Google's Cloud Platform is awesome. It's amazing how much they offer for free. For amateur techies like me who love to automate things it's kind of amazing.
I don't really know enough about coding to make most things from scratch but that can be a super power too. Using a few tools in combination, you can make some really impressive things really quickly. I frequently use Google Cloud Functions in combination with Zapier, IFTTT, and Google Sheets (using app scripts). Hubspot workflows and really anything that can post to a webhook can be powerful in combination with Cloud Functions too.
Creating a Google Cloud account can be a bit tricky and intimidating to the uninitiated. So I'll walk you through how to do it.
As I mentioned, Google provides A LOT for free. BUT when you sign up they will ask for a credit card. There will be a lot of talk about a free credit that expires and a free trial and it's going to feel a lot like you are going to get charged for something. YOU WILL NOT.
For one thing, if you build things like I do for personal use, everything you do will fall well within what they give for free.
Secondly, you have to manually opt into a paid account after your trial ends for them to charge you.
You get so much stuff for free it's ridiculous.
For example, I teach you on this site how to use Google Cloud Functions to update a Todoist Filter to be far superior to Todoist's own "View All" filter. I need a Cloud Function to update it periodically so it is always up-to-date if I add or change projects in my account.
I have my Cloud Function set to update my Todoist filter every hour. That means it will execute approximately 720 times a month (24 * 30). Google will let you run Cloud Functions 2,000,000 times a month for free. So even if I wanted to run my Cloud Function every minute, I would still only use 43,200 (60 * 24 * 30) a month, or about 2% of the free quota. So yeah... don't worry about it.
Ok onto creating your account
Create a Google Cloud Platform account
First you're going to need a regular Google account (like what you use for Gmail, Google Photos, or any Google service.) I'm not going to cover this because it's easy and most people have one. But if you don't have one go create one here.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Google changes their UI all the time. What you see will probably be a little different from what I have listed here. But it should be similar. So don't be alarmed if your experience is a little different.
Ok now you need a free Google Cloud account. Head over to console.cloud.google.com.
You'll be greeted with a Terms of Service agreement. Check the box and agree if you agree.
Create a Project
Everything you build needs to be stored under a "Project". So you'll need to make one. Let's try to make a Cloud Function and Google will prompt you to add a project and various other things.
Click on the menu, scroll down to the "Compute" section and click on Cloud Functions.
You'll be prompted to create a project in order to continue. Go ahead and click "Create Project"
Call your project whatever you want. It doesn't really matter. But note it can't be changed later.
After that you'll need to sign up for a free trial. Again, keep in mind that everything we're doing falls under their free plan. The trial just allows us to fully activate your account.
Agree to the terms of service if you agree to them and click "Continue"
Enter your address and credit card information and click "Start My Free Trial." Remember you're not going to get charged for this. There is nothing you need to do later. You have to explicitly opt for a paid account in order to get charged in the future.
Enable Build API
In order to use things like Cloud Functions we'll need to enable something called the "Build API."
Again the easiest way to do this is to start to create a Cloud Function. So hit the menu again, scroll down to the "Compute" section and click on "Cloud Functions.
Once again click on "Create Function"
Leave the default value for everything, scroll down and click "Save."
Then click "Next"
Ok on this page you should now see a message that states that the Cloud Build API is required. Click on the button that says "Enable API."
Just click "Enable" and you are good to go!
Congratulations! You now have your own, fully functioning Google Cloud Platform account. You'll be able to do all the fun automation and hackery that Google Cloud Functions and other tools allow.