Back before I decided to start automating more, the way I would compile my newsletters was to save links to Pocket and then on Monday mornings, scour them for what to share, create the links, and sum up the stories. I also had to be careful that I didn’t share the same link two weeks in a row.
It was a lot of work. And then I realized that I could save myself a lot of trouble by using Pocket to automate not only my newsletter, but social sharing as well.
Over the years I’ve switched between Pocket (formerly Read It Later), Instapaper, and even Safari’s Read Later function. But I landed on Pocket for a few reasons:
- It’s free for my needs
- It works really well with Zapier
- I never actually log-in to the app, so I need feel that need to be a completionist.
Using Pocket’s tagging system, I can tag a story I’ve saved, and Zapier will do the rest.
The “newsletter” Tag
First up is the
newsletter tag. When I tag something with
newsletter in Pocket, it kicks off a Zap that will grab the link, title, and description. It will then format it (making the title the link to the story), and send it to Evernote, to a note called “Newsletter.”
This is a HUGE time saver for me. Now all I do is grab a bunch of those stories, copy the text, and paste it into ConvertKit. No more creating each link and coming up with descriptive text! I’ve been able to cut my newsletter curation time down from about 40 minutes to 5.
The “share” Tag
Next up is the
share tag. Stories tagged like this kick off a Zap that add the title, link, and featured image to Buffer. There are actually several different Buffer events (you can’t bundle them all into one action). I have a separate action for sharing to:
- Personal Twitter
- Podcast Twitter
- My podcast Facebook group
A nice benefit of this method is I get around the 1 Twitter account per share limitation, since they’re all. technically different shares.
The ‘read later’ Tag
Finally, there’s the
read later tag, which triggers a Zap that sends the story to Instapaper. I know this is weird, since Pocket basically does the same exact thing. But since I’m using Pocket as a repository for all stories I want to share and read, it gets cluttered quickly. By sending stories tagged
read later to Instapaper, I know that’s my current reading list.
I also happen to like the Instapaper app better.
Naturally there are a few areas that can be improved. The first is the fact that I have 3 Zaps. In an ideal setup, I’d have one Zap that takes all new stories, checks the tag, and does something with them based on that. But that requires upgrading and doubling the cost of Zapier. I’m not quiet there yet and haven’t invested time into seeing if there’s a workaround.
The other improvement I’d like to make is in capturing my own content. Right now I have YouTube videos automatically added on publish, but I haven’t set up Pocket/Zapier to capture and process content I put out on my podcast or blog. I’ve been going in manually and doing that. It would save me just a ton of time, and it would ensure that I haven’t missed anything when I send out my newsletter.
Finally, I’m looking to replace Evernote. I just don’t use it enough to justify the cost, but there is legitimately nothing better for Zapier / notes integration. I run up against their limits the way I use it, and it’s gotten less reliable for automation when I downgraded to free.
I tried using Google Docs for this task, but Google has decided they’re going to change my links into Google redirected links. This is a deal breaker because it defeats the purpose of having the linked created for me automatically.
At this point, my game plan is to either keep paying for Evernote, or hold out hope that Keep It and/or Notion release an API soon.