How to create a no-maintenance family blog in 3 easy steps

What do you do if some of your family won’t join Facebook yet get miffed if they hear your news second hand?

An easy option is to create a private blog that gets automatically (the no-maintenance part) populated with your family’s facebook updates and pictures.

Creating the blog is a relatively quick one-off job. It might take an hour or so but once its all set up you don’t need to touch it.

I picked WordPress for our family as my sister and I used it already (and it’s free, as are most blogging platforms).

How to set up your blog in 3 easy steps:

1.  Set up the blog

2.  Invite your family to join you

3.  Set up the rules to create new posts on your blog (more on this below)

1.   Setting up your blog

Pick a name for your site.  This will become part of the web address so should be easy to remember.  For example allthingsjones.wordpress.com

Set your theme and title. WordPress has lots of free themes you can play around with and personalise with your own photos or pictures.

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Set the blog to private to restrict access to just your family.  This is done under “Settings”,”Reading” in the WordPress blog dashboard.Image

2.  Inviting  your family to join

You can assign different access levels from editor to follower depending on whether you want to allow them to add/edit/delete posts or just read them.  This is done from the “Users” “Invite New” menu on the dashboard.

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So now that you have your blog, how do you (and your family) auto-magically add posts to it?

The answer:  Using IFTTT (IF This, Then That).  Now this sounds technical and involved but it’s really not, no coding experience or IT knowledge whatsoever is needed.

3.  Setting up the rules to create new posts on your blog – automatically!

If you haven’t yet heard of IFTTT, it’s just a really easy way to get the internet to work for you.  You can set up rules like “If I post a photo on facebook, add it to my family blog”.  So every time you post a photo on facebook, within 15 minutes your photo will appear as a new post in your blog and everyone who is  following your blog will get notified that there’s a new post. And it’s free!

First – join IFTTT here.

Second – register your Facebook and WordPress (or whatever platform you are using for your family blog) as “channels”.

IFTTT1

Third – create your rules (known as “recipes”).

IFTTT2

You create rules by choosing a channel to get information from (for this rule facebook is the “this” channel), the trigger (each time I post a photo), and a channel to send the information to ( the “that” channel is your family blog).

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IFTTT guides you through setting up your recipes step-by-step to make it super easy to use.  You can accept the default values for your blog post initially and then play around with them later when you have it all working.

Your recipe should look something like this when it’s been set up:

IFTTT4

Now all you need to do is activate your rule, add a photo to facebook and wait for it to appear on your blog. Too easy!

Each rule or recipe will keep working until you switch it off.

Now get the rest of your family facebookers to do the same…

…and keep the facebook haters happy 🙂

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Joining Jess at www.essentiallyjess.com for IBOT (I blog on Tuesdays)

There are heaps of other things you can get IFTTT to do for you – there are thousands of recipes you can look through to see how other people are using it to make their online lives easier. Check out the two IFTTT articles linked below for more information.

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The easiest way to set up a family calendar on your smartphone (and how to avoid those “but I didn’t know you’d organised something for tonight” moments)

Calendar: Month View
Calendar: Month View (Photo credit: pouwerkerk)

One of my favourite things about owning a smartphone is that I no longer need to remember anything, ever. I simply put a reminder in my phone’s calendar and keep my phone within earshot.
One of the downsides unfortunately, was I tended to forget to inform the other half of events he was supposed to go to too.. Since I have an iPhone and he has a Samsung it took me a while to work out how to set up a joint calendar. Six months ago I did and seriously, it really works well!
There are loads of ways to do this but here’s how we did it:

1. I set up a new gmail account

2. I registered that account on both our phones (in the same way you set up your personal email account). You don’t need to use that account for emails, just make sure you have “calendars” switched to “on” when you set up the account on your phones.

3.When I put an event in my calendar I can choose to put it in my personal calendar (if it’s just a reminder for me) or the new gmail calendar. When it’s something we both need to know about I select the new calendar. It appears  and behaves exactly the same as any other event/reminder in my calendar.

4. Et Voila! It magically appears in my husband’s phone’s calendar too and we both get reminded about it.

Now we are changed people, incredibly organised and forward planning.  The old “but you never told me…” has been replaced with “Well, I had the girls/boys night out in the calendar weeks ago..”.  Much harder to argue with 🙂

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Joining essentiallyjess.com for IBOT

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Top 5 Apps Your Kids Will Love This Week

See on Scoop.itUseful Apps

Chris Crowell is a veteran kindergarten teacher and contributing editor to Children’s Technology Review, a web-based archive of articles and reviews on apps, technology toys and video games. Download a free issue of CTR …

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