How To Write and Publish From an iPhone

During the past year, 70% of my content was created and published from my iPhone 7.

Imagine Publishing from this Small Device -courtesy of Pexels

We started dreaming and scheming to permanently move to Kauai, thinking we might manage it in four to five years. Surprisingly in December 2015 an opportunity presented itself for part time legal work for my partner on the island, four years ahead of schedule. The decision was made in January and we had four months to close a practice, get my business online and move.

Our new island home might be classified as a tiny house weighing in at 850 sq ft. It’s plenty big for us though as we downsized our belongings significantly. We flew over the Pacific with only six duffle bags and shipped 15 boxes and three crated items.

Keeping It Simple

We haven’t maxed out our storage space but we have a rule that we can’t bring something in without taking something out.

The same holds true for anything.

Minimal. Keep it simple.

Here’s an example. One of the challenges of living in the tropics is moisture. Metal items rust. Think staples and paper clips. Paper collects moisture and molds. Every piece of paper, bill, invoice that we need. to retain gets scanned. We don’t even have a printer. The scanner is a portable, no bigger than a pencil box and can be put away in a very small space.

We do have a desktop PC and a nice monitor and iPads and iPhones. My dream was to finally start writing. I toyed with writing a journal in the past but I was inconsistent.

I decided it was time to change my story and make writing a part of my morning routine.

My First Attempts at Going Small

I started writing on my iPad Mini. I struggled with the keyboard as it’s too large to comfortably type with my small hands. I want to keep my efforts compact to make them portable to the extreme.

Playing around with my iPhone seemed to work. Super transportable, I can write anywhere, anytime. Once we became well ensconced in our new home, my partner suggested that I could take my journal to the beach with my coffee and watch the sunrise. What a wonderful idea! (She has them now and then!)

I know many people recommend hand-writing your journal but if you refer back to the paragraph above about living in the tropics, it really doesn’t make sense to write on paper that will subsequently wrinkle, get moldy and rot.

PS. I also have since realized that I am usually at the beach before sunrise and it would be very hard to write in paper in the dark! 🔦

PPS. and thanks to Darren Stehle for the reminder that we can dictate to our devices easily with quite good accuracy making our rapid thoughts simple to catch. As long as you don’t freeze as soon as you press record. 😶

Criteria for Choosing Apps

I messed around with my iPhone for a while and at the same time, I was looking at programs, apps and storage solutions that would work easily across all platforms.

That became the criteria for each of my choices.

It must work between PC’s and IOS and be highly reliable on my iPhone. Each app has to sync, access and share data, docs and pictures easily. More about this later.

Writing. On the iPhone ✍️

I don’t type with two thumbs. What works for me is to nestle the phone on my left fingers and type with my right index finger and left thumb. I have found with auto-correct and a relaxed “let the fingers fly attitude”, I do well while not even looking at the keypad.

I complete the majority of my writing, blogging, journaling and document drafting on my phone.

It’s become such a habit that I find myself much less inspired if I sit down at the computer to write.

Each day the weather is not stormy and I am still home before sunrise, I go to the beach to make sure the sun comes up. That’s my first job. 🌅

Therefore, my iPhone it is. I have a waterproof case if it rains but more often I use our big umbrella to protect myself from the elements.

Main Criteria for choosing my apps — Works easily across all platforms (PC, IOS, Laptop)

The Writing App

After being frustrated by many standard writing apps, a colleague recommended that I look at Microsoft Office. I already have an annual subscription and they had just come out with free iOS apps. She had recommended OneNote for journaling and drafting blogs.

Previously I was using Google Drive, Docs and Sheets but it was not stable i.e. it kept crashing on my iPad so I moved away from it.

OneNote is working really well for my daily journal and drafts of blogs, columns, books as well as planning docs, i.e. all my writing. The only thing I wish the app could do is tables. It’s great for checklists but I love spreadsheets and it would be nice to be able to organize some of my linear thinking right in the same app.

I write freely in OneNote, take or add photos right from the app which is great for a journal. There is a good organizational system of Notebooks, Sections and Pages. I use a Notebook for the Daily Journal, another for Blogs and others for various aspects of business and life.

Also in the Daily Journal notebook, I have a section for Ideas and Backlog for To Do notes. This way I don’t have to go out of the Daily Journal Notebook to record thoughts. You can refer to most recently edited notes in the recent notes file so if I am bouncing around between several notes, they are collected conveniently there.

Speaking of ideas and tasks, way too many come to mind while I am writing my journal. I allow myself to write them as I think of them. I preface an idea with a lightbulb 💡 and a To Do with a flag ⛳️. Then when I copy them to their appropriate section, I mark them with a ✅. This icon comes up when you type the word ‘done.’ I do this so I see these easily as I scan the entry.

Storage

Originally my plan was to take a draft from OneNote to Word for final editing. MS Word is also very accessible on Apple devices however it adds another step. Since formatting can be done in Wordpress or Medium, which are the places I publish most of my content, I’ve decided to keep the final copy in OneNote. When I write a book or any longer document, I will take it into Word.

Each notebook syncs to OneDrive which if you don’t know, is Microsoft’s online storage solution. With my annual subscription to MS Office, I get 1T of space free. So I am moving all of my docs from Dropbox to OneDrive.

Other Apps

-courtesy of Pexels

I’ve also invested in Grammarly. A handy grammar and punctuation app to catch what Microsoft misses. I copy and paste my final draft into the app and after editing, replace the last version in OneNote. Yes — this can be done on an iPhone.

I use the Thesaurus.com app and. wcFree for Word Count.

Safari is fine for research and Yoast in Wordpress helps with SEO, keywords, etc. I also started using CoSchedule’s free headline analyzer to help with my titles.

Photos

Since I’m writing at the beach at sunrise, photos of the day provide me with much inspiration and become part of my story. My iPhone camera provides a good picture and I edit it within the IOS photo app to straighten and crop it. I rarely change the lighting or color settings as I prefer a natural representation of my morning.

For my WordPress blog, photos are best when set to 300x225. I have an app called Image Size that handles this efficiently. Then if I want to add content to the images for social media or just for fun, I use Canva or PicLab.

The experts of Medium including Tom Kuegler, recommend stock images. Pexels has a good IOS app where I can grab a photo, save it to my phone and quickly upload it to my Medium article.

Publishing

Once my post is complete, I can take it right into the Medium app. Their tools are so simple, I can easily complete my post on the iPhone. The only thing I don’t see how to do is the post in the Partner program in the app. To overcome that and to check all formatting, I save the column as a draft and the finish it in the computer.

To paste a blog into Wordpress, I open it in Safari. And yes, I have even done this on my phone. I have to upload the photos so it’s a little more tedious and I think it’s a good idea to check the post on a larger screen.

Email Marketing

I use ConvertKit for my business site’s email system and Mailchimp for my former business and book. www.potteddesert.com

MailChimp has a nice little IOS app and again I go out to Safari for ConvertKit.

With good eyes and small fingers, it all gets done ✅

Postscript: This post was fully completed on my iPhone, saved to Medium as a Draft and after about 5 minutes of cleaning up, published from my computer.

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