What Spiderman Can Teach You About RSS Feeds

What Can Spiderman Teach You About RSS Feeds

Photo Credit: Roberto Verzo / Creative Commons

Are you using an RSS feed for your website?

If not, you are no Spiderman.

Creating an RSS feed is crucial for the success of your blog for one simple reason:

It adds to your web of connection options on the internet.

Some people consume information online via email, some prefer social media, but there is a strong niche of people who only take in their blog content via an RSS reader. And without an RSS feed on your blog, they will write you off as a villain, and never come back to your blog.

Essentially, an RSS reader allows people to view a compilation of blog posts from places that they specify. The benefits of an RSS aggregator are that you get all your blog content in one place, and you are able to categorize all your choices into organized folders.

In order to assure your blog content reaches its maximum potential, you must realize that all readers enjoy consuming information differently. Some people like emails or RSS feeds, while some like reading and some prefer video or podcasts.

You must cater to all of these people, so your blog posts get viewed.

Some examples of RSS aggregators include Feedly, Reeder and News Blur. Google Reader was always the most popular, however Google recently announced that it will be discontinued in July of 2013. So if you would like to try out an RSS aggregator for your own purposes, I would recommend Feedly, as it has a clean interface and pulls all your feeds from Google Reader, if you had that before.

So how can you setup an RSS feed for your readers to enroll in?

Get bit by the bug

To start off you will have to sign up for a free service from Google called Feedburner. This will allow you to setup a feed, while tracking the amount of RSS subscribers.

If you already have a Gmail account you can sign into the Feedburner service. If not, simply create a Gmail account. (I understand that some people don’t have Gmail. The reason I recommend doing this, is because setting up an RSS feed is much more complicated without one. You don’t have to use your Gmail account if you don’t want to, but it’s free, and it’s the easiest way to setup a feed.)

Creating a feed is quite simple. You can scroll down to the field that says “Burn a feed right this instant.” Then type or copy and paste you blog’s domain here.

burn your feed

Click next. It will then ask you to identify your feed. Choose the option that looks like this: www.mydomain.com/feed. Then click next.

Feedburner will then ask you to name your feed and specify the name of your feed URL. You can name it whatever you want, but you can see what I chose below:

name rss

Click next and this will give you the URL of your new feed! It should look something like this:

feed url

The next step will simply tell you what statistics are being tracked through your feed. For example you will be able to see how many people are subscribed and what feed reader they are using. You can also include some other statistical options if you would like more in depth statistics such as click through rates.

Spin your web

After that, you will want to put a button on your site that looks like this:

rss feed button

If you click “next” in Feedburner it will give you several options to incorporate your feed on your blog, depending on your blogging platform.

You are more than welcome to walk through the steps of integrating the button on your own platform. However, I would recommend creating a button, similar to the one above, so people can simply click on that button and subscribe via their own feed reader. So, for the easiest and most universal method, follow the steps below:

Click Publicize.

friendly graphic Publicize RSS Code Subscribe in a reader

Click the “friendly graphic link.

friendly graphic

Select the first option, “Subscribe in a Reader”

subscribe in a reader

Then scroll to the very bottom of the page to copy the code provided.

rss code

You can then paste this code in any area of your website you would like it to show up. I would recommend putting the button in the upper right hand corner of your sidebar, so people can see it, regardless of the page they are on.

If you have a WordPress page you can move a Text widget to your sidebar and then paste the code in there.

sidebar widget

After that your button should show up on your website and people will be able to click on it and automatically be redirected to their feed reader.

finished rss widget

Congratulations! Your web of connections has now grown. Keep in mind that people who use RSS reader absolutely love them, so it is a great place to get in front of the eyes of seasoned readers. Not to mention you will be able to see how many people click on this link as well!

Let me know in the comments if you have had success with an RSS feed. If you are new to this, do you have any questions?

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About Joe Warnimont

I am a writer, marketing expert and adventure seeker. I help people write, market their writing, live truthfully and embrace their lives through creativity. You can find me riding my bike around the streets of Chicago. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.

Comments

  1. Many thanks for these wonderful posts – I’m already integrating some of them on my on website! Thanks for dropping by my blog. I look forward to chatting with you in the future.

  2. I just went and added a feeder to my website! I didn’t realize how easy it was, thanks soooo much for the step by step instructions.

  3. Ok, I’ve heard about RSS before but thank you for the step by step guide to set it up. Very helpful=)

  4. That was one of the best tutorials I’ve ever had. Thank you for posting that. I am new, however, so if a tutorial on where to go from here as far as getting used to RSS feeder that would also be awesome.

  5. I have never known what it is or understood about RSS feeds. Thanks for explaining it so thoroughly and going through the steps for us hopeless luddites.

  6. Joe McGee says:

    What a great post! I just started my blog and followed your advice to get that RSS going. Thanks for making it so easy to do and thanks for stopping by to check out my blog.

  7. Done! Thanks for step by step instructions. It was easy :)

  8. Wow! How easy was that? I’ve been wondering about RSS feeds. You’ve just demystified them for me and helped me set one up on my blog in a matter of minutes! Thank you for the very helpful post!

  9. Hey Joe! Thanks for the website. Even though I do have one regular writing gig, I need this sort of info to push me to the next level. I quoted you and blogged a bit about you blog here:
    http://whereiblogonblogging.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/709/
    stop on by if you get the chance!

  10. Niko Donburi says:

    How does this differ from the RSS feed that you get from a wordpress.com hosted blog?

    • Hi Niko,

      From the reader’s viewpoint an RSS feed will look exactly the same for a free and self-hosted wordpress blog. My walk through works for both options, as you are able to insert a text widget on the side of your blog for both. With a self-hosted blog you get a few more options for setting up your RSS feed, primarily the ability to use plugins to setup your RSS feed, which usually makes the setup process a little less complex. You also have more customization options for displaying your RSS button. For example, on the upper right hand corner of my site you can see some customized sharing buttons, with the RS button displayed as well. I used a plugin for this customization. So with a free WordPress blog you can really only do the button I displayed in my post. I hope this answers your question!

  11. This was so helpful! Thanks!!

  12. Your post is highly informative and very helpful. Thank you very much! And thanks for visiting my blog, too :)

  13. I am still totally confused about what an RSS feed is, and whether or not I have one (I don’t think I do)… I did notice a misused word in your final question to the mass readership. (You used the wrong “knew, new”.) I beat to my own drum a lot of the time, so that really is where I got hung up. Sorry.

    • Hey Rainshadow,

      Thanks for correcting my typo, I appreciate it! I’m just taking a look at your blog and I don’t see any RSS button for people to subscribe. Technically a feed is created automatically through WordPress, but you have to create a button for people to click on and subscribe. So you probably have a feed setup, you just need to include the orange RSS button in your sidebar for people to click on. Did you get confused with one of my steps on setting up feedburner? Try setting up your account in Feedburner and then put a button in the sidebar.

      As for what an RSS feed is: Some people don’t use them, but RSS readers are content aggregators that allow you to bring all the blogs you read into one location. I think of it as your own customized newspaper. So instead of bookmarking and visiting multiple sites for your news every day, you can just go to one site. I use Feedly, but there are many different options. For example, I like to check multiple writing blogs, the Wallstreet Journal, my Indiana University sports site and Variety Magazine in the morning. Instead of going to every separate site, I just go to Feedly and I can see them all. I can categorize them in folders and whenever I want to add a new one, I just click on the RSS button on the designated website.

      So…if you don’t have the RSS button on your site, there is a small chance anyone will add your site to an RSS reader. I hope this helps!

  14. Thanks for this! I had no idea what ‘rss’ meant until now. I’ll make one tomorrow! Thanks for the follow, too. :)

  15. Joe, thanks for the step-by-step! Been meaning to get an RSS feed going on my blog for a while, and this gave me the push I needed to get it going.

  16. Hi Joe. Thanks so much for visiting me at The Wine O’Clock News. Your site is brilliant – the best resource I’ve come across for bloggers (I’ve even managed to set up an RSS feed following your instructions, and I’m borderline remedial at this stuff!). Looking forward to receiving your posts in the future. Best wishes.

  17. Hi Joe,

    thanks – very useful advice! Just installed my first RSS, let’s see… :)

  18. Thank you Joe, I found this (and so much of your blog) super helpful as I get up to speed on blogging. I used your suggestions from this post to add a Feedburner account to our blog, XY Culture: http://xycultr.com/. I also used a small workaround, similar to your advice here, to link a MailChimp signup form link into an email icon, which works for the time being until I port the site out of .com and into .org and can use the MailChimp plugin. Thanks again!