When I first started blogging, I used to fantasize about the idea of working from a café. It seemed very attractive at the time. I mean, what’s not to like about being able to just go to a random café, have a nice hot beverage, turn on your laptop and start working.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
Well, as much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news, the fact is that blogging from a café is just not always effective.
And believe me, I would really like for this myth to be true. I love changing my environment throughout the week so I don’t have to work from the same place all the time. But unfortunately, cafés are not the best of workplace areas to handle creative work.
Nevertheless, this post presents both sides of the barricade. I’m going to show you the tasks that can get done from a café very efficiently, as well as the tasks you should never attempt to do.
So let’s start with the former. In other words, here are the pros of being a café-blogger.
Things you can get done in a café
Although I am constantly experimenting with cafés and adjusting my work routines, it seems that the only two things that can get done from such places effectively are: email and “meta” work.
Thing to do #1: Email.
As much as we all hate email, we have to take care of it eventually. It’s just part of our online existence, and especially if we’re guest blogging regularly. In general, email kind of sucks. I’m actually guilty of writing at least two articles (here and here) on why email is the worst productivity killer of them all.
That being said, it turns out that when you’re in a café, all email related tasks feel a bit easier to bear:
- You get a nice environment to work in. You can enjoy your favorite type of coffee and try not to notice the mundane nature of email.
- Chances are, you won’t go to a café more than 1-2 times per day, so if you dedicate yourself to do email only from cafés, such an approach can save your productivity for the rest of the day.
- You’ll have to do it quickly, as sitting in a café for 3+ hours would simply look strange.
- It’s perfect for sending guest post pitch emails, or basically having any other conversations with the bloggers in your network.
Thing to do #2: “Meta” work.
Meta work is a term I got from my computer programming course at the university. To give you an example, meta data is a kind of data that describes other data. In our situation, meta work is every task that is designed to improve some other aspects of our work. For example:
- planning your daily tasks,
- reviewing your guest post pitches,
- figuring out who to reach out to next,
- checking if your previous guest posts are still live,
- checking if your links are still live,
- reviewing the tasks completed yesterday,
- creating a larger plan for a given guest blogging project,
- brainstorming over things, and so on.
The reason why these can be done from a café is again the impression of urgency. This was a counterintuitive conclusion for me, but doing meta work really is the most effective when there’s a time constraint or some other limitation that you have to fit with.
Things not to get done in a café
You might be surprised that the most important task for a guest blogger – writing – didn’t find its place in the previous section. In short, I don’t believe that you can write effectively while being in a café.
Thing not to do #1: Writing.
The main reason is that there’s just too much distraction going on. People talking, music playing, and a lot of ambient noise in general.
Although I’m not saying that writing anything decent in a café is impossible, I really believe that you’re much better off doing it in your standard work environment (like your office or home office).
Thing not to do #2: Editing and proofreading.
These two tasks require even more concentration than writing as they are much more detail oriented. Even though I’m not a fan of perfectionism, I still have to admit that publishing anything with obvious grammar or style errors is not cool. You owe it to your readers to spend at least some amount of time making your work readable.
That’s all for my lists, so now let’s talk about some tools that can make our day easier.
“Café” tools for savvy guest bloggers
If you’re working from a café then you’re doing it on some kind of a mobile device. Therefore, you need some specific tools to synchronize your work and make it cross-platform compatible.
WordPress apps and alternatives.
If the platform you’re using offers some kind of quality WordPress app then I encourage you to use it and make it your main writing tool.
What’s great about this sort of apps is that you can send your post to whatever blog you wish, and also store it as a text file or some other format.
If you’re using a laptop then consider a tool like Windows Live Writer. In a way, it’s just like Blogsy, but for a Windows PC. With it, you can keep your posts in a central place and decide where to send them later on. It’s a highly valuable tool for people working with more than one blog.
Some additional cool things about Writer: it’s free, you can synchronize your posts through any cloud service out there, you can send your posts via email to other people, the tool is fast and it’s equipped with the essential features only.
You surely know what Dropbox is, right? Great. But there are also some nice alternatives:
Just a note. In my opinion, SugarSync is a better tool than Dropbox. It lets you synchronize any folder on your computer (not just “Dropbox”) and it offers more space for your buck.
Are you experiencing any troubles managing your browser bookmarks on the various devices you use? If that’s a yes then check out Maxthon. It’s fast, available on all major devices, and utilizes the almighty cloud for some cool features (like bookmark synchronization and a lot more).
Of course, you can still use Firefox or Chrome with a handful of sync plugins, but going with Maxthon is just way simpler.
Google Drive is in a category of its own. Simply because it’s the best place for keeping all kinds of documents and spreadsheets.
I know that this advice might seem pretty basic at first, but I really want to emphasize that there’s no other better way to share a finished, written guest post with the blogger you’re pitching.
Google documents allow you to place images exactly where you need them, format text properly, use sub-headlines and so on. This will always make your guest post look way better than a plain text file sent as an email attachment.
I guess this closes the list of the tools I use when doing some guest blogging from my local café. But I’m curious to know your take on the matter. Do you think that working from cafés is a good idea for bloggers?