How do you deal with the mundane, repetitive tasks in your WordPress project? Probably with some plugins. Or maybe you choose to (or have to) do them by yourself, manually. Wouldn't it be nice if you could do some of those tasks automatically and without any plugin load?
Turns out, you can. In this tutorial, we're going to get to know IFTTT, an automated task manager that will help you along the way.
Repetition Is Boring, Automation Is Fun
You want to share your blog posts in your social network accounts after you publish. You don't want to do it manually, so you install a WordPress plugin to share the posts for you.
You need to have a backup of your articles in your Dropbox folder, but you don't want to deal with SQL files to find a single post. You can't find a plugin that does the deed for you, so you have to copy and paste the posts into Word files by hand.
You want to post some of your Instagram photos to your blog, but not all of them. (Because you want to share the interesting paintings you see around the world, but not that photo of your dog licking your husband's face.) You install yet another WordPress plugin that selects photos with specific tags from your Instagram feed, and posts them. Or maybe you just do it manually.
Why on earth would someone want to put up with all those repetitive, boring tasks? I'd hire an online assistant if I had to do all those things... and didn't know about IFTTT.
Enter IFTTT: A Task Scheduler for You on the Web
With a catchy slogan, "Make Your Work Flow", IFTTT (If This Then That) "gives you creative control over the products and apps you love", in their own words.
In IFTTT, you create recipes, little workers that run every 15 minutes and do things with your channels, the apps and website profiles and other things. You can connect to your channels as if you're authorizing a new application in Facebook, Twitter or whatever. The recipes can contain ingredients, basically the data variables that are fetched from the channels, like the Instagram hashtag or the permalink of a Reddit post.
The recipes consist of two parts: Triggers and Actions. If the trigger is pulled, the actions run, hence the name "If This Then That". For example, if you favorite a song on Spotify, IFTTT can post the song on Twitter. Or if it's going to get colder tomorrow, IFTTT can raise your home's thermostat with Nest. Pretty cool, huh?
IFTTT can do all kinds of awesome things, but we're going to stick with WordPress-related awesomeness in this tutorial.
IFTTT Recipes to Automate WordPress Tasks
As I said, you have to connect to channels to activate recipes. WordPress, for example, is a channel that needs your login credentials. Facebook just needs you to authorize the IFTTT application. Android or iOS-related channels need one of IFTTT's Android or iOS apps (called IF and DO) to work properly.
Don't let this confuse you. All the recipes in IFTTT guide you to connect the channels needed, if they're not connected before. Once you connect a channel (WordPress, for instance) to IFTTT, you don't have to do the same thing again with another recipe.
Starting Off With the Basics: Auto-Posting to Social Media
When it comes to automating tasks on WordPress, people tend to think auto-posting published posts to their social network accounts. And that's perfectly natural because this is one of the most popular tasks that's performed after publishing a post.
So, there are lots of plugins that help you submit your posts to social media automatically. But if you're looking for a solution that doesn't involve a plugin using up your server's resources, IFTTT is your guy. Here are some recipes that help you with the tasks:
#HashtagWatch: Post Photos of a Tag to WordPress
Let's go on with the example I made up before: What if you want to post specific Instagram photos to your WordPress blog, but not all of them? With this recipe, you can simply connect to the Instagram and WordPress channels, and then set a
#tag to post to WordPress. Say, if you set
#gourmetfastfood, your Instagram pictures with only that tag will be posted to your WordPress blog.
Publishing Uploaded YouTube Videos to Your Blog
Here's another recipe that's similar to the one above, but uses YouTube as the "trigger": When you upload a video to YouTube, IFTTT can publish a post (or save as a draft) using the title and the video embed code. In the "Advanced Settings" of this recipe, you can set categories and tags, and edit the title and the post content. The "ingredients" (data variables) include the video's creation date, title, description, URL, author name and the embed code.
Take a Photo, Post It to WordPress
Ever wanted to take a photo and immediately share it on your WordPress blog? Certainly WordPress's own apps could help you with that, but if you want to share photos even faster, you can use the DO Camera app by IFTTT. With the app and this recipe, you can snap a picture and instantly publish it on your WordPress blog.
Trello to WordPress and WordPress to Trello Awesomeness
As a fan of Trello (and WordPress, of course), these two recipes are my favorite.
- With the Trello to WordPress recipe, you can create cards on Trello that turn into WordPress posts automatically.
- And with the WordPress to Trello recipe, you can make Trello create cards automatically when you post to WordPress.
Well, that was fun. Using the power of automation with IFTTT in your WordPress projects isn't mind-blowing, but it certainly works the creative chakra, am I right?
And now, let's hear your ideas! Can you come up with more ways to automate your tasks in WordPress? Share your ideas for IFTTT recipes with us in the Comments section below. And don't forget to share this article with your friends!