Continuing the series about tools I use for data analysis in managing merchant affiliate programs I’m going to discuss here some of the tools I use for writing, html/newsletter creation and image manipulation and editing.
When writing newsletters and also drafting individual or sub-group emails to affiliates, I primarily use Espresso from Macrabbit. I started using this editor because I happened to get it in a software bundle a few years ago. I really liked it so have continued using it and upgrading it with new versions. I love the syntax highlighting (for html) and the automatic completion of HTML tags. Also as a preference, I really like clean interfaces. I grew so comfortable with it it became my main text editor.
That was until I learned about Markdown. Now I do know enough basic HTML to be dangerous, but I’m not adept enough that I don’t need a little reference page open to check tag syntax when trying to write HTML. For most of the basic HTML documents I create (blog posts and emails), Markdown is awesome. Markdown let’s me focus on the writing rather than worry about the HTML syntax. I cannot say enough good things about Markdown.
Since I want to try and duplicate as much functionality as I can on the iPad, I’ve recently purchased Byword from the Mac App Store and the iOS App Store. I’m using Byword right now to write this blog post. I’ll use another app however, Marked, to convert the Markdown to HTML. Even though Byword has built in conversion to HTML, I’ve gotten in the habit of using Marked since it’s consistent and can be used with any text editor I happen to be creating a document with. There really are so many great text editors out there for the Mac, that none can really be called the go-to market leader. Meaning, they are all good and it just depends on individual tastes.
A couple of quick side-notes; I also use TextWrangler, the free version of BBEdit, for a lot of miscellaneous text things, like cleaning up text and getting rid of strange characters, and for quick search and replace functions. Very often I have to replace spaces with commas in lists or convert pipes to commas, etc. On the iPad I use Textastic for the same things I use Espresso and TextWrangler for on the Mac, and Byword for most of my general writing. I love the global search and replace in Textastic on the iPad.
Those writing and text tools above are used to create all of my newsletters, draft emails to affiliates, blog posts and to manipulate any text data (csv files) before importing into Numbers or Filemaker for analysis.
I enjoy just about everything having to do with online work and web-working, but probably the one skill that I really need the most help with is working with images. I struggle when it comes to creating nice looking images and editing them. So I leave that mostly to the designers we work with atAMWSO for our affiliate creative development services. If I am forced to do any basic resizing or cropping, I use Acorn as my go to image editor. I definitely don’t get into the feature-swelled mess that is Adobe Photoshop. Acorn is lightweight, and intuitive and allows me to get 90% of the stuff done I ever need to do. Another great alternative to Acorn is Pixelmator. Both are great independent apps for the Mac.
In the next post, I’ll talk about what I use for email, contact management and communications with affiliates.