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Social Media and Online Tools automation using Zapier

Social Media and Online Tools automation using Zapier

So what is Zapier?

Zapier is an online service that automates workflows between tools and apps. This is basically connecting two services by creating a “Zap.”

I have written a review about the not-so-the-same tool IFTTT, but they practically connect two apps. More about that blog post here:

 

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For this blog, we will use the free forever plan as this is intended for personal automation and to make things less busy. If you’re a business and needs more, their paid tiered plans are available.

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Features:

– With more than 750 apps, premium not included with the free tier.

– Tasks can set to run from 5 to 15 minutes automatically.

– Free plan can still get assistance from Zapier support.

– Intuitive and user-friendly site interface.

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To create a ZAP

Right after you sign-up for either the free plan or a 14-day free trial, you can immediately create a Zap. Simply browse or search for your preferred app to integrate.

Simply go to ‘Zaps’ > ‘Make a new Zap’.

Next is to select the first app for the trigger. You can either search, select from ‘Your Apps’, browse through the ‘Popular Apps’, and choose from ‘Zapier Utilities’.

I selected Facebook Pages for my trigger. This means that when there’s a new post on my page, it will initiate a workflow.

Then the Facebook page where the stream will be triggered.

Then the exact Facebook page.

After Zapier has tested this trigger, you’re done with step 1.

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Next is to set up the second app

Just select the app that will complete the action which the trigger has initiated. I have chosen Slack for the second app.

Then chose a specific action, in this Zap, the workflow will send a new message to my Slack Channel every time a new Facebook page post was triggered.

We need to specify the exact channel where the message will be sent. You can create a new channel through Slack and name it accordingly. In this case, I will choose ‘Offline Messages’.

You also need to setup the messages. By clicking on the insert field icon, it will list down all the available info to include in the message. This is basically composing the template or format of the message.

Selecting the details from the dropdown is like writing a message. Simply select anything that you think of feel is necessary

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And here’s how it will look like. Of course you may need a different information, so it varies.

The next fields are so easy to follow and setup, so just do anything as you see fit and hit ‘Continue’.

Zapier will run a final test to this workflow, you can skip, or if you click on ‘Create and Continue’ it will run the Zap. Once it’s finished, simply name the Zap and switch it on.

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To see if it really works!

Your latest Facebook page post’s details should be in a form of a message in your specified Slack channel. This is what it looks like on mine.

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10 Zaps to automate our Social Media workflow

I will be focusing mainly on my three favorite social media – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I have included workflows to connect them to some online tools such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Google Contacts, Google Sheets, Spotify, and Gmail.

1. Share new Gmail messages matching a search to Facebook

This works the same as Gmail search. So when you receive a new mail and it matches anything you specified in the search, it will automatically post it on Facebook. I use this to share coupons/discount offers, if I want to post an email from a specific address, if I receive a free event invitation, etc.

For more information on how to set up the Gmail search, you may refer to Google’s help article.

Search operators you can use with Gmail

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2. Post Dropbox photos to Facebook

The reason why I upload my pictures on Dropbox than directly post them on Facebook is to retain their original quality. Facebook employs a heavy compression for up to 90% and is continuously doing it to all the photos uploaded there. Well they don’t intend to be a photo repository or an archiver for high-quality photos.

While Dropbox can only store upto 2GB of files for their free plan, it is, in my opinion, decent enough to store and backup my photos without losing the quality.

If you don’t have a Dropbox account yet, please sign-up for one here.

3. Tweet at new Twitter followers

 

Remember when you follow someone/a business Twitter account, they immediately thanked you? Then you thought it was a bot? Well, we call it automations.

This Zap will even allow you to personalize your message through placeholders.

4. Add new posts you like on Instagram to Dropbox

This means that when you like an Instagram post, the image will be saved to your Dropbox. Except from stalking my Kpop, Jpop, and Thaipop idols, I also save some pictures that I might need like the style guru’s post. To sign-up to a free Dropbox account, please refer to this link.

5. Save Liked Instagram Photos to Sorted Google Drive Folders

This is similar to number 4, and for users who prefers Google Drive over Dropbox, this one is for you.

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6. Share Facebook Page posts on another Facebook Page

This Zap is for users who have multiple Facebook pages. You can share a post to your second account without leaving your main account. Though this only works for two accounts only – your main and one more.

7. Share Instagram Photos to Twitter Automatically

If you are into multiple social media, this Zap is for you. When your Instagram is already connected to Facebook, it automatically shares your pictures there, with this Zap, it will also post your pictures on Twitter, thus making your social media accounts updated with your status. 🙂

8. Create a new Google Contact when a new Twitter user follows

I have set this as an example on my IFTTT blog. We can also apply this to Facebook and Instagram. That is if you’d like to save your social media followers’ contact details.

9. Post new Spotify playlists to your Facebook timeline

The purpose of this Zap is the convenience of sharing your new Spotify playlist without manually doing it. While not all people are comfortable in sharing the music they listen to, there are of course those who’d like to share them to the world!

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10. Add new tracks in a Spotify playlist to a Google Sheet

This is one example of the things we can track using Google Sheet. We may never know when we will need them, but it’s better to have a spreadsheet list of things.

Wrapping up

Zapier is a wonderful online tool that automates a workflow so we don’t have to manually do them. So instead of manually saving our pictures from Facebook to Google Drive for backup and personal purposes, we can let Zapier to the job for us!

There are a few things to consider, unlike IFTTT, Zapier is geared more towards online tools or apps. So we will not see an automation for home appliances. Of course, both are targeted to their own specific market.

We also may need to consider the limitations of free plan:

  1. While it runs the Zaps every 15 minutes like the paid plans, it is limited to 5 Zapz at a time.
  2. Tasks are limited to 100 a month. These are when a piece of data were moved or that they have taken action.
  3. Because it is free, the access to the premium apps is not available.

Finally, if you have used, are using, and will be using Zapier, what is/are your favorite Zaps? Let me know in the comments below.

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About the author

Ernest Ducay Jr

Ernest Ducay Jr

Memra Project Admin

Loves green tea, dogs, and cats. I'm also a freelance WordPress site developer.

How to get a free SSL Certificate

How to get a free SSL Certificate

Secured Socket Layer

Before we get started, SSL simply means Secure Socket Layer. In human language, it means that the connection between the webserver and the browser is encrypted. And what does encrypted means? It is simply a process of converting data or information into a code, thus, making your connection private.

Notice an ‘s’ in the ‘http’ when you visited a secure site? It should look like the one below:

This is also the same with other sites with SSL installed.

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SSL Certificate

For your connection to be secure, you need an SSL Certificate installed in your server. This blog will tell you how to get that digital certificate for free.

Why do we need it?

In 2014, Google has announced in their HTTPS as a ranking signal blog that sites who use SSL Certificate get a ranking boost, though might not be a really big one, but it’s still a boost. However, beginning in January 2017, they have taken it further. Google has announced in their Moving towards a more secure web that HTTP sites that collects passwords, or credit cards as non secure, as part of their long-term plan to mark all HTTP sites as non secure.

COMODO SSL

They’re basically one of the many providers of SSL Certificates. For more information about the company, just check their Wikipedia page.

The site URL is https://ssl.comodo.com/free-ssl-certificate.php which gives us a free certificate valid for 90 days! To get started there, simply click on the “Free Trial SSL”:

The next page will ask for the CSR:

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The next page will ask you to key in the Certificate Signing Request (CSR). This can be obtained through your hosting, and since not all providers are the same, you may need to contact them to help you attain one. It will look like the image below. It’s a combination of anything, what you need to do is to copy it and paste it in the provided filed on the Comodo SSL site.

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Simply copy the code and paste it in the field. Next is the dropdown option asking you the server software used to generate the CSR. Just ask your hosting provider in case you don’t know this.

Domain Validation

The next step is to prove your ownership of the domain.

To confirm your ownership of the domain, they have listed options on how to do that. I chose the first one as this is the easiest and requires less work. The email address is protected by whois Guard that’s why it’s like that. But the message will be forwarded to the admin email of the domain.

Simply fill-out a form to complete step 3 and click next.

Then put a check on the I accept in their SSL Certificate Subscriber Agreement.

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This is free and they won’t require a credit card number. However, you’d need to validate your ownership of the domain. To do that, simply check the inbox of the admin email registered with the domain. If you encounter any issues, you may contact your domain registrar.

Click on action required button to reveal the input field.

Then check your mailbox to get the code.

Copy the code from the email they sent and paste it in the field to validate your ownership.

Then proceed to the next step by clicking next and you should be able to see the screen below:

Clicking on SSL certificates will give you access to download the ZIP file. This file contains your SSL Certificate where you can install to your server.

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Installation

The downloaded file needs to be extracted and installed to your hosting. Since hosting providers are different from one another, you may need to contact their support to help you install the certificates. I’ve also covered the 3 best free hosting providers, however, it looks like for the free hosting, SSL isn’t provisioned.

SSL For Free

Another good option is to get it from https://www.sslforfree.com/. Getting a certificate from this site is apparently easy.

Simply key-in your domain name and just provide your FTP access credentials to validate your ownership of the domain.

Just fill-out the required fields and you should be good to go. However, if in case you could not get your FTP credentials, you may contact your hosting provider.

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Other non-free option

The cheapest that I know and is reliable is through NameCheap.

Namecheap.com

They have a $9.00 per year as the cheapest tier for SSL.

Configuring SSL with WordPress

After you have installed the certificates to your hosting (or you had helped from your hosting support), your visitors can access your site via “https://”, however, you work is not done yet. You still have to properly configure your WordPress site. Worry not, there’s an awesome plugin that does all that for you.

Please note that activating this plugin will log you out of WordPress, simply because your url has changed from “http://” to “https://”. Just log back in, there’s nothing to be worried about.

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Final Thoughts

Since Google is now pushing for HTTPS Everywhere, and that there’s a long term plan from them to mark all HTTP as insecure, it would be best to install a certificate now.

The good thing about it is that you’ll have a secured connection and a boost to your ranking.

About the author

Ernest Ducay Jr

Ernest Ducay Jr

Memra Project Admin

Loves green tea, dogs, and cats. I'm also a freelance WordPress site developer.

3 Best Free Hosting Provider 2017

3 Best Free Hosting Provider 2017

Let me cut to the chase

I’ve narrowed it down to three providers where I’ve personally used, tested, and have experienced using. We use different hosting types depending on our needs. When we only need a very small amount of hosting resources for our website, we may want to consider using the free ones as they are sufficient enough just to run about anything we have, e.g. a small landing page, small blog, resume site, etc. But there are free hosting providers that can do the job just fine.

Why three?

To simply make it uncomplicated and easy. Listing every free webhosting defeats the purpose of the blog – “Best Free”. These three are just enough to host a simple site.

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So without any further ado…

 

1. Hostinger.ph

 

Specifications

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Disk Space

2000 MB

Bandwidth

100 GB

Number of Websites

1

Uptime Guarantee

99%

MySQL Databases

2

FTP Users

2

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Sadly, they don’t offer email services for the free account anymore. An announcement was sent via email on the 5th of April that they will be shutting down their email services.

Here’s the quoted message:

Hi Ernest,

We’re proud to have created almost unlimited free web hosting that many of you use and love. However, over the past years, we’ve learned that in order to be able to provide extraordinary service for our paying customers we need to focus. Our email service was constantly being abused by users who are sending spam and damaging reputation of our email delivery system. With this in mind, we had to make a difficult decision.

On the 30th of April, we’re shutting down webmail service for Hostinger free hosting plans.

This information is also available on their pricing page – email features are x-ed out.

WordPress Optimized

They also advertised that for their hosting, it is optimized for WordPress. With 100GB of bandwidth every month and uptime of 99%, their free account should be more than enough to host a small blogging site.

Using their free hosting for my WordPress site gives me a Limit Resource Reached error message when I install multiple plugins. But that does not happen all the time. Since this is free, of course we expect limited resources will be provided.

 

Hosting Removal

Please also note that when your site has not received any visitors in a month, or there’s no uploaded site, you will be notified by Hostinger.ph of the account removal. Well, this could mean that they only want an active and working site for their free account.

Overall, as a free hosting provider, they offer a very decent resource to run your small site. If you’d like to give them a try, go ahead and sign-up here.

 

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2. 000webhost.com

 

This is actually powered by Hostinger Cloud, and I would say, is performing better than Hostinger.ph. This is primarily based from my experience when uploading and installing WordPress themes and plugins. With 000webhost, I almost never experience the “reached resource limit” message.

The complete lists of features are listed here. But I also listed some of the basic specs:

Disk Space

1000 MB

Bandwidth

10000 MB = 10 GB!

Websites allowed

2

The allocated server resource should be enough to run every WordPress themes – I have tried Divi and the Extra theme from Elegantthemes.

File transfer is easy to use, fast, and allows you to edit files right there!

While they don’t offer a full POP/IMAP email services, 5 email forwarders are available for their free account. Although I actually expected to have full email service, as it was advertised, I guess I couldn’t complain for a free account and unlike Hostinger.ph who has shut down this free service.

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2. x10hosting

This offers an actual cPanel for free! While Hostinger.ph and 000webhost have their own custom control panel, which is not bad, x10hosting provides the cpanel even for free accounts. Though a user has an option to switch between the x10 Basic or the cpanel x3.

As for the specs, here’s a screenshot from cpanel showing, I guess the actual allocated server resource:

Their free account requires a user to at least login once a month or it will be closed. I also tried to login under VPN and it didn’t let me in. According to their terms, it isn’t allowed. 🙁

As for email accounts and some stuff, here’s what I could pull up:

Email Accounts

3

Subdomains

2

Parked Domains

1

Addon Domains

2

FTP Accounts

3

MySQL Databases

1

Final thoughts

It’s definitely okay to use any of the three, however, I noticed that 000webhost has fewer restrictions. x10hosting on the other hand restricts a lot and sometimes will give a resource limit reached error message. And with Hostinger.ph, although they no longer offer email services, is I would say, decent for my liking.

About the author

Ernest Ducay Jr

Ernest Ducay Jr

Memra Project Admin

Loves green tea, dogs, and cats. I'm also a freelance WordPress site developer.

Poopy.life – Free WordPress Unlimited Installs

Poopy.life – Free WordPress Unlimited Installs

Sounds so toilet-ish

This online tool may sound not so serious, but this is awesome!

So what is poopy.life?

This is simply where a quick and free WordPress unlimited test install can be done. I’ve tried it and it worked really fast! Go time it and see for yourself.

Simply click on create and the new tab will show a Sandbox WordPress page.

 

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When a test environment is created, this should look like the one below.

So this is a disposable WordPress install which will be “flushed” after 7 days. If in case you’d need an additional time, you may add another week.

So what?

What can we exactly do with this?

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1. Testing Environment

Let’s say you have a theme or plugin you’d like to test/check before installing to your actual hosting, this one is the best and quick way to do that. As they run the latest version of WordPress, testing a theme and/or plugin compatibility will be easy.

 

However, it looks like testing with backward version of WordPress is not possible. I mean, what’s the point? The latest is better.

2. Replicating an Issue

While some hosting company may blame the theme for the error, this test site is another solution to sort out the issue. That way, it may prevent the back and fort of communication.

This is also the best solution for developers when there’s a need to replicate an error where there’s a safe environment to debug it.

3. Test Install Template

You can create a test template where you can share with everyone and this will take a snapshot of your install. Simply click on sandbox, then ‘create sandbox’ button.

 

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Final Thoughts

The site name is, I would say, funny, but interesting. It may be a perfect solution, maybe not, but it all depends on your situation. 😛

 

About the author

Ernest Ducay Jr

Ernest Ducay Jr

Memra Project Admin

Loves green tea, dogs, and cats. I'm also a freelance WordPress site developer.

8 Best and Easy to use Sites for Copyright free images

8 Best and Easy to use Sites for Copyright free images

Images. Pictures. Graphics.

Yes. We need them to add life to our contents, to make our ads more interesting, and to make everything pleasing to the eyes.

Copyrighted?

If the image is owned by someone, and/or protected by a copyright, and you use it without their consent/permission, then you might get into trouble – legally. So to save ourselves from any DMCA notices, let’s be safe and use copyright free images.

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The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.

You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.

– creativecommons.org

Image by: Beata Ratuszniak | Source: Unsplash

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More than one source

None of the sites that offer copyright free images have everything we need or looking for. So if we consider getting them from more than one source, we’ll have a better chance of finding the image we may need.

1. Pexels.com

This is, I guess, my personal favorite. Search function is available for high-quality images.

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I’ve been using this site since I learned what copyright means, and I’ve always found the picture I need. What’s more convenient is that the site allows downloading images in different resolutions. This saves me time in editing or resizing.

Attribution is not required and you’re free to use the images for personal or even commercial use. For more information about Creative Common images, please check this site: https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

2. Unsplash.com

I believe every blog post about copyright free images loves to include Unsplash.

They seriously have stunning images and they have a “do whatever you want” thing with their collection. Also licensed under Creative Common Zero, which can be used without attribution to the authors.

Images are downloaded to its highest resolution available, so resizing is done manually.

3. Pixabay.com

Aside from images, they also have vectors, and art illustrations to offer.

Image by: tpsdave | Source: Pixabay

Like Pexels and Unsplash, they also offer a no attribution required for their images. However, should you wish to support the photographer/artist, you may donate through PayPal which they termed as ‘Coffee’. So if you click on the coffee button on a particular picture, you’ll be redirected to a PayPal payment screen.

The images are also high-quality and is under CC0.

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4. Gratisography.com

This is one has a very incredible collection of images that will make you smile.

The pictures are creatively made by the talented Ryan McGuire.

It appears that he didn’t specifically offered the pictures under CC0, but he has his own terms or use.

And yeah… He did say his pictures. 😀

I linked that image to his PayPal donate page should you feel like showing him your appreciation.

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5. Stocksnap.io

The images are stunning and high-quality. I got to admit, there’s one time I spent half a day on their site just looking for  pictures out of amazement.

The site’s layout is direct to the point, you want images, you get it. So far, I liked every pictures in their collection.

All images are also under the Creative Commons Zero license, so no attribution or asking of permission needed to use the images.

6. Lifeofpix.com

Their site is trendy and cool, picture collection is really stunning.

Image by: jervis_ding | Source: lifeofpix

The site has a very simple search function and they also offer free videos!

http://lifeofvids.com/

Their images are also under the CC0 license, they can be used for both personal and commercial use. 🙂

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7. Libreshot.com

The images are mostly stunning, and what I’ve found so far are interesting photos.

Image by: Martin | Source: libreshot

The images are also under CC0. The site’s licensing information stated that we can use the pictures and the site at our own risk! Well, that’s interesting. 🙂

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8. Splitshire.com

Founded by Daniel Nanescu. Splitshire has clean and artistic pictures in their collection.

They didn’t necessarily state in their licensing page that the images are under CC0, nevertheless, we’re free to use it for our projects without getting into any legal troubles.

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Final Thoughts

Salute to the guys/gals behind the concept of “free use”, they’re making this world a better place. 😀

 

About the author

Ernest Ducay Jr

Ernest Ducay Jr

Memra Project Admin

Loves green tea, dogs, and cats. I'm also a freelance WordPress site developer.

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