How many of you still keep a journal under your bed? Or tucked away in that box from 1999 in the bottom of the wardrobe?
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.
But now that it’s 2016, and we do everything else online, should we be moving our diaries online too? A lot of people are already doing so, and a product called Penzu is offering them the freedom to do it minus the regular privacy concerns associated with online activity.
Penzu is a web-based journaling tool that allows users to create a personal online diary. For those who aren’t ready to share their innermost secrets with the world, Penzu allows users to choose which posts they wish to share and where.
Penzu claims to provide stringent privacy controls that may not be available with similar sites and one of its best selling points is its ‘share if you want to’ mantra.
But just how different is it to starting a WordPress blog and utilizing the privacy controls? Or simply logging a journal on Evernote? And for the old schoolers out there who prefer a good old fashioned pen and journal… is it even worth the switch?
I wasn’t too sure, so I decided to try it out for myself.
Getting Set Up
There are three account options available in Penzu – Classic, Pro, and Pro Plus. Prices range from free for the Classic account to $49.99 for Pro Plus, and the setup process is pretty easy.
To get started with Penzu, simply type in your name, email, and password.
Then, run through 3 simple setup steps – starting with choosing your journal cover, followed by your font choice. Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll be ready to start posting.
Ease Of Use
There’s no learning curve here at all – you simply set up and go. Once you’ve finished the 3 steps at the start and selected your background, and font style, you simply click ‘new entry’ to start your new post. There are also a good selection of customization options available to make each entry unique.
Oh and let’s not forget the Penzu Podcast hiding in the corner, which I’m sure is great, but it’s 46 minutes long. And I’m not going to lie, I only listened to about 10 minutes of it. It might be your kind of thing though, so it’s worth checking out.
Want to add images? No problem, simply upload them from your computer or embed them from Flickr.
Features and Pricing Comparison (Classic Vs Pro/Pro Plus)
Penzu Classic has pretty much everything you need in a basic online journal, so it’s up to you whether you opt to go for one of the Pro plans. That said, the Pro version does have some pretty good perks, such as a wider range of fonts, and it’s definitely worth checking out.
Here’s a quick comparison between Penzu Classic, Penzu Pro, and Penzo Pro Plus:
Penzu Classic (Free)
Unlimited disk space,
Image insert available via Flickr/your computer
Sharing via email and public link
Basic font selection
Penzu Pro ($19.99 per year)
Penzu Pro offers all of the above, plus some pretty impressive extras, such as:
Mobile access (iPhone and iPad apps),
Large size images with download option
Military-grade encryption lock,
Customize pad style and backgrounds
Custom writing reminders
Email entry submission
Penzu Pro Plus ($49.99)
If you want to go all out, then you can avail of a few more extra features with Penzu Pro Plus, such as a handwriting fonts bundle and premium support. Personally, I’m not sure these are worth the 30 quid dent in your wallet, but I’ll leave it up to you.
All posts are private by default on Penzu, so you’ll never make the mistake of accidentally publishing your hidden thoughts to the world. However, if you do want to share now and then – it’s possible to allow access to some of your posts via email or public link. Oh, and don’t worry if you change your mind 10 minutes later, you can simply log in and revert the link back to private.
This option might be especially useful if you wind up logging an journal entry at 3am after night on the town….
This doesn’t exist unless you go Pro, but don’t let that put you off because it’s unlikely you’re going to need it.
So, Should You Ditch Your Paperback For Good?
I don’t really think it’s an ‘either/or’ situation. Sometimes you’ll feel like sitting under and tree and writing for days until your hand hurts, and on other occasions you’ll feel the urge to whip out your laptop in starbucks. Penzu covers all bases and if you can dip in and out of it as you please.
As for how it compares to other online writing platforms, that’s a tough call. I’m not sure it’s comparable in the first place. Sure, you could post on WordPress or any other blogging platform and simply keep your posts private or add readers – but those sites aren’t dedicated to your privacy in the way the Penzu is. Every feature in Penzu is designed with the diary keeper in mind, and that’s what I love about it.
Personally, I don’t think the Pro version is necessary for anyone who simply wants to log the daily happenings of their lives. The free version provides everything you need and doesn’t bombard you with things that you don’t need. It’s pretty much perfect.
Penzo has definitely won me over, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes to get their thoughts down on ‘paper’.
Have you tried Penzu out yet? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below.