Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
If a blog feels like too much work, feel free to cut it out of the equation. You can publish posts without one.
Writer or not, you might wish to put your thoughts in writing when the mood strikes you. If you want to start a blog we have plenty of information to help you with that, including this definitive guide to WordPress and Joel’s article on easy-to-use blogging tools. But what if having to set up and maintain a blog to send out the occasional post does not appeal to you? Maybe you just want to contribute a few recipes now and then, share some tech tips weekly, or put up interesting links about DIY projects.
Whatever it is that you want to share in writing with the world, or even a select few, there is a solution to do so without a blog setup in place. The following three apps are part of that solution.
We covered Pen.io way back in 2011. If it escaped your notice or if you hadn’t considered it as a viable option before, here’s a reminder. Pen.io is a no-strings-attached method to publish a Web page instantly. No registration or setup is involved. You don’t even need to give out your email address.
On the Pen.io homepage, enter a name for the URL of your new page, add a password to get editing access, and hit Create New Page. A blank slate pops up in front of you. Fill it with great content, embed videos and images if you want to, click on Save, and voilà. Your article is now on the Web at your-url.pen.io and is accessible to everyone. If you want to make changes to the page, click on edit page in the footer and type in your password to enter the edit mode.
What can you publish on Pen.io? That’s totally up to you! Check out You Can Use Pen To for some great ideas. Create as many pages as you want, for free.
Simplenote is a free and useful note-taking app. When you create a note in Simplenote and choose the publishing option, you’ll get a URL to go with the note. Share that URL to direct people to what you have written. It could be a song, a tutorial, a rant, whatever. You can edit, unpublish, import, export, or even delete the note. While Simplenote does not allow for embedding of videos and images, you can still share links to such media by using the time-saving Markdown format. To enable Markdown-formatted content, select a note, navigate to Note info & settings, and check the box next to Markdown Formatted.
Since Simplenote has a sturdy ecosystem of apps for various devices and operating systems, you can write a post and share it from anywhere, at any time. All you need is a working Internet connection and a (free) Simplenote account.
If you’re a writer, the Writeroom-inspired Writer app, created by Big Huge Labs, is an excellent solution to organize your drafts and write in a distraction-free environment. If you aren’t a writer, it is still a useful app to have for saving notes. The best part is that it takes only a second to make one of your articles publicly available. A tiny lock icon appears next to each saved draft. Clicking on it unlocks the draft and makes it public. The usual social media trio of Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ are built into the published page for easy sharing. If you want to mark the draft as private, click on the lock once again. By default, all drafts are marked private of course. You can unlock them when you’re good and ready to.
Mind you, Writer is entirely text-based and does not support clickable links. If you want the convenience of adding various media, it’s best to opt for apps like Simplenote or Pen.io.
Why These Apps Can Work Well
Often, blogging feels like a big step for various reasons. Some of the major roadblocks include the research and effort involved in:
- Deciding what to write about / Picking a theme
- Choosing whether to go for a hosted or a self-hosted blog
- Narrowing down a suitable platform
- Finalizing the look of the blog
- Finding and setting up plugins
By the time you take care of blog-related tasks like these, you might lose your enthusiasm to start one, especially if you’re not keen on writing regularly or if tech is not high on your list of priorities.
But with the apps listed above, the focus is on the words and the information they provide, all of which appears in a simple, easy-to-read format. There are no themes/plugins/tweaks to deal with, and there are fewer steps to take between writing/editing a post and sending it out for public consumption. This effortless workflow might prompt you to write more and on a regular basis.
If you’re worried that publishing at random URLs will make it difficult for you and others to keep track of your writing, try this:
Choose Simplenote or Writer to put up posts and then use a Pen.io page with your name in the URL as an archive linking to all of those posts.
When you constantly come across stunning blogs that seem to do all kinds of magic tricks, it’s easy to forget that blogging platforms, designs, addons, etc. are not the most important aspect of writing. Words are, and so is the impact they have on the reader (Justin Jackson explains it much better). You might want to start a blog sooner or later. But don’t wait till you have one to write and publish interesting stuff online.
Which other apps let you blog without a blog? Let us know about them in the comments.