WTF #2

Does Zapier really make you happier? You sure about that?

WTF No Code

I'm just going to say it. 

Zapier is tired.

The OG consumer iPaSS platform is stuck in a rut while fending off the likes of n8n, Make, Parabola, Automate.io, and.. well you get the point. There's no shortage of alternatives to Zapier. Except for IFTT. No one knows what IFTT is doing.

If you can make sense of that ☝️ paragraph then you're exactly who I want to speak to when, I say again, Zapier is so damn tired but its early SEO tactics allowed it to amass an army of fans, followers, and customers who are ready to prop it up and help it maintain its spot atop the iPaSS heap. (It's a shame iPaSS never really caught on.)

It's also got roughly the entire mass of the sun so people are drawn to it when they come around to asking how can I avoid doing all this manual work? Simply put, they've got a strong awareness game and are often the de facto solution for anyone starting out on their no code automation journey.

Sorry, Harrison but those features aren't game-changers. Each of those features are table-stakes and Zapier is right to get them rolled out to re-establish parity with their competition.

This really shows that Zapier is finally showing up to play but they're a day late and their equipment manager quit, taking the team's jerseys with him so we don't know the names of the players and they're in stage 5 of their identity crisis.

That analogy may be a bit flighty or harsh (you choose) but there is a trend worth covering with Zapier.

Here are a couple stumbles on the road to Zap-lightenment, which lies beyond Zappieness

THAT BRAND REFRESH 🤦‍♂️

Brand refreshes rarely come together without a little horse trading. That means the leadership team at Zapier believed a new coat of paint was a better investment than 𝑥. I’m not about to solve for 𝑥 but you can try your hand at it.

The problem with that effort, at least at first, is that those responsible for the brand refresh indexed heavily on a simplified on-ramp to the product; whittling down the UX to a series of rudimentary steps to prime users to deal with the minutiae of each new Zap.

It also put the Zapier dashboard into a blender.

That created a jarring shift in how I think through setting up a Zap and signalled that power users could take a back seat for a bit. Zapier deserves all the credit in the world for taking only a million dollars and moving mountains, but the refresh was a glaring misstep in an otherwise pristine track record.

It just broke so much trust and functionality, at least for me.

So that got me reassessing its costs.

THAT STEADY MARCH UP-MARKET 💸

Zapier is a business and like any business they want to separate you from more of your money as you grow into their product. They updated their pricing and their plans in 2019 and never looked back.

So, the burning question I have for you is does Zapier actually make you happier as your wallet gets lighter?

For me, the answer is a resounding NOPE, and I know I’m not alone on that.

Some projects will really push the limits of Zapier’s pricing and packaging and when that happens, alternatives like Make really shine.

Case in point – #Tweet100, a Twitter leaderboard challenge built using no code tools. After a chance encounter on the Automate All The Things stream, Jay Clouse realized he had something special, but if it were to really catch on he’d quickly be spending thousands of dollars a week to maintain a number of automations and workflows that powered the whole project.

I convinced Jay to rebuild things in Make, saving him a pretty penny in the process and removing any apprehensions around the costs to scale. That fanned the flames for thousands of folks on Twitter.

SO, WHAT’S THEIR DEAL THEN?

As I re-read all of this, there’s a good chance this comes across as a bit of a hate-on for Zapier. Trust me when I say it’s not. Zapier was the uncontested leader in the consumer iPaSS market for years, all the while remaining that classic “scrappy startup” possibly best known for their remote work policy that pre-dated the pandemic. They pushed for async work well before we were forced to find a new way to work.

Zapier has taken their position as the market leader and bet on their expertise being the secret sauce while they develop new corner-stone products. Those products are still enjoying their first moments of daylight, but they manage to round out Zapier’s product line and brings them into the fullstack no code platform territory.

Did they get to this point a little late in the game? I think so. Do you want to bet against them? Absolutely not. Other software solutions have come to similar conclusions, some of which aren’t even in the same vertical as Zapier. Products will continue to mature and we’ll soon be on our way to that messy phase where things start to consolidate – by hook or by crook.

The truth is, YOU come out ahead here. You’re the one that gets to decide what the best fit for your project is and you have more options than ever to get it built.

Personally, I’ll be moving my projects away from Zapier for the sake of simplicity (and saving a hefty chunk of change) but I’ll still rely on it for client projects or when it makes dollars and sense. 

🆗 Simple $%!#

My latest project update or feature release. That's it. That's the $%!#.

The Need

Hawking podcast recommendations isn't easy, especially when you're doing it solo. I funnel all the podcasts I come across into a single repository that I later comb through to approve items into a queue of scheduled social media content.

The Stack

  • Airtable for the roster of podcasts that I harvest

  • Airtable's Web Clipper Chrome extension

  • iOS Shortcuts

The Result (ELI5)

Enter Automate All The Things, again. 

While my inbox is often inundated with press releases and emails from folks looking to get the word out on their podcast, I still stumble into A LOT of podcasts while I browse the internet, especially on mobile. With a little guidance from Aron and Matthew Cassinelli, I'm now able to quickly add any podcast to my Airtable base so I can review it when I get into that focused workflow.

The Extended Version

I take the same approach to sourcing prospects, collaborators, and partners for Podcast Delivery and for my freelance business. Once I get things into Airtable, the possibilities are endless!

🌶 Spicy Takes

This gets your attention today but won't mean much in a few months.

AJ is the brains behind Carrd and clearly an ideas guys. This is a metric absolutely worth tracking.

I'd say it's a pretty spicy take because to many, it's a thumb-stopper.

I've used Carrd to spin up early proof-of-concept landing pages and "enriched" mock-ups to give clients and idea of what they can expect to see with a fully-completed project.

🌶🌶🌶🌶🌶(out of 5)

🎲 Dicey Makes

Every one deserves some criticism. I'll share some unsolicited feedback in a sentence or two and I'll try to keep it constructive.

I never truly understood the motivation to recreate websites in other tools but there's a market for it. I guess its sorta like how people enjoy watching video games over playing them. 

Finsweet is even in the game offering step-by-step tutorials via livestream.

I guess the benefits coming out of this sort of thing is you get some practice in, that practice yields a valuable resources, and you get to showcase your skills. One asset serves multiple purposes. That's my kind of asset. 

But, how long do you maintain these assets? Who has time to keep things up and running for other people to pick apart?

For the time being, not me. I'm busy moving projects like Podcast Delivery away from Mailchimp and Zapier and scouring the internet for podcasts and other content to build this newsletter.

What am I moving to? Beehiiv.

Stick around for the ride.

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