Quickly Start Your Own Dropbox-Synced Blog with Scriptogram

You may remember a few weeks ago when we talked about 3 things journalists can teach themselves over their winter vacations. One of these things is learning how to create a blog so you can showcase your writing. While you could start a blog with any number of services (WordPress, Blogger, etc.), Scriptogram has streamlined this process by allowing you to create your own blog just using a text file and a free Dropbox account. (Dropbox, in case you’re not familiar with the service, is a service which stores your files in the cloud and allows you to access them using a number of different apps across multiple operating systems and mobile platforms.)

Getting set up with scriptogr.am takes less than five minutes, and all you need to begin is a Dropbox account. Once you have that, visit the scriptogr.am website and click Dropbox connect to begin the process.

Choose the name of your blog, and Scriptogram will create a folder in your Dropbox for your blog. It also loads a sample post which includes a basic tutorial on how scriptogr.am works, including template data and predefined global variables for your posts or pages. To edit the settings for your Scriptogram blog, click the grey scroll icon at the top right corner of the page.

The settings page includes options to change your blog’s name, include a mobile layout, or map a custom domain. You can change the theme of your blog (only two themes are available right now), and edit the blog’s HTML and CSS. The HTML and CSS editors include a handy preview window so you can see how your code looks as you edit it.

Clicking the Text editor button launches the online text editor where you can create your posts. The editor includes a handy formatting bar at the bottom of the screen which has buttons for bold and italic text, a block of code, an unordered list, an ordered list, a blockquote, a horizontal rule, and three levels of headings. If you are familiar with Markdown, you can jump right in and start writing posts. Once you’re done, click the Save button to sync your text to Dropbox, click the Close button to close the Text editor, and then click the Synchronize button to publish your post. Scriptogr.am posts are saved in your Dropbox as text files with the .md extension. This means you can create posts in any text editor using scriptogr.am’s template format and save them directly to your Dropbox to put them in an unpublished status. Don’t forget to go back to the scriptogr.am website to publish them!

Scriptogr.am’s also come with their own RSS feeds, so users can syndicate your content in an feed aggregator like Google Reader. You can grab your feed URL by adding /feed to the end of your scriptogr.am URL (e.g., http://scriptogr.am/mcherry/feed). The added bonus of using Dropbox as a hosting system with Scriptogram is that a local copy of your posts will always be available to you on your computer or in your Dropbox folder. Scriptogr.am has taken the hassle out of remembering to backup your blog.

To see an example of scriptogr.am in action, check out my example Scriptogr.am blog at http://scriptogr.am/mcherry. Scriptogr.am is currently in the “super-beta stage”, but you can try it out for yourself by visiting http://scriptogr.am. Keep up with scriptogr.am’s progress at the scriptogr.am blog or by following them on Twitter.