Ya'll...this is going to be one of those posts that uses lots of exclamation points and you may see words such as "Gems, keys, amazing and lit" used throughout. Why? Because today I'm talking about one of my favorite topics...Automation!!!! Listen, I am an automation junkie...not because I'm lazy, but because I'm strategic. Why waste time on tasks that robots can do for me (and a lot of times for free!)? It just makes sense. Today I'm going to discuss my two favorite automation resource programs, Zapier and IFTTT (aka If This Then That) and explain their pros and cons.
First of all, a little 101:
Automation programs enable different apps and programs to talk to each other and perform tasks FOR YOU. These tasks are initiated by an event trigger, so when the event happens, another event happens as a result. So to put this quite simply, something happens in one program and causes another program to do something. For example, you may set up a task that saves all of your Twitter mentions into a Google Sheet. Instead of searching through Twitter manually then copying the tweets over into a spreadsheet to keep track of them, you can create an automation that does it for you. I mean...how tedious does that sound anyway? Not to mention boring.
So what's the big fuss about automated tasks? Well, what is something that nearly everyone wishes they had more of (besides money:) )? TIME! How often do people complain about not having enough time in their day to do things? Always! Implementing automation into your blog, business and even LIFE can save you so much time that you can be using to do other things like work on tasks that can't be automated, have drinks with friends or watch Netflix all day. As the saying goes, "You have the same number of hours in a day as Beyonce", and we know how much she slays.
Now that you have a little background information, lets talk about Zapier and IFTTT.
I first encountered Zapier when I was trying to find a way to create a new email list member whenever I had a Stripe transaction. A quick Google search resulted in Zapier and my life was forever changed. Zapier has hundreds of programs and apps that you can link to one another, mostly business and social media related. There are so many apps that I've never even heard of available to link, so anyone is sure to benefit from using their service. Some of the Zaps (this is what they call their automation tasks) that I have created do the following:
Add tweets from a Google Sheet to my Buffer queue- this is how I automate my tweets to post for 24 hours without me having to touch twitter.
Save new email signups generated on Squarespace to a Google Sheet that then imports the data to my ConvertKit list (Squarespace and Convertkit don't link up in the Squarespace platform).
Post new blog posts to the wall on my Facebook business page
Add new Teachable course students to specific tags in ConvertKit
These are just a few ways that I use Zapier, but when you explore it you may find some awesome possibilities. I mean...LIT!
Pros about Zapier:
They have a free plan (boom!)- you can create up to 5 active Zaps, 100 zap runs per month and zaps run every 15 minutes. This is perfect when you’re in early to mid stages of blog/biz growth.
They offer ways to link 500+ apps (here’s the full list https://zapier.com/zapbook/)
Multi-step zaps (on paid plans)- this is a way to get something done in multiple places at one time. GEM!!
Time Delayed zap options- you can create a zap that has a time delay and won’t run until a certain date/time of your choosing. Example: Scheduling an email to be sent to someone on a particular date/time instead of immediately.
Formatting filters- you can format data to appear as you want it to by using built in formatting functions inside of the Zapier interface. For example, if you want to create a Zap that will add someone to a webinar list, but the email address is buried in a bunch of html code, you can apply formatting that will find the email address among all of the code. THIS IS A GEM!!!
Cons about Zapier:
...They have a free plan...which means that it’s not as robust as the paid option. This is a pro and a con. The paid plans offer more zap runs per month (between 3,000 and 50,000 depending on your plan), more active zaps (between 20 and 125), faster zap runs (every 5 minutes ) and the ability to replay a zap automatically if it fails on the first attempt.
Access to premium apps is restricted. If you have the free plan you don’t get access to create Zaps with every program/app in their collection.
The paid plans start at $20 a month. This might be a little too pricey for some especially when you still have regular bills and expenses.
Isn’t available as a mobile app, so you can’t create zaps on the go
IFTTT (If This Then That)
I found out about IFTTT around a year ago. It performs the same function as Zapier, but the apps and programs available to link aren’t as much business/blog oriented, but more life oriented. There are the basic programs like Twitter, Gmail, Instagram and Evernote, but there are more programs such as Alexa, Whirlpool Appliances, BMW Labs and Honeywell Thermostats (here is the full list of channels as they call them https://ifttt.com/channels). What I like about IFTTT is that their task creation is an easier process with fewer steps involved than Zapier. Here are a few Recipes (this is what they call their tasks) that I have created for IFTTT:
Post the actual picture from my Instagram posts to my twitter feed (many connections only post the link to the image, not the actual image!).
Receive an email every time I receive a new Stripe payment.
Save tweets with a certain hashtag into a Google Sheet
Pros of IFTTT:
FREE 99! Meaning this is completely free to use...there are no paid plans.
There are no limits to the number of recipes that you can create and have active at a time. I have seen nothing on limitations anywhere on their site the whole time that I’ve been using them, so if you have I’d love to know!
They also have “DO” recipes. This means that you can click a button on your phone to perform an action immediately. Examples: make a call to your phone to get out of a sticky situation, save receipts to Evernote and track your working hours in real time.
They have pre-made recipes that you can start using immediately and they are categorized on their functionality. For example, there are pre-made collections called “Recipes for Marketers”, “Recipes for the Small Business Owner”, “Recipes for Educators”, “Recipes for the Home”, “Recipes for Music Lovers”, “Recipes for iOS” and “Recipes for a Healthy Lifestyle” to name a few. You can view them all here https://ifttt.com/recipes, just scroll through the images at the top.
They have a mobile app so you can create recipes on the go!
Cons of IFTTT:
Not as flexible with the triggers as Zapier, meaning certain channels can’t be an “If This”. This is the case for Google Drive as an example. If you wanted to update twitter based on changes made to a Google Sheet, you can’t do it in IFTTT because Google Drive only functions as an Action (aka “Then That”) rather than a trigger (aka “If This”).
Not too many business or blog apps available to connect. Looking at their list of less than 400 app\program channels, the majority of them have to do with Lifestyle. So you can create a recipe that mutes your phone at bedtime, but you can’t create a recipe that ads a new stripe customer to a convertkit form (Convertkit isn’t an IFTTT channel option).
The “polling period” meaning the frequency that IFTTT looks for an action to have taken place is up to 15 minutes. I suppose this isn’t bad for a free program though :)
So where do I stand with the two? Well, I use them both and recommend this mainly because you can get away without paying a dime for your personal assistant. To help you out, I have created a free guide showing you what zaps and recipes to create and on which platform in order to avoid upgrading to a paid Zapier account. It is available in my free resource library which you can access by signing up below!