This is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.
Automation has become such a pervasive feature in our day-to-day lives that we hardly even notice it anymore, and in fact, we even rely on it. From simple things like automatic doors at the grocery store to the elaborate functions on our phones, automation makes life as we know it possible. Still, there are certain facets of our lives where we still expect to have to do much of the work, such as on our blogs.
As it turns out, many tools exist that can help you automate your blogging life and transform your plain old blog into a smart blog. Employing these new tools can help make you a more efficient blogger, increasing your productivity and helping you to use your time wisely. It’s time to get out of the past and embrace the technology of the future. As a blogger at Housing.com points out, “We’re at the cusp of a decade where the impossible is starting to look very possible.” What an exciting moment in our technological evolution!
RSS Feeds and Creative Curating
RSS technology is a blog automation tool that may be more familiar than most. Many of us have personal RSS feeds that show us what’s new on our favorite sites and allow us to access this new content. But on the other side, as a blogger, how can RSS technology help you?
One way to employ RSS technology as a blogger is to create an automated RSS-to-email system. You can set up this system so that it sends updates to subscribers about new blog posts. To keep this from becoming overwhelming, one option is to set up this email so it shares monthly updates linking to your most popular posts. Readers opt in to the email and can then choose what content to read, and you don’t have to lift a finger.
Email Without the Effort
For many bloggers there are specific emailing tasks that have the potential to take up a lot of time. This is particularly true if you run a popular service-oriented blog or offer a submission feature. Whenever the content at hand can be reduced to a form letter, try setting up an autoresponder feature.
Autoresponder services work by sending preset email responses to particular addresses or because a message came from a pre-established site function, such as through your submit button. James McAllister from Help Start My Site uses autoresponders to effectively run his 7-day traffic building course. Because the course is always the same, he can preset the seven days of emails and have an autoresponder send those emails at the appropriate intervals, even setting follow-up emails for the next several weeks and months.
Managing Social Media Overload
If you’re a blogger, odds are good that you are also using a wide range of other social media sites, or at least you should be. In fact, well run social media profiles are absolutely vital, but as these sites proliferate, they can start to feel unwieldy. This is where Hootsuite Pro comes in.
What is Hootsuite Pro? Hootsuite Pro is a multi-function tool for managing all of your social media profiles from one place. Rather than having to move between sites and scroll through pages of updates, Hootsuite Pro brings your Facebook feed and Twitter posts and mentions, as well as any other social media sites you may use, all onto the same page. Even more than that, it allows you to schedule posts and messages in advance. This alone will save you hours of work trying to make your social media pages look appropriately active.
Set Up Submissions
One of the important ways bloggers publicize their content is by submitting posts to other sites that reprint or redirect to this material, such as Storify and Stumbleupon. Since this kind of syndication and submission should be a regular activity, automating this can be a valuable timesaver.
You’ll need some simple tools to do this kind of automating, such as IFTTT or Zapier. IFTTT stands for If This, Then That and it allows you to create a kind of recipe for your blog activities. By creating these recipes, your blog is able to carry out basic operations for you.
IFTTT not only handles submissions, but it can manage some of the same social media tasks that Hootsuite Pro manages. For example, IFTTT can be set up to change your profile picture across all social media sites.
These tools are just the start of an automated blogging future. It’s time to move beyond smart phones, and even smart houses, and embrace smart blog technology.