Automate your blog – 6 Blogging Tips
A blog works when a number of its functions work smoothly. Every blogger needs to take care about how to manage, write, plan, and market etc. his/her posts regularly. All of this takes up a lot of time. You can help yourself (if you don’t have a dedicated team working for you) if you are able to automate your blog. This post will discuss what you can automate and how. I will also cover what you should not automate.
Before you automate your blog – Core functions
The core functions of any blog deal with the following –
- Web design and maintenance
- Idea formulation
- Blogging schedule
- Marketing or sharing schedule
- Blogging research
- Mailers and comment responses
You will require at least an hour each for the above tasks. This is cumbersome. All of the above tasks can be automated to an extent. Instead of spending about 8 to 20 hours a week on this, you can concentrate on creating quality content. You can spend your time doing what matters the most. Blog, that is.
How to automate your blog?
There are a number of options that exist today if you wish to automate your blog or at least some of the repetitive tasks that you do. Let us look at each of them.
Web Design and maintenance
There is not much you can do here. Web design is a creative/artistic work. That is something that AI does not excel at. Yet. However, there are a number of monitoring activities and maintenance related work that you can outsource to machines or services. Some of the patch fixes will need your intervention, but otherwise it will help you stay in shape without too much of an effort.
WordPress as a CMS actually takes care of a number of maintenance issues out of the box. It sends you notifications on your email if there are updates pending for your themes or plugins. It lets you know if a new WordPress update is ready too. But you can enhance it with some of the other features that are lacking in a default WordPress install. I won’t recommend a plethora of third party plugins (because they may do little good). But here are two that are great.
- WordFence – This is a security Plugin for WordPress that takes basically hardens your website and helps prevent brute force login attacks to a large extent. They have a paid option as well, but the free offering will work fine for most of you.
- Updraft Plus – Backs up your database and blog effortlessly with no user intervention. This is a set and forget solution. It can save the backups to your Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon S3, FTP, send a link to your email etc. They also have a paid version and the price totally justifies the peace of mind it provides. The free version is good enough to get started as well.
- Sucuri – This is not exactly a plugin. But it can be a life saver if you are under attack from DDoS attacks. Cloudfare is also a good solution. But if you are getting started, Sucuri will be more than appropriate.
I find it easier to write than to think about what to write. Very often bloggers don’t find topics to write on. Sure, you can go ahead and churn out posts left, right and centre. But quality is an important concern. And you should not write just about anything.
To make sure that you write content to keep users interested, you need good topics to write about.
Here’s what I do.
One of the coolest websites that give you some ideas about the topics that you can write about is this. You enter three nouns and you get the title recommendations. You are of course free to change the Title of the page but you will get what to write about at the very least.
A more humorous but less effective alternative is here. The tips given in the callouts are actually very useful. You can tweak the titles you get from above with those down below.
For some more SEO friendly title generators check this out.
If you want to save time and automate your blog, the blogging schedules need to be taken in to account. You can’t honestly blog regularly and frequently without investing in a lot of discipline and posting habit. I find it difficult to write often and frequently. Instead I follow a principle of writing more than one post when I sit to write.
This is applicable to all those who maintain a blog as a part time activity. This tip will not hold true for full time bloggers as much. WordPress as a CMS helps you to a large extent in this case. I write more than a post at a time. If I have the idea and title ready, I do the research on them beforehand. Writing the posts take less time at one go. I publish one post and leave the other as a draft. This post can be auto published sometime in the week. I will handle how to share posts thing later.
This is how you can schedule your posts easily and quickly.
Marketing or Sharing Schedule
There are tens of social media websites that exist today. Sharing content on them is an effective and free way to reach out to potential readers. Conversions can be high. But there is a problem. It lies in the number of options that are available to you.
Look at the number of Social Media options you have. You have Facebook, Google Plus, Linked In, Twitter, vKontakte and so on. Sharing your posts on each of them manually (including re-sharing your older posts) is a time consuming task.
There are ways to automate that quickly.
Social Media Auto Publish does this with a WordPress plugin (if you have a WordPress site). It will publish any new post you publish. You may need more functionality – especially for sharing older but still relevant posts and to check analytics.
I recommend HootSuite and BufferApp for these uses. Both options are good and provide similar services. BufferApp is the one I use. They also provide a free forever option that posts to Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn and Twitter for free. Adding any other social media platform will cost you money.
You cannot outsource much of your research. This is something that is best done by you. You will be able to better curate information and understand their relevance. Tuning to your readers’ pulse and writing with that in mind is something that is best left to you in person and not to machine learning and AI. As of now at least.
But there are things you can do to help yourself in this case as well. This will hold true for students doing academic research as well. But here’s what you can do to automate your blog research work.
- Get trending topic updates – Techspot provides collates great content and makes it available to you via their feed. You can get similar topic updates from Reddit depending on any of your blogging niches. Tweak your search terms to make sure you get what you are looking for.
- Check Google Trends for the popularity of the stuff that you are about to write. This may or may not influence you. It is your decision to ride the wave of popularity or focus on being a lone wolf. But the graphs help.
Mailers and Response Management
Getting subscribers and keeping them is very helpful in building a loyal reader-base. Studies show that email subscription options are usually more effective in building lists than even social media marketing techniques.
You have a number of options but the most popular methods to automate your blog mailers and marketing emails are actually among the best.
- MailChimp – It offers a free solution in the beginning and with support for about 2000 subscribers and 12000 emails per month. To get greater number of subs and to send more emails, you will need to subscribe to a paid plan. The campaign creation tools are great, require no coding and works out of the box. The templates are numerous and the support for different CMS and other standalone sites is considerable. You are unlikely to hit a roadblock using this. If you wish to shell out money right from the beginning, you can of course check out our second recommended option.
- Aweber – I personally never used this. But many of the famous blogs and other websites use this for their marketing mails and building email based subscription lists. It has lasted for a long time and the stability of the system good enough if you are sure that you are going to hit it right off. I will still highly recommend you start with MailChimp first. Building a subscriber base of 2000 plus readers is going to take a good amount of time and effort. You need not pay for the services till then.
What you should not automate?
Automate your blog all you want. But don’t use automatic content creators. They defeat the purpose of having original content on the Internet. Scraping other websites and re-publishing them is not helpful. You will churn out a higher number of posts this way, but will lose human readers in the process. Google (and other search engines) also apparently understand if humans are not writing for a blog. And that is not a good thing.
Write content on your own. The motto is to dedicate your time to adding quality. The automation should augment your productivity and not act as a substitute for your writing.
There are an unlimited number of ways that you can come up with to further automate your blog. These should get you started. If you have any other awesome tips you tried to automate your blog, please do let us know in the comments section.