Podcast Episode

414 – Automate Your WordPress Site with Zapier


Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin form the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

BirchPress is an appointment booking and online scheduling plugin that allows service businesses such as spas, yoga studios, contractors and photographers to take online appointment bookings. Merchants can embed a booking form in a page or post on the website, and customers can see service availability and book an appointment online directly. It is an effective tool to manage appointments and staffing schedules.

Automate Your WordPress Site with Zapier

Here’s some things that you can automate with the free Zapier plan:

  • Share new posts on social media
  • Post Instagram photos to WordPress
  • Post YouTube videos to WordPress
  • Post RSS feed to WordPress
  • Send Buffer posts to WordPress or WordPress posts to Buffer
  • Post SurveyMonkey results to WordPress
  • Send Google Docs to WordPress
  • Add WordPress post to Google Calendar
  • Store WordPress Posts in DropBox

How to Connect Zapier with WordPress

  • Login to your WordPress account
  • Under the Users option in the sidebar menu of your admin panel, choose “Add New User”
  • As the Username, put “Zapier”
  • For the email, put any email address that you have access to (not Zapier’s email address)
  • Generate a secure password
  • Under Role, choose Admin if you want Zapier to do pretty much anything with your blog (Zapier recommends using Editor)
  • Click “Add New User”

Thank You!

Thank you to those who use my affiliate links. As you know I make a small commission when someone uses my link and I want to say thank you to the following people. For all my recommended resources, go to my Resources Page

Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

On today’s episode, we are going to talk about how to automate our WordPress site with Zapier right here on your website engineer podcast episode number 414.


Hello. And welcome to another episode of your website engineer podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler. I’m excited to be here with you, because one of the favorite things that I love to do these automating things. I don’t like to do things repeatedly over and again, and so, any time I have to do a task several times, I try to figure out a way to automate that.

And that’s what we’re going to talk about today, but we’re going to do it specifically with Zapier, and we’re going to talk about how we can automate our WordPress site, and some of the things you can do by automating or what type of automations that you can set up. And so, we’ll get to that in just a couple minutes.

I do have some announcements that I want to share with you, and so, let’s go ahead and kick those off, and then will follow that up with a plug-in of the week.

WordPress 5.0 Beta 3 is now out, and while that was posted yesterday, that was November 5th, and it is still under development, obviously, it’s in the beta process, and if you’re interested in checking it out, there’s two ways to try it out. You can download the word press at beta tester plugin, and you can set the preference to bleeding edge nightlys, or you can download the beta software and then install that as part of your WordPress software.

There’ve been some edits and some changes. The block editor has been updated to include all the features and bug fixes from the Gutenberg 4.2 release, and there’ve been some new things that have been fixed as well as things do and beta releases, and also 2019 has been updated from its Github Repository.

It’s full of new goodies to check out so it adds support for selective refresh widgets in the customizer, responsive embeds tweaks to improve readability and functionality on mobile devices, and then it fixes some nested blocks that appear wider than they should be.

And so, if you’re interested in checking that out, we only have a couple weeks left until 5.0 comes out, and so, I highly recommend start playing with this and start trying this out. If you’re a plugin or a theme developer, try this out with your software, and then if it’s a plugin, make sure that you go and you’re updated and it works well with 5.0 in the WordPress Repository. So, that’s the first announcement of the week.

The second one is coming from Jetpack.com, and this is a new thing that’s in Jetpack that’s called Activity Monitor or Activity, and it’s a new way to monitor, debug, and repair your site. And so, the Jetpack team takes security of your site very seriously, and so, they know that that should be a priority as site owners as well.

And so, one of the cool things is a new dashboard that’s called Activity, and it’s available for all Jetpack and WordPress.com websites. So, smart site owners know that it’s important to keep an eye on everything that’s happening on the dashboard, and plugin installations, theme changes, post content, are critical events that can dramatically change your site. So, monitoring them has been important. And that’s what Activity can do.

It records and displays the most important events including a published or updated post and pages, comments, submissions, and manage activity, settings, options, modifications, login attempts by regular users or registered users, plugin installations, updates, removals, steam switches, installations, deletions.

There a ton of stuff they can do. It also, if you have one of the personal or premium plans from Jetpack, can take backups as well, and you can save all of your – it has access to 30 days’ worth of events. And if you have the professional plan with Jetpack, you have a years’ worth of access to events.

And so, it’s really nice. You can go and you can filter the activity if you want to see where all the posts have happened or all the pages or media or pingbacks or feedback, you can see all of that kind of stuff inside of Jetpack and inside the Activity area of your Jetpack site.

It’s really cool, and I recently had to use this on a support request. Somebody wanted to know how they can get a backup, and so, that’s included as well inside of Jetpack. If you have the premium versions and if you’re on WordPress.com, it does have that backup feature in there.

So, it’s really cool, and you can download backup copies right there from the WordPress dashboard. So, that’s really nice. That’s Activity. It’s a new feature in Jetpack. And so, I want to recommend checking that out.

And the third announcement that I have today is from authors of popular WordPress.org themes are rolling out Gutenberg compatibility updates ahead of the 5.0 release. So, Astra, which is a free theme that’s growing in popularity, is one. There’re a handful of other ones. It’s outlined here in the WP Tavern article. Themeisle has updated one of theirs as well, and there’s just a handful of them that are getting ready to just work well, and it’s more along the lines of they’re making sure that the dashboard and when you’re creating a new post or a new page that whatever you’re seeing is what you actually end up getting on the front end of your site.

So, if you’re interested in learning about how some of these themes are dealing with Gutenberg the 5.0 release, I recommend checking out the link in the show notes for episode number 414 and taking a read through that.

All right. Today, I do have a plugin that I want to share in with you today. It is a competitor, if you will, to the bookings calendar that we sell for WooCommerce, but this was called appointment booking calendar. It’s called BirchPress Scheduler, and it’s an appointment booking software or online scheduling plug-in that allows service businesses like spas or yoga studios to take online appointment bookings.

Merchants can embed a booking form in their page or post on their website, and customers can see service availability to book an appointment online directly. It’s an effective tool for managing appointments and staffing schedules. And so, it is a free plugin on the WordPress Repository, but they do have a premium version as well that has a lot of extra features if you find you need this on a website.

So, that is BirchPress Scheduler, and you can find it in the show notes for episode 414 or, as always, is in the repository just by searching Birch Schedule.

All right. Today, let’s go ahead and talk about the Zapier. I’ve heard about Zapier a lot. It’s one of those tools that can connect other tools, and is one of those things that I heard a while ago that is like oh well, you can do this with Zapier and you can do this with Zapier. Then I’m kind of cheap when it comes to paying for these monthly recurring services, but with Zapier, you can actually do some of this for free.

There’s a free plan that I want to talk about here real quick just so you can make sure that you don’t tune out the entire episode, because you’re like I’m not going to pay for another service. The pricing for Zapier, there is a free plan. You can do five zaps at a time, and you can have up to 50,000 tasks per month, and it doesn’t include a lot of features, but you can get started, and you can see how powerful Zapier can be and some of the things that you can do with this service.

So, let’s talk first about what it is. As run our businesses, as we run our websites, we use a lot of different tools. We’ve got our WordPress site that we talk about regularly. We might have Google drive where we might use that as our place where we store data or we’re starting to write blog posts and whatnot. We’ve got Evernote. Maybe we’ve got stuff stored in there. We got Apple Notes. We got Mail Chimp. We got Asana. We got all kinds of things.

The problem is none of these services communicate well with each other. It’s really hard to get information from one app to another app. If you want to create a new line in a spreadsheet every time someone contacts you through a website, you have to get an email when a contact form is submitted and then manually add it. And that’s where Zapier comes in.

It allows you to connect apps that don’t normally communicate with each other and automate tasks between those apps. It can save you huge amounts of time as well as eliminate the tedious tasks that eat up your day-to-day.

So, let’s break it down. It’s an online tool that connects and automates most of the tools that you use like WordPress, Gmail, MailChimp, Convert, Gitrello, and hundreds more. It’s a translator. It’s basically something that translates a language from one app to another language so information can pass freely between them.

And the cool part is there is no coding available. There’s no waiting on developers to ask you – for you to ask what to do. There’s no digging into complex tasks. It just – it’s your digital butler I think is one of the ways that they put it. You can have it automatically repeat tasks that you would normally do yourself in different apps.

So, you can create a zap, and that’s connecting two or more apps together, and they can talk to each other without you ever doing anything.

So, how this works is, it’s very similar to the tool like If This Then That. If you’re familiar with that tool. That’s like an iOS application that basically, if you say if this happens, then do that. Or if this, then that. So, do this, then do that.

And so, that would be something like when I post a picture on Instagram, save it to my Dropbox. Or if it’s going to rain today, send me a text message. Those are some of the things that you can do with If This Than That.

Well, Zapier is a lot more powerful, because it has a lot more integration, and you can pay for some of these integrations, and you can do two-step things. So, you can say if it’s going to rain, send me a text, and then send the weather forecast through a Google sheet. Like that’s a multistep level, and you can do that with the paid version of Zapier.

And so, there are basically triggers and actions. Those are the terms in Zapier. So, trigger is the initial event that sets the zap in motion, and an action is what the zap does in response to the trigger. So, we can use WordPress as an example. You can say when I publish a new post in a specific category automatically create and publish a Facebook post on my page. So, the trigger is publishing a post on WordPress, and the action is post to Facebook.

And you can make a template for this trigger/action combo and applied to any WordPress post, and that’s called a zap. If you wanted to make a record of a WordPress post in a Google sheet, you can add that to a zap as well. So, you could say if I post a new post, write the URL in a Google sheet. That may be useful. I’m thinking for you case for that, maybe you have somebody that comes in later, maybe once a month or every six months or so, you have somebody come and grab all of the recommended plugins that I talk about on my show.

And so, this would be real simple. If I have a zap already set up, all then I have to do is create it and every time I post, it publishes a URL to a Google sheet and then I could add another column and say what is the link to the plugin, and somebody could go in and fill that out and they’d have all the links in there. It would just make it really easy to do. So, that’s something that you can do with Zapier.

So, those are some of the things that you can do. Let’s talk about 10 different tips. These are just kind of ideas to start thinking and start working through like okay these are some things that can be automated within my WordPress site.

So, let’s go ahead and talk about them. The first one is post Instagram photos to WordPress. When you connect the Instagram app or the Instagram zap, you can go the other way by posting new Instagram photos to your blog. So, this is handy if you want to make sure that in case Instagram goes away someday or you just want to have all your images on a platform, but Instagram is the easiest way to get them there, you can say okay I’m going to post an image on Instagram, and then it automatically is published to my blog.

This is one that I’m going to set up so that you can see all my Instagram images over on Dustin.blog, and I’ll do that as part of an example once I’m done recording the show. So, that’s one of the things you can do. You can post Instagram photos to WordPress.

You can also post YouTube videos to WordPress. And so, if you’ve got a YouTube channel and if you want a way of cross-promotion to reach every potential customer, you may look into a YouTube zap. And so, it basically posts your YouTube videos into WordPress, and you can choose how the new video will look in the blog post. If the post will go live immediately or save as draft, and so you can get that all set up so it’s there, and then it takes out some of the friction of actually repurposing that content. It just gets it into WordPress, and then, you can go in and you schedule and get it ready.

You can post an RSS feed to WordPress. And you might be wondering why you would post an RSS feed to your WordPress blog, but maybe a reason is you create a feed of blogs other than yours that you enjoy reading that you think would be helpful for your readers. So, maybe I follow say 15 WordPress sites. Maybe I’m interested in sharing all of that information to everybody that’s following your website engineer. Maybe these are great posts for everybody to listen to or read, and I could automatically subscribe to all those RSS feeds and every time there’s a new post, I could just repurpose the content right there on your website engineer.com. That’s something cool that you could do.

Or I could follow my RSS feed for Lipson where my podcast is hosted and then every time that happens, then a draft post is already created on my WordPress site. That would be another one that would be pretty neat and pretty handy to use.

You could send your Buffer posts to WordPress or you can send your WordPress posts to Buffer. Either way, Buffer is an app that allows you to schedule social media content, and so you can create things on your WordPress site and send them to Buffer or you can put them in Buffer and send them to WordPress. Either way is cool and something you can do with Zapier.

Another one that you can do is you can post to SurveyMonkey responses to WordPress. And so, if you’re not aware, SurveyMonkey is a free service that allows you to make custom surveys and where you can get feedback from your fans and followers, and with a SurveyMonkey zap, think of these like the zap is kind of like a plugin essentially, and you can have people’s responses on the overall results of the surveys automatically posted to your WordPress site.

It would be a cool way to tell your readers hey this is what you think as a collective group. Cool? Right? So, this could be something like once the survey closes, then all of the responses could be sent to WordPress. That would be something that you could do.

You could send Google Docs to WordPress. So, many writers and bloggers prefer to write in Google Docs, and with a Google doc zap, you could have people easily transfer the content from Google Docs to Zapier. It’ll save the Google Docs as a draft post in your WordPress account. So, that would be nice, and that again it’s creating less friction from you moving from platform to platform.

Another one that you can do is you can add a new WordPress post to a Google calendar. So, if you write a lot of content, it’s important to know where your content lies on your calendar, and so Zapier knows, it can figure this stuff out. So, there’s a zap that will add every new WordPress post to your Google calendar. So, you see them in the past. If you look at your calendar over the last, you know, three or four months, you can see where all of your content has been posted. You can see which content, and then you can cross reference by okay this post did better than this post. Is it because it was posted on Monday versus Wednesday, or was it, you know, a different time or anything like that. You can see all of that if you wanted to do that. That’s pretty cool.

You could also store WordPress posts in Dropbox. And so, you probably already have a backup and whatnot, but what if you use the Dropbox zap, you can store individual WordPress posts on dropbox, and it would be really annoying to do it manually, but it’s helpful that Zapier does it automatically. So, this would basically create a text document or a Word document that you could open up that would have all the texts and all of the copy from a blog post. So, that would be super helpful as well.

So, it’s pretty simple to get started. Let’s say you listened to a couple of these, and some of these are a good idea. Or you could automatically post to Facebook or place to Twitter. One of the cool things that I like is you can set up these zaps and you can time delay them. And so, if I say I want to post this to my Facebook page, but I don’t want it to happen right away, because all of my shows are published at 4:00 a.m., and I don’t necessarily want it to go out at 4:00 a.m., maybe 10:00 a.m., or noon, or 1:00, I can say after new post, please to my Facebook page, and then at a given time. So, that’s really cool that you can do that as well.

So, how do you get started? It’s easy to connect your Zapier with WordPress. First, you sign up for Zapier. You can start with the free plan. That’s where I am, and you don’t have a lot of – you’re not out any money except a little bit of time to play with this, but you log in to your WordPress account.

Under Users, you add a new user. As the user name, you put Zapier. For the email address, you put the email address that you have access to. It’s not Zapier’s email address. You put an email address that you have access to. You generate a secure password, and then under Roll, you chose admin if you want Zapier to do pretty much anything with your blog, and then you add it as a new user.

And then, when you create and you set up Zapier as a new user, you can connect Zapier to this new WordPress account.

So, you don’t have to do things the hard way. That was kind of the overall summary of this episode. You can let Zapier or some of these services out there do things for you. And it makes it really easy. You can even do things like when somebody submits a gravity form like add those to my contact managements or my CRM, the Customer Relationship Management tool.

So, you can do those types of things. You can automate things. And I'd recommend just getting started. Like I said, with the free plan, you can get started with five zaps at a time. So, basically you can do up to five things without paying for anything, which is really nice, and you can get started and you can see what it’s like.

If you do go to the starter plan, it looks like 18 dollars per month billed annually, and then you also have the ability to use premium apps and multistep apps. So, if you wanted to do, if you do this then that and then this, and then that’s what you can get for the 18 dollars a month.

So, that’s what I wanted to share with you today. Try it this week. Spend some time doing some automation. See what you can do and how you can automate things and how you can make your life a little bit easier and you can make sure that you are moving data around and things are connecting and talking in a way that just makes more sense and you’re not having to do it.

So, that’s what I want to share with you this week. Take care, and have fun with that, and we’ll talk to you next week. Bye-bye.