Automation...I love it! Set it and forget it? I'm all about that. Automation may be seen by some as lazy, but I see it as smart. Why waste time on things that are considered busy work when you can be using that time to work on more pressing tasks that you HAVE to be directly involved in? It's the 21st century...if you're not using some form of automation in your day to day blog/biz functions, you need to start...like...today. Computers can be your personal assistant when the money isn't flowing to pay a human just yet. If you are manually performing any of these 9 tasks, you should stop and hand them over to your robot friends!
1 / Social Media Posts
This may be a common thing, but many people still do not take advantage of it. Posting to multiple social media accounts all throughout the day is unrealistic when you have other things to do. Some do have the luxury to be able to stay on social, but most have to work, take care of family, watch Netflix, whatever :) The reality is that you actually do need to be consistently active on social media, so the best way to do it is through automation. With the various social media apps that keep popping up, this is the best way to stay ahead of the game. You can automate tweets, Facebook posts, Pinterest pins, Instagram posts and more using my favorite automation tool, Zapier. They have been a lifesaver for my processes.
2 / Adding new customers/clients to your email list
You want to stay in contact with all of your clients/customers and the best way to do it is through email engagement. This means that each time someone purchases something from you, they should be added to your email list. It can be time consuming exporting and importing from spreadsheets to programs, so you should automate this. Some email service providers have integrations built in to their site (Mailchimp has a PayPal integration), but again, if yours doesn't you can always use Zapier to set up a custom Zap.
3 / Adding people to your email list that respond to your surveys
You may send reader/customer surveys out, but what do you do when you get responses? You may want to add the people that respond to your email list because they are showing an interest in you and what you have to say. Rather than digging through pages of responses to find this info, set up a Zap that will add people to your email list automatically.
4 / Publishing blog posts in real time
Hey...I'm going to be honest with you...most people do not publish blog posts immediately after writing them. In fact, you may read blog posts that have been a work in progress for months. You would never know because the post date is all that you see. It's actually smart and more efficient to plan your blog content out in advance and schedule it ahead of time for two reasons-
a. You will be able to plan for your blog creation process more effectively- this means if you know that you are going to post about a DIY project that will involve lots of before, during and after photos, you can schedule the shooting prior to the post date. You can also pre plan your tweets so that they will be ready to go once you click publish.
b. If you plan your content out, you can schedule other business tasks around it. Maybe you choose to block schedule, so you only type blog posts on Sunday and Wednesday afternoons. You know that the rest of the week will be dedicated to other tasks that you need to work on. This way you won't find yourself struggling to think of something to post at the last minute and end up creating sub-par content.
5 / Typing
Yes, I said typing. But how can you automate typing? Two ways, boo! Using shortcut keys and using voice-to-text (aka voice dictation). First, shortcut keys are an amazing thing. Using them may cut down a little time, but a little over a long time adds up! Start with the simple shortcuts for copy, cut, paste, save, save as, zoom in/out and switching windows. I love them all and they save time. No more fiddling around in the menu bars to find program functions, just use the shortcut keys!
Next, voice dictation has been a HUGE help for me. I may be sitting in traffic bored out of my mind wishing that I could be doing something more productive with that time. This is where talking out my blog posts comes in handy! I have used voice-to-text to compose plenty of my blog posts. This saves hella time because talking is much faster than typing. The editing process is no different than normal...do you or do you not read through your posts before publishing/scheduling them anyway?
6 / Market Research
I've learned that searching for niche-specific hashtags on Twitter and Instagram is a great way to find and connect with your audience. Of course, social platforms move at such a fast pace it can be difficult to keep up! To remedy this, you can create saved searches in Twitter so that you don't have to type in your most commonly searched for hashtags. You can also set up a Zap that will notify you based on your communication preference (ex: email, text message, etc.) every time the hashtag is posted to Twitter or Instagram. For example, I search for #BloggerProblems, so whenever a user posts with that hashtag, I get notified via email. This is powerful because you can conduct research and find out what your audience is talking about in real time and depending on what their tweet is about, you may be able to help them out by answering their question.
7 / Ordering and paying for coffee
Listen, coffee (or tea) is essential to the daily hustle! Now that Starbucks has the mobile order and pay option in their app, this will save time waiting in that long line! So this task may not be "fully" automated because you do have to place your order manually, but you can be at home, place your order then pick it up in 3-7 minutes. You don't even have to talk to anyone if you don't want to! Your order will already be at the counter for pickup when you get there.
8 / Resizing Images
Photo editing is the most time consuming task for blogging in my book. If you are using Adobe products (Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, etc.), you can easily create custom actions for repetitive tasks. For example, my blog images are 8 inches across, so I have a action that resizes my images to an 8in width by just clicking one button. You can create actions for saving images as a particular file type, make image clarity adjustments, inserting watermarks...really anything that you can think of. If the task is something that you do exactly the same every time, there's no excuse NOT to build an automated action for it.
9 / Creating blog post images
I'm talking about pinnable graphics. First of all, you need to use them in every blog post. Why? Because Pinterest is a GEM. It's actually the #1 source of traffic on my blog. To streamline this, you should create a template graphic in which you just change the text to match each post rather than trying to create brand new graphics for every blog post. You could also create an image template for twitter in the dimensions of the timeline block (440x220 pixels). You can even go a step further and make a square template for Instagram. It may take some time to create the initial templates, but going forward you will just be editing text. This is a huge time saver and is a great way to keep things consistent.
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