How I used Airtable to automate a successful newsletter
Every month, I, Steven Zhang, save hours using these automations to help write my Boston Climate Tech events newsletter which is read by over 1,300 subscribers.
Here’s how I do it
Status Quo (without automation)
How I automate
1. Gathering events
Manually copy-paste events into a substack drafts post or text file (30min)
Clip events using webclipper (15min)
2. Generating newsletter
Manual copy paste and rewrite each event in the newsletter (30min)
- Airtable web clipper extension
- Airtable base with a table called “Events”
The first step to automating the newsletter is to collect the events data (unstructured) into an Airtable base (structured data)
The manual way of gathering events would be to copy paste text manually into a text editor
Do this 20 times and the time costs really add up!
To automate most of this, I open my Chrome bookmark folder list of 20+ different websites that may have open climate tech events, and then start clipping using Airtable webclipper
This allows fast collation of event title and URL. Text descriptions are too unpredictably structured for me but if the event listings you’re copying all follow the same predictable structure (say, you’re clipping only Eventbrite events), you can use CSS selectors to select the text
Step 2. Generating the newsletter
Once I have all the events in the newsletter, I also automate the newsletter generation using an Airtable Automation to turn the structured Airtable into a well-formatted newsletter. Without automation, this would take an additional 30 minutes to manually edit each event task
1. Since the event data is now in a structured Airtable base I can implement the following automation.
[automation] for weekly digest view filters events that are happening in the next X weeks, where X is the interval until my following newsletter
3. I generate the newsletter text as a
Insert records as List configuration
4. Which then generates a Google Doc
5. I copy the Google Doc into the sSbstack editor and my newsletter is now complete, short of a few manual formatting actions like increasing the font size of each event header and adding intro text.
There you have it- using Airtable & automation to shorten hours off of my newsletter writing
Some other extra automations/tricks that I do using Airtable for this newsletter
Since the Airtable base has a structured data format, I also offer a calendar view, live grid view, and iCal feed to my newsletter readers which my readers rave about.
You can check it out live here.
Boston Climate Tech Events Calendar - ClimateTechList Blog
Live calendar of Boston climate tech events. Weekly digest newsletter available here: bostonclimatetech.substack.com
Since event locations are often repeated, I use a linked table Location to lookup Address to save time
By the way, these are the types of systems that we build for business operations teams all the time! You can schedule a free 30-minute call with us by filling out this form.
Thanks for reading Deal Ops Automation! Subscribe for free to receive more expert automation tips and walkthroughs just like this
Deal Ops Automation | Deal Ops Automation Consulting | Substack
Tips & tricks for automating your real estate ops & other operations using Airtable & other low code tools. Click to read Deal Ops Automation, by Deal Ops Automation Consulting, a Substack publication. Launched a month ago.