Hackernoon logoHow to Make a Newsletter Generator Without Code by@bentossell

How to Make a Newsletter Generator Without Code

Originally published on Makerpad

This is a simple way to use the Pocket Chrome Extension as a way for you to easily save articles you come across on Desktop and Mobile (via Chrome browser obviously) to an evolving Google Document which you can use for populating a weekly/daily newsletter. In the version I’ll describe, we are going to add all the entries (automatically) to Airtable as a mini-database and way to reference back/add filters/tags/etc. But you can just skip the Airtable step altogether and link Pocket Chrome Extension to Google Docs directly. I’ll be using Zapier to perform all the automatic tasks involved here.

First, you need to download the Pocket Chrome Extension. Take it for a quick spin and see what it looks like when you go to a webpage and click the Pocket icon to save a page. You’ll see the dropdown allows you to tag things. If you add a tag that isn’t in your account it will add it. So let’s go and tag a test post ‘newsletter’. Check it goes into your Pocket account.

Now head over to Zapier.com (create an account if you don’t have one already.) and make a zap. Choose Pocket from the list of apps to start with.

If you don’t want to use Airtable as a database, skip ahead.

Before you create an action item using Airtable we need to set up the table and base. Here’s what I did:

Now lets create our Action item in Zapier.

There is data in this step because we did a test on our Pocket extension before. If you have no data, then that’s why — add an article to your Pocket with the extension and use a tag you want to capture for your newsletter…for convenience I tag everything ‘newsletter’.

Side note: you can catch lots of different types of fields here. But sometimes when you map fields using one article, it won’t translate necessarily to another article written on another platform (medium, wordpress, ghost, custom site etc) — but just make sure you get the basics in… The post title, URL and I like the excerpt. This way you at least have some base info and an easy way to dive in to the articles in your doc. See my example in Airtable here:

People skipping Airtable…you can start reading again now.

Lets connect to Google Docs! Go set up a document on Google Docs.

Okay you’re done. Back to Zapier.

You can just add the fields you want to input in your Google Doc but the formatting is just to make it cleaner to scan and use later.

Okay so the text to append looks a bit messy and I DID use some teeeeny bits of ‘code’.

Image: <a href=”{{Post image url}}”>Image URL</a>
</br><h4>Title: <a href=”{{Post URL}}”>{{Post Title}}</a></h4>
</br>Author: <strong>{{Author name}}</strong>
</br>Excerpt: {{Excerpt}}

Here are the explanations of the codes above:

So you can see from the above I’ve said to Zapier to put text in my google doc so it does this:

Image: The link to the image url

Title: Title text which is hyperlinked and also formatted as a heading.

Author: Name of author in bold

Excerpt: The text


And there you have it! When you save an article, it adds the data to Airtable, then sends the relevant info to my google doc.

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