Automate Your Content Once and For All

I believe that content is king when it comes to most businesses these days. Odds are there are six other people in the world who do exactly what you do, or more like six hundred. I know I’m not the only productivity guy around. I know that other people can teach you how to get to Inbox Zero or how to make yourself more replaceable in your business. However, nobody can do it the way that I do it and what makes me unique for the most part is my content. My perspectives and experiences will always add a unique flavor and texture to the particular productivity dish I serve.

Everybody has their own take on everything right?

So at the end of the day, it’s your content that will differentiate you from all the other “others” out there. The problem most of us have is we rarely take the time to plan our content in advance and we just end up reacting to something we hear or read, or some event of the day. More often than not, most people just throw up their hands, decide they have more important things to focus on and convince themselves that they’ll get to it next time. Sure they will….

I’m going to go step by step so you can build out your own automated content machine. Now before we start you’ll need a Google Docs account, Zapier, and an idea of where you want the content to go. Do you want to post Slack messages to your team? Would you like to share things with a specific Facebook group? Do you use Voxer to do asynchronous voice communication with your team and want it to show up there? Maybe you just want it to show up on your Medium account. Your imagination is the limit.

If you’re wondering why you wouldn’t use one of the off the shelf tools out there like Buffer or Hootsuite it’s because those platforms won’t do things like posting to a Slack team, a Voxer group, a private Wordpress blog, etc…so if you like to share your content beyond traditional social media, stay with me.

I think Google Sheets is the easiest way to do this and most people are familiar with the way a spreadsheet looks and works. It also works easily on mobile devices. So I created a sheet with three very basic headers:

  • Content — The text or links for what you want to share
  • Date to Post — When you want to share it
  • Image url — the direct link to an image you want to natively post so it shows up nice and big
My basic content incubator

That’s all it takes, now you can fill in some content items, along with the date and time you want it to post (you can set that column to automatically format as a date/time) and the image URL, if you have one. Maybe you want to post the same kind of thing every Monday and Friday, easy. If you want to use a post and it does really well so you want to post it again in a month or a year, great, go ahead and change the date on it. Stupid easy right?

Next, we have to crank up Zapier and create the automation razzmatazz that makes this all possible. Basically, you are going to create a Zap that looks for that lovely new content, understands the date, and then posts it wherever you want. Three beautiful steps….

Step 2.1 — Trigger the Zap

Tell it which spreadsheet, then which worksheet, and then let ANY COLUMN Trigger the Zap. That way, new content, as well as changing a date will start the automation.

Step 2.2 — Tell it to wait until the date you choose

You’re now going to the Delay by Zapier option to tell the automation to standby until the DATE TO POST, and then continue with the magic.

Step 2.3 — Post the content

Now you just have to decide where it’s going to go, in this example, I’ll make it go to Slack. You can have it go to as many destinations as you want.

Congratulations you’ve just setup you’re very own preloaded, automated, content machine!

Content Machines of the Future
  • You can create a nifty little form through Google Forms or any other form builder and then you can use that to add entries to the spreadsheet so you just get one simple clean interface to work with and never have to interact with the actual spreadsheet
  • You can add a column for “Medium” and then you can choose on the fly that you want one post to go to a Facebook group, and the next one goes to Slack, and the one after that goes to Yammer. You’ll have to create a Zap with branching so it can do something different based on the different choices.
  • How about you stop creating the content entirely and let a Machine Learning algorithm do it for you? I KNOW RIGHT!!! But I’m serious, that’s something we can do.

Founder — Less Doing /The Replaceable Founder/ Overwhelmologist/Serial Entrepreneur / Ironman / Author / Inventor