Webmasters and bloggers buying or selling content creation services are always interested in streamlining their content creation process to maximize throughput and save money but without sacrificing quality. Content writers will often find themselves adding the same piece of content e.g. disclaimers, author bio, article structure to many different posts, adding to the time it takes to finish an article because they will constantly be going back to older posts to copy the text and paste it to the new post. It’s really a waste of time and if you’re writing for more than just a few websites/blogs the procedure is unnecessarily cumbersome and the chance of making mistakes are high.
In order to achieve a more efficient workflow in Windows Live Writer, which is by far one of the most popular blogging tools available, I will recommend a fabulous plugin that will take content creation to a new level.
A snippet is a section or piece of content (text or HTML) you want to reuse in different posts. Snippets Manager lets you manage your snippets in categories and subcategories. A real timesaver is the possibility to use placeholders where custom text can be inserted to. This is useful if you have a template of text where the file size, product name or version name are changing. Furthermore you can save your snippets to an external file which is ideal if you want to make a backup and later restore.
I personally use Snippets Manager by Kobi Pinhasov to keep things consistent and to keep track of everything I regularly paste into my posts on different websites. This is a big timesaver and I can concentrate on creating killer content rather than spending my time shuffling between old and new posts copying/pasting content.
It’s a free plugin and it’s quick and easy to install and has an intuitive user interface allowing you to quickly find what you need for any particular post you’re writing.
How to use Snippets Manager
Learning to use Snippets Manager is very easy and straight forward. First download and install the plugin. Then follow these few steps to get acquainted with this timesaver.
1. If you want to paste text without HTML be sure to select the Edit tab in the bottom left of Writer, or select the Source tab if you want to paste HTML. Then click in the post where you want to insert a snippet.
2. Click the Insert tab and then select the Snippets Manager box in Windows Live Writer.
3. First time Snippets Manager opens you need to add at least one root category through File –> New –> New Root Category. Then if you like you can add sub categories using File –> New –> New Category. You can add as many root categories and subcategories as you want.
In order to make Snippets Manager easy to use I would recommend you to give categories descriptive names and be sure to describe what the category is about as this will make it much easier to find what you need later.
4. Now, to add a Snippet go to File –> New –> New Snippet
I will recommend the same naming conventions as described in step 2. For example indicating whether the snippet should be pasted as text or HTML.
5. Paste your content into the Design tab of the snippet.
In this example I’m using a couple of HTML links which I often append to my posts. This is a snippet that I use frequently and as I will link to different urls during the post it requires a little modification each time. This is where you will benefit from using placeholders. Select the changing area of text and click the Mark Placeholder button or right-click on the selected text and select Mark Placeholder. The selected area will be colored to indicate that a placeholder has been set and makes it easy to locate and change later.
In this example I have defined 3 placeholders: URL more info, URL demo and company name.
Click the Save button.
6. Click the tab Send to Live Writer when you have your text and any placeholders ready. On the Send to Live Writer tab any placeholders defined in Design view will now be listed. For each placeholder specify your text and it will be appended to the source text when pasted into Live Writer.
Before adding the text to your post you can preview the output by clicking the preview output link which in this example looks like this:
If you want to compact the output and decrease file size before pasting it into your post tick the Compact before adding checkbox. This will remove any unnecessary spaces between tags decreasing the download time to your clients.
Click the button Add to post to append the result to the current cursor position in Writer.
Now you are done. You now have a template which you can use again and again.
Setting up all of your snippets and any placeholders the first time takes some time, but when everything have been set up it’s easy to access and use and really saves time when writing posts. Most importantly you get a consistent way of adding the same content to different posts, minimizing mistakes. You can add as many categories as you want and as many snippets as you need and organize them as you prefer.
In this article I have used another great plugin for Live Writer called Clipboard Capture. This plugin is perfect if you want to convert images in Windows Live Writer into JPGs and save server space and increase bandwidth.
If you have any experience with other great plugins for Windows Live Writer please don’t hesitate to share them in a comment.