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Power Automate your content curation for WordPress

I started work a while back on trying to curate articles from a platform I use (Flipboard) and bringing them into WordPress. I started with a plugin called Feedzy, an RSS aggregator, but that had limitations. I documented those here in the first of a series of posts called SenseMaking from the web. This post is about an alternative which I am much happier with, using Power Automate from Microsoft. And a big shout out to a colleague who helped me achieve this: Amit Chug.

First, what is the purpose of curating content and who is this for?

Although I could always point people to Flipboard to the collection of articles I save in my magazine there, I wanted to be a little more intentional and bring them into this site and blog in separate posts, each taking a snapshot of recent articles I collected.

  1. Curating good articles and content from other sites around the web is a discerning process and takes time, effort and requires insights into what is good versus what isn’t. Automating the process is also very helpful.
  2. Curated content adds value to originally created content and recognises the wealth of other information and talent that exists out there on the web.
  3. It’s good for staying fresh with new content, which in return helps improve content marketing, boosts your SEO, increases audience engagement, and if that’s what you are in it for, it probably earns you more money.
  4. You become good by association if the articles you share are good.
  5. Who this is for: Anyone publishing their own content on a blog like this one or for people in companies responsible for content marketing or managing their company’s blog/s and want to achieve some of the aims above.

How to use Power Automate to do this

The above is the flow in brief, without each of the sections expanded or explained in detail aside from below:

  1. The first step is to create a recurring trigger that schedules the task weekly.
  2. The second step focuses on the feed source and details necessary to fetch articles.
  3. The filter array in the third step and the fourth step specifies further the tasks related to time period and items being fetched.
  4. The final step with multiple steps in it in the left branch, set up the formatting of the output and form it should take, namely a WordPress post containing all feed items from the last seven days should be created in draft form.
  5. Once the draft is created, I can perform some simple checks in WordPress before publishing. I have also automated the use of a featured image using another plugin called Quick Featured Images which creates a featured image based on the tag I assigned in the final step.

At this stage, I have just managed to get the automation to work but I have more work to do trying to improve the formatting of the output. If you compare the output of the Feedzy posts captured here versus the first version I achieved here using Power Automate, there is a gap I need to fill.

As I progress, I will update this post with more detail of how I improve things and how the automation works will become clearer.

In the meantime, if you are interested, I can share an exported version of the current automation if you contact me.

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SenseMaking from the Web

This post is an aggregation of recent articles that I have collected over at Flipboard on my magazine there. It captures great sense making from others, in other words, great articles from other sites I thought worth capturing and sharing. Curating good articles is a discerning process and I’ve automated the delivery of it in WordPress using a Power Automate Flow to achieve this – more on that here.

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Sense Making from the web

This post is an aggregation of recent posts that I have collected over at Flipboard on my magazine there. I’ve automated the collection of these posts around specific topics and intend to share the best here in this blog from time to time. Here is the latest batch and I have been using Feedzy, an RSS Aggregator Plugin for the job but this post is a test run. I am pretty discerning in my selection of what gets added to the magazine, I hope you agree.

UPDATE (13.7.22): After testing the RSS Aggregator plugin mentioned above, I discovered a shortcoming that I wanted to mention here. The feed below is not from a specific date or fixed in time as I had hoped, the items will be constantly refreshed as I add to my Flipboard magazine which is where the RSS feed comes from as mentioned. A conversation with the plugin provider about this and explaining more can be found here. So I continue my search for the ideal solution…

Update (16.7.22): I found a new solution 🙌 You’ll see from the conversation I mentioned above with the plugin developer that I did not want to make use of multiple plugins to achieve what I wanted. So I have stopped using Feedzy altogether, much as I liked it. Instead, I have used Power Automate to achieve my goals – see this post for details of how. The below feed is just a screenshot taken at the time of deactivation since deactivating the plugin would otherwise show a blank section.


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Content management with WordPress evolved – full site editing 1

Last month WordPress announced that full site editing was coming to its WordPress.com users of which I am one. I’ve been meaning to take it for a spin but haven’t managed to until now. This post is an attempt at documenting my experiences as I try and learn the new functionality as well as get to grips with how to test new features and functions like this on my active site without breaking it. I’ll track it all with my WordPress tag.

So on the very last point mentioned, I came across this option for How to Create Your Own WordPress Staging Site. I was going to explore that option but before I could, I came across this video below – a recording of a webinar run by WordPress on full site editing.

It does a great job not only of showing how full site editing works, but also goes through an alternative site staging option. It shows how to create a new site on WordPress and export and import your current site content and test that with a new block theme that works with full site editing. This way you test the new site theme and functionality in a kind of staging environment with existing content until happy and then you could switch to this new site when happy. Or upgrade your current site knowing what works and how.

But as attractive as this last option seemed, I soon ran into problems.

Problems with using WordPress.com as a staging site

  1. I’m currently on a Business Plan which is needed for enabling WooCommerce.
  2. My site has ecommerce functionality based on WooCommerce and using the Storefront theme currently. The Storefront theme is not currently capable of full site editing.
  3. I found a cool alternative: Wowmall – WooCommerce block based theme
  4. The problem is on a free WordPress site you cannot run WooCommerce and nor can you upload the Wowmall theme – you need to be on a Business Plan at least. This is cost prohibitive.
  5. My Plan B is to try run this on a an Azure plan I have, i.e self hosted WordPress on which I can instal WooCommerce and upload the Wowmall theme after grabbing it from here. Good article here on how to run WordPress on Azure.

So that’s all for now. I’ll update my progress in another post.

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3 ways to automate WordPress and improve content creation

This is a test post to some degree as well as an explainer. I’ve been trying to work out the best way to get a post out without needing to tend to some of the tedious chores of publishing a post every time. I want to get those out the way fast so I can focus on the writing. Read on to see what I am trying out.

I make use of featured images – a lot. I try have them in every post except when I create a DanelDoodle because then the doodle becomes the only image I want the reader to focus on.

Most of the time I create custom featured images for each post because when you share on social media, the central part of the featured image stands out. Sometimes it matters less so I looked at several ways of to automate the creation of a featured image.

One was super simple which I loved but there was no way to distinguish between posts and pages (Default Featured Image). Another broke my site since the plugin hadn’t been tested to work with my version of WordPress (Auto Post Thumbnail). The third worked a charm: Quick Featured Images.

The featured image (and thumbnail) for this post was automatically generated by using the plugin so its a step I can skip when creating posts with a specific tag. I’ve started with this and will see how I go but so far so good.

Social Sharing

click to enlarge

I had a challenge with the social sharing function in the past but I am now trying to see if it has been fixed. I’m referring to the Jetpack function that you see in the screenshot.

In the past, the message I would write for the audience would overwrite the heading and excerpt I normally capture at the start of the post or in the SEO description.

I don’t want that to happen.

I would prefer it if the message was displayed in addition to the title and the excerpt I normally see.

That is because each plays its own role in making content stand out. I have been doing it manually for the last year or so but am hoping this will now work and save me more time.

Once this post is published, I’ll come back and confirm how it worked.

Block Templates

There are two ways to do this:

  1. Reusable blocks. This entire page and its layout can be saved as a reusable block. I would first have to group the elements I would want to reuse and then save the group. There’s more on that from WordPress. This does not included the featured image however and nor the headline.
  2. Copy post. I could just go to my list of posts that have been published and copy the entire post. This would copy everything and then I just need to change the things I want to change but everything else in terms of structure, would remain. More on that here.
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How to respond to global challenges mindfully and the 3 stakeholders in success

The title of this post is hopefully not too oblique and its clear I’m referring in part, to the challenge of our time – COVID-19. And when I say mindfully, my principle context is the practice of meditation, where paying attention is key. By paying attention you become more aware. You become more concentrated and achieve states of natural clarity. All the better to manage responses (or non responses) to circumstances effectively. By stakeholders I mean the individual and groups, like organisations and broader societies.

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Corona as a catalyst for teamwork customer success and AI

I wouldn’t be the first to jump on the Corona Virus bandwagon, if that’s what I was trying to. No, I’m simply observing the ways I see others doing so, with varying degrees of success, and for good and bad reasons. Mostly it’s a way to conflate the unintended impact it is having, or where it is catalysing efforts and could impact several areas I personally have an interest in.

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The engine of the subscription economy

I read this article the other day: 4 Reasons Why Salesforce Could Acquire Zuora. I’m writing this trend report: As a Service Trend. Two of the chapters I will be covering are Subscription Economics and Technology Ecosystems. Point 2 in the first article linked above gets to the heart of and intersection between these two chapters and this post is a way to explore the topics.

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