Have you ever wished that your blogging platform functioned more like a word processor while you’re typing your posts? Unfortunately, blogging programs are rather limited in the options and features they provide during the process of entering a post. For this reason most bloggers type their posts in some sort of word processing program and then simply cut and paste into the blogging program when the post is ready to be published.
Word processors offer many features that most blogging programs do not, such as spelling and grammar checks, larger areas for typing, and easier storage and saving of posts that are in process.
Despite the benefits of using a word processor there are significant drawbacks as well. Word processors, such as Microsoft Word, create unnecessary coding behind the scenes that gets pasted along with the text. By simply copying a Word document and pasting it into a blogging program the HTML coding will quickly become a mess. While the text of the blog post may appear as intended, the HTML code may not validate, and it can create inaccessible pages and slower page loads.
Another option for bloggers who want the benefits of a word processor without the coding nightmares is a blog editing program. There are a number of options available (some free and some not) that we’ll look at in this article. These programs create clean HTML code while still providing a number of benefits.
When looking at blog editors you will find that each program has its own special features that make it unique. However, at a bare minimum you should expect the following features from any editor you use:
- Spell checking
- Ability to save posts and publish posts at any time
- Manage posts for multiple blogs (unless you plan on only ever using one blog)
- HTML editor (most provide a WYSIWYG editor — if so, be sure that you can also edit the code directly)
- Ability to add categories to your posts
Another decision you’ll need to make is whether or not you want to be able to work on your blog posts offline. Most editors enable you to do this, however, a few do not. Of course, you should also check to make sure that any editors that you are considering are compatible with your operating system and with your blogging program. Most editors work with all of the major blogging programs.
Windows Live Writer (free download):
One of the leading blog editors, Windows Live Writer provides all of the basic functions and then some. Its unique features include availability in six languages, page authoring for WordPress and TypePad (especially helpful if you’re using it as a CMS), and map publishing and photo publishing options.
Most blog editors will allow you to preview your post, but Windows Live Writer goes a step further. Here’s what they say about the preview functionality:
You can now author your post and know exactly what it will look like before you publish it. Writer knows the styles of your blog such as headings, fonts, colors, background images, paragraph spacing, margins and block quotes and enables you to edit your post using these styles.
If you use a lot of photos and images in your blog posts, you may like Windows Live Writer’s photo publishing features. You can browse thumbnails of pictures through the “Insert Picture” dialog when you’re trying to find the right picture. This eliminates the need to use another method of finding the right photo, such as opening Photoshop or Windows Explorer. The program also provides some editing and graphics tools to work with your images inside Windows Live Writer.
Qumana (free download):
Another of the leading editors, Qumana also provides all of the necessary functionality plus some of its own features. To start with, Qumana supports a long list of blogging platforms. You can also add Technorati tags from within Qumana. However, the feature that distinguishes Qumana from the other competitors is Q Ads, which are keyword ads that you can easily insert into your blog to make some money.
Q Ads look basically like any other PPC ads that you would put on a website or blog. Qumana aims to make inserting ads easier than with other options. Here is what they have to say:
Qumana is a free, easy-to-use blog editor that combines powerful WYSIWYG capabilities with easy one-click ad insertion. With Qumana, you can insert Q-Ads ads when and where you want. It’s that simple.
Ecto is the successor of Kung-Log, a popular program for Mac users. Ecto is available for both MacOSX and Windows. Unlike Windows Live Writer and Qumana, Ecto is not a free program. You can download it and try it for free, but it costs $17.95 to buy Ecto.
Ecto includes all the basic features, plus a quick access toolbar with HTML tags and keyboard shortcuts, an HTML-rendered preview, a file and image upload tool, thumbnail creation, and support for Amazon searches.
Like Ecto, BlogJet is a paid program that offers a free trial download. The full price of BlogJet is $39.95 and $19.95 for upgrades. BlogJet also provides all of the basic features plus image uploading, Flickr and YouTube support, a word counter and blog statistics, a multi-language spell checker, auto replacement options, and file attachments.
One negative to BlogJet is that it is only available for Windows users.
ScribeFire (Firefox Add-on):
If you’re not interested in editing your blog offline (which is an option with all of the other editors listed), ScribeFire is a Firefox add-on that you may want to consider. (Note: ScribeFire was previously known as Performancing for Firefox). With ScribeFire you can work within Firefox to write, edit, and publish your blog posts. It’s a full-feature editor with the only major difference from the other options being that you have to be online to use the program. ScribeFire doesn’t have as many features as the other editors, but it has all of the basics and it only requires a simple add-on to Firefox.
My suggestion is to try one of these options, especially if you’re currently using a word processor. There is an increasing amount of competition among blog editors, which means they are quickly being updated and improved in order to draw more users.
Personally, I have tried Qumana and ScribeFire. Both seem to work pretty well so far, but I quickly learned that you should start by using any of these programs on a test blog rather than your primary blog, in case something unexpected happens when you’re first learning to use the system.
I used Qumana to publish two posts on my main blog, and both ended up in the the “Uncategorized” category (which of course can be fixed). The first time I thought maybe I forgot to select a category, but the second time I realized that wasn’t the problem. I’m sure the problem was not that Qumana can’t add posts to my WordPress categories, but my point is that you should test these programs somewhere before you use it on your main blog.
Which blog editors have you tried, and what was your experience?