Blogging with Pinboard

I’m a long-time Pinboard fan, and from the moment I became a paid user I couldn’t shake the feeling that it is one of the most underrated services out there. It’s basically the center of my personal internet. I have years of articles tagged and cached, and available immediately whenever I need to remember something. For me, it represents the best of what technology has to offer as an “external brain”1.

But it’s even more powerful than that. I recently started wondering if Pinboard could become more central in my blogging workflow as well. My flow when I find an article I want to write about used to be two steps: (1) save to Pinboard, and then (2) start a new text file (with an excerpt from the article) and start writing.

Since I don’t always have time to write immediately after I read something, the disjointedness of these two steps means that I forget to post articles sometimes — or that I can’t remember which part I want to write about. So I needed a way to save Pinboard links for later, in a way that lets me pick up writing whenever I have time.

The solution I came up with isn’t rocket science, but it has made such a big difference to the way I write that I wanted to share it here. The key is a simple IFTTT recipe that takes any new link I save to Pinboard and creates a Markdown-formatted text file that I can use to start writing whenever I want to.

Here is a link to the IFTTT recipe: Post any new Pinboard link to a new text file in Dropbox.

And this is what it does:

Pinboard and IFTTT

I always put a pull quote in the “Description” field when I save a Pinboard link, so the recipe creates a text note with a Markdown-formatted URL, the pull quote, and space for me to add a title, slug, and excerpt once I’m ready to post to the site. Putting the note in a Dropbox folder means I can continue typing and editing on any device — I use Editorial on iOS and nvALT on Mac.

As for posting… I still haven’t found a mobile blogging platform that works for me, so even though I write many posts on my iPhone or iPad, I still post exclusively from MarsEdit. So I also went one step further and made a Keyboard Maestro macro (download here) that transfers the text from nvALT to MarsEdit as soon as I’m ready to post.

You know, the internet is pretty cool sometimes.

  1. Clive Thompson discusses the idea of external memory in detail in his excellent book Smarter Than You Think