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Recently, I covered how to create blog entries using just your voice through the magic of Google Voice. If you haven’t noticed yet, I love blogging. The concept of blogging just by making a quick phone call and speaking your blog entry is an idea that enters a little bit into the range of science fiction.
Unfortunately, as you may have noticed if you read that article, Google Voice doesn’t do a perfect job transcribing your voice yet. It completely misunderstands some words, and these mistakes are unacceptable when you’re using the text as a blog entry. So until Google can improve their service, we’re left with the next best option – email blog updates via email.
In the Google Voice article, part of the process of setting up the voice-to-blog system was installing a very cool WordPress extension called Postie. I didn’t cover Postie in much detail, because you only need the basic email-to-blog feature to make that system work. However, using the additional features that Postie offers, in addition to letting you email blog updates, it will allow you to also send in photos and media, and create much more creative and interesting posts via email. So I thought I’d take some time to cover the extensive features of this excellent WordPress extension.
Installing Postie On Your Blog
Most folks who have had a personal hosted WordPress blog for a while understand how to quickly install or uninstall WordPress plugins. If you’re not sure how to do it, simply download the zipped file from the Postie link above, unzip it to a folder on your PC, and then use your favorite FTP client to FTP the file into the plugins folder of your blog.
Once you do this, the plugin will show up as Postie and Cronless Postie in your WordPress control panel under “Plugins.”
Activate both Postie and Cronless Postie. If you are a Linux user, or you otherwise know how to configure cron jobs that will run the Postie script every so often to check your email account for any new email, you can use just the Postie feature alone. However, for most users, the additional add-on Cronless Postie is needed so that you can use the built-in scheduler that will run the Postie script at a set interval (every day, hour, etc) to check for new emails.
How Postie Works
The cool thing about Postie, as opposed to most other email-to-blog tools out there, is that you can use any personal email account that you want – not a specific pre-defined address, as you have to do in some cases with Blogger. Once you’ve enabled Postie, go under “Settings” in your control panel and click on “Postie.” Here, you’ll see the basic Mailserver settings.
This is where you can set up your POP3 settings for any email that you like. I suggest setting up a Gmail account exclusively for receiving email blog updates. While any email will work (because you can filter out which senders are authorized to blog), creating an email account only for your blogging will make things a lot easier to handle.
User settings is where you define who can post to your blog via email. Do not “allow anyone” unless you feel pretty certain that the unique email you set up for your blog will not receive any spam or unexpected messages. By allowing anyone, you’re saying that anything that lands in the inbox of that unique email account will immediately be blogged – that could be dangerous. Instead, add Authorized Addresses in the list box.
When Postie checks your unique email account, it will check the sender. If the sender is one of those addresses, the email will get converted into a post entry. You can also automatically add the addresses of anyone set up on your blog under any role by simply selecting that role.
Once Postie checks your email account and recognizes a new incoming email from one of your authorized senders, you can then configure how the email is converted into a blog post under the “Message” configuration. Set up the default category that Postie blogs to, and if there’s no subject for the email (which normally becomes the title), then define a default title as well.
The options below that define how the message is processed – what code is allowed or not allowed. For example, if you allow the subject in the email, then people can type “#your title here#” in the message rather than the subject line in order to set the Title (this works well for SMS to email posts).
The coolest option here is the Tag or Message Start and End. Using this setting, you can define what text or code begins and starts the post, so no matter what extra text exists outside of those tags, only the enclosed text gets posted.
Unlike many other email-to-blog services, Postie gives you the ability to completely customize how many images attached to the email message are posted to the blog. I always had the problem, with previous apps that I’ve used, where the image would just get thrown at the top of the blog post and centered, with the text below it. I always like my images aligned as thumbnail left. Postie not only lets you set that up, but then you can further customize the image template by tweaking the HTML however you like.
The same customization is available for any video or audio files that you attach as well. Customize how those files are embedded into your blog, based on attached file type.
For any attached files of other types, you can define how that attachment looks in your blog. Select the icon set color and size, and add any default text that you’d like to go with it.
As you can see, Postie turns the ability to simply email blog updates into the ability to create full-featured blog entries via email. Now, when you’re on vacation and nowhere near a computer, you can just type up a quick email on your mobile phone, attach an image, and all of the customization that you have in place with Postie will ensure that your blog entry looks exactly as it does when you post it directly into the WordPress editor.
Do you use Postie to post blog entries? What’s your favorite email-to-blog WordPress plugin? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.