Using Evernote to Ideate, Collect Material, and Draft Blog Posts

There are only a few tools that I would say are absolutely “essential” to my efforts as a professional blogger and Evernote is one of them.

Clip to Evernote[Click the link to the right to try it out!]

Evernote is one of those tools where I have asked myself on more than one occasion something to this affect:

How in the world did I ever live without this thing?! tweet

Not sure what Evernote actually is? Just think of it as a place and web service that you can access anywhere so that you can collect, record, and remember everything that you encounter online (and offline).

I do everything in Evernote as it relates to my blogging efforts. Here are just a few:

[Please note that you can now click the Evernote button at the top of the screen on any blog post to save the post automatically to Evernote!]

  1. I send myself audio recordings of thoughts that I’ve had about potential blog posts.
  2. I send myself off-the-cuff interviews with people.
  3. I use it to quickly capture and access documents to read.
  4. I use it to capture every type of media out there for viewing later.
  5. I use it to draft out blog posts. This is a much more safe approach than to using any native drafting board in any blogging platform.
  6. I use it to collect links of interest that might be used for drafts and posts later.
  7. I use it to even capture some of my financial information and reports

Clip to EvernoteAnd more.

It’s simply amazing and I can’t believe it’s actually free to use!

There’s Wisdom in Upgrading

There is a paid version of the application starting at $5 per month (or $45 per year). Here’s a table for comparison:

Clip to EvernoteThe benefits were, without question, worth it to me. I wanted to be able to upload any file type, search within some of those massive PDFs that I have, and have offline access (I can’t let an internet connection stop my work!).

In addition, sharing my docs with others as well as drafts was crucial to being a part of a team.

Here’s an overview of what’s available, creatively (and appropriately) titled “Evernote to the Rescue!”:

So, what are you doing to capture thoughts, ideate, and draft out blog posts?

  • Chris

    What are the dangers of drafting in your native blogging platform you alluded to?

    • John Saddington

      simply because I’ve lost tons of drafts just simply because of a power outtage, the browser crashing, etc.

      it’s better to get it in a desktop form, accessible everywhere, without dependencies on browsers. Sure, the desktop app could crash too, but I’ve never had that happen.

      it’s all about mitigating risk!

  • mandythompson

    I’ve had an off-again-on-again relationship with Evernote for some time now. Unfortunately, it’s mostly off… I don’t know why, but I haven’t been able to integrate it smoothly into my workflow. I think it’s the aggregation problem. The stacking up of information. The piles and piles of data that force me to re-sift through what I’m collecting online. I think it’s ease makes it overwhelming for me, because with one click I can have one more thing to look at later. I don’t have time for the later. I gotta get to it and mobilize it now.

    At least, that’s my thought. :)

    • John Saddington


      totally understand. it has to work with the way that you work to make good use of it!

      ultimately, what I’ve discovered is that finding that particular use case results in the greatest success.

      then you can expand its use from there.

  • Greg

    Right now I am using several different ways to capture information. To many. I tried Evernote before and I just didn’t get it for some reason. It would be great to see a Screencast showing us how bloggers could use it. I will look at it again today…looks like it’s something I can really use!!

    • John Saddington

      greg. I might go ahead and do just that! that’s a great idea.

      • Daniel Decker

        I’d love to see a screen cast example too.

      • Tom Jamieson

        that would be very helpful

        • John Saddington

          :) ok!

        • Andrew

          Most definitely

  • Kyle

    I’ve been using Evernote for over a year and I’m in love with it to the point that I listen to their podcasts in my free time now. I agree though about workflow integration. It took me a good 9-10 months to figure out HOW Evernote fit in with my blogging/thinking/creating needs.

    Agreed that a Screencast showing how YOU use it would be cool…

    • John Saddington

      sweet. sure thing kyle.

  • Stephen

    Man, I have loved Evernote since it was in beta. It was indispensable to me when I was doing research for school papers. I’ve used it for collecting ideas for blogging, but not for drafting. I might have to see how that works out.

    • John Saddington

      cool. let me know how that goes.

  • Blane Young

    It is a lot better than trying to sort through a Moleskine.

    I use SimpleNote thought because it is just text and it works way better on my iPod Touch. For the desktop, I use Notational Velocity.

    In terms of avoiding browser crashes, I am going to start writing my posts offline – thanks for the tip!

    • John Saddington

      i’ll take a look at notational velocity… haven’t seen that one.

  • Brad Parler

    I’ve tried Evernote – but just couldn’t make it a part my flow. Because I’m still on a PC and use OneNote for most of my notes at work I’m now thinking that I’ll start using it for collecting my draft ideas.

    • John Saddington

      i have heard great things about onenote. i used it once and didn’t fall for it.

  • Ryan Egan

    Evernote for drafts = the best way to draft ever. That is my number one recommendation for the product. I’m also really looking forward to the day that I have a smartphone or iPad that I can sync with the desktop and web app.

    The other awesome thing is that they have some awesome customer service. I wasn’t even aware there was an issue going on and all of a sudden I get an email telling me that my account was upgraded to pro for the rest of the year for free. Sweet!

    By the way, John, I love how you’re doing the “build it as I blog” approach to Tentblogger and adding features as you blog about them: such an awesome way to watch a great blog get built from the ground up.

    • John Saddington

      sure! i think this blog will be a living testimony and example of how to do it!

  • Brian Alexander

    I draft blog posts in evernote and use it for class notes, but haven’t really found any other uses for it beyond that. After seeing the video and this blog post I think I wil try to incorporate it more into my workflow.

    • John Saddington

      sweet! i love it. can’t live without it.

  • Dewitt Robinson

    Blue Ocean.

    • John Saddington


      • Dewitt Robinson is Blue Ocean. :)

        • John Saddington

          not sure what that means………!

  • Randy Kinnick

    Funny you should blog about Evernote this week. I just downloaded it on Thursday upon reading about it in another blog. I have begun to play around with it. It is yet to be determined how it will exactly integrate into my work flow. I agree, a screencast would be VERY helpful so as to see how YOU use it.

    • John Saddington

      cool. sure thing!

  • Eric Dye

    Started using Evernote this past Monday … #WIN!!!

    • John Saddington

      thing is amazing!

  • Kyle Troop

    I’ve been using Evernote for a while now and love it. As you mentioned in the comment above, being able to access it straight from the desktop is what I like best about it.

    I also use DropBox. It is very useful too. It is also one of the few things not blocked on my work computer at the day job (for now).

    • John Saddington

      dropbox is definintely the awesome too!

  • Eyvonne

    Evernote is wonderful! I have it on my iphone and anytime I have an idea, I just enter a few words to jog my memory.

    Ditto on drafting blog posts. You can access them from anywhere and you know they’re automatically backed up. I usually delete my draft posts from Evernote once their published to the blog.

    Saw some blogger the other day talk about how Evernote wasn’t a great tool. It made me sad.

    • John Saddington

      who was that? love to read that post.

  • Kathy

    Started using it a few weeks ago after you mentnioned it on your live chat. I love it. I think the comparison chart has an error though. (Or I’m not understanding what they mean.) They say you can’t share notebooks with iphones or ipads, but there’s a free app that I use on my iphone that syncs with my laptop. It’s very cool.

    The only drawback that I’ve found is a missing word count feature. Maybe it’s missing only to me; have you found a way to get a word count of your drafts without exporting to a wordpress or word draft?

    • John Saddington

      that’s a great addition. i’ll tell evernote!

  • Fred McKinnon

    Yep – love Evernote. i use it to store creative ideas, to draft journals, blog ideas, and even song ideas (with the audio note).

    I’ve been doing a lot of my “quiet time” devotionals “out of the office” lately – on the beach, out by the river, etc. I use YouVersion, and though I love the mobile version apps, and can read contributions, I’m unable to “add” a contribution (as far as I can tell), and have been using Evernote for that as well. One of my “must have” tools in the toolbox.

    • John Saddington

      sweet! glad to see you’re using it!

  • Ron Toledo

    Hi John,
    This is Ron from Evernote. I came across your post and just wanted to say thanks so much for sharing your Evernote uses with all of your readers. I’m glad to hear your finding use for our application, we really appreciate all of your support. I couldn’t agree more with the whole drafting blog posts use case. I use it that way all the time. If you (or your readers) are looking for some tips and other ways to use Evernote, I keep a collection of them on our tips blog here- We also profile people frequently on our blog-

    Thanks again.

    • John Saddington

      Ron, thanks so much! i sent an email to your team asking if I could take this blog post to the next level to share with all of the Evernote Community…! I’d share specifics on how I use it day-in and day-out…! How can I drop a guest post?

  • Craig Allen

    Never realized there was a free version of this before. Signed up and got the app, using it for all kinds of stuff!

    • John Saddington

      Sweet! i love it.

  • Josh Stauffer

    I have Evernote installed on my PC but have yet to dive in. I currently use Google Bookmarks and tag everything. My hope is that Evernote will allow me to capture a portion of the screen and make notes to myself about it. For example, I like the idea of your little girl holding the “subscribe” sheet. Can Evernote make a note of this for me? I’ll shall soon see. :-)

  • Yohan Perera

    At the moment my requirements are not so huge, I am using Instapaper instead of Evernote. However import from Instapaper to Evernote mechanism is a bright idea. Any ideas???

    • John Saddington

      hmm. I have no idea…!

  • Molleman

    Cool, I installed evernote on my mac. I have a questions. How can I get the icon in the header navigation, near twitter and facebook-icons. Can you help me!

    Thanks for your support.

    • John Saddington

      you have to do a little code work for that.

  • Scott Morse

    > So, what are you doing to capture thoughts, ideate, and draft out blog posts?

    TiddlyWiki. I love it very much. It’s my main blog topic lately, because most of us have not considered personal information management even though we need it badly.

    TiddlyWiki is basically for text. and not for varied media formats; so John might not like it all. But in return, it is extremely simple and lightweight. I like carrying a flash drive and knowing it will run on any computer with no install needed. I like not having to be on-line.

    Most of all, I love how a wiki facilitates the free association of ideas. It feels like mind mapping. One day soon the UI will really take the form of a mind map. My non-linear soul can hardly wait!

    I may try Evernote, now that you have informed me it has a free side.

    • John Saddington

      wow. i’m going to try it out!

  • Tammy Cannon

    One of your commenters had my same question. How do you put the evernote icon in navigation bar? Sounds like it requires code. Is this something you can share?

  • Dustin W. Stout

    I LOVE Evernote! It has been a lifesaver recently in capturing ideas. Not sure if I can justify upgrading, but I can see the value.

    Great post Jon!

    • John Saddington

      sure thing dustin! love this app.

  • Jeremy Myers

    Is there a way to publish to WordPress from within Evernote?

    • John Saddington

      man… not that i know of….?

  • Dustin W. Stout

    Hey John! Did you ever publish that screencast you were talking about in the comments here? I’d love to see how you take it from a draft in Evernote to WordPress. Is it as simple as a copy/paste?!

    • John Saddington

      hmm. not sure i did…?

      • Dustin W. Stout

        I didn’t think so. If you did, you did a REALLY good job at hiding it. ;)

        I only ask because I have been trying to use evernote to draft, but when I copy/paste from evernote to WordPress the formatting gets messed up. It transfers over a bunch of s for no reason that I can figure out.

        • John Saddington

          i’ll write a quick tip for you… one sec…..

        • Dustin W. Stout

          It transfers over a bunch of s… I guess that didn’t translate.

          • John Saddington

            ;) haha.