I recently posted a poll to members of my Facebook Scrivener Ninja’s group to find out what they were using Scrivener for.
Although “Writing a Book” got the top spot — “Blogging” came in second, so I invited these Scrivener Bloggers to share their content planning, creating and organizing tips with us.
I’m kicking off this series of guest articles by welcoming Karen Prince, a YA fantasy and adventure author from Cape Town. She’s a Scrivener teacher and blogs about wildlife and Africa, and has put together a wonderfully instructive article illustrated by easy-to-follow binder screen shots.
Guest Article by Karen Prince
A quick overview of how to set up your blog in Scrivener:
In my Scrivener for Blogging example I’m writing about fantasy adventures set in Africa and want to blog about African mythology, strange foods, interesting customs, wildlife etc.
This would work equally well if you were writing historical fiction or police procedurals and wanted to blog about interesting research you have come across or if you were writing romance and wanted to blog about how to attract members of the opposite sex.
I want to blog once a week but in no particular order so that if there is trending news that I can hop on to that will improve my search engine optimization, I can insert an article about that.
For instance, Last week there was an attempted Coup in The Gambia (a tiny strip of land in West Africa) so I would do a blog on the history of The Gambia. Or during heavy flooding last year 2000 crocodiles were swept away from a crocodile farm so I did a blog on the impact that would have on the villages living downstream.
Binder Set up
I will start from scratch so that it will be neater. Basically my Binder would look something like this:
(1) A Folder for each month with a file inside for each weekly blog. These will remain empty until I have written a post for that week and their label icon will remain white. The icon will change when the post is ready to publish (To change icons right click on a file and choose “change icon” from the drop down menu).
(2) Then I have an AFRICA IDEAS TANK folder with all the things I am planning to write about. I add to it whenever I think of something new.
(3) And an exact duplicate folder in my Research folder, but with the files changed to folders to hold all my research. (A quick way to do this is to right click on AFRICA IDEAS TANK folder and choose “Duplicate” from the drop down list. Drag the duplicate into the Research folder. Then select everything in the folder, right click again, and choose “convert to Folder.”) Each file is labeled by subject not by week because they may move around within the folder.
(4) With the original AFRICA IDEAS TANK folder selected, I would toggle on Cork Board mode and rearrange my ideas, mix them up a bit and write a short synopsis of the kind of post I intend to write.
Now I scour the internet, the library and my game ranger friend’s heads for interesting information on each of my subjects.
I save website links and videos into the RESEARCH folder for my post and often open a file to jot down things I have come across by word of mouth. Never, ever copy and paste anything from the internet straight into your blog. There are copyright implications as well as the fact that Google will ignore your post if it has duplicate content.
To write the post:
- I split my screen in two by clicking on the split screen icon.
- I put the post I want to write from the AFRICA IDEAS TANK folder into one of the splits
- and its corresponding Research files in the other split.
- and write the post using my research
Note. If you are on a Windows computer a video will not play inside your project, but if you click on it in your research folder, it will open in a tab outside your project so you can still see it.
A note about images:
I search for images starting with Pixabay.com because they are free unless they have a watermark on them. Directly above the download button make sure it says “Free for commercial use.” If I can’t find a suitable image I try DollarPhoto.com because they have great images for a dollar.
I only save the thumbnails to start with because I just need a rough idea and don’t want to buy yet.
I drag them right into my post in the Editor, and add a reference so that the image is easy to find when I decide which one to use. You can resize the thumbnails within your draft by right clicking on the image and adjusting the slider in the box that floats up.
A Note about titles and keywords:
I am not going to teach you about search engine optimization but at the very least you need your focus keyword; in this case, LEOPARD, in the POST TITLE and several times in your POST. (I mark mine in red) By that I do not mean keyword stuff your post but do not wax lyrical and call it “these wonderful cats” — Call it leopard.
Once I have the post exactly the way I want
(1) I make a copy of it, drag it up to the JANUARY folder and replace the WEEK 1 place holder file with my new post and assign it a “Done” icon. In this case a green flag.
(You could have “nearly done” posts with blue flags or separate your “done” posts into categories to make sure you don’t have similar posts back to back or too many of one kind of post.
(2) Then I delete all the images and their reference codes in the done post because I don’t want them in the way when I copy the post over to my blog and I can go back to the original post as a reference to show which images I plan to use and where. (To delete an image, place your cursor directly after the image and hit delete.)
(3) If you want, you could open a new folder below all your ideas in the IDEAS TANK folder for subjects that are complete and drag your finished draft into it.
I go and download the full size images I am using for the post and resize them according to the specifications of my Blog template. (Your blog will be different from mine but you can usually resize within the blog as you are posting.) I drag a copy of the full size image into my research folder along with PDFs of any receipts if I have bought the images.
Once I have several posts written, if anything comes up in the news that will guarantee people are searching for my keyword I can easily slot an emergency post in and move the rest of the posts down a week. Be careful, there is a fine line between posting something benign whilst a keyword is trending and posting something in very poor taste.
A few quick tips
If you tend to use a lot of videos, it is better to store just their links and watch them in your browser. The more large files you store the slower your project will run. Open a new document and copy paste the links on to it. In Scrivener they will remain as links and if you select them you will be connected.
Video files aside, even if you run several blogs, it is sensible to put them all into one project and then run your social media campaigns from the same project. If all the information you need regarding each platform is close at hand then as you publish a post you can run through each platform and add your new post to your scheduled activities.
That is, if you are making a Facebook post about any of your blog posts from any of your blogs the title should be no more than a certain amount of characters and must include your link, the image must be square and a certain size etc. And you must not bore your tribe by only posting about your blog or blogs, so you need a schedule which includes other useful stuff that will be interesting for them.
If you are a beginner at Scrivener, I have a couple of step by step visual tutorial eBooks that can kick start your learning really quickly:
I also have free cheat sheets that help you remember how to do some of those more obscure things like changing spelling, remind you of the main keyboard shortcuts and explain what all the tools do:
Karen Prince lives in Cape Town. As well as being an Interior Designer, she’s a YA fantasy and adventure author, Scrivener software teacher, and an blogger about wildlife, Africa, inspiration & cool fantasy stuff.
Video: The top 5 reasons why Scrivener is Karen’s favourite writing software