Every writer I have ever met is a procrastinator. There’s something about sitting down in front of a blank screen and creating a piece of writing from nothing that sends the best of us running for the cat videos or cleaning supplies.
I like writing, but I’m not fond of dealing with all the little tasks that come along with being a blogger, so I automate anything remotely repetitive.
Over the years, I have built up a handy collection of automation tools, some of which I use dozens of times a day. They take care of small tasks like scheduling social media posts and filling in web forms so that I can focus on the work that really matters.
I’m a Mac user, so some of these tools are only available on the Mac, but the rest are web applications that anyone can use.
It’s hard to explain what Keyboard Maestro (KM) does because it does just about everything. If you can think of something you want to automate on your Mac, I’ll bet my dinner that Keyboard Maestro can do it.
At its most basic, KM carries out actions in response to triggers. Triggers can be hotkeys, typed strings of text, the time of day, joining a WiFi network, and many others. Actions — referred to as macros by KM — can be anything from inserting a text snippet to full GUI automation.
To get an idea of what KM can do, check out this video. I use it to fill in spreadsheets, set up my workspace, build invoices, convert files and upload them to Google Drive, automatically send various emails, and lots more.
TextExpander and Keyboard Maestro have some cross-over, and KM is a fine snippet tool, but TextExpander is slick enough to justify the extra expense.
IFTTT and Zapier tie together web applications via their APIs. Both work on a “trigger” then “action” system. For example, I use Zapier to connect WordPress and (spoiler warning) Buffer. When I post to WordPress, Zapier receives the information about the article and uses it to schedule social media posts in Buffer.
Both Zapier and IFTTT are capable of connecting hundreds of applications, but I find that Zapier offers a more reliable experience.
Buffer really needs no introduction: it’s been around long enough that every blogger I know uses it religiously. But, if you’re new to the game, Buffer is an excellent service for queuing social media posts. I typically queue up the day’s posts in advance, so I don’t have to risk opening Twitter and being sucked into its irresistible time sink.
Finally, ConvertKIT is a powerful email automation system built especially for bloggers. It provides forms for collecting emails, automated email sending with drag-and-drop sequencing, and solid subscriber segmenting.
Automation makes your computer work for you, rather than the other way around. If you spend any time engaged in repetitive tasks, use automation tools to get your computer to do them for you — that’s what it’s for.