Many Entrepreneurs hope to create a system so perfect that they can leave it to run automatically. As part of this article I look into the pros and cons of automation with keen observation.
Marketing Micro-Management Versus Automation
First question to ask:
What is the worst situation that could happen if you leave your site to run automatically?
Here’s a small list.
- Your article comes out like garbage. Bad formatting, horrible grammar, bad pacing.
- A half-finished article gets submitted by accident.
- The content gets marketed in areas that no longer receive warmth.
- If part of a series, the article is sent in the wrong order.
You Still Need to do Some Work
With any form of automation you commit to, there is a requirement to test the output first. It is the developer’s law. As a producer of bathtubs, as an example, you don’t want to find that you’ve miss-drilled 199 tap holes.
You measure twice and cut once.
As part of running any long-term campaign you have to assess the quality of your output. Does everything look okay still?
Say that you’ve become used to setting up your articles in a specific way that has developed over time. You then adjust your theme over time to accommodate this evolved style. Do you go back and check the old content? Do you make sure your old content fits the new theme, that the functions of that post type (which might have changed from the old) work?
Going Back in Time
Before the hard-core use of Databases in websites through either PHP or ASP (or their ilk) it was common for websites to be labour intensive to update. Since databases took the hard work out of regular posting there has been more time to invest in getting the finer details right and keeping content up to date.
Do You Schedule Events to Review Your Old Posts?
There are a number ways you could do this depending on the weight of articles you have on your blog. You should keep these variables in mind when reviewing your work.
Variable 1: How many posts per month?
If you post once a month consistently the job of checking back is going to be very easy and should be priority 1.
If you post once a week, you will have far more posts to check if you’ve been blogging for a couple of years.
Variable 2: The size of your posts?
Small posts are intrinsically easier to check than large ones.
Variable 3: How much time does it take to generate your content?
You obviously need time to keep the day-to-day operation running. How much legitimate time outside your core blogging activity can you dedicate to the cause?
We all live busy lives so there will be more to do in the day than simply write articles. If you are articles are so all-consuming that you have no time to perform non-creative tasks, you may need to reconsider your priorities.
Marketing and What to Consider About Automation
Automation is great if:
- You want to target a key time of the day
- The article needs to hit a key day of the week
Automation sucks because:
- You have to work to a schedule
- You may not be ready to respond to problems in the moment as you under the false impression that all is well.
Targeting is a key benefit of automation. You can fire and forget. You can chain up a number of functions to automate the process. You can set WordPress (or your CMS of choice) to publish your work at a set date and time. You can then set your social media sharing to coincide with this publication.
The negatives of automation are that you are boxed into a schedule. You need to get your item ready before the deadline. This can be a good thing if you need the impetus to get your writing done. Newspaper editors box journalist ears until they are black and blue to get stories into print. Sometimes you can’t rush quality. In addition you can’t respond to publication errors immediately (unless you watch your post auto-publish which is counter productive). Instead, you will be forced to play catch up later.
Systems That Can Help With Automation
Buffer is useful because you can schedule your content to blast out on a variety of social media sites with relative ease. It also provides valuable analytics. The schedule feature is my favourite element because a large proportion of my audience (both casual and regular) originate in America. Scheduling for the right time is important so that my article gets some warmth near when it is published (and later).
I’ve used buffer for nearly a year and (touch wood) have had no issues with it so far. You do have to use the right image dimensions for the social media platform you are pushing your content to.
Make a Website Hub provides a great cheat sheet above for all the current Image sizes for 2016. If you have a specific channel that you target such as Twitter or Facebook, it is worth knowing what the dimensions are for your images. This is especially important if you drop watermarks or logos in the bottom of your image. If the image doesn’t conform to the correct dimensions it will tend to be cropped and you could end up losing some of the valuable real estate for brand identification.
WordPress has its own methods of automation. If you are heading out on holiday/vacation like I did last week, you can set your post not only to publish but to “publicize” at the same time. WordPress has included most of the common Social Media Platforms and you can send to numerous platforms at the same time with the scheduling option.
Note: I would strongly recommend that if you are going to use these features you try them out before you go on your holiday with an experiment on another article first. You then have some idea of how the output appears.
There is plenty out there to assist you. I’ve given you an insight into two of the elements that I use to automate but there are a variety of plugins, apps and other systems out there.
Hootsuite in particular is a service that I’ve heard great things about but due to the pay wall presented I am not yet willing to incorporate it into my blog’s arsenal.
I would say that over the past 3 years of blogging I’ve got better results out of using as few artificial aids as possible. It is better sometimes to be the “artist” and to be in control rather than to let systems do it for you. The more you put your content through the juice strainer, the more you have to concern yourself with cleanup in the event of spills.
Nothing works for ever, you constantly have to keep changing things up.
Please Share, Contact, Get Involved
You can contact me at headboy [at] blogprefect [dot] com, via twitter, or through the comments below.
Featured Image: Danke Schön to Romi via Pixabay
Buffer Image courtesy of Buffer
WordPress dashboard image courtesy of WordPress