Sunday, 5 May 2013

IFTTT for Bloggers: 5 Time-Saving Ideas

Have you ever wanted to take one part of the internet and plug it into another, in an automated workflow? That's the problem IFTTT was designed to solve. Short for "if this, then that", IFTTT is a free site which gives you a clean and simple dashboard for grabbing inputs (which they call triggers) and generating actions when a trigger is... well, triggered.

IFTTT has a lot of channels, from SMS messages to weather-checking, as well as all your favourite Google services (Gmail, Calendar, Drive, even the soon-to-be-defunct Reader). You can interact directly with social networks like Twitter and Facebook, or use a service like HootSuite or Buffer as an intermediary (although, unfortunately, G+ isn't enabled yet, and the HootSuite channel doesn't seem to support G+ pages). Most channels have both input and output functions.

There are a lot of possible uses for IFTTT in daily life, but for now, I'm going to focus on a few ways you can use this nifty tool to simplify your blogging life.

1. Automatically Create Facebook Photo Albums

Received wisdom has it that in terms of Facebook EdgeRank, photos do best, but most ways of automatically updating Facebook will only allow you to post a status or simple text link. IFTTT has a nifty feature that will grab the first image from a blog post (or any RSS feed) and upload it to an album on your Facebook page.

I have three different IFTTT workflows, creating three separate albums: one for recipes, one for travel photos, and one for book reviews (featuring the cover images). I include the title and link as part of the photo caption, with a little custom text depending on the photo type (e.g. "find my recipe at [link]"). You can see my albums to get a better idea of how I use this feature.

IFTTT Recipe: New recipe posts to a dedicated Facebook photo album

2. Tweet Differently Depending on Post Type

There are several services which allow you to tweet all of your blog posts, but a naive solution will at best allow you to add template text like "new blog post" (if it allows any modifications at all).

IFTTT has blog channels for Blogger, Wordpress, and Tumblr, which are all aware of tags/categories. So if you tag all your recipe posts with "recipe" (as I do), you can look out for just those posts, and set your tweet to have a recipe-specific intro text, with whatever hashtags you choose. Then set up a different workflow for crafts, family, travel, or whatever post types you'd like to promote.

3. Keep a Record of Sponsored Posts

It's boring but essential to keep records for the tax man, and for bloggers, that often means sponsored posts. You probably already tag these in some way, and since IFTTT allows you to append lines to a Google Drive spreadsheet, you can automatically generate a list of sponsored posts as and when you publish them. Just edit the spreadsheet to add in the compensation amounts when you get paid, and you'll have a rough-and-ready table to help you work out your blogging income when you get your tax form.

4. Get Alerts When Your Favourite Link-Up Is Open

Several sites run regular link-sharing events, but for popular communities such as SITS which have thousands of members, being first (or even tenth) can give you much better visibility than being the hundredth to link-up. IFTTT will check every 15 minutes for new posts, so you can (for example) set up a feed to check the SITS feed for their popular "Saturday Sharefest" post, then have the service email or text you once the post is live.

5. Automatically Blog Your Photos

Do you keep a photo blog, but also upload photos to a service like Flickr or Instagram? If you want to blog your best photos automatically, just choose a tag (like "blog") to label those photos you want to include, and IFTTT can automatically create a post for you. If you include a title or description for your image, you can use these in the blog post, too.

Alternatively, go the other way round, and copy photos from your blog into a Flickr album for safekeeping.

Bonus Tip

IFTTT can't do everything, at least not yet, and there are some popular sites (like G+ and Pinterest) where I'm still keenly awaiting integration. In the meantime, and because I like to schedule most off my posts in advance, I have a trigger set up to email me every time a new post goes public on my blog, reminding me to pin and share my post to appropriate channels.

A few IFTTT channels


Rachel said...

IFTTT turns out to be pretty easy to use, too. I hadn't thought of all your suggested uses, so thank you for the ideas!

Now I just need the time...

Sarah @ Play 2 Learn with Sarah said...

I've heard of this but still need to check it out! Thanks for the reminder!

mamawee said...

I have never heard of IFTTT before - sounds like a great tool to use! Thanks so much

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