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Being a programmer, and a
lazy person, I love automation, and streamlining as many daily processes as possible. Sometimes a task is so simple, we just do it without thinking. That’s especially true if automating it can take one or more days. But, there’s more than just those 8 minutes you spend every day downloading some stats.
Let’s pretend you do something, every day, that takes 8 minutes. An example could be logging into AdWords, copying your impressions and clicks for some campaigns, then pasting them into your tracking system. That’s not so bad… but what if you automated it?
First, you’ll need a method of getting stats from Google AdWords using the API. After troubleshooting, maybe this takes you 6 hours (360 minutes). That was 45 days of manually fetching stats that you just wasted – you’re in the hole!
But after day 45, you start earning 8 minutes per day. Within 1 year, you’ve found 2,560 minutes, or an extra 42 hours!
Not only that, but you’ve eliminated a potential distraction from your day. While it may take you only 8 minutes to do a task, that means you have to stop doing something else. Then when you’re done in AdWords, you close the window & realize you have thechive.com open in the background, and another 20 minutes are lost.
Automation also adds value to your business. When I listed my coupon site on Flippa, the bidding didn’t go as high as I had hoped, but I had at least a dozen offers from people that just wanted to buy the automation scripts (the scripts pulled coupon feeds, revenue & spending stats, and turned adGroups on/off as necessary). I’m still contemplating if this is something I want to package and sell.
Automating your processes creates freedom. I used to worry about sending PPC traffic to pages that didn’t have coupons (waste of money), or having coupons available, but not sending traffic to them (waste of opportunity). Now, these adGroups turn on & off as needed, not only maximizing profits but also allowing the site to run without me being there.
You don’t have to automate an entire process to see the benefit from a little scripting. Recently, podcaster Daniel M. Clark wrote about automating your podcast workflow. He’s still publishing the series but when done, you’ll see that it’s not 100% automated – but he’s still seeing a benefit from automating some of the work.
In the early 1870s, Rockefeller inspected a Standard plant in New York City that filled and sealed five-gallon tin cans of kerosene for export. After watching a machine solder caps to the cans, he asked the resident expert: “How many drops of solder do you use on each can?” “Forty,” the man replied. “Have you ever tried thirty-eight?” Rockefeller asked. “No? Would you mind having some sealed with thirty-eight and let me know?” When thirty-eight drops were applied, a small percentage of cans leaked—but none at thirty-nine. Hence, thirty-nine drops of solder became the new standard instituted at all Standard Oil refineries. “That one drop of solder,” said Rockefeller, still smiling in retirement, “saved” $2,500 the first year; but the export business kept on increasing after that and doubled, quadrupled—became immensely greater than it was then; and the saving has gone steadily along, one drop on each can and has amounted since to many hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Chernow, Titan, pp. 188–89.
Similar to how Rockefeller saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by eliminating one drop of solder from cans of kerosene, think about how much time you can save by eliminating those small tasks that can be (and should be) automated…
I agree completely! One of the best ways that I have found to figure out WHERE I need to automate something is to explain to someone else what I am doing. Half the time I find myself saying, “I do X and Y and then Z….wait a minute….I should probably just combine X and Y to save a step.” I don’t think about it on a daily basis while I am doing it. When I explain it to someone else, I all of a sudden realize that I could be doing it more efficiently.
I’m trying more and more to automate everyday tasks. Some things can’t. But the more I implement things the easier life has become.
PS: I would maybe buy it 🙂
I like how you think. I love working more efficiently via automation.
Eric, were you able to get your adwords account unbanned?
Hi Rob –
Nope, I’ve given up on AdWords. Just have to focus on what I have control over, which isn’t anything in AdWords.
AdCenter is so much easier to work with – I just hope they start picking up the volume
Excellent post again, Eric! I am curious, what made you decide to sell the site?
Being booted from AdWords, and not having adCenter API access at the time, caused me to have a knee-jerk reaction and list the site. Thankfully, it hasn’t sold and I’ve grown the site quite a bit.
Ah, that makes sense (and sucks that they booted you). Thanks!
Also, if you are thinking of packaging your scripts, you might want to read the book the Mythical Man-Month. He talks about what it takes to go from a program developed for an intended purpose to a package that can be sold and supported.
I’ve heard about that book, but haven’t looked at it. But, based on your description and things I’ve been thinking about doing, it sounds like a perfect read for me. Thanks!
Can you link me to a report automation API for the Google Affiliate Network? I am having trouble locating it.
Great! Also, I just happened upon the API explorer that is quite useful.
Do you know if I can place a unique identifier on a product in order to let me know once it has been purchased, and by which particular user on my site?