It’s a situation nearly every blogger has faced. You come up with a great idea for a new post, perhaps while writing a different one, and you rush to jot it down. However, inevitably, you lose the paper or toss the note in the trash on accident, only to lose the idea forever.
Others, myself included, have resulted to hammering out a quick post with just the title and marking that as an idea with a promise to come back to it later. However, as newer posts get dumped on top of it the idea gets bumped down the page until the only way to see it is to check the “drafts” folder.
What WordPress needs is a way to keep track of post ideas separate from actual posts. Fortunately, Matt Hobbs has a great plugin to help you keep track of your post ideas so you don’t forget a thing. Called Post Ideas+, it is built on a previous plugin, simply called Post Ideas, by Aaron Robbins, who stopped work on the plugin in 2008.
The plugin may not be the most feature-rich but it is certainly one of the most useful I have encountered and it is one that I am using proudly on my blogs to help me keep track of what I’m writing about next.
Post Idea+ installs like any other WordPress plugin. You can either download and install it from the backend or do it manually from the plugin repository.
Once you have it set up and activated, it creates two widgets for your dashboard. The first is a list of your existing post ideas, entitled “Latest Post Ideas”, and the second is simply a means to add a new one.
When you create a new post idea, the plugin allows you to track five different pieces of information including:
- Title: The proposed title of the post.
- Description: A brief synopsis of what the post is about.
- Tags: A list of tags for the post.
- Links: Any URLs you may need to remember to write the new post.
- Priority: A 1-99 score on how important the post is, used for sorting.
All you have to do is, when you think of a good idea for a post, simply fill in the form on the dashboard and then hit save. The idea will go into the list, which can be sorted based on whatever criteria you choose (priority is the default) and you will be able to view the list in your dashboard any time you log in.
From the dashboard, you can either “Write” the post, which deletes the post idea from the list and opens up a new post with the title prepopulated, or you can delete/edit the idea. Also, from the tools menu, you can alter how the list is sorted and the number of items displayed.
All in all, the system is simple, elegant and efficient, it is nearly the perfect way to keep track of your post ideas, keeping them close to where you’re going to actually be working on them. That being said though, there are a few minor kinks I would like to see worked out.
Some Things to Watch
As great as the plugin is, there are a few hiccups that you may want to watch out for when using it.
For one, though the plugin pre-populates the title of the post when you write a post idea, it doesn’t seem to carry over the other information. The tags are not put in as tags, and the other elements, including the links and description, disappear. This can be very frustrating if you forget to open the links you were saving before hitting the “Write” link.
Also, when you’re using the widgets on the dashboard, every action takes you to the plugin’s page under tools. This breaks the workflow a bit but is a relatively minor hassle. Also, this one may not be possible to fix given the nature of WordPress widgets.
Finally, this plugin is currently not for sites with multiple authors. Though it will work and authors can see the admin’s post ideas, there is little control or correspondence about how these ideas work with multiple authors. As such, it may be best to hold off until a later version addresses this.
Still, despite these hiccups, it’s clear that Post Ideas+ is a must-have plugin for anyone wanting to keep track of their story ideas. It is simple to use, fast to install and virtually headache free. Future versions can easily fix most of these issues, making it a near-perfect plugin for the purpose.
Even now it is more than worthwhile because, even though we say ideas a dime a dozen, the truth is that we can not afford to forget them.
Ideas may not be worth anything, but with work and time, they can be crafted into something that is very valuable. That alone makes them worth protecting and nurturing.