Automate all the things
How Colleen Brady Automates Web Curation
Most of the things you see on Automate All the Things are in fact run by the infamous and unstoppable Colleen. In addition to be the swiss army knife of AATT, she also boosts other creators highlighting upcoming events on twitter and on her website.
This week, Colleen Brady shares her content curation workflow. Subscribing to newsletters that surface the best content in a niche is one way to deal with information overload. Here’s a basic outline that you can adapt to your own processes.
Step 1: Map Out Your Existing Habits
There are a number of ways to curate content. To develop a successful automation, first assess where and how you are consuming content.
- What devices do you use? Are you desktop only? Desktop, tablets, and phones?
- What apps are you using?
For a time, I experimented with clipper extensions from Zapier and Airtable, but they did not work on mobile for me. I now mostly use the bookmarking tool Raindrop: It’s cross-platform, allows me to catalog / tag content, and captures a picture (though the picture sometimes isn’t quite right.)
Step 2: Pick a “Glueing” Service
I use a combo of Zapier, Make (fka Integromat) and n8n. Why so many? Well, some of the automations were set up long ago and I haven’t updated them. (Why fix what’s working?). For the most part, a self-hosted version of n8n is used. (Not familiar with n8n? Watch this intro stream with Aron and Jason McFeetors.)
Step 3: Pick a Content Destination
There was a time when I sent everything to a Google doc as the ultimate goal was to “write” a newsletter, a Twitter thread, etc. Now, everything lands in Airtable.
Step 4: Review Collected Content
Once in Airtable, a combination of filtered views makes it easy to review content originally collected in Raindrop, Feedly, Pocket, etc. I scroll through and approve / delete / defer collected content.
Step 5: Prepare Content for Distribution
I regularly share Twitter threads of upcoming events. Here’s a secret: The tweets aren’t written from scratch. Airtable automations partially prep the content for me so that I am copying and pasting what I need with a little light editing. This content is also published on iheartnocode.com/events using Finsweet’s External Attribute’s API.
(Catch Alex Iglesias on an upcoming stream to learn more about Attributes or watch Joel Whitaker on a past stream on using external APIs with Webflow.)
For newsletter and other forms of content, a weekly Airtable automation sends me what I need in a useful format. Instead of re-arranging content that was dumped into a Google doc sequentially, Airtable sends me content ordered just the way I want.
Bonus: Additional Variations
- I use a version of this flow to keep on top of the latest videos from my favorite YouTube creators: Feedly watches for new content which is shuttled to Airtable. I am then able to watch videos using Airtable’s URL Preview extension.
- If you have watched a past AATT stream, you know Aron is a fan of buttons, scripts, and webhooks. For the list of upcoming events that appears on iheartnocode as well as a resources directory, I use APIs from Rasterwise and Tweetpik to screenshot the relevant page. There are other ways to take screenshots within Airtable, but I prefer the customization and branding options available using third party services. You can learn more on how to use Rasterwise with Airtable via this video tutorial.
Sometimes, the hard part is not creating the content but maybe sure it reaches the right people! And just like the underlying content, curating requires a smooth automated workflow.