When I was contemplating launching this 365 effort, I needed some kind of system/process support to handle several requirements in an automatic fashion. Being a one-man effort, I needed the system to be almost a “set it and forget it” thing, and in that line, I was willing to do a little bit more “set it” in the beginning, for a lot more “forget it” on an ongoing basis. I basically wanted to be able to concentrate on the writing itself. Everybody has their own realities, but for whoever benefits from this, here is what I learned:
Content ownership. This is more of a requirement. I wanted my setup to ensure that I own the content. I didn’t want to wake one day and find out the -fill in the blank- was about to shut down their blogging platform. Because of this, I chose to a-create it under a custom URL, and b-host it, myself, on a generic server, with open-source WordPress software, and drive everything from there.
Other media platforms. I wanted to leverage the power of both my existing business-related network on LinkedIn, as well as some of the most important written-content platforms. For the latter, I looked into two of the leading blogging platforms, Medium, and Substack. According to people who claim to know more about this than myself, in general, Substack seems to be more effective for people with an existing large subscriber base, while Medium has more of a “discovery” orientation. Because of this, I decided to go with Medium.
Different consumption patterns. A very short and probably skewed poll I did, told me that some people prefer to read over content in chunks, instead of the constant daily drip. For this, I figured I could also provide a newsletter, a “weekly digest” that would be the summary of the previous day’s posts.
Ideally, the whole system would behave like this (without even thinking about it!):
A process where one single content source drives four different media. Repurpose.
Having identified these two platforms -besides Twitter- to share articles on, I set out to understand what was available for WordPress for automatically sharing to these.
There are several plugins that allow for sharing automatically to LinkedIn. And THIS is a good article to start at. After installing some of the plugins mentioned here, I quickly found out that many of these plugins require a nominal subscription, especially if you want the sharing to happen automatically, and be able to put it on auto-pilot.
On the Medium side, things are a little bit less clear. Apparently -and according to THIS article- there was a WordPress plugin developed by Medium itself to publish directly from WordPress. The plugin was discontinued and there are fewer options that support Medium. Then, the best option becomes Blog2Social, which -by the way- offers LinkedIn sharing as well. Blog2Social requires a monthly subscription if you want the “Smart Post” option. At 69 Euros/Year I would say it is affordable, but that can go all the way up to 99 Euros/Year for features like allowing to post images. Not a bad option if you are good with the subscription charge.
I like to keep my costs limited, so I looked for other options and I am happy to have found FS Poster, which for $45 gives you a permanent license and it addresses all my needs. With any plugin, there is some setup involved, and the social media accounts have to be authorized to allow WordPress to post on your behalf.
For the weekly digest, there is a really techie instrument that has been around for ages. It goes mostly unnoticed, but it’s what allows one to get the latest episodes of a podcast on iTunes, and it even drives many syndications on the web. The name of it is the RSS (really simple syndication). WordPress generates an RSS feed of your posts, and it is possible for some email tools to grab the RSS and turn it into a newsletter. Voilá! with this, there is an instant weekly digest. Well, sort of. Lots of “set it” -again- before we can “forget it”. The function for grabbing RSS feeds has been largely deprecated in MailChimp, reason why I looked again, and I was glad to find MailerLite, which completely supports RSS, they even explain how to do it HERE.
Finally, I had one more requirement. I needed to be able to write whenever I chose, or whenever inspiration struck (if there is such a thing). There is one very nice tool for this: the WordPress mobile app! Somewhat buggy with the connectivity, and definitely not as powerful as the web interface (I haven’t tried it out extensively yet, to be honest), but it allows to quickly create a draft of any article on your phone and even classify it within a category. That way I would be able to capture ideas quickly and edit them later. Exactly what I needed.
To complete my system, I have to mention the writing itself. Let me say first that I pre-load content. While I am writing every day, most of the time, the articles that I publish weren’t written on the same day they go out. Actually, because I know that life can get in the way, I try to write more content than I need for the day. This allows me to create a backlog of articles that I can peruse later. I also flag raw ideas or things that still need some work to even be readable as INCOMPLETE. That way I can search for them and write them out. In addition, I installed the Grammarly plugin on the browser I use, which immediately makes suggestions on simple rules I may overlook, and I also have WordPress plugins that allow picking a free image from Pexels.com or from Unsplash.com, both sources of excellent photography. The plugins automatically provide attribution (or so I am told!).
Once I am ready to publish, I schedule the posts for the week.
So there you have it, this is how the sausage is made.