This is a Guest Post from Steve Brodsky of The World Is My Office.
A life of location independence is a dream come true, however it comes with it’s own set of unique challenges. Especially when it comes to time management.
Balancing my time between running my online business, traveling and just having fun day to day is a big challenge so I am always looking for ways to automate daily tasks and free up time.
A little while ago I stumbled upon a web tool called If This Then That (IFTTT.com) and it has been a productivity dream come true!
What is IFTTT and how does it work?
IFTTT (If This That Then That) is a 100% free web app that allows you to automate things by connecting 2 different web apps/services that you use.
For example you can set it up so that every morning you can have IFTTT text you if it is going to rain today. This is a very simple example and IFTTT is capable of some really amazing things.
So how does it work?
In IFTTT you setup what are called “Recipes”. Each recipe contains two things, a ‘Trigger’ and an ‘Action’.
The final part of the equation is what’s called ‘Channels’.
Channels are the actual web apps/services that you can connect to and have talk to each other. These include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Gmail and a ton more.
In fact there are 136 channels and more being added regularly.
Setting Up Our First Recipe
Now that we know what IFTTT is, let’s actually setup our first Recipe.
In this example we are going to be setting up a recipe that will automatically change our Twitter profile picture whenever we change our Facebook profile picture.
I already do this manually whenever I change up my profile pictures, so setting this up to happen automatically is a no brainer.
After you have created an account click on the “Create a Recipe” button and you will be brought to this page:
Every recipe that you create is going to be setup the exact same way, first you pick your trigger and then your action.
Click on “this” which is your trigger and then we pick our channel.
This brings up a search bar, type in “Facebook” and click on the Facebook channel button that comes up.
IFTTT allows you to do a lot of cool stuff within each channel (especially Facebook!) however in this example we are just looking at our profile picture.
Scroll down and find the “Your profile changes” channel and click it.
On the next screen select “profile picture.” This tells IFTTT to monitor our FB profile and anytime that our profile picture changes then activate this recipe.
Once your have selected profile picture click “Create Trigger.”
We have set up our trigger that monitors Facebook for a change in our profile, now we need to create the ‘Action’ we want IFTTT to take once this recipe is triggered.
Click on the ‘That’ section of the recipe.
Just like with the trigger, the next step is to select your channel.
In this example we want your Twitter profile pic too be changed when your Facebook profile picture is changed, so we need to select Twitter as our Action.
Next select the update Twitter profile picture tab.
Finally, simply click “Create Recipe” and you’re done!
That’s all there is to it!
From now on whenever you update your Facebook profile picture it will update your Twitter profile pic as well. You have got to love automation!
How I Use IFTTT to Automate my Business
These are some of my best recipes that I use to help automate my business. As a constant traveler, any automation that I can setup gives me that much more time to actually get away from my laptop and go experience life on the road.
I have them divided up into 4 different categories:
- Social Media
1) Pocket tagged articles to Google Spreadsheet:
Every month, I create a round up post of all the best Online Marketing and Digital Nomad blog posts that I read that month.
To keep track of them all is a bit of a pain in the butt, so I created this IFTTT recipe to keep it all organized.
Whenever I come across an interesting article I add it to my Pocket app. For those of you who don’t know, Pocket is a great tool to save posts/articles you come across online to read later.
As I go through all of the posts I have saved in Pocket, I pick out ones I want to include in the monthly round up post and just add the tag “Share” to them.
Now, IFTTT will automatically add that article, URL and title to my Google Drive spreadsheet that I can now reference when I am ready to write the post.
2) RSS Feed to Google Spreadsheet:
I also post a roundup of income reports from several Digital Nomad bloggers that I love to follow every month.
Before IFTTT, every month I had to go searching for all of the income reports on a bunch of different blogs, but now I have it setup so that IFTTT monitors each blogs RSS feed for their income reports to go live.
When they publish their income report IFTTT automatically adds the posts details to my Google spreadsheet and I don’t ever have to go searching for them again!
This automation alone saved me at least 30 minutes, that’s 30 more minutes I can spend laying around on the beach in Bali 🙂
1) Send thank you tweet to new Twitter Followers:
I love to engage with new followers and when I figured out this recipe of IFTTT I fell in love with it!
Every time I get a new subscriber on Twitter I get an email to my GMail account. I setup a label for the emails inside of GMail and set a trigger in IFTTT so every time a new email comes in with that label it grabs the Twitter username and Tweets a welcome message to them.
2) Buffer Schedule to Google Calendar:
I have a well laid out editorial calendar for my content. However, when it comes to posting on social media it’s kind of a mess.
With IFTTT I found a solution!
I use Buffer to schedule most of my social media posts, and by using this recipe every time I add something new to my Buffer schedule it adds that piece of social media content to a special Google calendar I have setup.
This way I can log into Google calendar and clearly see all of my social media posts laid out.
A big time saver!
3) Welcome New Members to Facebook Group:
I have a lot of Facebook groups and keeping up with all the new members, welcoming them and introducing them to the group take up a lot of my time.
By setting up a recipe in IFTTT that automatically welcomes and introduces a new member of any group that I am an admin in, I have saved myself at least an hour every week!
1) Feedly to Pocket for Offline Reading:
I do a ton of traveling as a Digital Nomad, and most of the time I don’t have access to the internet while I do.
I like to to pass the time by reading and catching up on blog posts from sites that I follow.
As I scroll through my Feedly feed I add a special tag that tells IFTTT to save that article to my pocket app so that I can read it offline anytime.
Note: Want to subscribe to Location 180? Here’s our feed!
2) iPhone Pictures saved to Dropbox:
While I am traveling, I am constantly taking pictures of everything, usually with my iPhone.
I used to worry about my losing my photos, either by my iPhone being stolen or me simply losing it somewhere, but not anymore!
I have it setup so that every picture I take on my iPhone is automatically saved to my Dropbox account in the cloud…mind at ease 🙂 (This requires you downloading the IFTTT app to your phone).
3) Currency Exchange Rate saved to Google Drive Spreadsheet:
I am constantly changing countries as a Digital Nomad and keeping track of the current exchange rates is a bit of a hassle.
This IFTTT recipe records the current exchange rates daily of whatever countries I set it for and record them into a Google spreadsheet.
Whenever I am about to change countries I just pull up the spreadsheets and look at the current exchange rates.
1) Get an Email every time a Competitor gets a new backlink:
I like to keep track of what all of my competitors are doing, especially with niche sites.
This is an awesome recipe that I have setup to automatically send me an email every time a competitor gets a new back link.
This requires a little bit of setup though.
Go to https://moz.com/researchtools/ose/ and type in your competitors URL. When the results come up click on the “Just Discovered” tab. Copy the URL of of the “Just Discovered” tab and open http://page2rss.com. Paste the URL into the box and click “to RSS” this will create an RSS feed for the “Just Discovered” tab.
Now create a recipe in IFTTT that sends an email to you every time the RSS feed is updated.
2) Archive and organize emails from your competition for future analysis, without clogging up your inbox:
I like to keep all of my competitors emails organized so that I can analyze how they are doing things.
By adding a label to all of their emails as they come into my inbox I can create a recipe in IFTTT that automatically adds them to an ongoing note or section I have in Evernote.
So now, even offline I can read and keep track of all my competitors emails without cluttering up my inbox.
The Wrap Up
So there you have it a breakdown of what IFTTT is, how to setup your own recipes and my top recipes that I use to save time and automate my business while traveling.
Now it’s your turn!
Do you have a favorite recipe that you use on IFTTT? Never heard of it before and want to know more? Leave a comment and lets talk about it!
Steve Brodsky is the founder of The World Is My Office and teaches people how to start an online business around their passion and escape the 9 to 5! Check out The World Is My Office to watch a free Case Study on how he built a $108,800 per year membership site from scratch!