Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Your Accessibility Conscience

To Automate or Not to Automate Blogging Tasks: That’s the Question

Filed under: Blogging — by Glenda at 6:04 pm on Friday, October 30, 2009

Being a successful blogger means way more than being an engaging writer on a somewhat consistent basis. A successful blogger juggles many hats: writer, researcher, community-builder, web designer, techie, networker, marketer, statistician, and entrepreneur (if one desires to convert this all-consuming hobby into an income source) are the hats that most readily come to mind. Needless to say, a successful blogger always has something to do. For someone operating with only one thumb, the to-do list is never-ending!

To take this blog the next level, which is still to be determine where exactly that next level is, some changes need to be in the works, including, possibly, automating a few tasks.

While wearing my community-builder hat, I attempt to thank (via email) new readers when leave their first comment and I invite them to stop by again – to let them know that i did indeed see their contribution and that I appreciated it, and to welcome them to my blog’s community. However, unfortunately, I don’t always get to it and, to be honest, it bugs me. I don’t want to be an absentee blogger. On the other hand, my left thumb can accomplish only so much.

In searching for a solution, I came across the WordPress plugin Comment Relish that “sends an e-mail message to users who comment on your website who have never commented before.” But, reading some of the reviews and responses, some bloggers were concerned the automated email may be seen as spammy; annoying rather than welcoming. Scratch that idea!

A few weeks ago at BlogWorld, listening to a WordCamp Las Vegas panel with top-notched bloggers Chris Garrett, Darren Rowse and Jeremy Wright, a bunch of useful WordPress plugins were rattled off, including Thank Me Later. Although a similar concept to Comment Relish, Thank Me Later “is highly configurable. It allows you to create multiple e-mail messages and to send the message after a pre-defined amount of time, making messages appear more unique and people-friendly.” Sounds intriguing.

As my current readers, would you have objected to receiving an automated yet personalized email a day or two after leaving your first comment, thanking you and perhaps pointing you to hidden gems on this blog, after I had approved your comment?

Have you say:

{democracy:3}

Please share any other plugins this blog must have to make the most of this left thumb! Thanks.

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7 Comments »

Comment by Mary McD, the "Efficiency Doctor"

October 30, 2009 @ 7:01 pm

Glenda,

As an efficiency expert, I strongly encourage you to automate your tasks, especially if it will speed you up or free you up to do other tasks. I recently sent a post to a major news outlet on this very topic (I’ll let you know when it gets published) as this tip is equally relevent to all.

Don’t worry so much, automate more, and so long as you continue to be concerned about your readers, you’ll be fine!

Comment by Glenda

October 30, 2009 @ 7:31 pm

Thanks Mary! I’ll install Thank Me Later this weekend. Good luck with your article! I welcome any other efficient blogger tips you have.

Comment by Paul L'Acosta

October 30, 2009 @ 7:51 pm

Hi Glenda, I do agree with Mary that by automating these tasks you find yourself with more time to spend on the actual value of every blog: its content. Good luck! –Paul

Comment by Joanna Young

October 31, 2009 @ 2:09 am

Glenda, I wouldn’t mind, but I never found the emails I got from others particularly personal, so opted (after a while) to stop using an automated thank you plug in. I did find an alternative you might like – it sends first time commenters to a page where you can say thanks and explain a bit more about what the blog is about.

Here’s the plugin if you’re interested, and also the way I have it set up on mine

http://yoast.com/wordpress/comment-redirect/

http://confidentwriting.com/thanks-for-your-comment/

Comment by Maggie

October 31, 2009 @ 5:45 am

As an occasional commenter (maybe I comment on something once a week or less) I’m okay with receiving a ‘welcome and thanks’ kind of message after my first comment. I’ll just mention that most bloggers I’ve commented on didn’t do that, and it’s not necessary.

If I’ve said something substantive and the blogger chooses to comment, that’s great … but if I haven’t, or if several commenters have said the same thing, no reply is needed.

In blogs where the comments are moderated, a message a couple of days later tells me my comment ‘took’ (that is, I didn’t make some technical error in the commenting process) and may bring me back to that entry to see the discussion.

For this, a brief automated message is just fine.

So I vote Yes: Automate as needed so you can Blog more.

… and then I scrolled down to see the checkbox “Notify me of followup comments…” which is just perfect!

Comment by Robert Hruzek

October 31, 2009 @ 10:41 am

I have to admit, I generally react negatively to automated emails. But having said that, I fully realize and acknowledge ya gotta do what ya gotta do, Glenda. Hey, I say go for it, and besides, who am I to control who YOU need to be, y’know?

‘Course, as we (your audience) get to know you better, we’ll have even less concerns and more encouragement for you. (When I first saw your “left thumb blogger” nickname, I thought it was just that – a nickname. Now I know different, and it just encourages me to no end at what you accomplish! Sheesh!)

Comment by Glenda

November 3, 2009 @ 3:15 pm

Thanks everyone for your support and understanding. Using Thank Me Later (or similar) will definitely be an experiment. I’m seeing a few pros and cons in using it. If it doesn’t work, I can always delete it and try something else. Isn’t that partial what blogging is about? Joanna’s idea is also intriguing.

I have installed the plugin, but I’ve encountered a small glitch:

Parse error: parse error, unexpected ‘)’, expecting ‘(’ in /home/content/G/l/e/Glendasblog/html/wp-content/plugins/thank-me-later/tml_includes/admin/admin.php on line 34

Line 34 reads:

TML_form::show_message( __(”WP-Cron doesn’t seem to be working. Thank Me Later is emulating the behaviour of WP-Cron, which may slightly slow down some page loads. You may wish to seek a solution to this problem, although the impact is usually negligible.”, “thankmelater”), TML_form::MESSAGE_ERROR );

Oh, to know php! Any suggestions as to what correction is needed?

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