Running a business has many moving parts. The more you can automate, the more it frees you up to address high level strategic challenges of your business. This is a newsletter about automating aspects of your business.
Story and Problem
Now that your newsletter is launched, you're looking for more readers. A starting distribution strategy can be very pretty simple: Write a post, then let people know about it.
The question is, what channel should you post to? The answer is, wherever your readers are. Unless you have already built an audience on one of the social media platform, you won't know initially know where your readers are. You'll need to just try every channel that is relevant, and then see which channel works.
How do you know which channel works? You can use any tracking software like Google Analytics. But you shouldn't track vanity metrics like how many visitors view your post. Instead, pick another metric, like which channel yields readers that read the longest? Or more importantly, which channel yields readers that subscribe the most?
You'd think that you should just find more and more channels to post to over time. Unintuitively, this is usually not an efficient use of time. Out of all the distribution channels that a business might try, most businesses only find one, if not two channels that really work for them. That means you need to keep iterating every time you post, to see what works. Once you find a channel that works for you, you should focus all your energies on promoting on that one channel.
So you first expand to try all sorts of different channels, and then start whittling them down to double down on the channels that work. But before you find that one channel, it takes a non-trivial amount of time to post to multiple channels, and it's repetitive. That makes it a good candidate for automation.
This is a pretty common automation. In fact, this is an entire digital industry called Marketing Automation that has sprung up, such as Buffer, Hootsuite, and Hubspot. Those SaaS services have a bunch of additional features like scheduling and analysis of social read. If you need those features, you should sign up for them.
But if you don't want to pay for those services, and want just the basics or the control over your syndication, you can bootstrap your own. If you have a newsletter stack that has scheduling, like Ghost, then you can connect the post event using Zapier. For those of you that like even more control, you can try setting up n8n, like I did.
This automation is pretty straightforward. For the Ghost publishing platform, it can call a webhook when you publish a post. n8n can accept that webhook with your post, and syndicate the post to different social networks.
For now, Automation Cookbook syndicates to Twitter, Linkedin, and Medium, but I plan on adding more in the near future. This automation is pretty straightforward, but a couple caveats with each of the following social media channels
- Twitter: You need to make sure you don't post duplicate messages on each published post. Twitter doesn't like repetition.
- LinkedIn: Even if you have a link, it's probably better to use a Text Post. If you use an Article Post, it may mean you need to also send an image for it to show up.
- Medium: Make sure you set the canonical URL, so your SEO doesn't take a beating with search engines.
There are still manual posts that I do, such as on Indie Hackers, Reddit, and Hacker News. Indie Hackers is more condusive to storytelling from the founder, and that requires manual work. And Hacker News doesn't allow API posts. But we'll address that some other time. Happy automating!
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