concluding Thoughts and My Wishlist for the iPhone as a Blogger
The above list is simply how I’ve used the iPhone after a few days. I’m sure as I continue to use it I’ll discover that some of the above will be more important to me than other parts of it. I also know that as new applications are developed for the iPhone that other uses for it will arise.
In conclusion, as a blogging tool, the iPhone meets the expectations that I had when I bought it.
I didn’t expect it to be ever be a primary blogging device – and it isn’t – however it will be a very useful device to use as a secondary and supporting blogging device. It will save me time, allow me to be aware of important events that are relevant to my blogs and help me to connect better with readers and other bloggers.
I’m certain that other mobile devices can do similar things (in fact some like the Nokia 95 have a number of the things in my wishlist below) but for me, at least for the next little while, it’s the iPhone that I’ll be carrying in my pocket.
My Wishlist for the iPhone:
How could the iPhone be more useful for bloggers? Here’s a few ideas:
- External keyboard - without it I think I’ll rarely write posts on the iPhone. It’d also be handy to have for note taking at conferences.
- Video capture – I’d love to have the ability to record video on the iPhone, it’d make it a killer blogging device for me (till then I’ve just ordered a Flip which much more portable than my current camcorder).
- Copy and paste – almost every review of the iPhone that I’ve read has asked for this. As a blogger it’d be hugely useful.
- Battery life - I’m yet to go far from home with my iPhone but on those days when I’m out and about a lot I could see how I’m either going to have to take my power adaptor with me or really be careful how much I use it.
- Unlimited Data Plans (Australia) - I know many of you have these in your countries but here in Australia data remains ridiculously expensive (even on the cheaper carrier that I’m with). I currently have a 500MB allowance which on most days will be fine – but as soon as I travel I’m going to be in trouble).
What My Friends Said:
I asked on Twitter and Plurk how my friends there are using the iPhone in their blogging. Here’s how just a few of them responded:
@preneur said – “Taking photos (& autoposting from flckr), making notes for future posts, approving comments via the wodpress apps”
@RealitySEO said – “Since I usually write lengthy articles for one blog, not willing to use iPhone – but have used it for a daily money quotes blog”
@mayken said – “Just started using it myself, been twittering a bit, but the wordpress app is a great little program to use so far.”
@DrCris said – “Using iPhone to read feeds – means I get that when I sit down I already have all my information and all I have to do is post/”
@kriskarkoski said – “Right now mainly using my iPhone for keeping up on my email and feeds and doing some live blogging but hard w/o c&p”
@GrantGriffiths said – “blog editor with WP, RSS reader with netnewswire and Instapaper, check stats with Mint, twitter with twitterrific.”