Set Up Autoblog to Collect TCN Posts Automatically

I previously wrote about how to configure the free CyberSyn plug-in to bring TCN posts into WordPress automatically. Now let’s look at another popular WordPress plug-in that offers this capability: Autoblog, which is part of WPMU DEV. (ASMC members, note that ASMC has negotiated a discount for you.)

Like CyberSyn, Autoblog is an aggregator plug-in that eliminates the need to copy and paste text and graphics from the TCN site to your Web site. Once you’ve installed and configured Autoblog, it checks your custom TCN RSS feed regularly and adds every new article to your site as a draft post that you can edit and post on whatever schedule you want.

Once you’ve subscribed to WPMU DEV and installed the WPMU DEV Dashboard plug-in, follow these steps:

  1. Do a search in WPMU DEV Dashboard to find Autoblog.
  2. Click the Install button, and when prompted, click Activate.
  3. In the WordPress navigation sidebar, hover over Autoblog and click Add-ons. (Or just click Autoblog and then click Add-ons underneath it.)
  4. Activate both the Featured Image Import and Image Import add-ons by clicking the Activate link under each one. No other add-ons are necessary.
  5. Open a new browser tab and go to your TCN Account page. At the bottom of that page, in the Member Links section, Control-click the Apple Pros Members Feed and choose Copy Link, Copy Link Location, Copy Link Address, or whatever your browser calls it. (If you’re an ASMC member, copy the link for the ASMC Members Feed instead.) Make sure to get the right one, and ignore the Recent Posts Feed; it won’t work reliably, and I’m still figuring out how to get the unnecessary links taken off.
  6. Now that you have your RSS feed’s URL in the clipboard, go back to the tab for your WordPress site and click All Feeds in the sidebar, and then click Add New at the top. There are a bunch of settings, but I’ve highlighted the important ones in the screenshot below and will explain them next.
  7. Give your feed a name in the Your Title field, and paste your RSS feed’s URL into the Feed URL field.
  8. For Default status for new posts, select Draft. (The post type and date menu defaults are correct.)
  9. Select the local user you want to associate with these posts from Set author for new posts. Or, if you want them to be bylined by the original TCN author, leave it at Use feed author.
  10. To make sure you get the right categories, choose Categories from Treat feed categories as, and select the Add any that do not exist checkbox. (This isn’t essential; if you have your own category scheme, feel free to configure this section differently.)
  11. Make sure to leave the Use Full Post default for Use full post or an excerpt.
  12. Set Import the most recent to 10 added posts, and set Process this feed to every day. There’s no reason to run it any more often than that, and you want 10 posts so you can get each month’s content in one run.
  13. Finally, and this is key, for Select a way to import featured image, select Use enclosure tag of a feed item. This setting is essential for pulling in the right featured image.
  14. When you’re done, click the Create feed button, which then returns you to the Autoblog Feeds screen.
  15. Hover over your feed’s title so the links appear below it, and click Process. Autoblog will tell you that the feed processing has launched in the background and you can get details in the Autoblog Dashboard.
  16. Click Dashboard under Autoblog in the in the WordPress sidebar. At the very bottom, if Autoblog says it will regenerate the page at a future time and you don’t want to wait, click Regenerate the page. Otherwise, look at the graph. You should see a small green bar to indicate how many feeds have been processed (likely 1 in your case) and a taller blue bar to indicate how many posts have been brought in (9 in this case, but 8 will be more common).

That’s it! It may sound a bit involved, but it takes just a few minutes to set up, after which Autoblog will automatically retrieve new posts added to your custom TCN RSS feed and turn them into drafts in your WordPress site.

Remember, these are drafts, and before you make them public, you’ll want to cut out the Facebook and Twitter teasers at the bottom of an article before posting. Then, after you’ve posted, you can use those teasers with the link to the article on your site, to promote it on social media.

If anything isn’t clear in the instructions above, or if you have troubles, let me know, and I’ll see what I can do to help.