ChimpBlast Updated, Adds Cron Utility for Scheduling Newsletters

The latest version of the ChimpBlast plugin for sending email broadcasts through the MailChimp service is available now at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/chimpblast/

ChimpBlast was designed to be used with RSVPMaker, and to make it easy to generate a simple newsletter based on recent blog posts. Based on some feedback from people who have tried it, I’ve further improved the facilities for importing blog content.

Another improvement is that you can now change the mailing list you’re targeting (if you run several) on a per post basis rather than from just the settings screen.

I have also included a sample cron script for sending a weekly email newsletter based on the previous week’s worth of blog posts and any upcoming RSVPMaker events. I use something like this for my son’s cub scout pack and for a political organizing website, where the newsletter serves to keep list members up to date on the latest material from the website. You can use the cron script as-is, or copy it into another directory and modify it to meet your needs (if, for example, you need a daily or monthly newsletter rather than a weekly one).

From the ChimpBlast settings screen, you can now designate the day of the week for your newsletter broadcasts, as well as the template, list, and subject line that will be used. The newsletter will go out using the default Email From address and Email Name display name.

It you run the cron script on any day other than the designated day of the week, it sends a preview version of the broadcast to the Email From address. The way I use this is to configure cron to run on Saturday and Sunday, where Sunday is the actual publication day. By sending myself a preview, I get a reminder to make any updates or corrections prior to publication day.

Cron is the Unix scheduling utility, and many web hosts provide a simplified utility for configuring it through Cpanel (shown below) or an another admin system.

ChimpBlast Cron Job
A ChimpBlast Email Newsletter Set to Run Saturday and Sunday

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