The machine takes care of it

In a quest to spend more time writing and less time sharing online what I write, I developed an automated workflow to share my posts on social media with minimal effort.

What used to take me up to ninety minutes per week happens now automatically.

I can focus on sketching and writing while the machine takes care of formerly-manual labor.

I sketch and write daily, pairing up my sketches and essays as little stories. I have to manually scan and edit my drawings, as well as polish my writing drafts and translate them into Spanish. I then upload the sketch and story to my website and schedule them for publication.

On the publication date, a series of automated events take place.

Let's see what those are.

First, the story shows up on my RSS feed — a standardized system to distribute content online so users and applications can receive updates1 — which contains all my publications. The story also appears on the main page of my website, at Nono.MA, and on my sketches page, Sketch.Nono.MA.

In the early morning of the scheduled date, a Mailchimp newsletter campaign reads my RSS feed and sends the Spanish version via email to Spanish subscribers. Later that day, early morning in the United States, another newsletter campaign emails the original English story. (The one you're reading now.)

The same feed is read by Zapier, an online service I've configured to share my weekly sketch and story on multiple social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

The post is shared on two Facebook pages, two Twitter accounts, two Instagram accounts, one Tumblr account, and my personal LinkedIn profile, and scheduled to be re-shared on Twitter on Friday, two weeks later, using Buffer. An image-processing and optimization service called Imgix resizes my sketch's canvas to be shared as a square image on Instagram.

Two optional manual steps make this process feel a bit more human: sharing on Hacker News, something I might not want to do every week, and sharing on my Facebook timeline. (Neither Hacker News nor Facebook's API let you automate this step.)

Sharing each story used to steal ten to ninety minutes of my time.

Now my job is to supervise the pipeline works and make little adjustments here and there.

I can focus on sketching and writing.

  1. RSS stands for RDF Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication. It's an XML-based format whose first's version was released twenty-one years ago. You can see the RSS feed of my sketches at (English) and (Spanish). 

November 3, 2020
Nono Martínez Alonso

My sketches and stories, in your inbox.

One email per week. No spam ever.

Pencil sketch of Nono Martínez Alonso.